The Evolution of 19th-Century American Publishers’ Cloth Bindings

Andrews Library Special Collections
March 25 – May 10, 2024

This exhibit highlights the trends of publishers’ cloth bindings from the 1830s and early experiments in design to the 1890s when more sophisticated pieces surfaced as professional artists were commissioned to create cover designs.

With the increase of literacy, co-education, and lending libraries, industrial book design followed the tastes and trends of the American public to meet the ever-increasing demands of readers.

Publishers’ trade cloth bindings chart the extravagance of the gift book era, as well as the restrained designs created during the Civil War when resources were limited. By the turn of the 20th century, mass-produced, trade books incorporated the aesthetic design philosophies that emerged with the Arts and Crafts movement allowing for an appreciation of the book as object, as well as the book as text. The celebration of this aesthetic is evident in the cloth binding designs of artists such as Margaret Armstrong and Sarah Wyman Whitman.

Special arrangements can be made for classes or small groups to view more materials from our collection. For more information contact Denise Monbarren (x2527).

Posted in Library Announcement on March 19, 2024.