Dressed to Impress. Bookbinding: Binders, Craft and Trade Bindings, Styles and Techniques.
Bibliotheca instituta et collecta ...
Conrad Gessner, 1516-1565. Zürich: C. Froschauer, 1574.
This sixteenth-century panel-stamped binding features two Old Testament women celebrated for saving the Israelite people by killing powerful men. Jael, shown on the upper cover, is about to drive a tent peg into the temple of the sleeping Canaanite leader, Sisera, with a carpenter’s mallet. Judith, on the lower cover, raises a sword in a similar gesture against the Assyrian general, Holofernes.
Jael and Judith were regularly paired together in bindings as well as other works of art in the Reformation period. Catholics and Protestants alike viewed them as symbols of the violent overthrow of heresy by orthodoxy, but they could also stand more generally for the virtue of courage.
Gift of James J. Periconi, 2019.
Anonymous. [Lyon France? 1750s?].
This ledger-style wallet binding in limp vellum is a sturdy cover for a private library catalogue. It would have been a light and convenient travel companion on book buying trips, allowing the owner ready access to the contents of the library. In both form and materials, it is typical of record books from this period, such as account and receipt ledgers.
Purchased in 2012 with Grolier Club Library Harper Funds.
Order for Books to be Bound by Derome le jeune for Louis Popon de Maucune.
Nicolas-Denis Derome, 1731-1788. Paris, 1780.
This document lists fourteen books in the collection of Louis Popon de Maucune (b. ca. 1735) to be bound by Derome le jeune, one of the preeminent French binders of the late eighteenth century. For each title, the price of the binding and color of the leather is specified (red or blue), accompanied by instructions for washing the sheets or leaving the margins untrimmed. Derome’s work was in high demand by wealthy book owners in the decades leading up to the French Revolution.
Purchased in 2014 with Grolier Club Library Harper Funds.
Air France Dinner Menus, 1991.
The bindings of Derome and other eighteenth-century French masters are still perceived as symbols of luxury today. The cover of this 1991 dinner menu from the now defunct Air Concorde flight from New York to Paris features a characteristic Derome dentelle binding in the upper right.
Purchased in 2009 with Grolier Club Library Harper Funds.
Les Capitales de l'Europe: Promenades Pittoresques.
Charles Malo, 1790-1871. Paris: Marcilly fils aîné,  (Paris: Imprimerie de A. Firmin Didot).
These bright little volumes, bound in glazed and blind-stamped pastel paper boards, are still housed in their original decorative publisher’s box. Each volume features a different European capital, illustrated with a hand-colored frontispiece.
Cartonnage bindings were widely used for commercially-produced children’s books in the Romantic era due to their attractiveness and affordability. This set is remarkably well-preserved.
Purchased in 2020 with Grolier Club Library Harper Funds.
J. McDonald, ed. Albany: A. L. Harrison, 1847.
This Victorian “patent stereographic” publishers’ binding is known in a handful of copies. The process, invented in 1847 by William McAdams of Albany, NY, involved stamping the leather binding with successive wooden dies soaked in specially prepared pigments to emulate color onlays. While traditional leather onlay work could take a day or more per binding, McAdams’s invention allowed hundreds of volumes to be produced at the same time. The Rainbow demonstrates how the process could be used to imitate the style of a sixteenth-century entrelac mosaic binding.
Gift of H. George Fletcher, 2018.
Silver Electroplate Art Nouveau Book Cover.
(Margaret) Lilian Simpson, 1871-1896. London, 1894/1896.
This dazzling silver book cover was designed and modeled by Lilian Simpson, a young artist who studied at the National School of Art in South Kensington (later the Royal College of Art) under the French-born sculptor Édouard Lantéri. The theme of the design is the growth of Life (represented by the flowering and fruit) watched over by Spirits (shown in the angles) and anchored by Love (center). It earned a gold medal in a national design competition in 1894 and was exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1896.
The Grolier Club copy was separated into pieces and mounted on this velvet mount for an unidentified nineteenth-century exhibition. Other copies survive intact covering a purple velvet-bound blank book.
Purchased in 2019 with Grolier Club Library Harper Funds.
Henri Hardy Papers, 1746-1946.
Henri Hardy (1854-1945) was one of a few classically trained French bookbinders brought to New York City in the 1890s to produce fine bindings for the Club Bindery (1895-1909), a venture founded by Robert Hoe and Edwin B. Holden to elevate the standards of bookbinding in America. This large scrapbook was received by the Grolier Club Library in 2012 as part of a gift of artwork, ephemera, and photographs donated by Hardy’s family. It contains clippings from contemporary magazines gathered by Hardy for inspiration as well as drawings for bookbinding designs, like this sketch for a prayer book. On a preliminary leaf of the scrapbook, the binder has penned a warning to the reader: “As I consider this book like a part of myself! Don’t mutilate or remove anything.”
Gift of Henri Plant, 2012.
[Dust Jacket Scrapbook]
Clara B. Mowry, compiler. 5 vols. [Providence, RI: 1910-1920].
Between 1910 and 1920, Clara B. Mowry, librarian at the Providence Athenæum, pasted nearly 900 dust jackets from contemporary British and American novels into five large scrapbooks. The collection as a whole provides a detailed window into a formative decade in the early 20th century, when dust jackets evolved from plain paper covers into colorful graphic tableaux.
The discovery of one of only a handful of jackets known for the first edition of Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera (1911) is one of the “serendipitous rarities” preserved in this remarkable collection.
Purchased in 2016 with Grolier Club Library Harper Funds.
Publishers’ Cloth Binding and Binding Die for The Pike's Peak Rush, or Terry in the New Gold Fields.
Edwin T. Sabin (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1917).
For almost two decades the Grolier Club has hosted week-long classes for the Rare Book School program based at the University of Virginia, making regular and intensive use of the Grolier Club Library as a “teaching collection” of books, prints, and realia illustrating aspects of the book as historical artifact, art object, collectible, and mass-produced commodity. The brass binding die shown here was purchased in November 2015; it took four more years of assiduous searching to find and acquire a fine copy of the book itself. Neither brass die nor publisher’s binding have any significant market value; but as tangible illustrations of an important aspect of early twentieth-century bookmaking, they are valuable teaching aids in the many classes and tours hosted by the Club.
Purchased in 2015 and 2019 with Grolier Club Library Harper Funds.
Scrapbook of woodcut portraits for dustjacket designs.
John Ross, 1921-2017. ca. 1960s.
In 2010 longtime Grolier member and noted artist John Ross added to a long series of generous donations to the Club’s collection of prints with a gift of his own work, a portfolio of 28 original woodcut portraits of literary figures in proof impressions, created by John as artwork for dustjackets and paperback covers in the 1960s and 1970s. These portraits of Descartes and Socrates, made for the cover of an edition of D. J. O’Connor’s Critical History of Western Philosophy, are a valuable addition to the Club’s collection of works on illustrators and illustration processes.
Gift of John Ross, 2010.
Neale Albert Miniature Book Collection.
In 2006 Grolier Club member Neale Albert exhibited highlights from his collection of miniature designer bindings in the Club’s second-floor gallery. Two years later, Neale donated the entire collection, a 200-volume survey of contemporary binding art and craft by some of the world’s greatest living binders, to the Club, along with a specially-designed cabinet in which to store and display these colorful and appealing miniature volumes. The collection and cabinet are dedicated to the memory of Neale’s daughter, Debbie.
[CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT]:
Monique Lallier, A Small Book of Dahlias
Don Etherington, Gemological Pharmacopoeia
Michael Wilcox, The Young Stork's Baedeker
Santiago Brugalla, Sonatina Marcha Triunfal
Deborah Evetts, The Jumblies
Trevor Jones, Stanley Morison: Man of Letters
Gift of Neale Albert, 2008.
New York Revisited
Kenneth Auchincloss, b. 1937. Engravings by Gaylord Schanilec. [New York]: The Grolier Club, 2002.
In 1915 the Grolier Club commissioned Rudolph Ruzicka, the foremost woodcut artist of his day, to produce a series of illustrations celebrating New York City at a time of rapid, remarkable change. To capture the city at the turn of the 21st century, in 1999 the Club commissioned this successor volume, Number 3 in a new series of Grolier Club Fine Printing. Two and a half years in the making, New York Revisited is a collaboration between noted contemporary woodcut artist Gaylord Schanilec and writer (and long-time Grolier member) Kenneth Auchincloss, describing the transformations, physical and social, that New York has undergone in the last hundred years.
This copy is bound by Jenni Grey in limp suede and rigid enamelled elements (suggesting both the strength and vulnerability of the city), in a box of padouk wood.