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Bound for Beauty: Highlights from the Kathleen V. Roberts Collection of Decorated Publishers' Bindings

In the 19th century technologies of the Industrial Revolution made the mass-production of books possible. To sell them, publishers produced beautifully decorated book covers known as decorated publishers’ bindings. Books were bound in colorful cloth and elaborately decorated with silver and gold reflecting the tastes of the age.
Publishers’ use of color, style, and design was affected by major social events such as the Civil War, the opening of Japan to the West, and the employment of women, and visual influences such as Victorian opulence, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco movements.
When viewed by decade we see the arc of publishers’ bindings: from their experimental beginnings in the 1840’s, through their turn-of-the-century apex as artist-designed masterworks, to their demise with the rise of the inexpensive dust jacket.

Acknowledgements
Sue Allen​ (d. 25 August 2011), whose writings, research, and especially her teaching, created the field of study of nineteenth-century American book covers. Her Rare Book School course “Publishers’ Bookbindings, 1830–1910,” was the inspiration for both this collection and exhibit. I am honored to carry on her work.
Todd Pattison​, Rare Book School instructor, book conservator and binder, whose 1995 course on early cloth bindings changed the trajectory of my life.
Richard Minsky​, collector, author and book artist, who taught me to look at binding design through the eyes of an artist.
Andrea Krupp​, for her pioneering work on the study and identification of Bookcloth grains and patterns.
Ben Koenig​, Vermont bookseller and friend, whose belief in my collection enabled it to find a home at the American Bookbinders Museum.
-Kathy Roberts
A Kentucky Cardinal and Aftermath / James Lane Allen
A Kentucky Cardinal and Aftermath / James Lane Allen
Book
A Pretty Tory / Jeanie Gould Lincoln
A Pretty Tory / Jeanie Gould Lincoln
Book
A Rebellious Heroine / John Kendrick Bangs
A Rebellious Heroine / John Kendrick Bangs
Book
A Room of One
A Room of One's Own / Virginia Woolf
Book
A Spinner in the Sun / Myrtle Reed
A Spinner in the Sun / Myrtle Reed
Book
A Weaver of Dreams / Myrtle Reed
A Weaver of Dreams / Myrtle Reed
Book
Aesop
Aesop's Fables Illustrated by Ernest Griset / J.B. Rundell
Book
An Old-Fashioned Girl / Louisa M. Alcott
An Old-Fashioned Girl / Louisa M. Alcott
Book
At Sundown / John Greenleaf Whittier
At Sundown / John Greenleaf Whittier
Book
Aunt Jo
Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, etc. / Louisa M. Alcott
Book
Black Rock: A Tale of the Selkirks / Ralph Connor
Black Rock: A Tale of the Selkirks / Ralph Connor
Book
Candle-Lightin
Candle-Lightin' Time / Paul Laurence Dunbar
Book
Companionable Books / Henry Van Dyke
Companionable Books / Henry Van Dyke
Book
Cranford / Mrs. Gaskell
Cranford / Mrs. Gaskell
Book
Das Heideprinzesschen / E. Marlitt
Das Heideprinzesschen / E. Marlitt
Book
Days Off and Other Digressions / Henry Van Dyke
Days Off and Other Digressions / Henry Van Dyke
Book
Dogtown: Being Some Chapters from the Annals of the Waddles Family, Set Down in the Language of Housepeople / Mabel Osgood Wright
Dogtown: Being Some Chapters from the Annals of the Waddles Family, Set Down in the Language of Housepeople / Mabel Osgood Wright
Book
Dream Days / Kenneth Grahame
Dream Days / Kenneth Grahame
Book
Eight cousins; Or, The Aunt-Hill / Louisa M. Alcott
Eight cousins; Or, The Aunt-Hill / Louisa M. Alcott
Book
Evelina: Or, a Young Lady
Evelina: Or, a Young Lady's Entrance Into the World / Fanny Burney
Book
Familiar Wild Flowers Figured and Described / F. Edward Hulme
Familiar Wild Flowers Figured and Described / F. Edward Hulme
Book
Famous Cathedrals As Seen and Described By Great Writers / Esther Singleton
Famous Cathedrals As Seen and Described By Great Writers / Esther Singleton
Book
Famous Paintings as Seen and Described by Famous Writers / Esther Singleton
Famous Paintings as Seen and Described by Famous Writers / Esther Singleton
Book
Farm Ballads / Will Carleton
Farm Ballads / Will Carleton
Book
Fisherman
Fisherman's Luck and Some Other Uncertain Things / Henry Van Dyke
Book
Flammenzeichen / E. Werner
Flammenzeichen / E. Werner
Book
Flower of the Dusk / Myrtle Reed
Flower of the Dusk / Myrtle Reed
Book
Flowers From Sunlight and Shade: Poems / S.B. Skelding
Flowers From Sunlight and Shade: Poems / S.B. Skelding
Book
Flowers of the Field and Forest From Original Water-Color Drawings After Nature by Isaac Sprague / Reverend A.B. Hervey
Flowers of the Field and Forest From Original Water-Color Drawings After Nature by Isaac Sprague / Reverend A.B. Hervey
Book
Great Pictures As Seen and Described By Famous Writers / Esther Singleton
Great Pictures As Seen and Described By Famous Writers / Esther Singleton
Book
Hamilton
Hamilton's Complete Catechism of Counterpoint, Melody, and Composition / James Alexander Hamilton
Book
Historic Landmarks of America As Seen and Described by Famous Writers / Esther Singleton
Historic Landmarks of America As Seen and Described by Famous Writers / Esther Singleton
Book
Japanese Art /Sadakichi Hartmann
Japanese Art /Sadakichi Hartmann
Book
Kokoro / Lafcadio Hearn
Kokoro / Lafcadio Hearn
Book
Lavender and Old Lace / Myrtle Reed
Lavender and Old Lace / Myrtle Reed
Book
Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo
Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys / Louisa M. Alcott
Book
Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo
Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys / Louisa M. Alcott
Book
Little Rivers: A Book of Essays in Profitable Idleness / Henry Van Dyke
Little Rivers: A Book of Essays in Profitable Idleness / Henry Van Dyke
Book
Little Women / Louisa M. Alcott
Little Women / Louisa M. Alcott
Book
Little Women; Or, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Part First / Louisa M. Alcott
Little Women; Or, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Part First / Louisa M. Alcott
Book
Little Women; Or, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Part Second / Louisa M. Alcott
Little Women; Or, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Part Second / Louisa M. Alcott
Book
Madame Butterfly / John Luther Long
Madame Butterfly / John Luther Long
Book
Master of the Vineyard / Myrtle Reed
Master of the Vineyard / Myrtle Reed
Book
Memoir of Sarah B. Judson of the American Mission to Burmah / Emily Chubbuck Judson
Memoir of Sarah B. Judson of the American Mission to Burmah / Emily Chubbuck Judson
Book
Modern Priscilla Home Furnishing Book: A Practical Book for the Woman Who Loves Her Home
Modern Priscilla Home Furnishing Book: A Practical Book for the Woman Who Loves Her Home
Book
Monday or Tuesday; With Woodcuts by Vanessa Bell / Virginia Woolf
Monday or Tuesday; With Woodcuts by Vanessa Bell / Virginia Woolf
Book
Mr. Munchausen: Being a True Account of Some of the Recent Adventures Beyond the Styx of the Late Hieronymus Carl Friedrich, Sometime Baron Munchausen of Bodenwerder / John Kendrick Bangs
Mr. Munchausen: Being a True Account of Some of the Recent Adventures Beyond the Styx of the Late Hieronymus Carl Friedrich, Sometime Baron Munchausen of Bodenwerder / John Kendrick Bangs
Book
Out-Of-Doors in the Holy Land: Impressions of Travel in Body and Spirit / Henry Van Dyke
Out-Of-Doors in the Holy Land: Impressions of Travel in Body and Spirit / Henry Van Dyke
Book
Poem, Plays, and Essays / Oliver Goldsmith
Poem, Plays, and Essays / Oliver Goldsmith
Book
Poems / John Greenleaf Whittier
Poems / John Greenleaf Whittier
Book
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