Michigan State University

We are excited to announce that we have moved to a new catalog. The old catalog will no longer be available beginning October 1st.

Please report any problems you may experience to Discovery Services by calling (517) 353-8700 or by filling out our feedback form.

Note: Borrowing from other Michigan libraries through MeLCat continues to be suspended until further notice.

To learn more information, please see our FAQ page  and our policy on Personal Data Collection and Usage for Library Accounts.

19th and 20th Century Fine Bindings

Not everyone was happy with the Industrial Revolution, including bookbinders. These books reflect the book as art, not just a utilitarian object. Although many bookbinders through the centuries practiced excellent craftsmanship, the binders of these books thought (or think) of themselves as more than just craftsmen.

Author:  Meisterlin, Sigmund.
Title:  Ein schöne Cronick vn[d] Hystoria wye nach der Synndtfluss Noe. Die teütschen das streitpar volck jren anfang enpfangen haben besonder den ersten namen schwaben gehaissenworden. Wa vnd wie sy vo[n] ersten gewonet vn[d] aussgebrait worde[n] seynd vn[d] vo[n] [?] abgöterey züm Cristen gelauben kom[m]en vn[d] wie sy zü vil streyten vn Kriege[n] geursachtworden auch dar bey von der kayserlichen stat Augspurg ain vaterla[n]d [?] Schwaben wz da selbst vo[n] jren Christ[e]nlich en anfenger jm glauben Cristi.
Publisher:  [Augspurg, Melchior Ram[m]inger, 1522]
Call Number:  DD801.W92 M4.

Good example of why it is hard to date bindings. The text was printed in 1522, but the binding is definitely not 16th century. Fortunately in this case, the binding style is in extreme contrast to the date of the text and the binding is signed “David” a binder from the late 19th century. The full leather binding is elaborately gold tooled and the inside of the covers feature full leather doublures. Handsewn double endbands and gilded edges.

Sigmund Meisterlin Sigmund Meisterlin. Image 2.

Author:  Bunbury, Henry William, 1750-1811.
Title : Academy for grown horsemen : containing instructions for walking, trotting, cantering, galloping, stumbling & tumbling / by Geoffry [sic] Gambado, Esq. ; illustrated with 27 engravings.
Publisher:  London : Published ... by R. Ackermann, 1825.
Call Number:  SF301 .B94 1825.

This book is signed by Riverie and Son, a binding firm in Bath and London and active throughout the 19th century. It is a full leather binding with gold tooling on the spine, covers and squares. Green title labels are also elaborately tooled. Handsewn endbands and gilded edges.

Academy for grown horsemen by Henry William Bunbury. Academy for grown horsemen by Henry William Bunbury. Image 2.

Author:  Morris, William, 1834-1896.
Title:  A dream of John Ball and A king's lesson.
Publisher:  Hammersmith : Kelmscott Press, 1892.
Call Number:  PR5079 .D8 1892.

The Kelmscott Press, founded by William Morris, was a direct reaction to the industrialization of bookbinding. Morris looked back to an earlier age when crafts were done by hand. This book reflects that with a limp vellum binding with yapp edges and cloth ties, such as would be found in the 16th century.

A dream of John Ball and A king's lesson.

Author:  Spenser, Edmund, 1552?-1599.
Title:  Faerie Queene / by Edmund Spenser ; pictured and decorated by Louis Fairfax-Muckley ; with an introd. by John W. Hales.
Publisher:  London : J.M. Dent, 1897.
Call Number:  PR2358.A3 F3 1897.

Although not printed or bound by the Kelmscott Press, this book was much influenced by it. The book is bound in full vellum which has been hand painted. Some gold tooling around the edges. Hand sewn endbands and gilded on the head.

Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

Author:  Austen, Jane, 1775-1817.
Title::  The novels of Jane Austen.
Publisher:  Edinburgh : J. Grant, 1911-12.
Call Number:  PR4030 .A1 1911.

The multi-volume set was bound by the London firm Sangorski and Sutclliffe which began in 1901 and is still active today. The volumes are three-quarter leather with cloth sides. Elaborate gold tooling on spines with red title labels. The covers have gold tooled lines along edges of leather. Handsewn endbands and gilded head.

The novels of Jane Austen.

Author:  Hubbard, Elbert, 1856-1915.
Title:  Hollyhocks and goldenglow [by] Elbert Hubbard.
Publisher:  [East Aurora, N. Y., The Roycrofters, 1912]
Call Number:  PS2042 .H6 1912.

Elbert Hubbard’s Roycrofters Press was the American equivalent to the Kelmscott Press. This Arts and Crafts movement association not only bound books, but also made other hand-crafted goods. This book is a full leather, limp cover binding with blind stamping on the front cover. The Roycrofters are not known for the highest quality bindings, but the designs were always top notch.

Hollyhocks and goldenglow by Elbert Hubbard

Author:  Borges, Jorge Luis, 1899-1986.
Title:  Ficciones / Jorge Luis Borges ; with an introduction by John Sturrock.
Publisher:  London : David Campbell Publishers, [2000?]
Call Number:  PQ7797.B635 F5135 2000.

A full leather binding bound by contemporary binder Karen Hanmer of Illinois. The design is made with different colors of leather inlaid to the yellow. The endbands are handsewn and the edges are dyed yellow.

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges. Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges. Image 2.

Author:  Verhoeven, Ben.
Title:  Sylvæ : fifty specimens printed directly from the wood with historical anecdotes & observations / Ben Verhoeven & Gaylord Schanilec.
Publisher:  [Stockholm, Wis.] : Midnight Paper Sales, [2007]
Call Number:  folio QK484.W6 V4 2007.

Another contemporary fine press is Midnight Paper Sales of Wisconsin. This book features prints of different types of wood and thus the cover is made of wood. The spine is white alum-tawed leather and gold stamped on the spine. The binding was done by Craig Jenson and Gary McLerran, binders from Texas.

 fifty specimens printed directly from the wood with historical anecdotes & observations