covers of 19 various unrelated books from the 19th century

ONCE UPONTIME, we made things with care, with crafts­man­ship, even a touch of art. The num­ber of items so made that were used in every­day life would be a long list in­deed, but here I am only go­ing to ad­dress the front cov­ers of old books. Re­ally old books.

When we see and hold books like this to­day, it’s not un­usual to won­der why they went to so much ef­fort to pro­duce some­thing so few peo­ple would read. Even as sim­ple a book as a children’s grade-school primer was made with more care than all but the finest hand-crafted books of to­day.

Be­low find cov­ers for 19 books from the 19th cen­tury, which when I got my first li­brary card, didn’t seem all that far away! A few of the ti­tles be­low are known well, but most of them are be­yond ob­scure. Each book is a hard­cover, cloth­bound edi­tions.

The ti­tles are listed chrono­log­i­cally by year of pub­li­ca­tion. I tried to pro­vide a few words of back­ground on each book or au­thor.

I also looked for sites that had the ti­tle in a flip-book for­mat so that in­ter­ested read­ers could leaf through the ti­tle like it was a “real book” in­stead of scrolling through a slow-loading PDF file.

The pur­pose of this ar­ti­cle is to en­ter­tain — I saw these cov­ers, liked them, and thought that oth­ers would also en­joy see­ing them. In fact, if you re­ally like these cov­ers and are in search of a hobby to 1) fill the void in your soul or 2) re­place all the time you spend on your smart­phone, be the first on your block to col­lect old books just for their cov­ers!

•  It’s fun! (It gets you out of the house and go­ing to yard sales and es­tate sales at­tend­ing Friends of the Li­brary book sales, and vis­it­ing old book stores, Sal­va­tion Armies, and an­tique shops.)

•  It ed­u­ca­tional! (You don’t have to read much more than the pub­lish­ing in­for­ma­tion and the pref­aces and leaf through the book check­ing for il­lus­tra­tions to start learn­ing bit and pieces of data with which to amaze your friends at of­fice Christ­mas par­ties.)

•  It’s af­ford­able! (Most used book shops have lit­tle use for ob­scure pre-WWI ti­tles ex­cept fil­ing them in their “col­lec­tables” cat­e­gory and hop­ing some­body no­tices them.)

So, here are nine­teen in­ter­est­ing and at­trac­tive cov­ers from some fa­mous and some not-so-famous books of the 19th cen­tury. The ti­tle of this ar­ti­cle refers to the fact that the con­tents of these books have no bear­ing on the qual­ity of their cov­ers and why they were se­lected.

1820

AntiqueBook FriedrichChristianAccum TreatiseOnAdulterationOfFood 1822

Friedrich Chris­t­ian Ac­cum
A Trea­tise on Adul­ter­ation of Food and Culi­nary Poi­sons
Long­man, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green
Lon­don, 1820

Non-fiction

The full ti­tle of Mr. Accum's book on the ti­tle page of the sec­ond edi­tion is "A Trea­tise on Adul­ter­ation of Food, and Culi­nary Poi­sons, Ex­hibit­ing the Fraud­u­lent So­phis­ti­ca­tions of Bread, Beer, Wine, Spir­i­tu­ous Liquors, Tea, Oil, Pick­les, and Other Ar­ti­cles Em­ployed in Do­mes­tic Econ­omy. And Meth­ods of De­tect­ing Them."

"This ground­break­ing work marked the be­gin­ning of an aware­ness of the need for food safety over­sight. Al­though pop­u­lar, this book threat­ened es­tab­lished prac­tices within the food pro­cess­ing in­dus­try and it earned the au­thor many en­e­mies among Lon­don food man­u­fac­tur­ers. A year af­ter pub­li­ca­tion, Ac­cum left Eng­land af­ter a law­suit was brought against him." (Wikipedia)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is a rather ugly cover — but I cer­tainly can see how it would be very at­trac­tive to some book col­lec­tors.

To leaf through this book, click HERE.

1855

AntiqueBook JonathanSwift Voyages de Gulliver dans des contrées lointaine 1855

Jonathan Swift
Voy­ages de Gul­liver dans des Con­trées Loin­taines
De­larue
Paris, 1855

Fic­tion

"The 19th cen­tury was a time of great change in Eu­ro­pean book­bind­ing. So­cial and ed­u­ca­tional re­form of the pre­vi­ous cen­tury had led to in­creased lev­els of lit­er­acy which re­sulted in a greater de­mand for books from a wider pub­lic. Vel­lum and leather had been the tra­di­tional bind­ing ma­te­ri­als but an­i­mal skins were costly. Binders needed a cov­er­ing that was cheaper, more widely avail­able and quick to pro­duce.

"One so­lu­tion was cloth and the cover of this French edi­tion of Gulliver’s Trav­els demon­strates just how suit­able it was. Af­ter stiff­en­ing the cloth with starch, [both] gold tool­ing and col­ored stamps sim­i­lar to those used on leather cov­ers could be ap­plied. Cheaper bind­ing ma­te­ri­als, there­fore, didn’t mean that dec­o­ra­tion had to be com­pro­mised." (Vic­to­ria & Al­bert Mu­seum)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is an eye-catching de­sign, pri­mar­ily be­cause the good art­work jumps out of the black back­ground. I would have liked this even more if the de­signer had fig­ured out a clever way to place the ti­tle some­where in all that black.

1957

AntiqueBook GeorgeEliot ScenesOfClericalLife 1857

George Eliot
Scenes of Cler­i­cal Life
William Black­wood‎ & Sons
Ed­in­burgh, 1857

Fic­tion

Scenes of Cler­i­cal Life col­lects three sto­ries by Mary Anne Evans that had been pub­lished anony­mously in Blackwood's Ed­in­burgh Mag­a­zine. It was her first fic­tion book for which she used the pseu­do­nym, George Eliot.

"The sto­ries take place in and around the fic­tional town of Milby in the Eng­lish Mid­lands. Eliot ex­am­ines the ef­fects of re­li­gious re­form and the ten­sion be­tween the Es­tab­lished and the Dis­sent­ing Churches on the cler­gy­men and their con­gre­ga­tions, and draws at­ten­tion to var­i­ous so­cial is­sues, such as poverty, al­co­holism, and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence." (Wikipedia)

"Scene of Cler­i­cal Life was im­me­di­ately rec­og­nized, in the words of Sat­ur­day Re­view, as ‘the pro­duc­tion of a pe­cu­liar and re­mark­able writer'. The first read­ers, in­clud­ing Dick­ens and Thack­eray, were struck by its hu­mor­ous irony, the truth­ful­ness of its pre­sen­ta­tion of the lives of or­di­nary men and women, and its com­pas­sion­ate ac­cep­tance of hu­man weak­ness." (Goodreads)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is just a so-so cover. It’s too damn busy and I got sleepy count­ing all those sheep. (yes, it’s a lame pun but it had to be said.)

1869

AntiqueBook HenryERoscoe SpectrumAnalysis 1869

Henry E. Roscoe
Spec­trum Analy­sis – Six Lec­tures, De­liv­ered in 1868, be­fore the So­ci­ety of Apothe­caries of Lon­don
MacMil­lan & Com­pany
Lon­don, 1869

Non-fiction

"Sir Henry En­field Roscoe was a British chemist noted for early work on vana­dium and for pho­to­chem­i­cal stud­ies. Roscoe's sci­en­tific work in­cludes a mem­o­rable se­ries of re­searches car­ried out with Robert Bun­sen be­tween 1855 and 1862, in which they laid the foun­da­tions of com­par­a­tive pho­to­chem­istry.

In 1864, they car­ried out what is re­puted to be the first flash­light pho­tog­ra­phy, us­ing mag­ne­sium as a light source. Roscoe's pub­li­ca­tions in­clude sev­eral el­e­men­tary books on chem­istry that had a wide cir­cu­la­tion and were trans­lated into many for­eign lan­guages." (Wikipedia)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is an at­trac­tive cover be­cause I like the over­all lay­out and de­sign. The big, bullet-like shape re­minds me of the art­work from the ear­li­est years of sci­ence fic­tion, no­tably the “space ship” shot from a can­non in Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon.

1871

AntiqueBook FredericIngham TenTimesOneIsTen 1871

Col. Fred­eric In­g­ham
Ten Times One Is Ten – A Pos­si­ble Ref­or­ma­tion
Roberts Broth­ers
Boston, 1871

Fic­tion

Fred­eric In­g­ham is a pseu­do­nym for Ed­ward Everett Hale, best known for the Civil War short story "The Man With­out a Coun­try," which was first pub­lished in The At­lantic in De­cem­ber 1863. 

"It is the story of Amer­i­can Army lieu­tenant Philip Nolan, who re­nounces his coun­try dur­ing a trial for trea­son and is con­se­quently sen­tenced to spend the rest of his days at sea with­out so much as a word of news about the United States. Though the story is set in the early 19th cen­tury, it is an al­le­gory about the up­heaval of the Amer­i­can Civil War and was meant to pro­mote the Union cause." (Wikipedia)

The nar­ra­tor of the story is one Fred­eric In­g­ham, who was pre­sented in such a man­ner that he took on a life of his own with read­ers, a life that Hale fol­lowed by writ­ing other sto­ries us­ing In­g­ham as a pseu­do­nym and al­ter­na­tive per­son­al­ity for him­self. Ten Times One Is Ten is cred­ited to In­g­ham but Hale clearly makes him­self known as the ac­tual au­thor in the book's Pref­ace.

Com­ment: For my taste, this is an in­ter­est­ing cover only in­so­far as that it is not what it ap­pears to be — a book on ba­sic math­e­mat­ics. I didn’t even con­sider it for this ar­ti­cle at first be­cause I thought is a grade school primer!

Note that the ti­tle on the cover reads “Ten Times One Equals Ten” but on the ti­tle page it is “Ten Times One Is Ten.” I’ll bet any­one a buck-three-eighty that the cover was de­signed by some­one who did not read the text (a far more com­mon event in pub­lish­ing than you might think).

To leaf through this book, click HERE.

1873

AntiqueBook JulesVerne FromTheEarthToTheMoon 1873

Jules Verne
From the Earth to the Moon
Samp­son Low, Marston, Low, & Searle
Lon­don, 1873

Fic­tion

"Jules Gabriel Verne was a French au­thor who pi­o­neered the genre of science-fiction. His 1865 tale of a trip to the moon is great fun, even if bits of it now seem, in ret­ro­spect, a lit­tle strange: the rocket ship gets shot out of a can­non? To the moon? Good­ness!

"But in other ways, it's full of eerie bits of busi­ness that turned out to be very near re­al­ity: Verne's can­non was named the Columbiad, the Apollo 11 com­mand mod­ule was named Co­lum­bia. Apollo 11 had a three-person crew, just as Verne's did. And both blasted off from Florida! (GoodReads)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is one of the most at­trac­tive cov­ers in this ar­ti­cle — but I’ve been a sucker for fan­tasy in all its forms since child­hood. The yellow-and-red-against-black is eye-catching and evokes flow­ing lava, which given that the draw­ing looks more like a vol­cano than a space­ship launch­ing is ap­pro­pri­ate.

When Verne and shortly af­ter, H. G. Wells, were writ­ing these sto­ries, con­tem­po­rary artists had no ex­pe­ri­ence with this type of lit­er­a­ture and the vi­sion it re­quired. Con­se­quently, most of the art that ac­com­pa­nied it was sci­en­tif­i­cally and tech­no­log­i­cally crude but in a man­ner that is easy to see as charm­ing 150 years later.

See Henry E. Roscoe’s Spec­trum Analy­sis in 1869 above.

1877

AntiqueBook CordeliaHarrisTurner FloralKingdom 1877

Cordelia Har­ris Turner
The Flo­ral King­dom – Its His­tory, Sen­ti­ment, and Po­etry
Moses War­ren
Chicago, 1877

Non-fiction

Ac­cord­ing to its ti­tle page, The Flo­ral King­dom is "A dic­tio­nary of more than three hun­dred plants, with the gen­era and fam­i­lies to which they be­long, and the lan­guage of each il­lus­trated with ap­pro­pri­ate gems to po­etry. By Mrs. Cordelia Har­ris Turner. With an au­to­graph let­ter and in­tro­duc­tory poem by William Cullen Bryant. And a prac­ti­cal trea­tise for am­a­teurs on the cul­ti­va­tion and analy­sis of plants."

Com­ment: For my taste, this is a gor­geous cover, if only for the black against the royal (?) blue back­drop. Rather than a book on the gen­era and fam­i­lies of plants, this looks like an in­vi­ta­tion to en­ter an en­chanted gar­den where one might meet an elf, fairy, or faun.

Ini­tially, I thought the bor­der over-busy and un­nec­es­sary. So I “erased” it us­ing the GNU Im­age Ma­nip­u­la­tion Pro­gram (GIMP), leav­ing the pri­mary im­age sur­rounded by a broad blue bor­der. I was wrong, as the plainer cover was far less ef­fec­tive and evoca­tive with­out the busy bor­der!

1878

AntiqueBook MontagueBrowne PracticalTaxidermy 1878

Mon­tagu Browne
Prac­ti­cal Taxi­dermy –
A Man­ual of In­struc­tion to the Am­a­teur in Col­lect­ing, Pre­serv­ing, and Set­ting Up Nat­ural His­tory Spec­i­mens of All Kinds
The Bazaar
Lon­don, 1878

Non-fiction

"This com­pre­hen­sive man­ual on early taxi­dermy is much sought af­ter by mod­ern taxi­der­mists for its wealth of de­tail and his­tor­i­cal con­tent. The au­thor was the cu­ra­tor of the Town Mu­seum, Leices­ter, and con­sid­ered to be one of England's fore­most taxi­der­mists. He in­tended this book to be an in­tro­duc­tion to a de­light­ful art, which must be wooed with pa­tient de­ter­mi­na­tion and lov­ing pains un­til tech­ni­cal skill in­vests it with beauty." (Google Books)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is one of the lesser cov­ers here, but I was in­trigued by the crit­ter: which is sup­posed to be a lion but re­minds me of a hyena. (Ex­cept for the in­nards, which re­mind me of a pickle or a turd with pipe clean­ers.)

1883

AntiqueBook IgnatiusDonnelly Ragnarok AgeOfFireAndGravel 1883

Ig­natius Don­nelly
Rag­narok – The Age of Fire and Gravel
D. Ap­ple­ton &
Com­pany
New York, 1883

Non-fiction

"Rag­narok pro­poses that a comet im­pacted the Earth sev­eral tens of thou­sands of years ago; the im­pact pro­duced the Drift lay­ers of gravel which have been at­trib­uted to the Ice ages; this event de­stroyed a civ­i­liza­tion which had high tech­nol­ogy, a civ­i­liza­tion which van­ished com­pletely ex­cept for some myths; the dis­as­ter was ac­com­pa­nied by cat­a­strophic fire fol­lowed by years-long cloud cover and ex­treme cold.

"Hu­man­ity sur­vived only by hid­ing in deep caves; when they re-emerged they had to restart civ­i­liza­tion from scratch. Don­nelly pro­vides ex­ten­sive ge­o­log­i­cal, arche­o­log­i­cal, as­tro­nom­i­cal and mytho­log­i­cal ev­i­dence for this the­ory. The book is not aca­d­e­mic and of­ten sen­sa­tion­al­is­tic, but his pop­ulist style does not seem to de­tract from the ar­gu­ment." (Sa­cred Texts)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is rather am­a­teur­ish but with a Dada-ish col­lage fla­vor to it (imag­ine it in black and white with a few words in Ger­man ac­com­pa­ny­ing it) decades be­fore the Dadas. 

To leaf through this book, click HERE.

1886

AntiqueBook CharlesKingsley WaterBabies 1886

Charles Kings­ley
The Wa­ter Ba­bies – A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby
Macmil­lan & Com­pany
Lon­don, 1886

Fic­tion

"The Wa­ter Ba­bies is a children's novel by the Rev­erend Charles Kings­ley. Writ­ten in 1862-1863 as a se­r­ial for Macmillan's Mag­a­zine, it was first pub­lished in its en­tirety in 1863. The book was ex­tremely pop­u­lar dur­ing its day and was a main­stay of children's lit­er­a­ture through the 1920s, but even­tu­ally fell out of fa­vor in part due to its prej­u­dices against Irish, Jews, Catholics, blacks, Amer­i­cans, and the poor. 

"In the style of Victorian-era nov­els, The Wa­ter Ba­bies is a di­dac­tic moral fa­ble about a young chim­ney sweep, Tom, who falls into a river and be­comes a wa­ter baby, guided by moral teach­ers through lessons and ad­ven­tures, even­tu­ally earn­ing the right to be­come hu­man again and be­ing united with an upper-class girl El­lie who had also be­come a wa­ter baby." (Bib­lio)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is a killer cover, if only for the grace­fully swirling line (the move­ment of the wa­ter?) that con­nects all the el­e­ments of the de­sign. Like the Jonathan Swift cover above, the ti­tle is nowhere to be found. And the four whites V’s in the cir­cles in the cor­ners are birds of prey, who no doubt find wa­ter ba­bies a tasty treat.

1888

AntiqueBook EdwardJGoodman TooCurious 1888

Ed­ward John Good­man
Too Cu­ri­ous
Bent­ley & Son
Lon­don, 1888

Fic­tion

Here is an ex­cerpt from Too Cu­ri­ous: "It was as though some other mind had en­tered my brain, and was talk­ing with my own mind, speak­ing words that an­swered mine — words over which my will had no com­mand, unan­tic­i­pated and for­eign to my thoughts, as much as though they were ut­tered by some other vis­i­ble and pal­pa­ble en­tity."

Com­ment: For my taste, this is one of the best cov­ers on this page. The de­sign is sim­ple: the cur­tain is em­bossed into the cover rather than drawn or painted while the sin­is­ter hand pulling it back is gold. That’s all that was needed: this is the one cover in this ar­ti­cle where the ti­tle could have been left off and it would have added to the ef­fect of the de­sign, leav­ing any­one see­ing it cu­ri­ous as to its con­tents.

1889

AntiqueBook MosesWolcottRedding StandardAhimanRezonAndBlueLodgeGuide 1889

Moses Wol­cott Red­ding
Stan­dard Ahi­man Re­zon and Blue Lodge Guide
Red­ding & Com­pany
New York, 1889

Non-fiction

Ac­cord­ing to var­i­ous sites on the in­ter­net of­fer­ing fac­sim­i­les of this book for sale, "This work has been se­lected by schol­ars as be­ing cul­tur­ally im­por­tant and is part of the knowl­edge base of civ­i­liza­tion as we know it. Schol­ars be­lieve, and we con­cur, that this work is im­por­tant enough to be pre­served, re­pro­duced, and made gen­er­ally avail­able to the pub­lic."

I could find no other in­for­ma­tion ex­cept that Mr. Red­ding fre­quently wrote about Freema­sonry.

Com­ment: For my taste, this is a neat cover de­sign. Like Ig­natius Donnelly’s Rag­narok in 1883 above, it has the look of a Dada col­lage but com­bined with a taste of the al­chemist or even a necro­mancer. I could see this as the cover of one of the three books of spells in the 1992 movie Army of Dark­ness. But it also looks kinda like a hokey cover one might find on a book about the Il­lu­mi­nati of Freema­sonry.

1890

AntiqueBook CLockhart Gordon ToTheEnd 1898

C. Lock­hart Gor­don
To the End
John F. Shaw & Com­pany
Lon­don, 189o

Fic­tion

C. Lock­hart Gor­don was a writer of Chris­t­ian fic­tion for girls.

Com­ment: For my taste, this is a great cover de­sign! It re­minds me of a pho­to­graph col­lec­tors al­bum of the 19th cen­tury, which was an enor­mously pop­u­lar hobby at the time. The over­all de­sign of the cover — the ti­tle, the hor­i­zon­tal lines, the dark col­ors — bal­ances the yin with the pow­er­ful yang of the flow­ers. It doesn’t look like the cover of a book in­tended for young girls be­ing raised to be good Chris­tians.

To leaf through this book, click HERE.

1894

AntiqueBook YellowBookVolumeIII October1894

An­thol­ogy
The Yel­low Book – An Il­lus­trated Quar­terly, Vol­ume III
John Lane
Lon­don, 1894

Fic­tion, non-fiction, art

"The Yel­low Book was a British lit­er­ary pe­ri­od­i­cal that was pub­lished in Lon­don from 1894 to 1897. It was a lead­ing jour­nal of the British 1890s; to some de­gree as­so­ci­ated with Aes­theti­cism and Deca­dence, the mag­a­zine con­tained a wide range of lit­er­ary and artis­tic gen­res, po­etry, short sto­ries, es­says, book il­lus­tra­tions, por­traits, and re­pro­duc­tions of paint­ings.

"Aubrey Beard­s­ley was its first art ed­i­tor, and he has been cred­ited with the idea of the yel­low cover, with its as­so­ci­a­tion with il­licit French fic­tion of the pe­riod. Though Os­car Wilde never pub­lished any­thing within its pages, it was linked to him be­cause Beard­s­ley had il­lus­trated his Sa­lomé and be­cause he was on friendly terms with many of the con­trib­u­tors.

More­over, in Wilde's The Pic­ture of Do­rian Gray, a ma­jor cor­rupt­ing in­flu­ence on Do­rian is the yel­low book which Lord Henry sends over to amuse him af­ter the sui­cide of his first love.

"The Yel­low Book dif­fered from other pe­ri­od­i­cals in that it was is­sued cloth­bound, made a strict dis­tinc­tion be­tween the lit­er­ary and art con­tents (only in one or two in­stances were these con­nected), did not in­clude se­r­ial fic­tion and con­tained no ad­ver­tise­ments ex­cept pub­lish­ers' lists." (Wikipedia)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is okay. I have long been a fan of Aubrey Beard­s­ley (and tried to em­u­late him for a while in col­lege), but this cover is bland. Had the panel at the top been yel­low let­ters against a black back­ground it would have been a more pow­er­ful and ef­fec­tive de­sign. But then it would have lost both the Japan­ese wood­cut look and much of its eroti­cism.

To leaf through this book, click HERE.

1897

AntiqueBook AndrewLang BookOfDreamsAndGhosts 1897

An­drew Lang
The Book of Dreams and Ghosts
Long­mans, Green & Com­pany
Lon­don and New York, 1897

Non-fiction

Of his be­lief in ghosts, An­drew Lang wrote in the third per­son, "The au­thor has fre­quently been asked, both pub­licly and pri­vately: 'Do you be­lieve in ghosts?' One can only an­swer: 'How do you de­fine a ghost?' I do be­lieve, with all stu­dents of hu­man na­ture, in hal­lu­ci­na­tions of one, or of sev­eral, or even of all the senses.

But as to whether such hal­lu­ci­na­tions, among the sane, are ever caused by psy­chi­cal in­flu­ences from the minds of oth­ers, alive or dead, not com­mu­ni­cated through the or­di­nary chan­nels of sense, my mind is in a bal­ance of doubt. It is a ques­tion of ev­i­dence." (GoodReads)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is a great de­sign, even if the an­gels in the smoke of the burn­ing bra­ziers tem­pers the po­tency of the dreams “dreams and ghosts” promised in the ti­tle. But then this is not a col­lec­tion of creepy tales but Lang’s look at the su­per­nat­ural and the para­nor­mal.

To leaf through this book, click HERE.

 

AntiqueBook EvelynSharp Wymps 1897

Eve­lyn Sharp
Wymps
and Other Fairy Tales
New York and Lon­don
John Lane, 1897

Fic­tion

"Eve­lyn Jane Sharp was a key fig­ure in two ma­jor British women's suf­frage so­ci­eties, the mil­i­tant Women's So­cial and Po­lit­i­cal Union and the United Suf­frag­ists. She helped found the lat­ter and be­came ed­i­tor of Votes for Women dur­ing the First World War. She was twice im­pris­oned and be­came a tax re­sister. An es­tab­lished au­thor who had pub­lished in The Yel­low Book, she was es­pe­cially well known for her children's fic­tion." (Wikipedia)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is a per­fect cover de­sign. It’s sim­ple, clean, and strong, the reds and yel­lows jump­ing out of the black and green back­drop. The one-word ti­tle makes me won­der if it refers to the two dar­ling chil­dren hold­ing hands in the fore­ground or to some­thing wait­ing for them at the end of the row of trees they are fac­ing.

1898

AntiqueBook WTHorton BookOfImages 1898 1

W. T. Hor­ton
A Book of Im­ages
The Uni­corn Press
Lon­don, 1898

Non-fiction

"A col­lec­tion of both mun­dane and mys­ti­cal scenes, A Book of Im­ages is an odd work by W. T. Hor­ton. Mys­tic, il­lus­tra­tor and au­thor, Hor­ton cre­ated min­i­mal­is­tic black and white draw­ings sim­i­lar (but not as good, hon­estly) to those of Aubrey Beard­s­ley and Charles Rick­etts.

Im­ages of sym­bolic ur­ban vi­sions and re­li­gious char­ac­ters are in­tro­duced by none the less than Irish poet W. B. Yeats, who spon­sored Horton’s ini­ti­a­tion into the oc­cult or­ga­ni­za­tion the Golden Dawn and ref­er­ence the il­lus­tra­tor in his poem about Golden Dawn called 'All Souls’ Night'." (Socks Stu­dio)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is one of the more al­lur­ing cov­ers on this page, as it makes me want to walk that windy clifftop trail and peak over the edge and see what’s be­low. The art looks like it’s from an un­der­ground comic book from the early 1970s, al­though there would be some­thing other than a bay­ing wolf at the end of the trail, per­haps some­thing psy­che­delic.

To leaf through this book, click HERE.

 

AntiqueBook Richard BowdlerSharpe SketchBookOfBritishBirds 1898

Richard Bowdler Sharpe
Sketch-Book of British Birds
So­ci­ety for Pro­mot­ing Chris­t­ian Knowl­edge
Lon­don, 1898

Non-fiction

"Richard Bowdler Sharpe was an Eng­lish zo­ol­o­gist and or­nithol­o­gist who worked as cu­ra­tor of the bird col­lec­tion at the British Mu­seum of nat­ural his­tory. In the course of his ca­reer, he pub­lished sev­eral mono­graphs on bird groups and pro­duced a multi-volume cat­a­log of the spec­i­mens in the col­lec­tion of the mu­seum. He de­scribed sev­eral new species, in­clud­ing Sharpe's long­claw (Hemi­macronyx sharpei) and Sharpe's pied-babbler (Tur­doides sharpei) which are named in his honor." (Wikipedia)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is per­haps my fa­vorite cover here — for the de­sign, for the rhythms, for the col­ors, for the birds.

To leaf through this book, click HERE.

1899

AntiqueBook WalterCrane FloralFantasyInAnOldEnglishGarden 1899

Wal­ter Crane
A Flo­ral Fan­tasy in an Old Eng­lish Gar­den
Harper & Broth­ers
Lon­don, 1899

Fic­tion

"Wal­ter Crane is con­sid­ered to be the most pro­lific and in­flu­en­tial children’s book cre­ator of his gen­er­a­tion and, along with Ran­dolph Calde­cott and Kate Green­away, one of the strongest con­trib­u­tors to the child’s nurs­ery mo­tif that the genre of Eng­lish children’s il­lus­trated lit­er­a­ture would ex­hibit in its de­vel­op­men­tal stages in the lat­ter 19th cen­tury. His work fea­tured some of the more col­or­ful and de­tailed be­gin­nings of the child-in-the-garden mo­tifs that would char­ac­ter­ize many nurs­ery rhymes and children’s sto­ries for decades to come." (Wikipedia)

Com­ment: For my taste, this is a lovely cover, the de­sign of which re­minds just a wee bit of some of Disney’s an­i­mated films and Warner Broth­ers’ car­toon shorts of the 1950s. As much as I would have liked to close this ar­ti­cle with Richard Bowdler Sharpe’s British birds butting heads (the penul­ti­mate en­try above), I had to keep this one.

To leaf through this book, click HERE.

Postscript

As with many other hand­i­crafts, there has been a re­vival of in­ter­est in well-made cloth­bound books in re­cent years, some hand­crafted. But that's an­other story . . .

 

AntiqueBook header MysticsArt 1000

FEATURED IMAGE: I ac­tu­ally went look­ing for an ap­pro­pri­ately large im­age of a stack of an­cient books but when I saw this my search was over. As I wanted a touch of the old, I con­verted the orig­i­nal, lovely color im­age by Mys­tics Art De­sign (cour­tesy of Pix­abay) to the black & white im­age that is the fea­tured im­age at the top of this page.

 

 

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