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JOEL Joel's Blog

Book Covers


These days when you write a book on woodworking you mostly try to put a photograph on the cover of some guy, usually the author, doing some sort of woodworking, or a picture of the project. I'm working on a book from 1839 on the early training of apprentices with Chris Schwarz and at some point we have to design the cover. Tim, my designer is doing that but as we want a cover in the spirit of the time - early Victorian, Tim asked me to dig up some reference material. As you can see below as the Victorian Age matures the covers get fancier and fancier, until the Art's & Crafts movement beats some sense into the designers. These covers are typical of the period, in my next blog entry I will post an entry about the greatest woodworking book cover of ALL TIME.

Book Covers 4An early hobbyist book on turning from 1846, this book merits a detailed post on it's own. But the cover is typical. Just the title, no author, an embossed border and the title in gilt.
Book Covers 5Stokes, from 1852, we are getting fancier. These books were fairly popular and the cloth bindings were common on "popular" titles. Other period covers could be leather, tooled or plain, and marbled paper also made a very nice cover. Fancy treatment was restricted to higher priced books.
Book Covers 6Holly is American, just after the Civil War. Basically the same style as before but without the embossing. Is it an austere American style? or just a cost savings? We also get the author's name.
Book Covers 7Not really a woodworking book but the only interesting cover I have from 1884. It really tries to tell a story on the cover and we get an author. A famous technical one at that. Holtzapffel and other important books from the time usually had simpler covers with no letter just some embossing, with nice bindings to show the book well on a bookshelf.
Book Covers 8An early title, this edition is very early 20th Century. It shows the influence of the Art's & Crafts Movement, but it's still firmly rooted in Victorian England
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08/19/2009 Gary Roberts
Joel... in the first quarter of the 19th C, the average book was bound in paper over stiff boards with a leather spine and possibly quarter leather tips. Trade Cloth Bindings show up towards the middle of the second quarter and take over for quite a number of decades as the preferred format for the 'working' book. I believe the advent of the trade cloth blind embossed or gold embossed binding was a direct result of the development in Great Britain of trade book binding.

I have a book covering (no pun intended) the history of trade book binding. I'll look for it as my interest is once again piqued.

You are correct. Since the book we are reprinting is from 1839 we are just at the start of the trade book style. Jeff Peachy did an analysis of the various editions of the book and really highlights the differences in manufacture. We will be including his comments as an appendix in our reprint.
08/19/2009 Gary Roberts
After a quick look over some shelves, I spotted two copies of Hazen's Panorama. The 1837 edition is printed paper over board, leather spine. The 1839 edition is cloth, gold embossed, leather spine. The 1839 cloth is very plain, simply pebbled without any blind embossing.

I'm looking forward to the book and to Jeff's comments.

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