Ribbon-embossed cloth

Posted on 3rd October 2023 by simonbeattie

This is a copy of Jane and Ann Taylor’s City Scenes, or a Peep into London, brought out by London publishers Harvey & Darton in, according to the title-page, 1828, but it was probably issued about 1835. In his magisterial bibliography The Dartons: an annotated check-list of children’s books, Lawrence Darton notes four possible bindings for the book: marbled boards with a black roan spine, or blue, green, or purple-brown cloth, but with no information on the cloth grain.  Another copy I have seen was in fairly standard fine diaper cloth.  This one is bound in a striking example of ribbon-embossed cloth, a type of book covering which ‘swept over the middle ’thirties in a wave of elegance’ (Carter, Publisher’s Cloth, p. 31), and is so-called ‘because the grainings were actually carried out by ribbon-embossers, who would naturally produce just such designs as were usual to their more regular avocation.  So once again book-fabric touched on dress-fabrics and borrowed something of its characteristics; and once again contact was of brief duration’ (Sadleir, The Evolution of Publishers’ Binding Styles, p. 47). 

This is just one of the books I intend exhibiting later this month at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair. I hope perhaps to see you there.

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