Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Original gouache drawing found for "The Conquest of Granada"

About a year and a half ago, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum began an inventory of its prints and drawings and discovered a collection of Morse’s original designs for stained glass, book covers, and other related subjects. Among the 35 designs for book covers, only one has so far been identified as belonging to a published book.

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Washington Irving
Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada:Agapida Edition; Author’s Revised Edition (in two volumes)
New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
226 x 165 x 38 mm
Printer: The Knickerbocker Press, 1893
Dubansky Entry 93-2, p. 66

This is a half, preparatory drawing of Conquest of Granada. Cooper-Hewitt Accession Number: 1943-33-1-19; size: 20.4 x 7 x 1cm.:

The motifs used in this design also appear in Morse’s designs for stained glass…

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reference for "Landscape Gardening"

The following reference for this title (Samuel Parsons. Landscape Gardening . . . New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1891) was not included in my book (see Dubansky Entry 91-10, p. 58). It is a full-page illustration and accompanying review in American Bookmaker, June 1891, “Cover Stamps,” p.180-181.

Cover Stamps.
In the present issue of THE BOOKMAKER appear the cover stamps of two books which are to be published at an early day. Of these that on page 180 is to ornament the back and recto of the forthcoming work of Samuel Parsons, Jr., “Landscape Gardening,” of which G. P. Putnam’s Sons are the publishers. The book being bound in cloth of citron shade, the floral and leaf ornamentation and the lettering, which in the reproduction are here given are printed in black, will appear in gold on the book cover, as well as the dark background in which the conventionalized carnations are placed in the lower part of the recto. The appropriateness of the design and the excellence of its mode of treatment are very apparent.
Note: I have never seen this binding in a citron shade, mentioned above, only in green cloth on the spine and the same cloth used in reverse on the sides. As an aside, many of the photographs of landscapes were taken in New York's Central Park.

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Reference for "California and Alaska"

American Bookmaker, June 1890, p. 154-156 features a full-page illustration of Morse’s design in a black and white line drawing and a description in the column Books, Booklets and Brochures.

William Seward Webb
California and Alaska and Over the Canadian Pacific Railway285 x 200 x 50mm
New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890
Printer: The Knickerbockers Press, electrotyped, printed and bound by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Dubansky entry 90-7, p. 52-53

The binding for California and Alaska is in the style of a sixteenth-century French fanfare binding. It is bound in dark brown full morocco, stamped in gold on the front cover and blind-stamped on the back cover. The top edge is gilt and the endleaves are printed with tiny flowers. Only five hundred copies of this cover were produced. It sold for the high price of $25.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reference for Harper's Odd Number Series

This cover in dark blue cloth with silver stamping is described in the reference below. See Dubansky entry 89-4, pp. 48-49 for a description of the series contents and description of binding variants.

Four volumes of the Odd Number Series, including Pastels in Prose, were produced in a set, bound in white cloth with gold-stamping, top edge gilt and printed endleaves.

Reference: The American Bookmaker, June 1890, “Books, Booklets and Brochures” p. 155:

The little 12mo volume published by Harper & Brothers, called “Pastels in Prose,” has been termed, not inaptly, “a gem of bookmaking.” It forms one of the “Odd Number Series,” so called from the fact that the style of binding which was applied to the initial volume, a translation of Guy de Maupassant’s thirteen tales, is used upon others in the set. It is not at all surprising that the publishers are disposed to perpetuate this book cover design and did not discard it upon the completion of the work for which it was originally drawn. This design was prepared by Alice C. Morse, to whose artistic ability reference was made in THE BOOKMAKER for May, in which another of her cover designs was reproduced. It is somewhat difficult to write a description of the cover stamp which distinguishes the “Odd Number Series” and do just ice to its chaste beauty. It consists of a rectangular framework bordering the recto; within this are segments of minute Gothic arches bordered by straight lines. Within this again are two panels framed in ornamental lines, curves and dot. The upper panel is the narrower and contains the title of the work” the lower panel, four times as long, bears the colophon of the publishers. The binding is in a blue black cloth, which admirable set off the cover design stamped in silver, while the title is in gold letters. Upon the back of the volume the title appears in gold again, while the ornamentation on the cover is sparingly and tastefully employed above and below the title and at the bottom. At the Threshold of the interior a delicately tinted frontispiece is found, and this is succeeded by numerous vignette illustrations, drawn by Henry W. McVickar, which seem to be imbued with the spirit of the context. One of these, which accompanies a tale of “Clown and Columbine,” is given on page 153 of THE BOOKMAKER. There are nearly three hundred pages to this volume, will printed on excellent paper and a finishing touch is added by imparting to the upper edges of the leaves a light yellow tint.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Morse's Design for The Giunta Series - New Binding Variant Identified

The Giunta Series, 1890-1893
Charles Reade
New York: Dodd, Mead & Company
167 x 103 mm
(Dubansky Entry 90-1, p. 49)

The new information in this reference is that the Giunta Series was also available in leather binding variant. I have not seen an example of this variant. From the Publisher’s List at the back of Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush, Dodd, Mead and Co. 1895; see p. 239 on Harvard’s copy on Google Books:

Including the classics of literature. Named after the great Florentine printers of the fifteenth century, the brothers Giunta, the books are made at the University Press, Cambridge, on type imported from France, and are models of typographical excellence. 16mo, cloth, per vol., $1.00, Also in a variety of dainty bindings in leather at various prices.
Photograph: Eileen Travell

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Morse’s Design for "The Woman's Book" and Its Adaptation for "The House and Home"

Morse’s book cover design for Stevenson’s Ballads was featured in two nearly identical woman’s guides, published by Scribner’s in 1894. Both include chapters on occupations for women, principles of housekeeping, the art of travel, house building and decoration, and books and reading. The Woman's Book and its successor, The House and Home, introduced Morse as an excellent example of the successful woman designer. In P. G. Hubert Jr.’s chapter titled “Occupations for Women,” the field of book-cover design was recommended as a viable occupation for women. The author buttressed his point by printing color illustrations of two woman-produced book covers: Morse’s Stevenson’s Ballads (Dubansky, 90-8); and Songs About Life, Love and Death, designed by Margaret Armstrong. Here is a link to Harvard University Library's digital copy of House and Home (1896). This later binding is entirely different from earlier printings. The book cover design is not attributed to Morse.
The unsigned cover design for The Woman’s Book can now be attributed to Morse, as a reference has been found in an issue of The Book Buyer from 1894-1895 (see reference below). The 1894 book cover design on House and Home is an adaptation of this cover. Only Morse's design for the outer border was reused for this cover. The central cartouche and border are omitted from its design. I have seen copies of House and Home in red cloth only.

Morse's signed personal copy of The Woman's Book has recently been identified by Jackie Killian, Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Drawings and Prints, Cooper Hewitt Museum. It is in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt Museum library, New York City.
Reference: The Book Buyer. Vol. 11, February 1894-January 1895, p. 484.
Seen on Google Books, March 30, 2010, p. 484.
On p. 701, a full page advertisement for The Woman's Book:

...The Woman’s Book is issued in Two royal octavo volumes. Bound in durable Boston Linen, with Design in silver by Miss Alice Morse. Price, $7.50: Half Morocco, $10.00. Sold only by Subscription. Agents Watnted Charles Scribner’s Sons, APublishers, 153-157 Fifth Ave., New York.

In the third paragraph: The work of those artists who are distinctly cover-designers is shown in the Scribner books, by Miss Margaret Armstrong upon the cover of "The Bird’s Calendar", and by Miss Alice Morse upon the covers of "Polly" and "The Woman’s Book".
This reference also mentions Morse’s design for Polly, which I speculate is the design on one of the four-volume set by Thomas Nelson Page. Morse is known to have designed the first title in this set, Marse Chan (See Dubansky 92-12).

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