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.

Buy a copy of The Proper Decoration of Book Covers: The Life and Work of Alice C. Morse