Friday, April 5, 2013

A Venetian June

 Here is a lovely grotesque book cover design by Morse that is not in my book, but was discovered in time for the Grolier Club exhibition. As you can see, it is signed AM under the author's name, within the curly leaves of the lower part of the design.

Below is a review of the design in The Bookman, Volume 4. The review also attributes Morse as a designer for some of the volumes in Century's 'Thumbnail Series' and for the singular, classical design of Harper's 'Odd Number Series' and includes a picture of A Venetian June. While we now know that Morse designed at least two of the books for The Thumbnail series (Writing to Rosina and Tracings [see Tracings in an earlier posting), it still remains for me to locate the rest of the books in the series and see which can be attributed to Morse.

Anna Fuller
A Venetian June
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1896
Printer: The Knickerbocker Press
155 x 110 x 20 mm

Thursday, April 4, 2013

R. L. Stevenson's, Island Nights Entertainments - A Possible Morse Design

Robert Louis Stevenson. 
Island Night's Entertainments. 
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1893

Awhile back, Christina Kraus sent a picture of this unsigned book cover, thinking it might be by Alice C. Morse. It looks compatible with Morse's work but I haven't found any proof of its designer as yet. Morse did design the cover of Stevenson's  The Wrecker for  Scribner's, published in 1892. (See Dubansky entry 92-13.)

Christine of the Hills

Richard Minsky and John Lehner identified this cover as a Morse design and it certainly looks like one. It is signed in the lower right corner of the front cover illustration, but the monogram is not typical of Morse as it is missing the crossbar in the 'A'. This could just be artistic licence. The more pictorial covers we find of Morse's, the more we have a sense of her pictorial style -- and that list is growing. As Morse worked in so many styles (grotesque, art nouveau, arts and crafts, classical, etc.) it can be a challenge to identify her work if it is not signed -- and pretty much everything before 1894 is not signed. (Morse was designing book covers since 1887). I have not yet looked for a published reference that would verify that Morse designed Christine of the Hills. I plan to, but if you find anything, let me know.

Max Pemberton
Christine of the Hills
New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1897
University Press: John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.
181 x 127 x 27 mm
Photo Credit: Richard Minsky

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Singer of the Sea - A Variant of a Cover Used on Paul Dunbar's Lyrics of Love and Laughter

Those of you familiar with Alice C. Morse will recongnize this pretty design from its appearance on two other titles in The Proper Decoration of Book Covers:

 My Lady's Slipper by Dora Sigerson (Dubansky entry 99-4).
Lyrics of Love and Laughter by Paul Dunbar (Dubansky entry 03-1)

Thanks to Valinda Carroll for discovering it.

And the variants just keep on coming and characteristically deteriorate in quality. 

Amelia E. Barr
A Singer From the Sea
New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.
copyright 1893; no date on book
160 x 107 x 27 mm

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Puritan's Wife - (Almost) Everything Makes Sense

The binding for A Purtian's Wife (I.A.N.A., 1901; Dubansky entry 01-1), never made sense to me. It looks like a later adaptation of Morse's design. The mystery is at least somewhat solved by the appearance of the book cover shown here, that has Morse's lettering and spine design. I still feel that there may be an earlier variant of this cover somewhere out there because something still irks me about this one. The color of the stamping in relation to the cloth doesn't work well and I don't think it would have been Morse's choice. The copyright date on this book is 1896. That's where I think another design will eventually surface. Just a guess. Both books, entry 01-1 and the one shown here have the same title page.

Max Pemberton
A Puritan's Wife
180 x 112 x 22 mm

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Rose of a Hundred Leaves - Another Variant

Entry 91-1 in The Proper Decoration of Book Covers is Alice C. Morse's beautiful book cover design for A Rose of a Hundred Leaves. It is a lovely design depicting a wreath of pink roses gold-stamped on a white paper onlay. Another, smaller variant, much reduced in quality is also displayed. Today, I found yet a third variant with the same design, further simplified, but with a dust jacket. It isn't a newly discovered design, but it does illustrate how publishers continued to reinvent and reproduce cover designs, in smaller sizes for books in series.   

Amelia Huddleston Barr
A Rose of a Hundred Leaves: A Love Story
New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1891
Buy a copy of The Proper Decoration of Book Covers: The Life and Work of Alice C. Morse

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Missing Link, Century Company's Thumb-Nail Series

Morse's cover design for Writing to Rosina, published in 1894 by Century Co. (Dubansky entry 94-1) remained somewhat a mystery to me until now. The mystery began to unravel when Christina Kraus sent me a photograph of Tracings by E. Scott O'Connor as a Christmas email (thank you Christina!). I had always thought that Rosina was from a series and I did see some pictures of books online that looked very much like it in format but not necessarily by design. Fortunately Morse signed her cover for Tracings, so that it can easily be attributed to her. It took me awhile to get to the business of finding a copy for my Morse collection, but a few weeks ago, I devoted myself to the task and found one in excellent condition, as it was still in its original box! That was lucky for many reasons, but in particular, the printed label on the box was titled The Thumb-Nail Series and it listed the titles of the entire series, including Writing to Rosina. So now I can say with authority that both books are part of this charming series of small, decorative, blind-stamped bindings. It is possible that Morse designed others in the series, but that will take some time to determine.

Thumb-Nail Series
E. Scott O'Connor
Tracings, or a Reflection on Nature
New York: The Century Co., 1899
Printer: The De Vinne Press, New York
130 x 72 x 12 mm

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

A Dust Jacket for the Gypsy Series

It's a rare and wonderful occurance to find an Alice C. Morse book with a dust jacket, so of course I was thrilled to find one for Dodd, Mead & Company's Gypsy Series, published from 1894-1897(Dubansky entry 94-8). The occurance is so rare, in fact, that I only have one other book with a printed paper dust jacket in my collection. It is for a book that is yet another post-book discovery, A Singer of the Sea, by Amelia E. Barr. The Series, written by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps included four titles. Gypsy's Cousin Joy is the second book of the Gypsy Series, published in 1895. The design of the dust jacket is the same as the book's cover. The book is bound in a gold reverse cloth with green and orange stamping, with the title and author's name stamped in gold with an orange shadow.

A Newly Discovered Design - In Honor's Cause

Browsing recently on Ebay, I serendipitously discovered this book. Immediately, I recognized it as a possible Morse design and I started to look closely for a signature. Fortunately there was one, signed A. M., embedded in the title panel in the lower left corner and you can see a detail of it below, In Honour's Cause is a children's book and  looks very much like the cover published a year later for The Missing Prince (Dodd Mead, 1897; Dubansky entry 97-3). It is the second book found for a work by Fenn; the other being First in the Field, posted two entries ago. There are very few pictorial covers designed by Morse and these are logically found on books of children's literature. What stands out to me about their design is the wiggly (for lack of a better word) character of her drawing, the way she blocks out form and also the lettering style. If you look at enough of her designs, you will recognize them as well. 

George Manville Fenn
In Honor's Cause. A Tale of the Days of George the First.
Illustrations by Lancelot Speed
New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1896
Burr Printing House, New York
202 x 140 x 30 mm

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