Bound To Please: Nineteenth Century Publishers' Bindings

Bound To Please: Nineteenth Century Publishers' Bindings

  • View of the two display cases in full (Case 05 and 06)
    View of the two display cases in full (Case 05 and 06)
  • Samples of publishers' bindings.
    Samples of publishers' bindings.
  • Samples of publishers' bindings.
    Samples of publishers' bindings.
  • Samples of publishers' bindings.
    Samples of publishers' bindings.
  • Samples of publishers' bindings.
    Samples of publishers' bindings.
  • Samples of publishers' bindings.
    Samples of publishers' bindings.
  • Samples of publishers' bindings.
    Samples of publishers' bindings.
  • Samples of publishers' bindings.
    Samples of publishers' bindings.

Books are not just about texts. They are also about art and design. Studying them in their original "packaging" can help us better understand how people communicated whether verbally or visually, in times gone by. 

Book bindings are one of the many channels through which books have historically communicated information. The modern concept of books with standardized, illustrated covers dates to the nineteenth century, when European and American publishers took control of this step in the book production process as part of an effort to consolidate the publishing industry and control how books were marketed. Publishers' bindings, as they came to be known, invite us to immerse ourselves in the visual culture of that time period and think about how it sheds light on other topics, such as the rise of consumerism, nationalism, industry, and education, just to name a few. 

Shown here is a selection of publishers' bindings from Special Collections. Questions? Please let us know! 

Location: 
Special Collections Case 05
Display By: 
Michael Taylor, Special Collections Librarian