One of the ways to pay tribute to an author or publisher is to have his
work covered in a luxurious binding. Such tribute was paid the Mosher
Books time and again. Mosher himself even commented on this phenomenon:
In this connection it may not be inappropriate, or devoid of
interest, to mention the fact that American and foreign
binders have chosen many of these books whereon to lavish
their skill. In America, Mr. Otto Zahn, the Misses Nordholf and
Bulkley; in London, Miss Prideaux and the
Guild of Women Binders
have re-clothed in exquisite bindings not a few of the
special copies of Mr. Mosher's editions.
-- "A List of Books in Limited Editions" 1898, p.6
Yet another way, popular in the 19th and early 20th
century, was to extra-illustrate or illumine them. Illumination could mean
just coloring the title page and the head- and tail-pieces, or more
elaborate productions of flowers, mini-scenes, and full-page
illustrations. Mosher himself encouraged the illustration of his books,
either by announcing in his catalogue that a certain book had ample
margins for adding illustration, or by corresponding with persons
interested in illuminating as a hobby, for special presentation to a loved
one or friend, or for some remuneration. Work like this was done on a
regular basis on the early Roycroft books; however, unlike the Roycroft
Print Shop, Mosher never hired a team of illuminators to carry out the
work. Independent parties were involved, and examples of illumination can
be seen on books decorated by Rookwood artist,
Clara Chipman Newton
of Cincinnati, and yet another illuminator of a 1905 Kasidah only
known by the initials
or by a Mrs. Kate Townsend of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with whom Mosher
discussed extra-illumination through his correspondence with her.
Samples of other illuminated Mosher books.]
In 1906 the Grolier Club held "AN EXHIBITION OF SOME OF THE LATEST
ARTISTIC BINDINGS DONE AT THE
The Club Bindery was set up by a select few members of the Grolier Club to
bind their most precious books following the finest standards of European
binderies. Mosher was a member of the Grolier Club since December 1895,
and eight of the one-hundred thirty eight bindings exhibited were on
Mosher imprints-more than any other American publisher represented at the
exhibition. Most bindings were very limited editions (fewer than ten) on
Roman vellum, and belonged to Henry William Poor.
Another important creative binder of Mosher's books was Otto Zahn. His
monograph, On Art Binding, was
prepared for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition where products of his bindery,
Toof and Company of Memphis, Tennessee, were on display at the Fine Arts
Building. Included in Zahn's monograph were twelve photo-reproductions of
the firm's finest work. Among those were bindings of original manuscripts
by Tennyson, Dickens, and Napoleon, two Kelmscott books and two of "Thomas
B. Mosher's beautiful publications (TOOF & Co. exhibition binding on Marius
the Epicurean; Mosher, 1900; Copy No. 3 of 4 printed on vellum).
Mosher referred his clients wishing fine bindings directly to the binders,
as he did in a March 21, 1898 letter to a wealthy patron:
I also send you some photos of binding done by Mr.
Otto Zahn. You will see an article on his work in
Scribner's Book Buyer for March. I have written
him giving your address, and hope if you decide to
bind the set, you will permit him to do it for
you-in part at least-as I believe he is without an
equal on this side the waters.
-- Mosher to Emilié Grigsby, March 21, 1898, pp. [1-2], at the Donohue
Rare Book Room of the Gleeson Library, University of San Francisco
(quoted here with permission)
Zahn also operated a bindery in Memphis under his own name and hired other binders, one of whom was Lorenz Schwartz who did unusual finishing for the period as exhibited in this binding combining Rossetti's Poems (1902) and Ballades & Sonnets (1903) in a single volume using a wheat design including a goffered edge design. This style contrasts vividly with Otto Zahn's own work as further exemplified by his finishing on Father Damien and Aucassin & Nicolete.
Various "job" binders entered the picture, and many Mosher books were
bound in 3/4 morocco by English and American firms for the retail market.
Sangorski and Sutcliffe, and
R. R. Donnelley
all provided elegant dress for the Mosher books. Such firms as Boston's
Rose Bindery, J. W. Meyers, Chicago's
and New York's
also provided bound Moshers for
Brentano's, Putnam's and the Lord and Taylor bookshops, especially for the
Samples of other bindings on The Mosher Books
(please allow time for downloading)
Group 1 -- Women Binders of Mosher Books
During the late 19th century and early 20th century many women turned to
bookbinding as a creative outlet or money making venture. The Mosher books
were ideally suited for these binders and numerous examples exist. The
standard reference for these binders is Marianne Tidcombe's Women
Bookbinders--1880-1920 (Oak Knoll Press & The British Library, 1996).
Here are a few examples of bindings by women placed on Mosher imprints.
Included are bindings by
who studied under Cobden-Sanderson
of the Doves Bindery,
(later Thomas) who studied bookbinding along with Rachel MacMasters Miller
(later Hunt) under Euphemia Bakewell who was also a student of
Cobden-Sanderson's, and L.
a California binder who studied under Louis Jacobs and Joseph Hendricks
in Brussels, and who later became the head of the hand bindery at Houghton
Mifflin's Riverside Press in Cambridge, MA.
Another women who most certainly trained under one of Cobden-Sanderson's students was Gertrude R. Andrews (Mrs. Frank M. Andrews), an original member of the American Guild of Book-Workers and whose binding work is very much in the style of a Doves Bindery.
There is also a binding by
Mary Stuart Kernochan of New York about whom little is known.
The collection even includes the noted Mosher collector's wife,
Charlotte Strouse (wife of Norman Strouse) in a binding on Mosher's edition of Polonius she bound for her husband's "Ladies in My Library" exhibition in 1968.
In addition to bindings by British firms on Mosher books like that of
Bickers & Son of London, some master-binders in France also provided sumptuous dress to Mosher's wares. A good example is the work of René Chambolle of the Paris atelier, Chambolle-Duru, who most likely bound this Japan vellum copy of Aucassin & Nicolete shown in the Caxton Club's 1898 "Exhibition of Nineteenth Century Bookbindings."
Group 3 -- Commercial Firms
Numerous commercial binderies took on the Mosher books to fill store
showcases selling to the more affluent for holiday gifts, or to further
attract the eye of discriminating collectors. Firms like the Rose Bindery
of Boston; Ramage of London; Baynton of Bath; Stikeman & Co. and the Adams
Binderies of New York; the Oakwood Binders of Pittsfield, MA; the
Monastery Hill Bindery of Chicago; Zaehnsdorf, Hatchards, or Sangorski &
Sutcliff of England; and many others, all produced a wide assortment of
quarter, half, three-quarter, and full leather bindings. Two example
groupings of these bindings may be seen here.
Group 4 -- Modern Bindings by Contemporary Artists
Numerous modern artists in the books arts have provided bindings on Mosher
books, among them being George Baer of the Cuneo Press Bindery, William
Anthony, Micheline Bellefroid of France, Bruce Plumley of the Eddington
Bindery, Jamie Kamph of the Stonehouse Bindery, and Roger Powell--the
great English binder. The following contemporary binders exhibit the work
of the internationally acclaimed Swiss artist, Hugo Peller, and that of
one of his students, Silvia Rennie who also became an accomplished and
recognized binder. The bindings appear on Mosher's editions of The Story of Amis &
Amile (1899) and on Baudelaire's Poems in Prose (1909), bound by
Peller and Rennie respectively. Both bindings are located in the Bishop
Collection (the front cover of yet another Rennie binding on D. G.
Rossetti's Poems  ).