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The Golden Age of Book Covers

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As a former cataloging intern in the Library's Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, I have a great fondness and appreciation for old books with decorative bindings. And, lucky for me, I have a few late 19th and early 20th century books passed down to me from my grandparents. They have a special place reserved in my book case at home so that I can admire their stamped, gilt-edged spines from my favorite chair. Sitting with one of these books in hand transports me to a vision of a woman reading bathed in natural light from a 19th century painting (see Forbidden Fruit: A History of Women and Books in Art by Christiane Inmann, 2009). In other words, it gives me the sense that I am in another time when, books were often the everyday entertainment of choice and the words contained inside the gorgeous covers were considered worthy of fine ornament.

I invite you to extend your appreciation of decoration and quality in bookbinding on Thursday, October 27, at Mid-Manhattan Library. Richard Minsky will present an illustrated lecture discussing The Golden Age of Book Covers. This program will begin at 6:30 p.m. on the sixth floor (elevator access to the sixth floor beings at 6 p.m.).

Minsky, an acclaimed book artist and founder of Center for Book Arts, has recently published The Art of American Book Covers, 1875-1930. This beautiful volume illustrates many gorgeous examples of richly-printed book covers that decorated late 19th and early 20th century publications. If you were looking for a reason to love printed books over ebooks, these book covers will convince you.

For more information on book cover design and binding, try some of these titles:

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