One of the great things about the used & rare book trade is that it’s not unusual to gain knowledge from your customers, particularly those who are dedicated collectors. There are many, many areas of book collecting to learn about, and you need never stop learning. Recently a very nice customer visited us from North Carolina whose area of interest is American Trade Bindings, and we had an interesting morning talking about it (when I could pester him during his breaks from browsing the shelves). I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with this intriguing niche, but it occurred to me that you might appreciate learning something about it.
The glory time of the illustrated book cover was short lived. Because of economic factors due to the World War I, the era of beautifully decorated cloth bindings came to a close around 1920, with most American publishers going back to the cheaper plain boards, adorned with paper dustjackets. Graphic artists found new opportunities in
the art and design of these jackets as they also evolved from plain to illustrated.
This is a rewarding collecting area because the books are generally quite beautiful, incorporating many different styles and artists, and because it is more affordable than most areas of book collecting—at least for the present time. Although the books are collected primarily for their lovely bindings, rather than for their content, some are by well known authors and have great content as well.
The books shown here are available at our on-line store.
Websites of interest to whet your appetite on the subject: