Wednesday, June 8, 2011

1905. Henry James jacket & slipcase.

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James, Henry. English Hours. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1905. First trade edition. Original decorated cloth. 8vo. Illustrated by Joseph Pennell. [The Bookmark]

The trade binding in the rare publisher’s dust jacket and slipcase, all in exceptional condition. This is the only example of the slipcase we know of and just the second example of the jacket. There also was a large paper edition which was issued with jacket and slipcase.

Early Houghton Mifflin jackets were typically entirely plain or printed only with title information on the spine. By the 1890s and early 1900s the firm was repeating binding designs on some of its jackets, although it would continue to use plain or nearly plain jackets for years to come. The regular use of blurbs, advertising and color was still years away for most Houghton Mifflin jackets, although many other firms were employing some or all of these features by 1905.

Despite the lack of color, this jacket conveys the beauty of the binding by reversing the dark and light areas of the design using only shades of black ink and the color of the paper itself. In The Art of American Book Covers 1875 - 1930 (New York: Braziller, 2010, p. 53), Richard Minsky attributes the design to Thomas Watson Ball, noting that it is usually “wrongly attributed to Bruce Rogers, who did the typographic design for this book.”

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