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History of Publishers Cloth Bindings

Sam Lanham asked about Pickering classics labels. I looked in my slide
files and found two Pickering bindings with labels from the Newberry
Library. One 1820 is in a painted paper binding the other 1824 is in a
cloth binding. Both have adhered paper labels. There is an interesting
discussion of this Pickering work in a Douglas Leighton essay "Canvas
and Bookcloth", THE LIBRARY, 5th ser., 3:39, 1948.

The layer that I will add to the discussion is that the earliest cloth
bindings are not case bindings. This technical conversion occured within
the stream of cloth work. The early Pickering Classics bindings, like
our early J. & J. Harpers cloth bindings from the same period, are
in-boards construction. Case construction manufacture, essential to the
subsequent success of cloth binding, occurs later...5 - 10 years later
at the earliest, after the introduction of glued cotton cloth.

The revolution from in-boards to case construction is always neglected
in narratives of the advent of cloth binding.

Gary Frost

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