Friday, March 22, 2019

Marion Peabody update!

Remember our blog post about Marion Peabody, the binding designer, whom we posted about way back in 2015? If not, go check it out! You can even see the photograph of her that we found in passport records.

Anyway, we have an update thanks to the sleuthing of Linda Obora! I was sitting at my desk in November of 2018 when a manila envelope was handed to me. Intrigued, I immediately opened it and pulled out the enclosed papers and letter. The letter was from Linda Obora, a genealogy researcher, and she had traced information about Marion and found her death date. Not only did she provide this information, but also was able to send us a copy of her death certificate and (drum roll, please) her WILL! How awesome is that? Thank you so much, Linda! 

Luckily, her research helped answer some of the unknowns from the previous post. We had found a tombstone that looked very much like it was Marion's, but we couldn't find that one missing link that definitively said that this was indeed "our" Marion. These documents linked everything together. So without delay, I want to share with you what Linda found. 

Marion Louise Peabody died January 9, 1937 at 6:15 pm in her home at Via Mario del Fiori, 16, Rome, Italy. 

There's just something about being able to see the same cobble stone streets she would have walked, probably the same door that she would have opened day in and day out, the same scenery she would have walked past on the way to pick up some things at the market--it makes her life more "real". Thankfully, Google Maps gives us this ability to see these things without physically being there. Check it out!



She died from cancer of the liver which was certified by her physician, Dr. Giulio Brocchieri. She was cremated and then buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Testaccio, Rome (the resting place of John Keats, Percy Shelley). The death certificate even spells out the exact plot in the cemetery where she was buried

Here is her tombstone, courtesy of Find a Grave.


It reads:

Qui le ceneri
lassu l'anima angelica 
di 
Marion L. Peabody
di Boston, Mass., U.S.A. 
Diletta dal signore
nella bontae nella sofferenza
le sia premio
la vita eterna
Roma 9, Gennaio 1937

(transcription from Find a Grave; "bontae" should read "bonta e")

Her brother in law, Lionel Simeon Marks (husband of Josephine Peabody, the famous author), was notified of her death by a telegraph sent to Harvard University, where he was employed, on January 9, 1937 and January 10, 1937. Josephine had died in 1922, so it's telling that her brother-in-law was the one notified. Marion's passport was destroyed on January 11, 1937, a scant two days after she passed. J. Wesley Jones, the vice consul of the United States of America, signed off on her death certificate which was officially filed February 5, 1937.  Her effects were left in the care of a Mr. Luigi Trombetti, the executor of the will. 

It never ceases to amaze me that you can find so much information on a death certificate. 

But now I was curious about Mr. Luigi Trombetti. Who was he--a friend? Simply her lawyer? My attention turned to the translated three page copy of the will that Linda included with the death certificate and letter. You can glean so much information from a will. You find out who was most important or closest to the deceased--well, important enough to warrant leaving them something at any rate. You can peer into their personal lives a little more and find out what things were dear enough to them to want the items to go to someone instead of just being disposed of.

Remember, Marion never married and was a self-sufficient woman who was living in Italy in 1937. Why is that important? Italy was living under the rule of Benito Mussolini. The Rome-Berlin Axis was established in 1936, but Italy had been living under a fascist government long before that. What was that like for her? 

Anyway, back to the will. 

Marion made her will on December 31, 1936, which, as the document points out, is the 15th year of the Fascist Era, at her home on the second floor of number 16, Via Mario del Fiori. Five people, in addition to Marion, were present to serve as witnesses while the will was created:
-Igino Clementi, an Italian notary; 
-John Wesley Jones, who we've already established was the Vice Consul of the United States of America and signed her death certificate; 
-Graham Erskine, an American architect;
-Giovanni Bizzarri, an Italian clerk;
-Pasquale Blasi, an Italian clerk.

The will identifies Marion as "Miss Marion Louise Peabody, daughter of the late Carlo". We learned in the first blog post that she was, in fact, the daughter of Charles (thus Carlo) K. Peabody who died in 1884 when Marion was 15. The will states that she's "ill in bed", so we know the cancer was debilitating at this point, and that Marion died just over a week later. 

The will starts with her niece Alison Peabody Marks, daughter of her sister Josephine Peabody Marks and Lionel Marks. Marion left her several rings (which were thoroughly described), a heart studded with diamonds, silver spoons, and a color picture of Josephine. 

Lionel Peabody Marks, her nephew, was left four decanters with a stand which belonged to her great, great grandmother 

Miss Dora Ohlfsen received two furs and 5000 lire. Say what?! Dora Ohlfsen-Bagge was a fascinating character who was a pianist, sculptor, painter, medallist, and had a brief stint (that we know of) as a spy. A spy, y'all! She and her lifelong companion met an untimely death in 1948 when they were found in their gas filled studio. Police ruled it accidental deaths, but some suspect it was a suicide pact.

Baroness Hélène de Kuegelgen, the companion of Dora Ohlfsen-Bagge and the individual who died with her, was left 5000 lire. 

Marion left Countess Frances du Besse two writing desks.

Mrs. Lia Trombetti Lardel received  a table from the drawing room and an ornate piece of furniture from the hallway.

The Reverend of the American church in Rome, Samuel Tyler, was left Marion's copies of books written by her sister, Josephine.  

The owner of the "Felix" library, Mr. Michele _________ was left the rest of her book collection. 

Mr. Alfredo Cifani was left a writing desk, his choice of chest of drawers or writing desk, and a bureau with the American coat of arms on it. 

Marion remembered her maids in her will as well. To Firmina Ferrari, "Irma" she left all of the kitchen contents including the furniture and utensils, all the contents of the entrance hall, the wardrobe in her bedroom, half of the table service, and half of her clothes and underclothes, though she did specify that Irma couldn't have the silk underclothes. She additionally left her 800 lire. To her other maid, Elvira Ruggieri, she left the other half of her clothes and underclothes (specifying again to not touch the silk) and 800 lire. 

Then, finally, we discover a little bit more about Mr. Luigi Trombetti. Marion left twenty-five lire apiece to Maria Letizia and Maria Immacoleta Trombetti, daughters of Avvocato Luigi Trombetti. So he definitely was a lawyer, but Marion goes on to give hints to their relationship later on in the paragraph saying, "as a token of gratitude for the brotherly and disinterested assistance their father has given me during the last seven years and of the esteem and friendship which I have felt and always shall feel for him." So in answer to my earlier questions, we now know he was both a lawyer and a friend. 

She closed her will with "I remember with affection all my relatives and friends." 

Marion was truly an interesting and fascinating character. She kept company with countesses, baronesses, painters, sculptures, lawyers, and most interestingly to me, a spy. We know her best here at Jackson Library as an accomplished binding designer and didn't want to end this post without a look at some of her work. 

Thanks again to Linda Obera, who did the leg work which offered us a glimpse into Marion Peabody's personal life. I love the fact that we can connect with people we otherwise wouldn't have through this blog. 







Paris and the social revolution : a study of the revolutionary elements in the various classes of Parisian society

Published by Small, Maynard & Company in 1905.

















Caleb Trench

Published by Little, Brown, and Company in 1910.








Little Brother o' Dreams 

Published by Houghton, Mifflin Co. in 1910.








Appropriately, we'll end this post with a binding she created for her beloved sister, Josephine Preston Peabody's, book The Wayfarerers.  Published by Copeland and Day, 1898.


Friday, December 22, 2017

A Christmas Wish: Mammoth Cheese on the Hearthstone

Once again Christmas has crept up on us.  We’re through the solstice turn and are in the final stretch of 2017.  




However, I’m devastated to say that I’ve never heard that Santa delivers binding images, even to the best behaved, which prompted this bitter image. 


Cover by Margaret Armstrong

To celebrate the holiday season appropriately, AmericanTrade Bindings and Beyond is pleased to offer two gifts for your enjoyment.  I must note that these images are not re-gifted; in fact, two are so new that they have not even made it onto our website.

The first is a stocking stuffer, fit to mingle with the knick-knacks, unshelled nuts, candies, fruits and, of course, the chocolate covered marshmallow Santas.  You’ll need a jumbo stocking for this one, however, as it is 610 pages and comes in a whopping 10 ½ x 8 x 1 ½ inch case.

Truman, Ben. C.  History of the World's Fair, being a complete and authentic description of the Columbian Exposition from its inception. With special articles by Geo. R. Davis, Thos. W. Palmer, Mrs. Potter Palmer, Moses P. Handy, D.H. Burnham, John Thorpe, Thomas B. Bryan, and numerous other people prominently connected with the Exposition. Profusely illustrated with engravings made from photographs and drawings of exhibits in the various departments.  Johnsons, N.Y.: Star Publishing Co., 1893.



And to make it even more enticing-- it does not have a marshmallow center; instead it contains a cheese filling!   To pique your interest, here’s a peek under the wrapper:

Our second book comes in two varieties.  Since I couldn’t choose-- here are both.

Holloway, Laura C.  The hearthstone; or, Life at home. A household manual. Containing hints and helps for home making; home furnishing; decorations; amusements; health directions; the sick-room; the nursery; the library; the laundry; etc. Together with a complete cookery book.  Beloit, Wis.: The Inter-State Publishing House, 1883.







There’s a reason for this pairing but I’m not going to reveal it until after the 25th.  Since we’re on holiday for the rest of the month, however, you’ll have to wait until 2018.  But the revelation will certainly make the delay worthwhile as the new year promises a strange journey to premature smacking, bibles, offensive teeth, dummies, mysterious places of publication, theosophy, wandering agents, mysterious publishers, surprising uses for beef tea, and, of course, mammoth cheese.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Margaret Armstrong's Great Series; Cloth Color part 2

In the last post we began to look at cloth color as an aspect of trade binding design.  We also took a brief look at publishing practices such as the role of electrotyping in keeping books available for long periods, and “case binding” and how this method of bookbinding allowed publishers to meet increased consumer demand quickly and economically.  We examined several designs by two of the masters of trade binding design, Margaret Armstrong and Sarah Wyman Whitman, and why some books were published in differently colored cloth simultaneously--with John Greenleaf Whittier’s The Tent on the Beach issued in at least four different cloth colors.  We saw how cloth color alone can vary a design’s impact, sometimes dramatically, and how the color of the cloth used was not random, but was made by choice of the designer and/or the publisher, to serve both the design and the book buying public’s preferences.  






As promised, in this post we’ll look at the use of cloth color for “series” (or “editions”) of individual authors.  Since there will be lots of bindings to look at I’ve decided to limit myself to two Margaret Armstrong series, each of which uses the same cloth color to define the series; the different (though related) designs on each book distinguishes the individual titles.  With apologies for turning this topic into a saga, I’m now planning one or two more posts in this series.  In the next post I’ll look at one of my favorite series.  Since this one focuses on the use of one cloth color to “brand” an author, the next will examine how different cloth colors can complement designs for a single author series, by emphasizing the subject of each book.  I’ll also return to the “and beyond” in the title of our blog by discussing how we represent cloth color when we prepare descriptions for bindings in our collection.  A final post will focus on the concept of series as much as that of cloth color, with examples drawn from other Margaret Armstrong “series” in all their variety.   


It seems appropriate to let a family member begin our consideration of Margaret Armstrong’s great series.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Ace up a Designer's Sleeve: Cloth Color part 1

For our next two posts, let’s talk about color.  Cloth color.  It’s one of the three inescapable features of trade bindings from their beginnings in 1820s England through the 1920s, and one of two that continue to this day.  The other two are cloth graining, which was seldom done after the 1910s (I’d say never but there might be some holdovers), and stamping, which today is almost completely reduced to title, author and publisher lettering on the spine.  Stamping on the covers is a topic which comes up in every post; cloth graining has made appearances in past posts and is will be covered in more detail in the future.



I’ll be breaking down my remarks on color into two parts:  in this first I’ll be considering it in the context of designs on several individual titles and how color alone can vary the impact of a design.  In a later post we’ll look at the use of cloth color in designs for “series” or “editions,” that is, series of books by individual authors with different designs on each volume, as well as series with identical designs for different titles.  In both, most examples will be taken from the work of Margaret Armstrong (1867-1944) who frequently appears in this blog.(1)  She is one of the best (many would say the best) cover designer of the late 19th and early 20th century, and is certainly one of the most collected, thanks to the work of Charles Gullans and John Espey. (2)


Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays from the Decorative Designers

It’s only a few days until Christmas and, as always at this time of year, our thoughts are turning to seasonal and wintry topics: decorating the house, seeing family, vacation, finding the perfect gift for that strange uncle, being stranded on a train by a blizzard …


To celebrate the season, our last post of 2016 is a fine wintry design from our friends the Decorative Designers. 




Will Carleton. Drifted in. New York: Every Where Publishing Company, 1908. 

The cover is a model of using space effectively, color, and suggestion. The effects are achieved using only two colors (light blue and black) and gilt on a grayish-blue cloth. The central image of the snow-bound train is enclosed in a rigid frame, with the front of the engine only one eighth of an inch from the left frame.