I'm in the middle of doing something exciting that I will hopefully get to share with you guys soon. I'm combing through book advertisements to see if there is any mention of who the book cover designer was. So far I've checked out some key phrases in the New York Times and now I'm moving on to Google Books.
A while back, I stumbled on a perfect ad that showcases just how awesome book advertisements were back in the day. They were so detailed--well, some of them. Let me say that there are a lot of good bibliographies out there that will help you find the same information. Some libraries are smaller than others and have limited access to those resources, however, so being able to do it a free (well semi-free) way is always a positive. You'll still have to pay for your own internet, but you know what I mean. The main purpose of this post is to show you how you can utilize free resources on the internet when doing your binding research. Most of you probably already know how to do this, but it never hurts to see someone else's process, right? I was perusing Google Books and I stumbled across The book buyer. Here's the title page of the one I was looking at:
(You can click on the image and it will take you to the book in Google Books)
Super helpful publication, I must say. I searched within this publication for, "book cover designed by" and ta-da I got got some hits. Will this method pick up everything in the book? No. It depends on how good the OCR was of the image but it'll definitely get you started... hopefully.
Here were my results:
The first image had the words highlighted as well; they just weren't highlighted anymore when I captured the screen shot. As you can see these advertisements were pretty informative. They offer the title, author, publisher, amount to purchase the book, all things you would expect to see; but then some go on to list illustrators and, at times, cover designers which is just what I'm looking for. Stone & Kimball and Copeland & Day were really good about informing their public about cover designers. The first image shows 3 books that had binding designers attributed to them, which is awesome since I couldn't find a signed binding of those in the Internet Archive (fyi: if you haven't used Internet Archive, you are missing out! I cannot tell you how much I love this site. Check it out when you get a moment. I promise, you will not regret it.).
The second page had bindings by Bruce Rogers. Now some of you book enthusiasts probably have heard of him. I'm still new to the binding game so I don't have a lot of knowledge stored up about every binding design...yet. Slowly but surely, my friends. Doing a quick search in our CONTENTdm site shows me that we do have bindings by him (See). None of the bindings are signed, so how did we attribute them to Bruce Rogers? For that I had to go to our catalog (this makes me wonder if we should put references in our CONTENTdm records, probably wouldn't hurt anything but I'll have to think more on that later. Would you guys like it if we had our references in the CONTENTdm record?).
When you look in our catalog, you find this note:
This means that we found the information that Bruce Rogers was the binding designer in two places: Frederic Warde's Bruce Rogers : designer of books, and Sidney Kramer's A history of Stone & Kimball and Herbert S. Stone & Company. Luckily, we have these references in our collection so it was just a matter of looking up the particular book. For those of you who don't have these resources, you will have to stick with the first way I demonstrated of finding the information (a.k.a. the free way). I stumbled across the information but you can do a keyword search for the book title and it should still come up. (Side note: sometimes we don't have time to do in-depth research of every book we get, so we'll just add it to the collection and make changes if we find more information later).
The researcher in me was curious, though. Who was Bruce Rogers? Quick Google search brought up a Wikipedia page on him. Now we all know that Wikipedia sometimes isn't reliable, but I will say, they often have an awesome reference list that will link you to some pretty cool information. Like this book, for example, that was linked on Wikipedia to a book on the Internet Archive (here's Internet Archive again). Honestly, I love Wikipedia. You might have to be cautious when using the information, but we always have to be cautious with any information we find. It's definitely a great place to start for binding research in my opinion. While we have this book in our collection as well, it's nice sometimes to just be able to make a quick reference to it at my desk and get on with my work, so I'm really glad it's digitized. You can flip through the book below if you like.
You can click the link or hit the expand button and you'll be able to view it in an larger version.
But getting back to the question at hand, who was Bruce Rogers? This book gives his full name as Albert Bruce Rogers. Evidently he went through three forms of his names which will be how you can tell the time period of his work. He started out as "Bert", then he went by "Albert Bruce Rogers" (he evidently substituted the u in Bruce with a v), and then finally he settled on "Bruce Rogers" (Work, 1939, p. xxii).
From the research I have done, he's a big fish and I'm slightly embarrassed that I didn't know who he was, but that's the joy of researching. Did you know that he created the Centaur font? Pretty awesome guy if you ask me.
So recap on free resources:
Internet Archive: Place where you can find books digitized. Usually they are before 1921 but there are some stragglers like the one above that are digitized later. It's a great resource to look at different book covers or for finding early bibliographies.
Google Books: Google books has so many resources in one place. You can check out titles such as Publisher's Weekly, The book buyer, The dial, and others that are fabulous resources. Love Google Books and the fact that they are keyword searchable.
Interlibrary Loan: This one I didn't mention above but it's a really good resource if your library has it. Some public libraries charges a small fee for this and some academic libraries may as well. UNCG does not charge for it. Interlibrary Loan is borrowing books from another institution. If your library doesn't have it but the university down the road (or farther away) does, you can ILL the book and the institution that does hold the book will mail it to your institution (or scan it and email the selection you want if it's allowable and passes all the copyright laws and regulations). If you have this at your library, it's a great resource to take advantage of.