Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December binding of the month club

Happy Holidays from Paul and Callie!

For December we have a seasonal binding.  Its full title is:  The Parson's Miracle, and My Grandmother's Grandmother's Christmas Candle: Christmas in America, by Hezekiah Butterworth.  It was published by Dana Estes & Co. of Boston and is copyright 1894.  The book has a number of illustrations, some of which are signed either "Merrill" (Frank Thayer Merrill, born in 1848) or with the monogram of Lewis Jesse Bridgman (1857-1931).  This copy was published between 1898 and 1914, even though the only date on the book is the 1894 copyright date.  The publisher was previously named Estes and Lauriat, but changed its name in 1898.  In 1914, Dana Estes & Co. was bought by L.C. Page and Company.

Left, an illustration from The Parson's Miracle by Frank T. Merrill with his monogram on the right (signed on the side of the step on which the parson's foot rests).

Left, illustration by L. J. Bridgman; right, his monogram which appears to the right of the foot on the ground.

One of several interesting points about this book is that the cover shows one of the two major causes for the demise of the decorated binding--the illustrated paper paste-on or onlay.  The other, of course, was the dust jacket.  Paper onlays could be easily and cheaply produced and often did not require a new design, as they were often reproduced from the frontispiece or other illustration in the book, or from some illustration the publisher had on hand.  This illustration of Saint Nicholas (or Santa Claus) does not appear in the book.  The cover's lettering (in wildly varying fonts) and illustration border of floral ornaments is stamped in gold on dark blue vertical fine rib cloth.  But any appropriate (or sometimes not so appropriate) illustration could be used within the border.  Fortunately, I was able to find an excellent example of this at reproduced below.

It's difficult to choose between them.  On the one hand, we have Santa without reindeer or sleigh contemplating a toy horse; perhaps considering it as an alternative means of transportation.  On the other we have what appears to be an athletic sock stuffed with mistletoe.   But on both, a bright colorful Christmas image to appeal to the young or the parent.  And for the publisher, a children's book by a popular author that could be issued and reissued in varying Christmas dress.

This is our last post for this year.  We both wish you a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year.  We hope you'll return with us in 2016!