Saturday, 21 July 2018

Book ticket for Wareing Webb, of Liverpool

On a recent visit to the Holiday Property Bond premises of Sibton Park, Kent, I was doing my usual look at books on the shelves of the Library and in the Billiard Room in the main Old Hall. There are at least two sets of Scott's Waverley Novels. It is the set in the billiard room which looks largely complete. Published by Robert Cadell in Edinburgh and Whittaker & Co., in London, probably in the 1830s. This set in the billiard room looks to have its original cloth covers, with yellow end papers and paste downs. This is quite an early example of this sort of edition binding; it is possible that the sheets were not bound up until the early 1840s. The cloth is maroon bead grain. All the spines have gilt lettering -  at the head is  the name of the series and its volume number; and near the base, the individual title for each novel. 

A run of the Waverley Novels

The blocking of the covers in in blind, featuring the same floral motif on both covers of each volume.

Floral motif blocking in blind/ relief on each cover

Volume XLVIII in the series is The surgeon's daughter, with a title page date of 1839.

Vol. XLVIII. The surgeon's daughter. Title page.

It is volume XLVIII which has the ticket of Wareing Webb, Bookseller & Binder, Liverpool pasted on its upper paste down. The thee typefaces used for the printing of the ticket (on blue dyed paper) are typical of their time. 
Every ticket found is a small addition to our knowledge of the binding trade in the Victorian period. Many more examples of binder's tickets can be found  at: 

Ticker of Wareing Webb

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Electrotyping of books in mid-Victorian Britain.

Image from:

In Wakeman’s Victorian Book Illustration, he states at the end of a brief section on electrotyping (p.76):

“It is likely that by the second half of the century many, if not most, wood engravings used in bookwork were printed from electrotypes. This, at least, was the practice recommended by contemporary writers on the printing of illustrations, mainly to avoid the danger of the block breaking.”

By the mid-1850s, it is clear that the use of electrotyping in book and magazine production was becoming systematic.

In 1854, the Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts  by Charles Tomlinson was published. It contains a long article on electro-metallurgy. Towards the end of the article, in Other Applications of the Art, Tomlinson writes:

“Mr . Palmer has also applied the electrotype to the art of engraving. The principle of the invention consists in depositing copper in the grooves of engravings, made in a layer of some soft substance spread on a sheet of copper, and covering the whole with a sheet of electrotype copper. The counterpart of the engraving thus produced, is used in printing in the same manner as woodblocks; that is, they can be made up with the type, and printed from, at the ordinary printer’s press.

Copper-plate engravings have also been copied by this art; an electrotype mould is first made of the engraving, and from this, any number of electrotype copies of the copper-plate engraving may be successively deposited. These plates are, however, so rapidly worn away in the ordinary proves of copper-plate printing, that the old method of steel engraving is preferable to this new one.”

It is clear that the process developed rapidly also in New York, as is evidenced from Chapter 10 of Abbot’s book on The Harper Establishment (of New York). This dwells at length upon the use of electrotypes for printing the entire texts of books.

“The [electrotype] plates are all minutely examined when they are cast, and are properly trimmed and finished. They are made as nearly as possible of a uniform thickness. Of course, there must be one plate for every page of the book to be printed.

The accumulation of electrotype plates in a large establishment that has been long in operation is very great. In the Harper Es­tablishment, the stores now on hand are enormous. Those of the Magazine [i.e. Harper’s Magazine] alone are rapidly approaching ten thousand.

The plates are stored in subterranean vaults built under the streets that surround the building. … The vaults extend underground for two hundred feet in length, and in dimensions are eight feet wide by eight feet high. They are shelved on both sides, and the shelves are load­ed with plates—stereotype or electrotype—representing all the works published in the establishment. There is one plate for ev­ery page of every one of the many hundreds of volumes which the house publishes, making from fifty to seventy tons in all.

When a new edition of any book is required, the plates are brought out from these vaults and put upon the presses. When the work is finished, they are taken back again to the vaults.”

Frederick Wilson looked back on the development of electrotypes in his work: Stereotyping and electrotyping (p. 105, 1880):

“Electrotypes for printing purposes were greatly improved by Mr. Victor Morel, a French cabinet maker, who possessed a knowledge of what was then known as the “Bitumen” process. This consisted of producing plates by means of shellac and sand, and making them type high by mounting on arched metal blocks. But owing to the difficulty experiences in repairing the plates, this process was ultimately discarded. M. Morel was afterwards employed by Messrs. Cassell, Petter and Galpin, who were then erecting a foundry, and we are much indebted to the experiments conducted at great expense by this firm for the perfection obtained by modern electrotypers.  At their works wax was first adopted for moulding purposes, which material is now universally used in this country, although, singularly enough, gutta-percha is almost exclusively used in the continent.”

It is likely that Cassell undertook these developments in electrotyping from the 1850s onwards. Cassell’s Magazine (1853-) and Cassell’s Penny Readings (1867) are typical of this publisher’s aspiration to sell to a mass market, with a consequent need to maximise printing production.  In the late 1850s, George Murray Smith must have been planning the launch of the Cornhill Magazine (commenced January 1860). As Cooke makes clear (p.49-50), Smith personally oversaw the creation of the illustrations, and the quality of the proofs taken from the wood engravings. However, to meet the anticipated demand for each monthly issue, the most effective and rapid means of printing production had to be employed, most likely within Smith, Elder’s own premises. This meant the stereotyping of the text pages, and, as Smith explains in the Preface to the Cornhill Gallery (1864), owing to the pressures of production, electrotypes were used to reproduce the illustrations:

“In offering the Cornhill Gallery to the notice of the public, the publishers have been influenced by two considerations:

1.         A desire to render an act of justice to the eminent Artists of whose talents they have availed themselves in the illustration of “The Cornhill Magazine”, by exhibiting, with the aid of the finest printing, the real quality of those illustrations, as Works of Art. The impressions of the Pictures which have appeared in the various numbers of “The Cornhill Magazine” were unavoidably subjected to the disadvantage of being printed from electrotype casts taken from the Wood-blocks, and with great speed necessary to insure the punctual publication of a Periodical Work which enjoys the favour of a very large circulation. The Wood-Blocks themselves have now been printed from for the first time, in the production of the Cornhill Gallery; and the Publishers trust that, with the very careful and skilful aid of the Brothers Dalziel, the Pictures are now  produced in a style which will place them in their proper rank as Works of Art.”

Electrotypes too were also used for the production of Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Mark Arman related (p.5):

“ … a complete stranger tapped on our door… he had brought to show me a complete set of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass electrotypes, all 92 of them.”

As with the Cornhill Magazine, one can speculate that the high volume of public demand for the Alice books meant that both stereotyping and electrotyping were used by Clay (the printers), to maximise production.  Further research may yet show that the printers of other magazines of the 1860s, such as Good Words, and Once a Week, were also using electrotypes to reproduce wood engravings. In the 1860s, Good Words was printed successively by Constable (1860, 1862); by Bradbury, Evans and Co. (1863-1866); and by Virtue & Co. (1867-1869). It is possible printers such as these had sufficient capital to be able to invest in the equipment for the large scale creation of electrotypes. Commercial considerations alone may have prompted them to copy the production methods of Smith, Elder, when the Cornhill Magazine was being produced in the 1860s.

These examples show without doubt that electrotyping of wood engravings was being used by publishers/ printers, both in London and in New York, from the 1850s onwards.

Further reading

Abbott, Jacob. The Harper Establishment. How books are made. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1855. [Reprinted by Oak Knoll Press, 2001]

Arman, Mark. The story of the electrotypes used to illustrate Sir John Tenniel’s drawings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, illustrated with twelve Tenniel drawings printed letter press from electrotypes, created from the original wood engravings, cut by the Dalziel Brothers, c. 1860-1870. Compiled and printed by Mark Arman at the Workshop Press, Hanna’s Bolford Street, Thaxted, Essex, CM6 2PY. Published in 1996.

Cooke, Simon. Illustrated periodicals of the 1860s. London: Private Libraries Association, 2010.

The Cornhill Gallery. Containing one hundred engravings from drawings on wood, (Being Designs for the Illustration of “The Cornhill Magazine.”) By Frederic Leighton, A. R. A., Frederick Sandys, John Everett Millais, R. A., George A. Sala, George du Maurier, W. M. Thackeray [i.e. George Makepeace Thackeray], J. Noel Paton, R. A. S., Frederick Walker. Engraved by the Brother Dalziel, W. J. Linton [i.e. William James Linton, and Joseph Swain.] London: Smith, Elder & Co. 65, Cornhill, 1864. [London:] Dalziel Brothers, engravers and printers, Camden Press.

Tomlinson, Charles. Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts. Mechanical and Chemical, Manufactures, Mining and Engineering. London: George Virtue, 1854.  

Wakeman, Geoffrey. Victorian book illustration. The technical revolution. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973. 

Wilson, Frederick J. F. Stereotyping and electrotyping. London: Wyman & Sons, [1880].

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Cover designs for works published or printed by Bradbury and Evans.

The partnership of William Bradbury and Frederick Mullett Evans was well known. The ODNB articles on William Bradbury and Frederick Mullett Evans give plenty of detail about their life and business activities, their ownership of the magazine Punch, and their relationship with Charles Dickens.
The aim of this blog is to give further details about the books (normally publisher/ edition bindings) that Bradbury, Evans published and printed in the mid-Victorian period. Images for the books cited in this blog are available at a Pinterest board on Bradbury and Evans . My research has been to provide descriptions of the decorative covers of many Victorian books. An incidental benefit if this work is the recording the publishers of books with decorated covers (publishers bindings). This means that you, the searcher, can assemble a list of books by any publisher (or printer) of many UK nineteenth century books, if you go and search in the British Library Database of Bookbindings; or to British Museum Collections search.
One of the interesting features is the relationship between Bradbury and John Leighton. By the mid-1850s, Leighton was greatly in demand to make designs for book covers. Leighton created hundreds of these, and Bradbury had a share of his work when they published or printed books with his cover designs. It is most likely that Leighton and Bradbury knew each other quite well. The purchase of Punch by Bradbury and Evans secured them the company of writers and artists, from who they commissioned work. Douglas Jerrold wrote Mrs Caudle’s Curtain lectures  in serialised form, with illustrations by Charles Keene, subsequently made into a book. An 1856 copy if this work has paper covers, with a cover design by John Leighton. The 1866 publication was issued in cloth, and also in  deluxe leather, both with the same design by Leighton. Bradbury, Evans also published Jerrold’s Story of a Feather in 1867 - cover design by Leighton.
As founding Editor of Punch, Mark Lemon was the author of books published/ printed by Bradbury. The legends of Number Nip, and the Jest Book were both published by Macmillan  in 1864,  printed by Bradbury, Evans. They also printed Tennyson’s Enoch Arden, published by Edward Moxon in 1866. Issued at a price of one guinea, this book has a cover design by Arthur Hughes.  There are two copies in the British Library, one with green pebble-grain cloth; the other copy has blue sand-grain cloth. The British Museum de Beaumont collection has two copies: one copy has brown honeycomb-grain cloth. The other copy has the same cover design blocked as the other three copies, but has no text, with twenty five illustrations pasted onto backing sheets. This is possibly a specimen book.
Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market was first published in 1862 by Macmillan, and printed by Bradbury & Evans. It has become well known for the title page and frontispiece illustrations, which are the work of her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti. This edition is rare in its original covers. The second edition of 1865 was bound by Burn, and has the same ‘geometrical’ design as for the first edition.
Two books with texts by Sir William Howard Russell were published by Day & Son, lithographers, and printed by Bradbury and Evans. Both have illustrations after Robert Dudley, who also created the cover designs.          A Memorial of the Marriage of H.R.H. Albert Edward Prince of Wales and H.R.H. Alexandra Princess of Denmark was published in 1864, with an elaborate armorial of the royal arms and the Prince of Wales’s emblems on its upper cover. The royal connection was kept for the publication of The Atlantic Telegraph. Illustrated by Robert Dudley. Dedicated by Special Permission to His Royal Highness Albert Edward Prince of Wales. This commemorated the laying of the first undersea cable across the Atlantic. The cover design is probably by Dudley, as he provided all the illustrations for the lithographs in the book. It is perhaps unique in showing in the centre of the upper cover a cross-section of the core of the cable laid on the floor of the Atlantic.
In 1856, Bradbury and Evans published Henry Bradbury’s short text: On the security and manufacture of bank notes. A lecture delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Albemarle Street, Friday evening, May 9, 1856. The illustrations of the three banknotes are after John Leighton. In 1869, the Royal Institution published Leighton’s short lecture: To The Royal Academy of Arts Upon the Condition and Future of its Library. Pasted on the front of the plain paper wrapper is a small bookplate which offers the origin of Leighton’s pseudonym, Luke Limner, derived from the patron saint of artists, St. Luke.
Leighton was involved in creating expensive books, such as Richard Pigot’s Life of Man, published by Longman in 1866, printed by Bradbury, Evans. Leighton provided the full page illustrations for each on the months, superintended the other illustrators, and had his brother, Henry Leighton cut many of illustrations onto woodblocks. John Leighton also provided a sumptuous cover design for the work.
Perhaps the oddest work published and printed by Bradbury, Evans was John Leigbhton’s short text of 1870, using his pseudonym Luke Limner: Madre Natura versus The Moloch of Fashion. A Social Essay. A diatribe against the evils of corsetry, Leighton deployed his knowledge of heraldry to provide a pastiche of ‘The Mantua Makers Arms’, printed on the title page, with the arms being described on the title page verso, in the form of an inverted triangle:

"/ On a shield sable , a Corset proper; crest, upon a wreath of roses,/ an Hour-glass or, typical of golden hours wasted. Supporters,/ Harpies: the dexter "Fashion" crowned with a chig/ -non or, corsetted and crinoletted proper, her train/ being decorated with bows, and the wings with/ scissors; the sinister, "Vanity", crowned/ with a coronet of pearls and straw/ -berry leaves, bears the wings of a papillon, eyed proper, the/ queue a[grave] la Paon. Motto,/ "FASHION UNTO DEATH/".

The arms shows the claw of each of the Harpies pulling tight the laces of a corset.
This work must have had some success, for the fourth edition was published by Chatto & Windus in 1874. This has the Mantua Makers Arms, blocked onto the upper cover (and printed on the title page), with the laces of corsets blocked in black on the borders of the cover.
It is likely that the relationship between John Leighton and Bradbury, Evans lasted for some twenty years, and the collaboration proved fruitful for both of them

Edmund King
March 2018

Friday, 5 January 2018

John Keeley Halswelle - artist and book illustrator

The wiki article about John Keeley Haswelle and the ODNB article offer quite a bit of information about his life and works. These detail his work as a painter, and the influences on his art. Also there are numerous reproductions of his paintings online. This blog gives more information about his work as a book illustrator. So far, I have encountered five books for which he provided illustrations. Two of the books were published by T. Nelson. The Lamplighter, [1854], has a title page after Halswelle, and is signed "Keeley Haswell [i.e. Halswelle] del; F. Borders Sc". The eight plates within the text are signed "Keeley Haswell". In 1863, T. Nelson published A.L.O.E’s The crown of success. This work has four plates which are signed “K. H.” Two books with Halswelle illustrations were published by Routledge, both authored by James Grant, both with covers designs by John Leighton. Jack Manly was published in 1861. The eight plates are signed: "Keeley Halswelle" and "Dalziel [Brothers]". Dick Rodney was published in 1863. The eight plates are signed: "K. Halswelle [i.e. Keeley Halswelle]" and "Dalziel [Brothers]". For these four books, Halswelle provided all of the illustrations.
Pen and Pencil Pictures from the Poets was published in Edinburgh by William P. Nimmo, [1866]. Edinburgh: Ballantyne, Roberts, & Company, Printers. viii, 152p. There is a copy in the British Library (shelf mark 11651.f.7.) and a copy in the de Beaumont collection, British Museum (P&D register number: 1992,0406.251). These two copies are bound in green sand-grain cloth, with an elaborate identical design blocked on the both covers, with a fine, separate design blocked on the spine.

 My copy, reproduced here, has the same design blocked on the covers and the spine as the BL and BM copies, but has brown sand-grain cloth. All of the pages have single red rule borders. All of the illustrations are part of the overall pagination, and are not separate plates inserted into the text.

In the book’s ‘[List of ] Illustrations’, there are thirty-five cited. The artists are given as: Keeley Haswelle[12 illustrations], John MacWhirter [9 illustrations], W. Smith [2], George Hay [4], John Lawson [1], S. J. Groves [2], Hugh Cameron [b.1835-d.1918], [4], Samuel Edmonston [1]. The engravers are: Pearson [i.e. probably George Pearson], [3], Robert Paterson [13], James Mackenzie Corner [10], J. Adam [i.e. possibly John Adam], [2], Frederick Borders [4], Thomas Bolton [3]. The illustrations after Halswelle are:

Page 2 – “The spirit of poetry”; engraved by Pearson

Page 6 – “The wedding procession”; engraved by Pearson

Page10 - “At night”; engraved by R. Paterson.

Page 14 – “The life-boat”; engraved by R. Paterson.

Page 22 – “Evening star”; engraved by J. M. Corner

Page 30 – “Evangeline”; engraved by Pearson

Page 38 – “The wreck of the Hesperus”; engraved by J. Adam

Page 44 – “Sonnet”; engraved by J. M. Corner

Page 56 – “A serenade”; engraved by T. Bolton

Page 60 – The Wanderer”; engraved by R/ Paterson

Page 92 – “Excelsior”; engraved by T. Bolton

Page 138 – “Twilight”; engraved by T. Bolton

 All of these illustrations by Halswelle are available to view on a Pinterest board.

Edmund M B King
January 2018

Friday, 8 January 2016

Reginald Knowles and the decoration for Everyman’s Library books

A slight deviation from Victorian’ bindings, into mass production of edition bindings during the Edwardian period and onwards. 

The Wiki article on Reginald Knowles makes it clear that he and his brother Horace Knowles created high grade illustrations for books in the early twentieth century. The article on the history of the Everyman’s Library by David Campbell states, with an illustration, that the title pages and endpapers for the books in this series were designed by Reginald Knowles. This also stated in The Reader’s Guide to the Everyman’s Library, fourth edition of 1976, edited by Donald Armstrong Jones, which states on page xx: “In the first [instance, there areprinted on the endpapers and pastedowns] the grey-green, draped figure of Good Deeds, sister to knowledge, faces a scroll of the latter’s address to Everyman; in the second [instance] there are richly-wrought title opening pages, strong in black and white;[thirdly] in the binding a gold spine-deep filigree supports the hand-lettered title. The artist [of these] was Reginald L. Knowles (1879-1950) whose firm well-placed lettering and decoration was a distinguished feature for thirty years.”

The endpapers and pastedowns were designed by Knowles and used for many years. 

 Indeed, the initials: “RLK” [within a heart] and “1905” are printed near the right hand corner of the front endpaper and on the rear pastedown of every volume in Everyman’s Library.  

Spine blocking
From 1906 to 1928, the spines of Everyman’s Library were full gilt, with the filigree of flowers, stems and leaves running down the spine below the title, to the tail, where the imprint of J. M. Dent can be seen. Near the base of the filigree pattern, the initials “RK” can be clearly seen. 

The close near the base of the spine up shows the initials “RK”.


For works in the Everyman's Library printed after 1928, a simple vignette was blocked in gold underneath the title, replacing the earlier full spine length ‘filigree’ pattern. This vignette shows three flowers, two leaves, placed in symmetry just below the title for each book.

 The initials: “RK” are blocked in gold at the base of the vignette, as we see below.

Cover blocking
The same flowing “flower and stem”, art nouveau style design can be seen on the front cover of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, published in 1908 by Dent, as part of the English Idylls series, with twenty-four illustrations created by Charles Edmund Brock. On the front cover, we see a bouquet of flowers in a basket, with a long ribbon tied to its handle. The initials: “RK” are blocked in gold at the base of the basket. 

 Below, we see Knowles’s initials at the base of the basket.

As with UK edition bindings of a generation before, mass production of the same design on each spine, on the endpapers and on the title pages was certainly possible. The Everyman’s Library shows us how extensively Knowles’s designs were repeated. Other commissions from Dent permitted the re-use of motifs, such as the filigree of flowers and stems design, on a larger size of book, as we see with the Jane Austen novels in the English Idylls series of books.

Edmund M B King
January 2016
Twitter -  @embk11