Mortimer Rare Book Room History

Decorated Cloth Bindings and Illustrated Dust Jackets

The Mortimer Rare Book Room includes items illustrative of many aspects of the book arts: printing, binding, illustration, papermaking, etc. This case features examples of types of decorative book covers represented in significant numbers in the collection.

The Myrtle and Harvey Finison Collection

In1999, Myrtle Finison of Northampton donated this group of approximately 2,000 books that she and her husband collected. These books all have pictorial cloth bindings, covers commis-sioned by the original publishers and produced in multiple copies for the commercial or trade editions of these works. Many of the designers were women; the two bindings shown here, designed for two different editions of How to Know the Wild Flowers, were done by Margaret Armstrong, who created hundreds of bindings for American publishers in the late 19th and early 20th century. Many of the designers signed their covers with their initials; Armstrong’s “MA” monogram is visible in the upper right-hand corner of the brown cloth binding.

Mrs. William Starr Dana. How to Know the Wild Flowers. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1893 (blue cloth) and 1895 (revised and enlarged edition, brown cloth) PRESENTED BY THE FINISON FAMILY

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permalink for 1893 edition
permalink for 1895 edition: http://fcaw.library.umass.edu/F/?func=direct&doc_number=002176329&doc_li...

Calligraphers George Salter and Charles Skaggs

George Salter (1897–1967), a German-born graphic artist who lived and worked in the U.S. starting in the 1930s, designed hundreds of dust jackets for various publishers. What is notable is that the lettering is hand-drawn, not created using typefaces. These two examples of Salter’s work are from 1936 and 1957. The George Salter Collection, donated in 1989 by Salter’s daughter, includes approximately 300 of his books with dust jackets, plus supplementary material, a remarkable source for students of publishing, design, and lettering. This collection is complimented by the Charles Skaggs collection. Skaggs, now in his nineties, was one of a number of graphic artists in the generation following Salter who excelled at lettering and dust jacket design. Skaggs donated boxes of his own dust jackets, books, and original artwork and designs by him and by his mentor, William Addison Dwiggins (1880–1956), a prominent American type designer, calligrapher, and puppeteer.

William H. Ukers. The Romance of Tea. New York and London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936.
Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged: A Novel. New York: Random House, 1957. First printing.
PRESENTED BY JANET SALTER ROSENBERG, CLASS OF 1954, AND HERBERT ROSENBERG IN HONOR OF AGNES  O’SHEA SALTER, CLASS OF 1927, AND GEORGE SALTER

Charles Skaggs. Dust jacket for R.R. Palmer, A History of the Modern World. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1950. “Jacket design by Charles E. Skaggs” printed on front flap of dust jacket.
PRESENTED BY CHARLES E. SKAGGS

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permalinks:
Ukers: http://fcaw.library.umass.edu/F/?func=direct&doc_number=001820178&doc_li...
Rand: http://fcaw.library.umass.edu/F/?func=direct&doc_number=001860665&doc_li...
Skaggs: http://fcaw.library.umass.edu/F/?func=direct&doc_number=002178363&doc_li...

Vanessa Bell’s Dust Jackets for Virginia Woolf’s Books

The Mortimer Rare Book Room’s Virginia Woolf holdings are extensive and used often in many disciplines, including literature and psychology, and even art. Woolf’s sister, Vanessa Bell, created dust jackets for many of Virginia’s books, two of which are shown here. Other items from Smith’s Woolf holdings are shown elsewhere in this exhibition.

Virginia Woolf. Three Guineas. London: Hogarth Press, 1938
Virginia Woolf. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1948
PRESENTED BY THE ESTATE OF FRANCES HOOPER, CLASS OF 1914

bell-1938-web.jpg
bell-1948-web.jpg

permalinks for books:
1938: http://fcaw.library.umass.edu/F/?func=direct&doc_number=001923997&doc_li...
1948: http://fcaw.library.umass.edu/F/?func=direct&doc_number=002001164&doc_li...