Monday 27 August 2012

Books with beautiful bindings 1883 - 1913

Tim Trumble's Little Mother by Clara L Mateaux with nineteen full-page engravings from illustrations by Giacomelli. Original gilt-blocked and black-stamped pictorial red cloth with gilt lettering and decoration. This beautiful book was presented to Ethel Cook, Class 5 Clewer St. Stephen intermediate school for class marks (1st prize) Christmas 1907.  

When I read an inscription like this, I always want to know more, OK, so I’m nosy! A little time spent on Google rewarded me with the following;

The Parish of Clewer St. Stephen was formed out of the ancient parish of Clewer in 1872. The building of the present church began in November 1870, when the first stone of the Chancel was laid.  St. Stephen’s school was situated at the north of the Church. The infant school was opened in 1872, a boy’s school in 1873 a girl's school in 1877. In 1899, an intermediate school was started for the daughters of the smaller trade's people who could pay more than two pence per week.

I hoped to be able to dig a little deeper, but a search of both the 1901 and 1911 census proved fruitless. I'm not even sure if St. Stephen’s school still exists and without knowing the name of  Ethel’s father I don’t have much to go on. But I would love to know what became of Ethel. Did she get married? Have children? If any of Ethel’s descendants read this do please get in touch.

Seven Maids by L. T. Meade with ten full page black and white plates by Percy Tarrant. Decorative green cloth/gilt. All edges gilt. Undated but prize plate July 1907. Given for regularity, progress and good conduct the recipient's name (sadly) unreadable.

Our own magazine 1897 a monthly paper for young people and children. Inspirational and sentimental stories with black and white illustrations. Bound volume of 12 monthly issues - January - December 1897.

Called of her country the story of Joan of Arc nicknamed by Evelyn Everett Green with illustrations by E F Sherie. Published in 1900 by S. H. Bousfield & Co.  Joan of Arc nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in what is now eastern France, who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France.

Our Anniversaries by Alice Lane. Published by the Religious tract society in 1887. Gift inscription to Theresa Robins with Mrs Savills kind love and best wishes June 20th, 1887. A selection of texts and verses for every day of the year, illustrations throughout with ruled areas for notes opposite each illustration. Several pencil/pen notations including – Bessie passed on January 13th, mother's birthday January 24th, dear Aggie passed October 28th, King Edward VII died 1910 and so on.

Travels in Hot and Cold Lands - Published in 1877.  Grace Ashleigh by Mary Boyd with engravings by Robert Barnes. Published by S. W. Partridge in 1897. Pretty decorative cloth, 8 engravings. The ballad of Beau Brocade and other poems of the XVIII century by Austin Dobson with fifty illustrations by Hugh Thomson. Published by Kegan Paul and printed at the Chiswick Press, Chancery Lane, London.   Undated c1892. Green cloth elaborately decorated and lettered in gilt on the spine and upper cover. Includes: The Ballad of Beau Brocade; A Gentleman of the Old School; A Dead Letter; A Gentlewoman of the Old School; The Old Sedan Chair; The Ladies of St. James's; Molly Trefusus; A Chapter of Froissart.

The seven champions of Christendom edited by F. J. Harvey Darton and published by Wells Gardner Darton undated assumed 1st edition 1913. Tissue guarded frontis and twenty black and white plates. Attractive blue cloth with gilt lettering, front cover design in red, blue, gilt and green showing St. George and the dragon, decorative spine. Chapters about St. George of England, St. James of Spain, St. Andrew of Scotland, St. David of Wales, St. Dennis of France, St. Anthony of Italy, and St. Patrick of Ireland. 

The gateway to Tennyson undated but gift inscription to dearest Christopher from his affectionate grandfather & grandmother George & Frances Anne Bridgwood Christmas, 1910. Original gold blocked red cloth, top edge gilt. Illustrated endpapers, 16 colour plates by Norman Little plus black-and-white  line drawings. Tales and extracts from the poets work with an introduction by Mrs. Andrew Lang. 

Little wide awake published by George Routledge and sons, 1893. Edited by Mrs. and Miss Sale Barker. A Collection of children's stories, poems and puzzles. Black and white engravings and chromolithograph frontis.
Peter Parley's Annual for 1883 published by Cassell Petter & Galpin in 1883. Frontispiece and eight other colour plates. A collection of stories about dogs including His Majesty’s dog, the dog of the regiment and the engine-driver’s dog.

Last but certainly not least Tales from Shakespeare (next to Little wide awake above). Published by George Routledge and Sons in 1891. Brown cloth with embossed lettering and decoration in green and gilt. A collection of  Shakespeare's works including Romeo and Juliet and King Lear ‘designed for the use of the young reader’

I hope you've enjoyed a quick look at these beautifully bound books.  The gloves and hankie in the pictures belonged to my mum. I think she wore the gloves to my sister's wedding along with a pillbox hat, court shoes and a very pretty silk pleated dress. I'm not sure of the date (Sister Sue if you read this, please leave a comment), but I would guess about 1958?  The black-and-white illustration is by S. B. Pearse. A friend gave it to me after finding a collection in an antique shop.

These are some of my ‘favourite things’ – do you have favourite things? If so what are they?


  1. Hi Barbara, Very interesting as usual and clever photography too. The Peter Parley's Annual story you mention of H M's dog reminded me of the tail (pun intended) of the royal dog that became unwell and was sent to Devon 'To take the air'. It was later reported that the Kingskerswell............Ho Hum!

  2. Today's covers are barely a patch on those of yesteryear. Though this one - - reminds me of the older designs.

    I have my dad's mum's books that she was given at school for good attendance (when I say "good", I mean 100% attendance!).

  3. barbaraannefisher27 August 2012 at 18:38

    Thank you, I’m glad you found the post interesting. I’m pretty pleased with the ‘photos so thank you also for mentioning them.

  4. barbaraannefisher27 August 2012 at 18:39

    Thanks Joleene, pretty sums them up perfectly.

  5. barbaraannefisher27 August 2012 at 18:51

    Hi Nikki-ann, thanks for the link back to that post I remember commenting and saying I wanted to read The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals – but then promptly forgot about it. I’ve just added it to my ‘must buy’ list!
    100% attendance is very impressive - there can't be many people who achieved that.

  6. Hope you will forgive me for this.( Please.) Just read the detail you give on the Peter Parley's Annual. Sounds great but you don't mention if any of the pages are 'dog eared' Sorry!........... I am begging!

  7. How I wish I would have saved my old books with these type of bindings. No matter how old they are, they look so good on a shelf, and add magic to the book when held.

  8. I have many favourite things but one of my treasured items is a1947 edition of The Bobbsey Twins in Mexico given to me by my favourite teacher, Miss Roll. Inside is inscribed "To Darlene - For marks of highest achievments in grade 3, 1958" So glad I still have it.

  9. I am a book collector as much as an avid reader!
    And I love that old feel look these binding have, like those of an era long gone.
    Im such a book romantic :P

    Now I want to collect these. Sigh. My bookshelf will break one day.

    Nice post! :)

    Aditi from

  10. barbaraannefisher28 August 2012 at 18:47

    Nope, sorry I just can’t forgive a pun like that!

  11. barbaraannefisher28 August 2012 at 18:57

    I feel just the same Donna. I only have a couple of my original books, and they mean the world to me. When I think of the books that used to live on my dad's bookshelf I could cry. I have no idea what happened to them, but I suppose they were given away.

  12. barbaraannefisher28 August 2012 at 19:00

    That’s so nice Darleen! What a lovely memento of your school days and your favourite teacher.

  13. barbaraannefisher28 August 2012 at 19:13

    In that case, you’ve come to the right place! Books and book collecting are two more of my favourite things.
    Love your blog.

  14. They are beautiful! I think I only have two books with gilt detail that date from the late 19th century - there is something very sumptuous about them - quality that you just don't get anymore.

    I love the second photo of all the spines together - they would look stunning together on a bookcase.

  15. What beautiful covers! It is such fun to look at the variety and styles. I hope one of Ethel's descendants sees the post and can fill us in on her life. :) You always find the most fascinating items! I especially like Peter Parley's Annual.

  16. barbaraannefisher29 August 2012 at 06:57

    Hi Sharon, they are absolutely beautiful and do look stunning when grouped together.

  17. barbaraannefisher29 August 2012 at 07:03

    It would be wonderful to hear from one of Ethel’s relatives. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone who knows the family will read this. The Peter Parley annual is very sumptuous and really stands out on the shelf.

  18. What lovely covers! I have to admit, I do have a thing for beautiful pretty books. There's something about reading pretty books don't you think?

    Do drop by blog if you do have time :)

  19. Lovely covers!

    Whenever I find a vintage postcard that has been posted, I'm always curious about the sender and the person who sent it and the person they sent it to. I've got this one which was sent by a serviceman during the 1st world war to his sweetheart, but have no idea how to even begin to track down more info. A shame, because I'd love to know what became of them!

  20. barbaraannefisher29 August 2012 at 19:54

    They do say never judge a book by its cover but in the case of these books, I don't agree! I do agree with you though, there is something about reading pretty books.
    Thanks for calling in, I’m off to your blog now.

  21. barbaraannefisher29 August 2012 at 20:04

    I’m exactly the same! I always want to find out more, but it is difficult with so little to go on. Did you see my post about the postcard collection (Elizabeth - a childhood in postcards) sent to the same little girl? The cards covered about nine years of her life but even with all that I wasn’t able to find out any more. But I enjoyed trying!

  22. Thanks for following me, Barbara. I think your site is amazing! I love old book covers.

  23. We don't make books like these anymore, do we? Such amazing book covers, the art, the gold letterings, and even the spine. I'd love to read Peter Parley and the Seven Maids. Ethel must had been thrilled to receive her book!

  24. barbaraannefisher31 August 2012 at 14:22

    No problem and your blog is amazing too!

  25. barbaraannefisher31 August 2012 at 15:21

    Hi Claudine, thanks for calling. Well, if we do make books like it now, I never find them! Peter Parley is gorgeous, but I’m rather afraid to read it. I would hate to cause any damage. My favourite ‘prize’ from my school days was a paperback copy of the lion, the witch and the wardrobe. I loved it beyond words, so I can only guess how Ethel must have felt.


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx