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Publishers' Bindings

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About the Collection

The Publishers’ Bindings digital collection draws on the Rare Book Collection of the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, including many books from the Juvenile Literature Collection. The focus is on digitizing certain decorative and unique-to-our-copy elements of select books, rather than providing digital access to the entire text. In many cases, only select views and pages have been digitized while, when available, an external link to the full-text version is provided in the object description.

The collection highlights a range of publishers’ bindings as well as endpapers, bookplates, signatures, notes, and other details that provide evidence of a book's manufacture, ownership, and use over time.

A publishers’ binding typically refers to a 19th century book binding, usually made of colored and sometimes textured cloth, that was designed and produced for use by a particular publisher. Publishers’ bindings emerged as print became increasingly mechanized and as demand for books increased. These developments led producers of books to seek out a simpler and more affordable binding material than the historically common leather, parchment, or vellum, but one with great visual and tactile appeal. Thus the introduction and popularization of cloth as an ideal binding material, and of case binding as a faster and easier binding process.

Publishers’ bindings also became an important marketing tool, allowing publishers to create a visual brand through standard binding logos, colors, and colorful, eye-catching designs that helped make their books both recognizable and desirable to readers and potential buyers.

Related Collections

See additional items from the Mahn Center’s Special Collections online, including Special Collections-General and Manuscript and Printed Leaves.

Future Additions

As this digital collection grows the focus will be on featuring publishers’ bindings from African Americana; books authored, illustrated, published, or designed by women; and books with Ohio authors and imprints.

Access at Alden

Special Collections original materials can be viewed at the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, on the 5th Floor of Alden Library. See the Rare Books overview for more information.

Access Online

Browse the collection or search the collection in CONTENTdm.

Collection Contact

Miriam Intrator, Special Collections Librarian for Rare Books, Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries.

Rights Statement

These materials are in the public domain in the United States; they are not subject to any copyright protections.

No Copyright in the United States