John Feely (ca. 1819–1878)

John Feely monogramBorn in Ireland, Feely moved to London in the early 1840s, where he engraved brass stamps, or dies, for three or four books. He and his family emigrated to the United States in around 1843, and by 1846 he was advertising his services as an engraver (a.k.a. diesinker, die cutter, die stamp cutter/engraver) in the New York City directory. Feely cut stamps for more than fifty publishers, most of whom were in New York City, but his stamps are also found on a few books published in the present-day Midwest.

Over his working life of about thirty years, Feely signed almost half of his attributed output of at least 270 stamps. Feely cut a wide variety of images from natural to political scenes, and his most recognizable design motif is the exaggerated serpentine line used to fill in backgrounds. For an example, please see pbw00013, The Hero Boy, or, The Life and Deeds of Lieut-Gen. Grant by Phineas C. Headley (W.H. Appleton, 1865).

Click here to search the PBO database for bindings designed by John Feely.

Monograms: FEELY in caps; Feely in script; or more commonly, a conjoined JF.

Source: Sue Allen and Charles Gullans, Decorated Cloth in America (1994).

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