Publishers Bindings through the Decades:
The life of General Francis Marion
(Joseph Allen, 1828)
In the early 19th century, publishers generally
issued their books in paper casings.
Buyers often would commission professional binders
to bind the books in styles that suited their private
collections. These binders usually
worked on each book individually, covering the
book by hand in leather. However, this process
time-consuming, and the cost prohibitive for many
people. Books up to this point were largely only
in the homes of the very wealthy.
literate public, publishers responded to the
needs of the masses by mechanizing
bindings, which first appeared in the United
States in the early 1830s, were far less expensive
leather, more durable than paper, and able to
be done en
masse by machine rather than individually
by hand, as they previously had been bound.
In the years directly preceding the era of American
cloth bindings, publishers issued some books bound
in leather and paper that were meant for the masses.
As literacy was more widespread, the public continued
to seek out books of all kinds for home
use. Consequently, publishers began eradicating
the need for independent bookbinders by taking
on the binding step themselves. These books, published
from 1815 to 1829, represent the conception and
formative years of the mass-marketed publishers'
Cullen Bryant were among the works the
American public consumed in the 1810s.
Washington Irving's "Rip
Van Winkle" first was published in 1819;
of Sleepy Hollow" followed
in 1820. James
Fenimore Cooper was a prolific novelist of
the 1820s, publishing Precaution (1820), The
Spy (1821), Tales
for Fifteen (1823), The
Pilot (1823), The
Pioneers (1823), Lionel
Lincoln, or The Leaguer of Boston (1825), The
Last of the Mohicans (1826), The
Prairie (1827), The
Red Rover (1828), and The
Wept of Wish-ton-Wish (1829). Noah Webster
published his 20-year project, American
Dictionary of the English Language, in 1828.
Memoirs of Andrew Jackson
(S. Andrus, 1819)
As the publishers' binding era began, the Constitution was
but twenty-five years old. The War
of 1812 had
just ended (in 1815), and America was growing as
a country. Between 1816 and 1829, the nation gained
six new states. In addition, Arkansas organized
as a territory, the United States took control
and the first American settlers moved into Texas.
Government was in constant flux as well. The death
of the Federalist
Party in 1817 ushered in the one-party "Era
of Good Feeling," but the era did not
last. Controversy over the presidential
election of 1824, which Congress gave to John
Quincy Adams, led supporters of Andrew
Jackson to form the Democratic
Party. Bolstered by the new party, Jackson
soundly defeated Adams in 1828.
The venue for most entertainment was
the home, where people enjoyed playing
around the piano. Those who ventured out
dancing the minuet,
and began dining at America's first modern restaurants.
all books from 1815-1829 in PBO database
Home | 1815-29 | 1830-39 | 1840-49 | 1850-59
1860-69 | 1870-79 | 1880-89 |
1890-99 | 1900-09 | 1910-19 |1920-30
Allen, Sue. Decorated Cloth
in America: Publisher’s Bindings, 1840-1910. Los
Angeles: UCLA, Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies,
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 1994.
American Cultural History, Kingwood College, http://kclibrary.nhmccd.edu/19thcentury1810.htm and http://kclibrary.nhmccd.edu/19thcentury1820.htm.
American Studies: Literature
On-line Textbook, http://www.auroraweb.com/america/timeline_files/1810.htm and http://www.auroraweb.com/america/timeline_files/1820.htm.
Coit, Margaret L., and the
editors of Life. Growing Years, 1789-1829,
vol. 3 in The Life History of the United States.
New York: Time Inc., 1963.
Diehl, Edith. Bookbinding: Its Background and Technique. New York:
Lehmann-Haupt, Hellmut, ed. Bookbinding in America. Portland, ME:
Museum of Westward Expansion,
National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/jeff/1810_1820.html and