Publishers Bindings through
By the 1840s, cloth bindings were
widely accepted and universally used in America.
Ruled borders, often with corner pieces, became
vignettes and cartouches were widely used. Classical
imagery such as such as flower vases, lyres, and
were popular. Borders and corners generally were
blind-stamped, while the center motif was either
blind-stamped or gilt. The spine generally was
heavily decorated in gold.
At the same time that cloth covers were growing
more opulent, paperbacks entered
the market. Publishers were forced to create these
inexpensive books to compete
with newspapers that had begun to print novels
in newspaper format. Frontier stories and tall
tales remained prevalent during this decade, although
travel sketches became popular as well.
A new genre–mystery
and detective stories–emerged with the publication
in 1841 of Edgar
Allen Poe’s Murders
in the Rue Morgue. Poe, who died in 1846,
was among the most prolific writers of the decade.
Among his other works published during the 1840s
was the famous poem "The
Voices of Nature, and Thoughts
(J.V. Cowling and G.C. Davies, 1849)
Melville was an important literary figure
as well, producing novels such as the pseudo-travelogues Typee (1846)
and Omoo (1847).
James Fenimore Cooper’s The
another popular book of this decade. Several important
periodicals emerged as well. Eccentric politician Horace
Greeley began his penny newspaper The
New York Tribune in 1841. The
Dial, a Transcendentalist literary magazine,
was published from 1840 to 1844, and Amelia Bloomer’s
feminist Lily first
appeared in 1849.
shows, the first uniquely American form
of entertainment, featured humorous skits
and musical numbers. Stephen
Foster composed many
minstrel songs that were performed in the 1840s and
'50s, such as "Old
Folks at Home," "Oh!
Susanna," and "Camptown
Races." Other popular tunes of this
Crack Corn," and "Skip
to My Lou." The waltz and polka were fashionable
dances of the time.
America was in the throes of westward
expansion, and politicians coined the term “manifest
destiny” to explain the need for increasing
American territory. The Mexican
War (1846-48) began with the annexation of
Texas and resulted in the annexation of New Mexico
and California. As long roads such as the Oregon
Trail opened, large-scale migration to the
Pacific coast began. Movement to California increased
when the discovery of precious metals in 1848 spurred
the first Gold
wagon trains began giving way to the "iron
horse" after the Pacific
Railroad was chartered in 1849.
The United States also experienced record-shattering rates of immigration, instigated by the Irish potato famine and crop failures in Germany. Nativist groups formed to protest the influx of European immigrants. Among them was the "Order of the Star Spangled Banner," which eventually became the American or "Know Nothing" political party.
all books from 1840-1849 in PBO database
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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,
American Cultural History,
Kingwood College, http://kclibrary.nhmccd.edu/19thcentury1840.htm.
American Studies: Literature
On-line Textbook, http://www.auroraweb.com/america/timeline_files/1840.htm.
Coit, Margaret L., and the
editors of Life. The Sweep Westward, 1829-1849,
vol. 4 in The Life History of the United States.
New York: Time Inc., 1963.
Diehl, Edith. Bookbinding: Its Background and Technique.
New York: Dover, 1980.
Lehmann-Haupt, Hellmut, ed. Bookbinding in America.
Portland, ME: Southworth-Anthoensen, 1941.
Museum of Westward Expansion,
National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/jeff/1840_1850.html.