Publishers Bindings through
Selections from the poetical works of Robert Browning
(T.Y. Crowell & Co., 1872)
Postwar prosperity in major publishing
cities such as New York and Boston brought the
return of bright colors to book bindings, as
as more elaborate
ornamentation. With the introduction of black stamping,
many book covers of the 1870s featured black and
gold together. Asymmetrical designs, often with
exotic abstract motifs, were common. English
Eastlake had a great impact on American book
design as well. Best known for its use in furiniture
and architecture, the Eastlake style was
characterized by fine lines, strong diagonals,
and heavy leaf floral ornament.
Popular literature of the time featured coming-of-age stories, animals, travelogues, and realistic novels depicting life and nature in America. Important books included Anna Sewell's Black Beauty and Henry James’s The American and Daisy Miller. Mark Twain was prolific during this decade, publishing Roughing It, The Gilded Age, Sketches New and Old, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Mark Twain's Sketches
New and Old
(American Publishing Co., 1875)
Although many of Twain’s stories emphasized
the wild frontier, the Great
Plains had become saturated with settlers. Many
of the migrants were restless Civil War veterans
who sought to become cowboys in
the booming cattle
industry. Fearing that the wilderness would disappear
entirely, the government aimed to preserve some of
it by creating Yellowstone
National Park. However, the government failed
to preserve Indian land when miners flooded the Black
Hills of South Dakota seeking gold.
American lifestyle was dwindling as well, partly
because hunters such as "Buffalo
Bill" Cody were erasing their main source
of livelihood–the buffalo. Through the Great
Sioux War, Native Americans
attempted to salvage their way of life. Although
Americans enjoyed victory over Gen.
George Custer and his Seventh Cavalry at Little
Bighorn, chiefs Sitting
Bull and Crazy
Horse eventually surrendered. Sioux land
in South Dakota shrank from 134 million acres to
acres, and the remaining tribes were forced to
live on reservations.
In the east, the Industrial
Revolution was beginning with a flurry of
invention. The Centennial
Philadelphia introduced a number of items to the
American public, including the refrigerated
boxcar, the typewriter, and the
Edison figured prominently in the scene of
innovations, particularly regarding electricity.
Edison perfected the lightbulb and
made electricity available for home lighting with
the invention of a practical electric
lamp. Edison also patented the phonograph in
this decade. Progress in a range of industries
allowed for numerous new products to make their
way into American homes, including the bicycle, margarine, Tabasco
hot sauce, Heinz
Ketchup, and Ivory
As the popularity of traveling burlesque shows
first permanent burlesque
theater opened on Broadway. Americans
also could enjoy P.
three-ring circus, which traveled the country by
all books from 1870 -1879 in PBO database
Gallery Home | 1815-29 | 1830-39 | 1840-49 | 1850-59
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/19thcentury1870.htm.
American Studies: Literature
On-line Textbook, http://www.auroraweb.com/america/timeline_files/1870.htm.
Diehl, Edith. Bookbinding:
Its Background and Technique. New York: Dover, 1980.
Lehmann-Haupt, Hellmut, ed. Bookbinding in America. Portland, ME:
Museum of Westward Expansion,
National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/jeff/1870_1880.html.
Weisberger, Bernard A., and the
editors of Life. Age of Steel and Steem, 1877-1890,
vol. 7 in The Life History of the United States.
New York: Time Inc., 1963.
Williams, T. Harry, and the
editors of Life. The Union Restored, 1861-1876,
vol. 6 in The Life History of the United States.
New York: Time Inc., 1963.