Publishers Bindings through
Zigzag Journey in the Sunny South; or, Wonder Tales of Early American History
(Estes and Lauriat, 1887)
Publishers' bindings of the 1880s
are what one might consider archetypical 19th-century
bindings -- their overall look embodies
a Victorian sensibility, characterized by elaborate
and the combination
of several different components on one book cover.
Black and gold were still used in abundance, although
stamping in color began as well. Binders also perfected
an alloy of aluminum and palladium known as white
metal stamping, to mimic silver but avoid its tarnishing
tendencies. Some of the earliest bindings designed
Wyman Whitman appeared during this decade.
Advances in bookbinding mirror the
nationwide progress of the 1880s. American society
became homogenized as mail-order
catalogs combined with the completed national
railroad system to make the same products–including
regional produce–available across the country.
America also became more modern
with conveniences that not only improved sanitary
conditions, but also the very quality of life.
Running water, sewer
systems, gas, and electricity
York City saw the opening of three of its major
Museum of Art, the Statue
of Liberty, and the Brooklyn
Bridge. Chicago erected America's first
skyscraper, George Eastman patented roll
film, and the first electric
streetcars transported the masses to and
from their jobs in the big cities. Thomas Edison
for a patent in 1880 to trademark improvements
he made to the light
All Among the Lighthouses
Lothrop Co., 1886)
to emerge as a cleaner, more family-oriented form
of burlesque. Active Americans
enjoyed baseball, golf, roller
skating, and the
newly invented football,
and could cool off after a brisk game with newly
formulated fountain sodas such as
Pepper at their local pharmacy.
While America became increasingly urban, the frontier
breathed its final gasps. The Oklahoma
land rush opened the last major territory to
settlers. Cattlemen and farmers took over the last
land of the Plains
Indians. The capture of Apache Chief Geronimo put
an official end to the last major Indian War, and
Act dissolved Indian tribes as legal entities.
Dance Cult of the late 1880s represented one
last effort to reestablish the Indian way of life
but ended with the Wounded
To draw attention to the U.S. government's treatment
of Native Americans, Helen Hunt Jackson published A
Century of Dishonor and Ramona.
Mark Twain’s popularity continued with The
Prince and the Pauper, Life
on the Mississippi, Adventures
of Huckleberry Finn, and A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
Children’s books, such as Frances Hodgson
Lord Fauntleroy and Jo's
Boys by Louisa May Alcott, were widely
read as well. Other important books of the 1880s
included Lew Wallace's Ben
Hur and Henry James’s Portrait
of a Lady.
all books from 1880-1889 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, 1994.
American Cultural History,
Kingwood College, http://kclibrary.nhmccd.edu/19thcentury1880.htm.
American Studies: Literature
On-line Textbook, http://www.auroraweb.com/america/timeline_files/1880.htm.
Diehl, Edith. Bookbinding:
Its Background and Technique. New York: Dover, 1980.
ed. Bookbinding in America. Portland, ME: Southworth-Anthoensen,
Museum of Westward Expansion,
National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/jeff/1880_1890.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.