of Book-Cloth Grain Patterns
The cloth used to cover books
is an often-overlooked element of decoration. Not only
is the color of the cloth an important consideration,
but the texture, or grain pattern, of the cloth may be
used to add depth and detail to the design of the binding.
The earliest book-cloths
were produced in England in the 1820s. Most were cotton,
with some experimentation in silk. These early cloths
have been described as primative and were not instantly
popular with the reading (and buying) public. Soon book-cloth
manufacturers began to add texture to the material in an
attempt to mimic the appearance of leather and thus increase
the appeal of cloth. One of these early grain patterns
to which an "embossed grain" was applied. Other
means of decorating book-cloth, such as ribbon
embossing, soon followed.
By the mid-19th century
many styles of cloth were available to publishers
in large quantities and at a relatively low price. During
the period covered by PBO,
at least 25 distinct grain patterns were in use. Styles
span from simple textures like that of calico to
more ornate patterns such as hexagon.
American publishers' bindings were bound in cloth imported from Britain during most of the 19th century. American companies began manufacturing book-cloth in earnest in the 1880s, and by 1900 most books in this country were cased in cloth that was made in the U.S.A.
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Gaskell, Philip. A New introduction to Bibliography. Oak Knoll Press, 2000.
Krupp, Andrea. "Bookcloth in England and America, 1823-50." Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 100:1 (2006): 25-87.
Tanselle, G. Thomas. "The Bibliographical Description of Patterns." In Studies in Bibliography. Vol. 23. Charlottesville, Va.: Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia. 71-102. 1970.
Tomlinson, William and Richard Masters. Bookcloth, 1823–1980. Mellor, U.K.: Tomlinson, 1996.