The beautiful bindings of Sarah Wyman Whitman

These amazing book cover and binding designs are included in The Boston Public Library’s Rare Books and Manuscripts collection, which is made electronically available to the viewing public via their INSANELY GORGEOUS Flickr set (of over 350 images, by the way). You just won’t even believe how beautiful these are: the lettering, the illustrative quality, the ornamentation, the golf leaf… and how sickly pathetic modern hard covers are in comparison.

Information on the revolutionary Sarah Wyman Whitman, as featured on the BPL’s Flickr set:

Sarah Wyman Whitman (1842-1904) pioneered the role of artist-designer in the book industry and in the process revolutionized trade bookbinding. A highly-regarded Boston artist and socialite who gathered around herself a salon comprised of many of the city and region’s best-known writers, she adopted the role of mediator between her author friends and the publisher George Mifflin, whom she knew socially. Her work echoed the Arts and Crafts Movement that viewed art and life as inseparable; she wrote that “all forms of labor are beautiful and sacred because…it all has the stamp of nobility, being essential to the world’s need.” As Betty Smith has noted, Whitman became “the first professional woman artist regularly employed by a Boston publisher to give their mass-produced book covers a sense of simple elegance through line, color, and lettering.”
















3 responses to “The beautiful bindings of Sarah Wyman Whitman

  1. Hi there. These are really elegant and demonstrate that good design works more effectively when allowed to work freely. There are too many ‘overdesigned’ books produced these days and the general public has accepted this as the norm. Only a few designers are tuned in to the simplicity of an idea in it’s purer forms, and the rest tend to ‘PhotoShop’ them to death!

    You may like David Pearsons work for Penguin books – – he really is on the mark!

    Great blog – words, books and handmade things – I’ll come back again soon!

  2. Wonderful post- GORGEOUS books!! I can’t even pick a favorite.

  3. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: Boston matchbook covers « Words & Eggs

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