Technological advances in equipment in the 1870s allowed publishers to produce elaborate decorated cloth bindings in large scale.
The golden age of commercial publishers’ bindings began about 1890 when publishers hired highly talented and specialized artists to design elaborate book covers. One of the most accomplished was Margaret Armstrong (1867-1944) who had little training, but excelled in this decorative arts field which had been considered to be primarily a man’s position up until that time.
Her cover designs reflected her love of nature, and she was greatly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement of the day. Over the course of her career she designed about 270 books, primarily for Scribner’s.
Her distinctive style proved to be so successful that many publishers, including Scribner’s would hire imitators to mimic her work. This remarkable collection of her stamped bindings you see here is just a small portion currently offered for sale as a complete set at the Boston Book Company.
Some covers appear to be unsigned, but many display her small M A monogram integrated into her stamped artwork.