The Book Arts Collection contains many books that are notable for excellent design. The collection represents the development of the book from the Middle Ages to modern day.
Charles Paul De Kock. Sister Anne.
Introduction by Jules Claretie; translated into English by Mary Hanford Ford. Boston: The Frederick J. Quinby Company, 1902. An example of the many fine bindings in the Book Arts Collection, the Bibliomaniac edition of the Works of Charles Paul de Kock in one hundred volumes.
Two of three examples of fore-edge painting in the collection. The practice of fore-edge painting dates to the fifteenth century though the technique was particularly popular in England from the seventeenth century.
Treatise on smallpox.
Thailand, early nineteenth century. This work is a treatise on smallpox with illustrations of the location and form of the pustules. It presents the standard knowledge of the disease in Siam in the early nineteenth century. Donated by T.J. Jones in 1840.
Dragon-boat. Chinese Pith Paintings.
2 vols. c. 1840s.
Henry David Thoreau. Cape Cod.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1896. Binding designed by Sarah Wyman Whitman. Sarah Wyman Whitman worked primarily for Houghton Mifflin in Boston during the 1880s and 1890s and produced over 200 book cover designs. She was influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement and preferred a simpler aesthetic of spare designs with elegant gilt lettering and decorative ornamentation that was stylistically reminiscent of medieval bindings and organic forms from nature. The Athenæum has many examples of her splendid bindings in the Book Arts Collection.
Elbert and Alice Hubbard. Justinian and Theodora…
A drama, being a chapter of history and the one gleam of light during the Dark Ages. East Aurora, N.Y.: Roycrofters, c1906. Designed by Dard Hunter. The text copy set in Caslon, printed on Roycroft handmade paper. Double title-page signed DH. The Roycroft Collection has approximately 300 items from the press of the Roycrofters that flourished in East Aurora, NY from roughly 1895 to 1915. The Roycroft design was inspired by a mix of commercial interest and the arts-and crafts movement. Presented by Brett Rutherford, 1988.
Jane Lancaster. Inquire Within: A Social History of the Providence Athenaeum Since 1753.
Providence, RI: The Providence Athenæum, 2003. Copy 2 of 100. Bound by Glenn Bartleby, Master Binder.
The library owns two medieval manuscripts and eight incunabula (books printed before 1501), as well as small and fine press books of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Strengths of this collection include examples by American book cloth designers such as Sarah Wyman Whitman (1842-1904), who designed book covers in Boston for Houghton Mifflin in the late nineteenth century, and the Roycroft Collection donated by Brett Rutherford in 1988.