New York: Grosset and Dunlap, Circa 1908. Unknown. Small Octavos. (17 cm.) Seven volumes. Half cloth, paper boards in colorful, abstract art bindings. Titles on paper paste downs on front boards. Three volumes with owner signatures on front free endpaper. One volume with some soiling to edge of front board and some mild staining to paper edges not affecting text. One volume with some loss to spine. Some edgewear to all volumes. Over all, a set in Very Good condition. Item #59
Pirates of the White Page
Appealing set of decorative bindings from early 20th Century reprint book publishing giant, Grosset and Dunlap. Alexander Grosset and George Dunlap initially founded their publishing business by purchasing unbound stock or bulk paperbacks and replacing the title pages with the Grosset and Dunlap imprint and marketing them with a new binding. In other words -- piracy. However, these seven books are a testament to their ingenuity in marketing and designing books for mass appeal. The titles, have range and familiarity and include the Christian authority of James Allen's "Entering The Kingdom", Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" and Edward Fitzgerald's translation of "The Rubáiyát Of Omar Khayyám". (Something for everyone.) Made to look like a series or set, the books have matching paper labels and spines. However, the art of the paper boards is exciting and modern in a painterly fashion; the colors and abstractions and patterns closer to what would later be more defined in the Art Deco period. Grosset and Dunlap, like some pirates of the high seas, finally became legitimate out of sheer endurance as they were ultimately acquired by the very respectable, Penguin Random House. A nice example of modern art's influence over decorative bindings and a true "rags to riches" story in publishing history.