Decorated bindings arose in the 1800s as a solution to book publishers' need for an inexpensive, durable, attractive book cover. Prior to the 1800s, just the pages of books were sold, allowing owners to have the books bound in the cover of their choosing. The decorated cloth bindings provided publishers with a cover that was more durable than paper, less expensive than leather, and quite attractive. These bindings remained in favor through the early 1900s, when they were replaced by illustrated paper dust jackets.
Seen here is a selection of decorated bindings from the State Library's collection. More images are available on the library's Flickr site in the set "Decorated Bindings." These images are just a sampling of the items available in the collection. To view the originals, please visit the Special Collections department.
- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Special Collections