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Publishers' Bookbindings: Overview

A guide to decorative books in special and circulating collections at Brooklyn College Library, and research resources for related topics.

What are publishers' bookbindings?

Publishers' bookbindings - also known as publishers' bindings, trade bindings, and decorative bindings - are books produced in the mid-nineteenth (1800s) to early twentieth (1900s) century, particularly those manufactured through industrial processes with decorative cover designs.

Publishers' bindings come in all colors. They were published internationally, in several languages, and by large and small publishing houses.

Publishers' bindings are excellent primary resources for those interested in African-American and Women's Studies; American, Children's, and English Literature; the Industrial Era; as well as book conservation, the history of reading and publishing, art history, women in the workforce, African-American writers, travel writing, and changing trends in popular fiction.

Explore Brooklyn College Library's collection of these important books and learn more about how to research them by clicking on the menu pages in this Guide.

Publishers' bindings in the Brooklyn College collection. Original Guide and collage by Diane Dias De Fazio, 2016.

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The Library has made a reasonable effort to identify all possible rights holders in the images in this Guide. Artists, where known, are acknowledged; some artists are unknown. The Library has elected to place the images here as an exercise of fair use for non-commercial educational purposes. We would like to learn more about these items and to hear from individuals or institutions that have any additional information as to rights holders: contact specialcollections @

Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item.

Creative Commons License
This Guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Materials included in this Guide are intended for educational purposes only.