The Art of Book Design: Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights. Edited by Hildegard Hawthorne, illustrated by Virginia Frances Sterrett. Philadelphia, The Penn Publishing Company, 1928.

Arabian Nights is the last book illustrated by Virginia Sterrett before her death in 1931 at the age of 30.  It was a huge undertaking for Sterrett who was quite sick with tuberculosis  and living in sanatorium at the time. The artist was able to work for only brief periods each day and the book took a total of 3 years to complete. Sterrett experienced a brief improvement in her health in 1929 and was able to return home for a time. She even began work on a new book for Penn Publishing in 1930 – Myths and Legends – but she was unable to complete the work. Many people consider Arabian Nights to be the finest work that Sterrett produced.  Enjoy!

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The Art of Book Design: Illustrated book of Poultry

Martin Doyle. The Illustrated Book of Domestic Poultry. Philadelphia, Porter & Coates, 1892.

Because chickens are beautiful. And it’s what’s for dinner tonight.

Black Breasted Malay

Ghou Rook Rumple (Silk Fowl Chicken)


via: The Internet Archive, where you can view all the illustrations, including the ducks and geese.

The Art of Book Design: Tanglewood Tales

Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrations by Virginia Frances Sterrett; 1921; Philadelphia, Penn Publishing Company

As promised, today we’re looking at the second book illustrated by Virginia Sterrett, Tanglewood Tales by Hawthorne, and the artwork is just as beautiful as that in Sterrett ‘s first book, Old French Fairy Tales.  The soft flowing lines and attention to small details are still present, but there’s more boldness in the colour palette and, perhaps because of this, a different quality of light. Sterrett was only 20 when she completed this work and was already sick with the tuberculosis that would eventually take her life.

Enjoy! [Read more…]

The Art of Book Design: My Lady Nicotine

Barrie, James Matthew, My Lady Nicotine A Study in Smoke, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1890

A book written by the author of Peter Pan about his love affair with smoking. He had quit smoking when he wrote the book and had become contemptuous of it, but the series of 33 essays speak wistfully of his fond remembrances of the days when he enjoyed his pipe. The essay titles include, “His Wife’s Cigar,” “How Heroes Smoke.” and “The Perils of Not Smoking.”


via: Classic Literature Library

The Art of Book Design: The Book of Romance

Lang, Andrew. The Book of Romance. New York, Longmans, Green & co, 1902

This is one of the best-loved book of stories about the Legend of King Arthur. The cover is gorgeous, but there are some pretty sweet interior plates as well. The whole book is available at the link below if you’re interested.


via: The Internet Archive

The Art of Book Design: Easy Guide to the Constellations

Today’s book comes from Anne, Cranky Cat Lady and it’s absolutely charming. I’m pretty sure it’s a rare first edition and it looks to be in good shape for a book that’s 119 years old.

James Gall. An Easy Guide to The Constellations With A Miniature Atlas of The Stars. Gall and Inglis, London, 1900.