Early Blumenthal Bindings

Gordon Neavill aa3401 at wayne.edu
Fri Jul 6 12:06:42 EDT 2001

The Blumenthal binding was introduced in fall 1939.  Individually designed
title pages weren't introduced until spring 1940.  First printings of the
four fall 1939 titles (Six Plays of Clifford Odets, Steinbeck's In Dubious
Battle, Fielding's Joseph Andrews, and Fineman's Hear, Ye Sons) have title
pages within double rules.  The plates for the Kent endpapers were designed
for the smaller balloon cloth format.  A few titles during the balloon cloth
period were printed in a slightly larger format than usual in order to
accommodate the original publisher's text plates; the Kent endpapers of
these titles have a white border around the endpaper design.  The endpaper
design would have looked silly printed in the middle of a substantially
larger page than it was designed for.  So blank endpapers were used for all
of the fall 1939 titles. (Blank endpapers were also used for two spring 1939
titles published in the larger format in balloon cloth bindings: Stone's
Lust for Life and Dinesen's Seven Gothic Tales. It was the pleasing
appearance of these volumes that caused the ML to go ahead and bring out all
titles in the larger format.)  Larger plates for the Kent endpapers were
ready by the end of the year and  spring 1940 titles were the first to fully
implement the new design: Blumenthal binding, individually designed title
pages (many designed by Blumenthal), and larger Kent endpapers.  Three of
the fall 1939 titles got new title pages (and Kent endpapers) in their
second printings.  Hear, Ye Sons was a total failure in the series and was
never reprinted.  The text plates of Joseph Andrews weren't reset but were
positioned better on the pages in later printings.

The larger format was so well received that the ML decided to convert the
entire series as expediciously as possible.  They could have put existing
titles into the new format as they were reprinted, but that would have taken
a period of years.  Instead, they offered to take back existing balloon
cloth volumes from booksellers.  These were eventually sold off at remainder
prices at Macy's--accounting for some of the more spectacular ML prices ever
seen.  I think the entire series was available in the new format by the end
of 1941 or so, but I'd have to check my notes to confirm that.


----- Original Message -----
From: "John Krygier" <jbkrygie at cc.owu.edu>
To: "ModLib List" <modlib at algol.owu.edu>
Sent: Thursday, July 05, 2001 10:21 AM
Subject: Early Blumenthal Bindings

> Hi ModLib folks,
> I recently found a 1st edition of Fielding's "Joseph Andrews."
> It has blank endpapers and the text is obviously formatted for the
> earlier smaller format MLs (it has really wide margins, and the
> text is very close to the binding).  Also (and this thanks to earlier
> discussion on this listserv) I noticed that the title page has a double
> ruled box around the title/author etc. (like earlier MLs but unlike
> later Blumenthal MLs).
> I think someone (Sharon Biederman?) told me there were several
> 1939/40 era MLs with these characteristics - they were the first
> titles issued in this larger format.  I have a copy of Fineman's
> "Hear Ye Sons" with the same characteristics - but I can't recall
> if there were others.
> I am assuming the folks at Random House knew they were
> changing formats a year or two in advance - so why would they
> format 1939/40 era 1st eds for the old format?
> Also: did ML reformat the second printing of "Joseph Andrews"
> (text which fits on the larger pages), remove the double ruled box
> on title page, use printed endpapers)?
> I have no doubt that it took quite a while to reformat all of the
> pre-Blumenthal MLs into the new, larger format.  Curious how
> long it took to reformat all - or what ML titles retained earlier,
> smaller formatting the longest.
> John K.
> --
> j   b   k r y g i e r
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