[ModLib] Buckram Modern Library Ediitons

Roger Lathbury lathbury at gmu.edu
Wed Jun 23 20:50:12 EDT 2010

Dear Brian:

Thank you for the interesting e-mail.

The _Poems of Shelley_ buckram I own has the reinforced binding and the "torch bearer" design. It is like the ones illustrated on the "identifier's site."

The later buckram, however, Bernard Shaw's _St. Joan  Major Barbara  Androcles and the Lion,_ is not. It is in the Fujita style, although not exactly like the _In Cold Blood_ in the picture on the identifier's site. The color of the cloth--which I think you might be saying is not buckram--is cream. The spine is stamped in silver; the front is blind stamped, with a border with rounded corners at top left and lower right. The buckram looks to me less sturdy than on the Shelley and it is not "reinforced." The endpaper and an ordinary super are all that attach the text block to the case. (Would that the 1930's balloon cloth Modern Library editions had used a super!)

This cloth looks to me starch filled, although it doesn't seem to be from the casual text I applied to it. It is of a coarser weave than the Shelley version. It is still superior to the other Modern Library editions.

I took a scan of it, for your edification (if that be the word). The book had no dust jacket, but I bought it for a quarter--the wrap, if there was any, might have been discarded.

I suspect this is one of the varieties you describe: "the regular and giants of the Modern Library in the late '60s use a covering resembling buckram but without the required cloth reinforced strip on the hinges." Only I think that this cloth is buckram; in other words, it is buckram without the reinforcing cloth.

Of the two pictures you sent, the left hand one, the lighter blue, looks to me a higher grade than the other, with more visible texture. Buckram was the cloth of choice for concerns that rebound books for libraries; they would remove the text block, side stitch it, and then recase with buckram, often of the heaviest and most durable quality. Books from the 1920's so rebound are still usable today. Sometimes the paper wears out before the binding.

Well--thanks much again for your interesting reply. I tried to look this up in my copy of Toledano's guide, but although good on many matters, he is not so adequate here.

With best wishes and gratitude,


----- Original Message -----
From: Brian LeMasters <brianlemasters at gmail.com>
Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 10:52 pm
Subject: Re: [ModLib] Buckram Modern Library Ediitons

> Hello Roger,
> I have no experience in the publishing of books, but I am a close 
> observer of these buckrams, as I have a few myself.
> Does the attached image convey the difference in buckram cloth 
> grade 
> which you asked about?  Close weave, coarser weave?
> In my attempt to catalog these on my own, I have been naming their 
> color 
> as shades of blue... don't laugh!  Maybe grade of buckram is a 
> better idea?
> In the beginning, I only noticed one or two of these 
> irregularities.  
> Now I have found a half dozen - blue and brown.  Red, green, 
> black, 
> burgundy, gray and mustard are consistent.
> The "close weave" or "light blue" example dates to Spring 1967.  
> The 
> other example in the picture is undated (which I have found to be 
> a 
> large percentage of buckrams) due to lack of catalog in the rear 
> of the 
> text.  I have noticed the same difference in buckram cloth on 
> Giants as 
> well.
> As far as I can tell, the end paper construction is the same on 
> all of 
> the ML Buckrams.  See the website for the detailed picture.  ( 
> http://www.modernlib.com/Identifiers/buckram.html  )
> I have seen the regular and giants of the Modern Library in the 
> late 
> '60s use a covering resembling buckram but without the required 
> cloth 
> reinforced strip on the hinges.
> I have buckrams with little text, big text, narrow or wide 
> margins, 
> barely legible type or crisp lettering.  Just last week I found my 
> first 
> buckram where the paper quality was compromised.  Some of the late 
> 60's 
> MLs are toned or have browned paper throughout.  The buckram that 
> I 
> found had mixed high quality/low quality paper in the different 
> signatures (but again, no date).  Distracting more than irritating.
> Brian
> Roger Lathbury wrote:
> >> Dear Experts:
> >>
> >> I'm a listening member of this group. I love books, am a 
> publisher 
> >> myself (Orchises Press), a college professor, and a reader. To 
> brag: 
> >> I do have a nice _Gatsby_ first in dust jacket in the Modern 
> Library, 
> >> as well as a signed and annotated (by Fitzgerald himself!) 
> _Gatsby_ 
> >> (in rust colored balloon cloth), but I'm not centered on, as 
> you 
> >> folks are, the Modern Library itself. I did make one general 
> post 
> >> earlier, on the letterpress plates used to print Modern Library 
> volumes.>>
> >> Anyone who reads and appreciates the purveying of culture in 
> America 
> >> must come to terms with this series. Therefore, without 
> collecting 
> >> them, I have a number of volumes, including a rather nice, if 
> not 
> >> textually sophisticated or aware, _Poems of Percy Bysshe 
> Shelley_ 
> >> (ed. Carlos Baker), in a brown buckram binding, and, as of last 
> >> Thursday, thanks to 25¢ and a library sale, a buckram _Bernard 
> Shaw's 
> >> Plays_ (_Saint Joan, Major Barbara,_ and _Androcles and the 
> Lion_). I 
> >> bought it for the last two, not otherwise in my library. It 
> didn't 
> >> have a dust wrapper.
> >>
> >>
> >> My questions are about the buckram versions of the Modern 
> Library. 
> >> Buckram is a lovely cloth. _Bernard Shaw's Plays_ looks like C 
> grade 
> >> rather than the F grade buckram I bought for my one venture 
> into this 
> >> cloth at my publishing company. The Shelley, however, seems of 
> a 
> >> higher grade--D. Are the earlier versions of buckram tighter 
> weave 
> >> than the later?
> >>
> >> Also, I notice that _Bernard Shaw's Plays_ has a continuous 
> endpaper 
> >> whereas the Shelley is more elaborately and strongly produced, 
> with a 
> >> separated endsheet. The design of _Bernard Shaw's Plays_ is 
> also 
> >> later, of course. It still seems like a sturdy volume, but are 
> all 
> >> the later ones one endpaper, whereas the earlier ones separated?
> >>
> >> Finally, was the grade of paper used for buckram volumes higher 
> than 
> >> that for the regular Modern Library? I note that _Bernard 
> Shaw's 
> >> Plays_ has a miscut signature--perhaps the result of a higher 
> grade 
> >> sheet?
> >>
> >> Have I asked this clearly?
> >>
> >> Grateful for any information.
> >>
> >> With thanks.
> >>
> >> Sincerely,
> >>
> >>
> >> Roger Lathbury
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> ModLib mailing list
> >> ModLib at thuban.owu.edu
> >> http://thuban.owu.edu/mailman/listinfo/modlib
> >>
> >>   
> >
> >
> > -----------------------------------------------------------------
> -------
> >
> >
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