[ModLib] Binding variant style 8 (Blumenthal)

Gordon Barrick Neavill neavill at wayne.edu
Sat Jun 9 05:57:44 EDT 2012

In revising my entries for 1939 ML titles I discovered a variant form of the style 8 binding designed by Joseph Blumenthal and first used in fall 1939. Four titles were added to the ML fall 1939: Six Plays of Clifford Odets (67) and Steinbeck, In Dubious Battle (115) in September, and Fielding, Joseph Andrews (117) and Fineman, Hear Ye Sons (130) in October.  These were the first four titles published in the Blumenthal binding. First printings of all four have plain cream endpapers since Rockwell Kent needed time to revise his endpapers for the larger format.

To my surprise, I discovered that the October titles, Joseph Andrews and Hear, Ye Sons are bound in a variant of the Blumenthal binding that I've seen nowhere else: there's no torchbearer on the front panel, and the outer rule frame at the bottom is only half an inch from the dark title panel instead of 5/8 inches (the extra eighth of an inch was needed to accommodate the torchbear within the outer frame at the lower right).

My first printings of the September 1939 titles (Odets and Steinbeck) have the torchbearer on the front panel. It's possible that my copies of these first printings were bound later after the torchbearer on the front panel was introduced, or it's possible that Blumenthal had second thoughts about the front panel and tried a slightly different design for the October titles that was later abandoned. The front panel without the torchbearer has a more classical feel; the front panel with the torchbearer is more cluttered but is probably more effective in a merchandizing sense in that it instantly identifies the volume as a Modern Library book.

If anyone has copies of first printings of Odets or Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle in bindings without the torchbearer on the front panel of the binding, please let me know!

Gordon B. Neavill
Associate Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Wayne State University
106 Kresge Library
Detroit, MI 48202
313-577-0507; 313-577-7563 (fax)

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