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Catalogs and Collections

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New to the Album Collection

The American Antiquarian Society has a collection of albums dating from the 1820's through the 1860's. These albums, mainly used to collect sentiments, autographs, and drawings, have been cataloged and added to the Society's exemplary collection of fine bindings.Album

For the most part, albums were collections of blank pages of white or colored papers, with an illustrated title page, and often with additional illustrations interspersed among the blank pages. Some included special, elaborate presentation plates. The covers of these books were quite often fine hand bindings in embossed, gold, or blind stamped leather and cloth. 

There appear to be no records of exactly how albums were created and marketed. From the evidence which has come to light through the cataloging of this collection, it is quite possible that these little books were not mass produced, but were made to order or in small batches for holiday gift giving. No two albums are identical, although there are many instances of similarities in page blocks, illustrations, or in bindings. These similarities helped S.J. Wolfe, Society cataloger, assign dates, binders, and publishers to those items lacking that information. Many of the albums do not contain a publication date so she used the earliest dated inscription to determine a probable date. 

The owner's names were traced as access points, as well as the publishers, binders, and artists whose work went into the items. Physical characteristics of the bindings, illustrations, and contents were also given access points in the cataloging record.

Album This album, owned by Miss Lucinda Medbury of Saratoga County, New York, was put together and bound by John C. Riker of New York, probably around 1838. The inscriptions are from family members and acquaintances. There are several examples of calligraphy in the album, and pieces of cloth and paper doily have been preserved between some of the pages. There is a metal engraved title page, [92] blank white pages, and [4] leaves with small engravings at the top of each leaf. The title page vignette is "The flowers" and is signed by Stephanoff and Oliver Pelton. The other small engravings are unsigned.

The binding is gold and blind stamped black morocco. The centerpiece of the design (which is the same on upper and lower covers) is a gold stamped lyre. A blind stamped border of flowers and arabesques frames the centerpiece. A narrow gold single rule outlines the four sides of the covers. The spine has a gold stamped design with the title: Album. The number "28" is also stamped in gold on the lower spine. The edges are gilt.

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Last updated February 6, 2001

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