Catalogs and Collections
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.
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.
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,
 blank white pages, and  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.