Sarah Wyman Whitman alphabet

Like our publishers’ binding designers monogram post, this is another internal reference that is shared for wider use. It will also be updated as I have time.

This is to help identify the bindings of Sarah Whitman, who signed comparatively few of her book designs. She’s one of my personal favorites because a) she was one of the very first professional designers, and b) she was a woman in the very male field of publishing, and c) her designs are beautiful.

She didn’t sign very many bindings, so going by her aesthetic and her lettering are two good ways to determine if a binding is hers. Much can be said about her artistic style: long verticals (especially stems & roots), heats, fleur-de-lis, etc., but lettering is perhaps more precise to display on a page like this.

Book titles below each image. I’ve tried to photograph as many styles as possible without duplication. The only exceptions are, well, the exceptions–books that have unique lettering, such as the weird “Snowbound” font.

She started in the mid-1880s and worked through the beginning of the twentieth century.

A

1893 Dorothy Q

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. This same book has “A”s with the top bar, but she dropped it to fit this “A” between the “R” and “T”.

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri (most “A”s on this book have the slightly curved top bar.)

 

B

1893 Dorothy Q (two B’s in a row!)

1893 Pagan and Christian Rome.

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

C

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

D

1893 Dorothy Q

1893 Pagan and Christian Rome.

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

E

1893 Dorothy Q. Look under “H” for the “HE” from the same book.

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

1895 Stories of the Foot-Hills.

F

1893 Dorothy Q

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

G

1891 Egypt

1893 Dorothy Q

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

H

1893 Dorothy Q

1893 Dorothy Q (in “the”)

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

I

1893 Dorothy Q (sans serif “I” between an “H” and an “L” on same book. Like the “O”, the “I” fits with the adjacent letters.)

J

1897 The Country of the Pointed Firs.

K

1893 Dorothy Q

L

1893 Dorothy Q

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

M

1893 Dorothy Q

1893 Pagan and Christian Rome.

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (Spine. Same book has “M” with slanted uprights in “Mifflin” on spine.)

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

N

1893 Dorothy Q (see also “K” for the “NK” conjoined. The same book has a conjoined “ND” as well.)

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

O

1893 Dorothy Q. Her “O”s are usually round, but note how they are sized to fit with the adjacent characters.

P

1891 Egypt

1891 Over the Teacups

1893 Dorothy Q

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (spine)

.

 

Q

1893 Dorothy Q

R

1893 Dorothy Q

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

S

1891 Over the Teacups

1893 Dorothy Q. Tail below the baseline on all three “S”s on this book.

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

1895 Stories of the Foot-Hills. A nice example of fitting the “S” to the adjacent letters. In this case, the “S” is a final letter.

T

1893 Dorothy Q

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

 

U

1893 Dorothy Q. The Roman “U” was not uncommon for her but also other designers, including Margaret Armstrong.

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

1897 The Country of the Pointed Firs. (slightly rounded)

V

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

W

1893 Dorothy Q

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (spine)

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

X

Y

1893 Dorothy Q

1894 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (spine)

1895 Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri

Z

1894 A Singular Life.

Space

1894 Two Bites at a Cherry. Dots frequently used between words on her books. Sometimes at end/beginning of line, as well. For the 1895 Land of the Lingering Snow, she used hearts instead of dots.

Apostrophe

1897 Nature’s Diary.