Book Design

There were several different editions published in 1902 by Putnam’s Sons and illustrated by Margaret Armstrong. Due to fading of my version, I am unable to determine which edition I may have. Options are: A. Gold on green buckram, not hinged; OR B. gold on pale green or lavender, diagonally fine ribbed cloth, the pages hinged or not; In addition, “Half-title, title page, and page decorations throughout in screened colors.”   Additionally, the cover of the book is a gold stamped floral motif with the words “Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the center. There is also a banner that runs across the bottom of the motif with the words “Love’s standard on the battlements of song.” A small border around the edge of book has floral designs in each corner. Armstrong’s monogram is seen in the lower right hand corner next to the corner floral decoration. Pages are gilded in gold as well. Spine is also gold stamped with floral motif. Only the title is shown on the spine and it reads “Sonnets / from / the / Portu- / guese.

Page layout
All poems are printed in the center of the page, on the recto side and with equal margins on the left and right side, although the poems are left justified. Poems are somewhat closer to the top of the page, than the bottom, allowing for a large roman numeral on each page. Verso pages will have one of two designs. Sometimes there are large floral images with quotations either appearing in a banner across the flower or within the white space of the decoration. Or, other times a large banner will occupy the whole page, again with a quotation contained within. There are some instances where the floral motif on the verso side will cross the gutter and decorate the top of the recto page as well. In either care, quotations are exclusive to the verso page and poems to the recto.

Title page
The title page includes, in this order: the title, the author, the illustrator, the location of publication and the publisher. Also obvious on the title page is Latin grammar, using the letter “V” instead of the letter “u.” It is possible that Armstrong was aware of Browning’s attempt to disguise the poems as a translation and used an old fashioned type set to further this aim.

End leaves and flyleaves
End papers are black, opens onto white (now beige) flyleaves. 5th recto page has circular leave and flower illustration. Opposite of title page (or frontispiece) is illustration titled “a famished pilgrim saved by miracle.” Illustration is signed “HMA,” this refers to Helen Armstrong, sister of the illustration who was “better at figures” and completed this image. 7th recto page has dedication as completed by the illustrator Margaret Armstrong. 7th verso page features the decorative colophon. The volume ends with the word “finis” encapsulated in one flower. The recto of this page starts the list of quotations and authors that the illustrator used on the verso page of each poem.

Printer's Device- Type
As the first American book designer, Armstrong’s work was especially groundbreaking in its success at breaking away from the popular art deco look of that time. Armstrong liked to integrate type of image, as opposed to having one over power the other. She is also responsible for the creation of her own alphabet, used during the years of 1895 – 1910. Identifiable aspects of her typography include a “capital R that has an exaggeratedly curving descender.” Armstrong was fond of creating her own lettering which had its own distinctive style. Primarily, the cross bars of letters “e.” “h,” and “f” are particularly high. Also, the letter “r” always featured a long tail. “Over the years, Armstrong’s lettering style moved progressively toward thicker stems and heavier wedge serifs.” During this period Armstrong also started to include her signature monogram (MA) which featured the right tail of the “M” overlapping the left tail of the “A.”