In the early history of books, a printer would print the book and then whoever bought the book would take it to their favorite binder to have it bound. In the early 1800s publishers chose to takeover the printing as well as the binding of books. They hired artists to design special designs that were made a part of the cloth binding, often signing the design with their initials. Here are four examples of publishers bindings.
The Courtship of Sweet Anne Page by Ellen V. Talbot, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1902.
A tan cloth binding stamped black and pink and signed by binding designer, MM, Margaret Armstrong.
Margaret Armstrong (1867-1944) was an American designer, illustrator and author. She is best known for her book covers in Art Nouveau style. She eventually designed about 270 book covers.
Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall by Charles Major, The Macmillan Company, 1902.
Bound in blue, linen-grain publisher's cloth; cover and spine impressed with Vernon heraldry and vignette of Haddon Hall; design decorated in black, green, and gilt, binding signed in bottom right hand corner of vignette, EWC for Elizabeth W. Champney.
Elizabeth Williams Champney (1850-1922) was an American author as well as an illustrator. She was a member of Vassar's second graduating class.
The Resurrection of Miss Cynthia by Florence Morse Kingsley, Grosset & Dunlap, 1905
Publisher's tan cloth binding stamped in black and red on front cover and spine, signed by the binding designer, AE, Adelaide Everhart.
Adelaide Everhart (1865-1958) was an American painter and illustrator from Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Waters of Caney Fork by Opie Read, Rand McNally & Co., 1898
Publisher's diagonal-fine-rib-grain cloth with gold, wihite metal, green and gray stamping on front cover and spine. White metal, green and gray stamping on back. Cover signed by the designer with a seahorse, the mark of William Wallce Denslow.
W.W. Denslow (1856-1915) was an American illustrator and caricaturist, best remembered for his work in collaboration with author L. Frank Baum, especially his illustrations in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.