Saturday, January 26, 2013

Inspired By Literature: Antiquarian Book Bindings

During the dead of winter I crave colors as much as I crave the vivacity of a good novel. Though I have an immense list of authors slated to be featured in my Inspired By Literature series, I simply couldn't make a decision this month. For want of a specific author I turned to my husband's and my personal library (a full six bookshelves) to select some of my most treasured older books. Though a few featured below are relatively new (the 1950s and later) others date to the early part of the 20th century and are absolutely priceless to me.

At least in my eyes, there is something about age that truly adds to the beauty and distinction of a book. Cloth bound novels that were once one color are tinted and sun faded in such a way that adds to their general air of sophistication. Patterns and prints on the cover that would have been common in their day add to the overall antiquarian charm and character of a delicate old book. Of course my favorite aspect of old books cannot be captured in any photograph: the smell of an old book is tantamount to perfume and ranks among my favorite fragrances of all time.

(Blue) Balzac and the Novel c1953 - MAC Shadows Copperplate, Dove Feather and Parisian Skies
(Yellow) Tom Sawyer c1987 - MAC Shadows Hey, Moleskin and Soba
(Green) The Wind in the Willows c1913 - MAC Shadows Greensmoke, Woodwinked and Bateau
(Black/grey) Selections from Poe c1907 - MAC Shadows Satin Taupe, Club and Hocus-Pocus


 The novel pictured below belonged to my great grandmother Vivian. My family has a love affair with literature dating back generations, and for this reason I'm lucky enough to have access to some very old and beautiful books. The Rose Carnation is one of my favorites. Though the story is charming, the beautiful Edwardian cover steals the show. Delicate golden patterns trace the front coupled with an illustration of children by the seashore. I love the color scheme of this cover that ranges from muted sage greens and pinks to the illustration which features gold, rich roses, burgundy and soft seashore blue.

 The Rose Carnation c1906 
(Clockwise from top center): NARS Silent Night, Bourjois Rose Coup de Foudre Blush, C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve, MAC Shadows Cranberry, Sketch and Clair de Lune


Many of my favorite books seem to be direct predecessors of the the contemporary Penguin cloth bound classics series featuring beautiful and detailed patterns. Not only is this cover for The Mayor of Casterbridge fitting, the colors are also stunning and very autumnal. A rich creamy background is punctuated with an autumn leaf red tinged with rich burnt sienna.

The Mayor of Casterbridge c1964
(Clockwise from top right): Burberry Pale Barley Shadow, MAC Vintage Selection Paint Pot, Rouge Baiser L'Authentique Lipstick Moderato


As I'm sure many loyal readers of the Inspired By Literature series have gathered, the series is as much inspired by the beautiful covers of books as the stories between them. Though one should never judge a book by its cover, some of my favorite pieces of art of all time are the covers of antique books that I own. Though I do derive inspiration from fashion, my largest source of day-to-day inspiration are the books that I cherish. I cannot wait to share my upcoming Inspired By Literature posts that I have planned for 2013, but as always if you have a recommendation please do not hesitate to suggest your favorite author!

Have any beautiful book covers inspired your cosmetic choices recently?