The Book Beautiful: Margaret Armstrong & Her Bindings
January 16 - August 31, 2020 in the Peluso Family Exhibition Gallery
Margaret Armstrong was one of the most sought-after artists in an almost forgotten chapter in the history of book publishing—the golden age of the decorated book cover (1890-1915). During Armstrong’s remarkable career, more than a million books with her covers made their way into homes and libraries across America. By 1895 the beauty of Armstrong’s cover designs had placed her as a preeminent talent in an art that publishers had come to value highly. Most of her commissions were from three major publishing houses (Scribner, Putnam and Bobbs-Merrill), although in all she worked for 21 different publishers.
Today Armstrong’s covers are once again prized by scholars, educators and collectors. Her book covers here at the Library are among the prize jewels in our collection. The Book Beautiful: Margaret Armstrong & Her Bindings highlights Armstrong’s exquisite covers and, for the first time, the Armstrong family’s long connection to our Library.
This exhibition showcases some of Armstrong’s most exquisite covers (curated by Head of Special Collections Barbara Bieck), along with historic photographs and documents.
Meet Margaret Armstrong and Her Family
- Art of the Book: Margaret Armstrong and Her Bindings by Barbara Bieck
- Generations of Readers at the Society Library by Erin Schreiner
Color Our Collections
We made a coloring book based on Armstrong's book covers. They are truly works of art, and now you too can decorate (and design!) some intricate and colorful book covers. Grab some markers, crayons, and colored pencils and let Armstrong’s art nouveau designs spark your creativity.
This exhibition is generously supported by The H.W. Wilson Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Thomas E. Dewey Fund and The Felicia Fund Inc.
At right: Margaret Armstrong, courtesy of The Armstrong Family Collection