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The Book Beautiful: Margaret Armstrong & Her Bindings

The Book Beautiful: Margaret Armstrong & Her Bindings 

A green book cover with floral designs and text reading, "The book beautiful, margaret armstrong and her bindings."
This is a hybrid event! The registration form for the Zoom meeting can be found here!

May 18, 2022

Rockefeller Gallery, WVU Downtown Library


As a young woman, Margaret Armstrong entered the emerging field of book cover art in the late 1880’s. It wouldn’t be long before her beautiful book cover designs would take her to the top of the male dominated profession and firmly place her as an important figure in the world of the book arts.

The decorated book covers of this period (1887 – 1915) were designed to attract attention and increase sales. Margaret Armstrong’s designs drew upon the sinuous art forms of Art Noveau with the delicate interweaving of plants, hand-drawn lettering for titles, and exquisite use of color, that drew customers to purchase books bound with her cover designs. As her popular style and reputation grew, customers learned to recognize her by name from the monogram she placed on her cover designs to sign her work.

This exhibition features the book cover designs of Margaret Armstrong from the WVU rare book collection. From her first tentative cover design in 1887 to the designs of her later years that boldly splashed color and form across their covers, the book art of Margaret Armstrong is one of WVU’s treasured collections.

The Book Beautiful: Margaret Armstrong & Her Bindings, first opened at the New York Society Library on January 16, 2020. WVU is pleased to offer this exhibition in collaboration with the NYSL to bring the beautiful binding designs of Margret Armstrong to West Virginia.

Guest Speaker: Lowell Thing, the recognized expert on the life and book art of Margaret Armstrong.  He will speak on his extensive collection of Armstrong’s binding designs and her career as a binding designer. As a collector, Mr. Thing, will discuss his collecting journey as well as the significant book art of Margaret Armstrong. Her designs for the decorated book covers of the late 1880’s through the 1910’s are among the most important work of the Golden Age of book cover design.