by John Carrera
Quercus Press, 2009
Bound by Eric Alstrom
Description: Quarter binding with marbled sides and distressed calf leather. Blind tooling on spine with antiqued title label. Sewn on three recessed cords with paper hollow. Cloth stuck-on endband. Edges sprinkled red. Plain endsheets. Textblock extensively “unwashed” to create antique feel.
Artist’s Statement: This copy of the Pictorial Webster’s is believed to be Noah Webster’s personal copy. Discovered in the basement of his New Haven home as it was being moved to historic Greenfield Village (in Dearborn, Michigan), the book’s significance was overlooked and discarded. The book has suffered extensive damage over the years, including a water disaster as evidenced by the cockled pages (fortunately it shows no signs of mold). The pages are badly soiled, stained and torn in places, showing that the book was well used, presumedly by Mr. Webster himself. While the binding is presumedly not the original (due to the water damage it must have suffered), it still shows signs of Mr. Webster’s frugal Yankee upbringing in the austere binding, tight margins, and lack of top-quality materials and workmanship. Still, this binding is an important piece of American history, both as an example of early American bookbinding and its distinguished provenance.