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178 pages, 28 leaves of plates : facsimiles (some color). Curated title for Fleet Library Special Collections book cover exhibition Bound to Please, fall 2022. Spine title: History of writing. All color plates are signed: "H.N. Humphreys, Lith. Day & Son to The Queen." Marbled endpapers and pastedowns. Gilt edges. Cover is black papier mache with red backing paper. The design is the same on both covers. Binding design by Henry Noel Humphreys. Library copy is missing spine and is disbound. "The English firm Jackson & Sons held the patent for the papier-mâché bindings of the mid-1840s to 1860s that are associated with Henry Noel Humphreys. Intended to imitate medieval hand-carved bindings and architectural sculpture, so-called papier-mâché bindings were made from a molded mixture of plaster, a filler, and possibly actual papier-mâché and antimony." Unusual cover. Gift of David & Margot Nishimura.

Publication Date


Imprint / Year

London : Day and Son, 1855.


Day and Son




Bound to Please Exhibit 2022; Medieval; Egyptian (ancient); hieroglyphics; alphabetic writing systems; writing (processes); writing systems; paleography; cuneiform; Greek alphabet; Chinese scripts; Mexican; illustration (process); illustrations (layout features)


Book and Paper | Illustration

RISD Fleet Library Catalog Record

The origin and progress of the art of writing : a connected narrative of the development of the art in its primeval phases in Egypt, China, and Mexico ... and its subsequent progress to the present day / by Henry Noel Humphreys ; illustrated by a number of specimens of the writing of all ages and a series of facsimiles from autograph letters from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century.



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