Henry Altemus Company

 

Altemus Bindery

 

Altemus Book Bindery

 

In the early years of Altemus & Company the main order of business was as a book bindery. Examples of early work however are hard to find.

This is mainly because a fair percentage (?most) of the books bound by Altemus have no indication of their bindery anywhere on or in the book. As can be seen below occasionally Altemus is mentioned as the binder within the book in a preface. See Leaflets of Memory.

The Altemus name is sometimes placed within the gilt on the cover as noted on the Christmas Blossoms 1849 published by E. H. Butler. Other books have the Altemus name embossed on the front cover. See below the Poetical Works book top of the front cover published by Grigg and Elliot.

Occasionally it is noted in an advertisement that Altemus did a particular book's binding. Rarely the Altemus name is stamped into the corner of an endpaper.

At this time the following companies are known to have used Altemus bindings.

Philadelphia Publishers
Geo. C. Appleton
E. H. Butler
Grigg and Elliot
Willis P. Hazard
Kay and Brother
H. Cowperthwait & Co.
Peck and Bliss
C. Desilver
Hayes and Zell
Fireside Publishing Company
Presbyterian Board of Publication

New York Publishers
D. Appleton & Co.
Dunigan & Brother
Leavitt & Allen
Wiley and Putnam

Baltimore, Md.
John Murphy & Company
Lucas Brothers
T. Newton Kurtz

Boston
Phillips and Sampson
B. A. Fowler & Co.

Richmond, Va.
A. Morris

Chicago
W.B. Keen
Baird and Dillon
C.R. Brodix

Washington, D.C.
Franck Taylor
Taylor & Maury

London
William Smith

 

 

BINDING EXAMPLES:

 

 

Leaflets of Memory Published by E. H. Butler and Co. 1847

This earlier "Leaflets" was also bound by Altemus. As opposed to the books below, this binding actually is signed by Altemus. In the middle of the spine it says "Altemus". The later books note in the advertisement (preface) that Altemus was the binder.

The publisher of all the Leaflets of Memory was E. H. Butler. It would seem that all of these books (1840's and 1850's) were bound by Altemus but it is not proven as of yet.

 

 

 

 

Leaflets of Memory edited by Reynell Coates. Published by E. H. Butler 1850

Altemus named as binder in the "advertisement".

 

 

 

 

Leaflets of Memory edited by Reynell Coates. Published by E. H. Butler 1851

Altemus named as binder in the "advertisement".

The Leaflets of Memory books were published yearly during the 1840's and 1850's. Previously an 1850 book bound by Altemus has been shown. Now from the same series an 1851 book also published by E.H. Butler has been discovered. As with the previous book, there is nothing that indicates the Altemus bindery on the cover. Mr. Altemus is mentioned in the "advertisement" (preface) of the book as the binder.

The 1851 book is the seventh in the series. I do not know how many (if any) other books beside the 1850 and 1851 were bound by Altemus.

 

 

 

Poetical Works of Rogers, Campbell, J. Montgomery, Lamb and Kirke White. Published by Grigg and Elliot, Phila in 1847

Here is an example of the Altemus book bindery. This book, The Poetical Works of Rogers, Campbell, J. Montgomery, Lamb Kirke White was published by Grigg & Elliot, a Philadelphia company, in 1847. If you look very closely at the top of the book's front cover, you can see the words J. T. Altemus ...Binder Philad. This shows again the difficulty of finding Altemus bindings in the 1840's and 1850's.

 

 

 

Christmas Blossoms by Uncle Thomas. Published by E. H. Butler & Company 1848

Here is the 1848 version of Christmas Blossoms by Uncle Thomas. This book was published by Phillips and Sampson, a Boston publisher. As can be seen above this same cover was used in 1849 by E. H. Butler with its publication of that year's Christmas Blossoms by Uncle Thomas.

If you look closely, the words "Altemus Binder" and "Phi" are placed in the gold gilt on the bottom left of the front cover.

Bottom Left

 

 

 

 

Christmas Blossoms by Uncle Thomas. Published by E. H. Butler & Company 1849

Here is another example from the Altemus bindery. This book, Christmas Blossoms and New Year's Wreath from 1849 by Uncle Thomas, was published by E.H. Butler & Co. As can be seen, the words Altemus Binder are engraved at the bottom of the book within the gilt pattern.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Blossoms by Uncle Thomas. Published by E. H. Butler & Co. 1851

This is the 1851 Christmas Blossoms. Although this book cover does not indicate Altemus as the binder as the two books above, there is little doubt that Altemus did the binding of this book. Note the vases on the 1848 and 1849 books. All three vases are identical. These vases plus the fact that Altemus did the other two Christmas Blossoms's books make it a certainty that Altemus bound this book.

 

 

 

Psalms and Hymns published by Presbyterian Board of Publication 1843

Here is a nice example of an Altemus bindery product. Note that the identifier for the publisher is a stamped into the upper right corner of an endpaper.

Altemus binding examples from the 1840's are quite uncommonly seen.


Pictures are courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia.

 

 

 

Pearls of American Poetry published by Wiley and Putnam 1847

This elegant book has the binder's imprint on the upper right corner of an endpaper. This is the only Wiley and Putnam book that I know of that was bound by Altemus.


Pictures courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia.

 

 

 

Read's Female Poets of America, Third Edition, published by E. H. Butler in 1850

Read's Female Poets of America, Third Edition, published by E. H. Butler in 1850 is reviewed in Sartain's Magazine in 1849. As can be seen, the article notes that Altemus did the ornamental design. Without this article it would be impossible to be sure what company did the binding.

It is of interest that the decorative pattern is very similar to the 1850 Leaflets of Memory (see above) book also published by E.H. Butler.

 

 

 

Women of the Old and New Testament published by D. Appleton & Company 1850

Interesting that this 1850 title has been seen with two different bindings. The bindery identifier is noted on the bottom right of an endpaper: " Altemus Binder Philade"

I am not familiar with any other title that had two different Altemus bindings in one year.

 
 


Pictures courtesy of the Philadelphia Library Company.

 

 

 

American Politics by Thomas V. Cooper Fireside Publishing Company 1883

In the 1880's and 1890's even though Altemus was ramping up its own publishing business, it was still doing some binding for other publishing houses. Here is an example of one of those efforts. This oversized book (9.5 x 6) was published by the Fireside Publishing Company. It is not surprising that Altemus did the binding for this company since Howard Altemus was the manager of the Fireside Publishing Company until he joined his father at Altemus and Company.

 

 

 

 

American Politics by Thomas V. Cooper C. R. Brodix, Chicago 1884

Here is an example of a leather bound book from the Altemus bindery. It was published in 1884 by the Chicago publisher C. R. Brodix. Note that this is basically the same book as the above 1883 book which was published by the Fireside Publishing Company. Note however that on the title page the 1884 book says "New and revised edition".

This is an example of an easy to identify Altemus bindery product since it says bound by Henry Altemus on the title page.

 

 

 

Biographies of Blaine and Logan by Thos. V. Cooper published by Baird and Dillon, Chicago and New York

Thos. V. Cooper wrote several political books in the 1880's and early 1890's. A number of different firms published his books. This book was published by Baird and Dillon in 1884. It is 9.5 x 6.5.

Two different cover formats have been seen. One in cloth and the other in leather. Both are shown below.

Interestingly the binder was noted on the copyright page as Henry Altemus not Altemus and Company. By the early 1890's Altemus was concentrating more on publishing its own books.

 

 

 

Biographies of Cleveland and Hendricks by Gen'l Benjamin La Fevre Baird & Dillon 1884

Here is an example of a Henry Altemus bound book published in 1884 by Baird & Dillon, a Chicago publisher.This is the second Campaign of '84 Altemus bound book seen so far. Interestingly this is the second of a matching pair of presidential biographies.

 

 

 

Additional Altemus bindings of books published by Grigg and Elliot in 1847.

(I would like to thank and acknowledge the Library Company of Philadelphia for allowing me to reproduce the book covers in this section. Altemus bound books are very hard to find and I appreciate their kindness)

These three books have similar gold gilt patterns on their covers. The J. T. Altemus Binder Phila embossed lettering is at the top of each cover. Clearly, it could be overlooked if the cover is not examined carefully.

 

 

The Works of Lord Byron by George Gordon Byron
1847 publication of Grigg and Elliot

J. T. Altemus Binder Phila

 

 

 

The Poetical Works of Milton, Young, Gray, Beattie, and Collins.

This 1847 was also published by Grigg and Elliot in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

The Poetical Works of Rogers, Campbell, J. Montgomery, Lambe, and Kirke White

1847 Published by Grigg and Elliot, Philadelphia

 

 

1860 Ad for Book Bindery

 

 

American Circular and Trade Gazette 1859

 

 

Webmaster: webadm@henryaltemus.com  (Technical Help Only)

Last Revision January 28, 2014