John Carter's Publisher's cloth: an outline history
of publisher's bindings in England 1820-1900 (New
York: Bowker, 1935) is the standard history from a
largely technological view.
A more recent overview of the history of English publisher’s
bindings is found in Esther Potter’s article, "The
Development of Publishers Bookbinding in the Nineteenth
Century," in the Journal of the Printing Historical
Society, No. 28, 1999, pp. 71-93.
An anecdotal approach is taken by the English collector,
Robin de Beaumont, in the well-illustrated article
"Nineteenth-Century Publishers' Bindings 1820-1900:
A brief survey from my shelves" in The Private
Library, 4th Series, vol. 9, no. 1,
Spring 1996, pp. 146-185.
Standard references include Douglas Ball's Victorian
Publishers' Bindings (London: Library Association,
1985) and the books by Ruari McLean, including Victorian
Publishers' Book-bindings in cloth and leather
(Berkeley, University of California Press, 1973).
For designer bindings from the latter part of the century,
see Marianne Tidcombe’s "The Development of Modern
Design in British Bookbinding," in The Private
Library, 5th Series, vol. 1, no. 4,
Sue Allen’s Victorian Bookbindings: A Pictorial
Survey (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1972, reprinted 1976), is a nice overview of the American
side. Unfortunately, the illustrations are on microfiche
in a pocket in the back cover.
Decorated Cloth in America: Publishers' Bindings,
1840-1910 (Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark
Memorial Library, 1994) is a very interesting book,
although the title is a little misleading -- it is
actually two essays, one by Sue Allen on John Feely,
the other by Charles Gullans, on Sarah Whitman and
Joseph W. Rogers "The rise of American edition binding"
in Bookbinding in America, ed. Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt
(Portland, ME: Southworth-Anthoensen Press, 1941),
discusses technological history.
For designer bindings, Nancy Finlay's Artists of
the Book in Boston, 1890-1910 (Cambridge, MA:
Houghton Library, 1985) is useful. Although the book
focuses on Boston, it includes many of the more important
Three readable accounts, although from the end of the
period are: Brander Matthews, Bookbindings Old
and New (1895), Commercial Bookbindings: An
Historical Sketch, with Some Mention of an exhibition…at
the Grolier Club (1894), and William Matthews,
Modern Bookbinding Practically Considered (1889)
For a technical approach, most nineteenth century works
on bookbinding are either devoted to case bindings,
or have sections on case binding.