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Orange Judd took over American Agriculturist magazine as owner and publisher in 1856, three years after he was brought on board as editor by the magazine’s founders, brothers Richard and Anthony Allen.  In addition to such serial publications, Judd’s publishing company also produced books on agricultural and scientific topics.  Judd exerted great control over his publishing house’s output; he favored clean, simple designs for his cloth publishers’ bindings, just as he favored straightforward language free of scientific jargon in his agricultural journals.

In addition to several serials (including American Agriculturist), Iowa State University Library holds several hundred books published by the Orange Judd Publishing Company.  A few dozen of these books are housed in Special Collections and thus retain their original cloth publishers’ bindings.  However, the majority of the volumes are found in the General Collections, and have lost their original case bindings and cover art to the commercial bindery.

When issues of American Agriculturist from 1869 recently came to the lab for treatment, I recognized several of the titles being advertised on its pages as volumes in ISU Library’s collection.  Book advertisements often catch my eye since I took the late Sue Allen’s course on 19th Century American Publishers’ Bindings at Rare Book School; such ephemera offer a wealth of information about publishing history.

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A quick exploration revealed that, of the eight volumes currently held by ISU which were advertised in this particular issue of American Agriculturist, seven of them have been commercially rebound as part of General Collections preservation maintenance over the years.  Only one of the volumes retains its charming original binding, which evidences the characteristic style of the Orange Judd Publishing Company.

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The Small Fruit Culturist (1867) by Andrew S. Fuller has lost most its spine title, with only the word “Culturist” remaining.  Even so, the whimsical font and a portion of the title decoration, characteristic of many of Judd’s publications, is evident.  A cluster of raspberries (corresponding to the subject matter) embossed in gold adorns the front board.  The same image, but blind embossed, adorns the back board.  The purple book cloth has a decorative pebbled texture, while both front and back boards are bordered with two simple, embossed lines running parallel, and overlapping at the corners to create a square boundary for rather geometric, ornamental flowers (also blind embossed).

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One of my goals for the coming year is to develop a comprehensive, employable, preservation policy for protecting “medium rare” bindings such as cloth publishers’ bindings.  My brief encounter with Orange Judd is a motivating reminder to get to work on it.


Allen, S.  July 11-16, 2010.  Class lectures. 19th Century American Publishers’ Bindings. Rare Book School. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.

Marti, Donald B. 1980. Agricultural journalism and the diffusion of knowledge: the first half-century in America.  Agricultural History 54 (1): 28-37.  Available online: Accessed 2/27/2012.