John Sliegh produced a small body of book covers, consisting of five well-known titles. A sixth is a cloth binding for Popular Nursery Tales and Rhymes, which was published by Routledge, Warne and Routledge in 1859. The book is illustrated by 'eminent' artists, including Harrison Weir, Joseph Wolf and J. D. Watson; engraved by the Dalziels, the illustrations and binding work in the usual synergy as part of an appealing package.

Sliegh’s binding for Popular Nursery Tales and Rhymes.

The cover is a typical example of the resplendent covers applied to gift books of the 1850s, and the designs on the front board and spine are closely linked to Sliegh’s other work in the idiom. As in his bindings for Longfellow’s Poetical Works (1857) and Odes and Sonnets (1859), Sliegh deploys a combination of geometrical and floral motifs which are abstracted versions of blossoms and ivy-like stems. The cover is also related to the front board for Gertrude of Wyoming(1856). Both bindings unite a central mandorla with triangular forms placed around its perimeter, and in each case the triangles are populated with the floral imagery. The large and imposing lettering of the title is likewise a recognizable variant on the bold titling of Gertrude and The Course of Time (1857).

Some bindings by Sliegh: (a) Longfellow’s Poetical Works, (b) Odes and Sonnets, (c) Gertrude of Wyoming and (d) The Course of Time.

All in all, this interesting work is a prime example of Sliegh’s idiosyncratic design, and I am grateful to Graham Dry for bringing it to my attention.

Created 25 August 2020