Sign In | Register
What is a "Cosway Binding"?

Cosway Binding: Beautifully Bound Books


Hand-painted miniature pictures bound into well-crafted covers - cosway-style binding is a beautiful art, but it has almost nothing to do with Richard Cosway.

“Cosway Binding” describes a leather-bound book binding inset with detailed miniature paintings on either the cover or inside cover, or both.  They are called such after renowned English miniaturist Richard Cosway,  although he was long in his grave before the first examples of this bindery method were released.

Right around 1903, J. Harrison Stonehouse, the managing director of London’s Henry Sotheran Booksellers, created these fine quality books for collectors and connoisseurs.  Part of the great success of his Cosway binding method was due to the great skill of his in-house miniaturist, Miss C. B. Currie, who is estimated to have painted several thousand incredibly detailed miniatures on ivory for over 900 bindings before her death around 1940.

The competing publishing houses quickly began to reproduce this binding style as it proved to be quite popular, but these are considered “Cosway-style” bindings, as they cannot compare to the original releases by Sotheran.


Discuss this article


Subscribe now for a chance to win $50 in free books!

Related articles

  • Book Binding: Repair, Rebind, or Recase?

    The binding of a book takes the brunt of the wear over time. Years of rough handling, careless falls, and countless careful readings all take...
  • Leather Binding: Terminology and Techniques

    Leather is synonymous with tradition in fine book publishing and collecting. Publishers such as the Easton Press, and until recently, the Franklin Press, have made...
  • How to read rare book condition descriptions

    Used and rare books have a long, venerable history of being bought and sold at distance.  Publishers and booksellers have built a specialized vocabulary over...
  • Bayntun-Rivière Bindery

    Robert Rivière Robert Rivière was born in 1808 into an artistic family in London, England. While his siblings preferred painting and singing, Robert became apprenticed...

Latest articles

Related resources for book collectors

biblioworks