Saturday, May 17, 2014

Shelf Candy Saturday #113: Flower Fables, by Louisa May Alcott


Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful book covers!
It also provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
just click HERE.

Here's my choice for this week!

 Flower Fables
Hardcover, 224 pages
January 15, 2005
Applewood Books
Classics, Fantasy,Young Adult Fiction

Why do I love this cover?

This book's cover is a beautiful example of the gorgeous Art Nouveau style, which flourished from about 1880 to 1910.  I love this style!  It's one of my very favorite styles in the history of book illustration and design.

This particular book is actually a 2005 reprint edition of a book originally published in 1898.  The reprint edition I first saw online, posted by Paul Craft at, has the cover image printed directly on the book's cloth cover.  The one above has a dust jacket, I assume.  However, it's just as beautiful as the earlier reprint edition, which I'm showing here, as well.

This is the 1902 reprint edition.  It was published by the Henry Altemus Company.  According to the history of the company posted at this website, it started out as a bookbinding business in Philadelphia (USA), in 1842.  It then evolved to become a publisher, but was, sadly enough, closed in 1936, when Henry Altemus, son of the founder, Joseph T. Altemus, passed away.  It seems that books published in the company's nearly 100-year history are highly prized by collectors.

The information I found about this 1902 edition states that the book contains "an engraved frontispiece", as well as "9 full-page and numerous in-text illustrations and decorations".  Further, the book has "cream linen-grain cloth over boards".

This image depicts a beautiful fairy, her butterfly wings spread wide, as she communicates with the flowers and plants in a garden.  It's a totally exquisite image!  The Art Nouveau style is particularly suited to fairy illustrations, as those creatures are as elegant and graceful as the swirling lines of Art Nouveau designs.

This composition is full of undulating lines and rhythmic repetition of plant motifs, which were typical of the style.  They complement the figure of the young fairy very nicely, and carry the eye all over the cover, as well.  The lettering is very simple, and classical in style.  This is just perfect, since, had it been ornate, it would have taken away from the overall harmony of this amazing cover.

The illustrator is listed as "C. Barnes, NY".  I couldn't get any information about this artist, unfortunately.  Perhaps he's just an obscure 19th-century illustrator.  He was obviously a highly-talented one, however, so I desperately want to add this book to my collection!  

What do you think of my 
choice this week?
Please leave me a comment 
and let me know!


  1. Another excellent and eclectic choice Maria.

    Your analysis is also outstanding and you point out things that I would never think of.

    My overall impression when I do not look too deeply is beauty through simplicity . As you mention the lettering adds to the effect. There is a little more detail then expected when I look closer.

    I like the colors of the 1902 reprint best. The more muted background adds a kind of grand simplicity to it.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      Glad you like this one, too!

      Thanks for complimenting my analysis!! Since I studied art in college, I'm always very much aware of such things ad composition,quality of line, color, and so on. However, my first impression determines whether or not I will choose a cover to be showcased here on "Shelf Candy Saturday". I always try to find the most beautiful covers I possibly can!

      I totally agree with you -- I, too, prefer the 1902 reprint edition, for the very same reason you mention. Those 19th-century books, with their designs printed right on the books' cloth covers, were just incredibly GORGEOUS!!

      The 1902 edition is VERY expensive; I've done some checking online. Here's one website that gives a price range:

      So I will have to content myself with the 2005 reprint edition, which I can get for much less at Amazon, B&N, or The Book Depository!! Lol.

      Thanks for the great comment!! : )


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