Quick Guide
to Regular Binding Styles
1917-1991

This quick guide describes the major binding types used in the series 1917-1991. Weird anomalies exist, especially after 1963, (Style 11 and beyond) but those listed here are the common ones used by most collectors. Style numbers are from the Toledano Guide.

For a more detailed illustrated discussion of the 1917-1929 binding styles (styles 1 - 7), see John Krygier's Modern Library Dust Jackets and Bindings: 1917-1939. To see a table that identifies actual binding styles confirmed to exist for each title, click here. For info on Giant binding styles, see Quick Guide to Giant Binding Styles 1931-1991.

Style 1

Material: flexible leatherette

Colors: brown, green

Width: 4 1/4 inches

Height: 6 5/8 inches

Spine: gold text

Front: "BL" in gothic text

In Use: 1917-1918 or 1919


Style 2

Material: flexible leatherette (but hardbound examples exist)

Colors: red (evidently Fall 1918 only), brown, green, blue

Width: 4 1/4 inches

Height: 6 5/8 inches

Spine: gold text; double bars at spine top and bottom

Front: "BL" in gothic text

In Use: 1918-1924 (perhaps to 1925)


Style 3

Material: flexible leatherette (but a few hardbound examples exist)

Colors: brown, green

Width: 4 1/4 inches

Height: 6 5/8 inches

Spine: gold text; double bars at spine top and bottom

Front: image of scribe monk at desk

In Use: 1923-1925


Style 4

Material: flexible leatherette (but late 1928/early 1929 issues exist in hard balloon cloth transitional bindings)

Colors: brown, green, blue

Width: 4 1/4 inches

Height: 6 5/8 inches

Spine: gold text; double bars at spine top and bottom

Front: Bernhart torchbearer image

In Use: 1925-1929

Taller versions exist in this format to accommodate larger sized plates. Noted are Lawrence's "The Rainbow" in a first edition as well as a France's "Revolt of the Angels."

Also see the section in the article on gift sets describing the 1928 keratol bindings.


Style 4.5 (transitional bindings)

Material: stiffer balloon cloth

Colors: red, blue, green, brown

Width: 4 1/4 inches

Height: 6 5/8 inches

Spine: gold text; double bars at spine top and bottom

Front: Bernhart torchbearer image

In Use: January through March of 1929

End Papers: either Bernhart or Kent

Both the colophon and spine look like binding 4, but the balloon cloth -- and sometimes Kent endpapers -- are precursors of binding 5.


Style 5a

Material: stiffer balloon cloth

Colors: red, possibly more

Width: 4 1/4 inches

Height: 6 5/8 inches

Spine: gold text; double lines at spine top; grape vine image at spine bottom

Front: Kent torchbearer image

In Use: April 1929 (?)

A very short-lived design composed of a double-bar spine top like the 4.5 but all other elements of the 5. This was either a transitional design or a flat-out anomaly.

Style 51

Material: stiffer balloon cloth

Colors: red, blue, green, brown

Width: 4 1/4 inches

Height: 6 5/8 inches

Spine: gold text; grape vine image at spine bottom

Front: Kent torchbearer image stamped in gold

In Use: April 1929 - May (?) 1930

Barry Neavill notes that this design required a large amount of gold leaf and added half a cent per volume to the binding cost. That extra half-cent doomed it to a short life. The seven titles published during summer and early fall of 1930 retained the grape vine on the spine but blind-stamped the torchbearer on the front cover. (See Style 52, immediately following.)

Huxley's Point Counter Point was the last title published in this binding.

Style 52

Material: stiffer balloon cloth

Width: 4 1/4 inches

Height: 6 5/8 inches

Spine: gold text; grape vine image at spine bottom

Front: blindstamped Kent torchbearer image

In Use: May 1930 - November 1930

 


Style 6

Material: stiffer balloon cloth

Colors: red, blue, green, brown

Width: 4 1/4 inches

Height: 6 5/8 inches

Spine: gold text; "MODERN LIBRARY" at base

Front: Kent torchbearer image somewhat smaller than style 51

In Use: November 1930 - May 1931

The first title to appear in this binding was The Philosophy of Plato.


Style 7

Material: stiffer balloon cloth

Colors: red, blue, green, brown

Width: 4 1/4 inches

Height: 6 5/8 inches

Spine: gold text; overprint ML image and "MODERN LIBRARY" at base

Front: Kent torchbearer image somewhat smaller than style 51

In Use: 1931-1939

Taller versions exist in this format to accommodate larger sized plates. Among others are Conrad's Lord Jim, Edmonds' Rome Haul (1st), Glasgow's Barren Ground (1st), James' Portrait of a Lady, Lewis' Arrowsmith, and Spinoza's Philosophy.

Barry Neavill points out that it was the pleasing format of Stone's Lust for Life and Dinesen's Seven Gothic Tales that, among other reasons, moved Modern Libary to go to the Style 8 format.


Style 8

Material: linen cloth over stiff cardboard (Blumenthal design)

Colors: red, blue, green, gray

Top stain: gray, red, green

Width: 4 7/8 inches

Height: 7 1/4 inches

Spine: Kent torchbearer followed by label in contrasting color to boards with gold lettering

Front: Kent torchbearer image within gold outline; above image is smaller enclosed square label in contrasting color to boards with gold lettering

In Use: 1939-1962

Jackson's "Lost Weekend" was bound in a slightly taller version to accommodate larger plates.

For some detailed comments about early releases of this binding, see About Blumenthal Bindings.


Style 9

Material: linen cloth over stiff cardboard

Width: 4 7/8 inches

Height: 7 1/4 inches

Spine: Kent torchbearer followed by gold lettering enclosed within gold rectangle

Front: blindstamped right-facing Kent torchbearer image enscribed within oval

In Use: Spring 1963 thru September 1963 (very shortlived)


Style 10

Material: linen cloth over stiff cardboard

Width: 4 7/8 inches

Height: 7 1/4 inches

Spine: Kent torchbearer (several designs) followed by gold lettering enclosed within gold rectangle

Front: blindstamped right-facing Kent torchbearer image enscribed within hexagon followed by blindstamped "MODERN LIBRARY"

In Use: later 1963 and 1964


Style 11

Material: linen cloth over stiff cardboard

Width: 4 7/8 inches

Height: 7 1/4 inches

Spine: Kent torchbearer (several designs) followed by bar, lettering, another bar, and "MODERN LIBRARY" all in gold

Front: blindstamped right-facing Kent torchbearer image enscribed within hexagon followed by blindstamped "MODERN LIBRARY"

In Use: 1963-1967

Odd combinations of spine/front panel torchbearer combs exist; click here to see a page of them!!!


Style 12

Material: linen cloth over stiff cardboard

Width: 4 7/8 inches

Height: 7 1/4 inches

Spine: Kent torchbearer (several designs) followed by bar, lettering, another bar, and "MODERN LIBRARY" all in gold.

Front: blindstamped lowercase "ml" enscribed within large blindstamped single line design

End papers: Spring titles (Renaissance Philosophy: The Italian Philosophers; Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely & Lady in the Lake; Faulkner, As I Lay Dying; Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation) all have tan Kent endpapers. Fall titles have Fujita end papers. (Undatable variant reported with blank endpapers.)

In Use: 1967 (very shortlived)

Some anomalies in spine design have been reported.


Style 13

Material: linen cloth over stiff cardboard

Width: 4 7/8 inches

Height: 7 1/4 inches

Spine: Fujita torchbearer followed by bar, lettering, another bar, and "MODERN LIBRARY" all in silver

Front: blindstamped lowercase "ml" enscribed within large blindstamped single line design

In Use: 1967-1969


Style 14

Material: linen cloth over stiff cardboard

Width: 4 5/8 inches

Height: 7 1/2 - 7 11/16 inches

(NOTE: dimensions are the only distinguishing characteristics from Style 13)

Spine: Fujita torchbearer followed by bar, lettering, another bar, and "MODERN LIBRARY" all in silver (sometimes black)

Front: blindstamped lowercase "ml" enscribed within large blindstamped single line design

In Use: 1969-1974


Style 15

Material: red-brown paper over boards

Width: 4 5/8 inches

Height: 7 1/2 inches

Spine: Text (title / author / Modern Library) in gold at spine top

Front: blindstamped Fujita-type torchbearer in upper right corner

In Use: 1977-1982


Style 16

Material: red-brown paper over boards

Width: 4 5/8 inches

Height: 7 1/2 inches

Spine: Text (title / author / Modern Library) in gold at spine top

Front: centered square with torchbearer in black ink

In Use: 1982-1991