Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau

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Eric Quayle writes, “By 1834 the battle was won, and it was then that the first fully cloth-bound book appeared which featured pictorial covers. This was a landmark in book design, and must have caused a considerable stir in the publishing world. The idea seems to have been the brain-child of the author, the eccentric Sir Francis Bond Head (1793-1875). Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau was published by John Murray in 1834 … [and] the tipped-in plates of the first edition were described as having been drawn by Burges’s patent Paneidolon.” The first edition sold out, as did the second edition published the same year. (The Collector’s Book of Books. Graphic Arts GARF Z987.Q34Q)

Ellen Morris puts it in anything way, “This period also produced the first full-cover designs: John Murray’s 1834 issue of Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau is reputedly the earliest publisher’s cloth binding with a full pictorial design on its cover.” (The Art of Publishers’ Bookbindings 1815-1915 Graphic Arts GA Oversize Z269.3.P8 M67 2000Q)

Princeton has acquired a first edition of Head’s Bubbles with the unusual cover design of a hiker walking across the globe while blowing bubbles stamped, front and back, not on cloth but on vellum. The paneidolon seems to have been a compromise between a camera obscura and a camera lucida, involving a box big enough for the artist’s head and arm, in which one could trace a transmitted image.


Sir Francis Bond Head (1793-1875), Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau. 1st ed. (London: J. Murray, 1834). Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.

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Brilliant update, thank you. I would love to see this book in Princeton's rare books collection.