The Ancient Mariner by S.T. Coleridge
The Ancient Mariner
by S.T. Coleridge

Brilliant book design does not always involve vibrant colour. White or cream bindings can catch the eye too. Many binders used white vellum, usually in combination with gilt lettering or gilt artwork, in the early decades of the 20th century. It’s possible to find stunning white or cream books with illustrations by Arthur Rackham, Hugh Thomson, Edmund Dulac or Hungarian illustrator Willy Pogany.

Dulac’s Sinbad the Sailor and Pogany’s interpretation of Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner are two wonderful examples of classic white vellum – both editions are treasured by collectors.

Vellum, according to John Carter’s invaluable ABC for Book Collectors, can be made from calf, goat, lamb or even rabbit skin. Although vellum is remarkably durable, pale bindings can show their age. This selection, which includes a few faux vellums and cream boards designed to look like vellum, is the cream of the crop.

A Selection of Books in White Vellum

Arabian Nights by E.J. Detmold
Arabian Nights
by E.J. Detmold
Grimm’s Fairy Tales illustrated by Arthur Rackham
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
illustrated by Arthur Rackham
Shakespeare’s As You Like It illustrated by Hugh Thomson
Shakespeare’s As You Like It
illustrated by Hugh Thomson
The Ingoldsby Legends illustrated by Arthur Rackham
The Ingoldsby Legends
illustrated by Arthur Rackham
The Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb
The Essays of Elia
by Charles Lamb
Bill the Minder by Heath Robinson
Bill the Minder
by Heath Robinson
The Romance of Perfume by Richard le Gallienne
The Romance of Perfume
by Richard le Gallienne
Children’s Children by Gertrude Bone
Children’s Children
by Gertrude Bone
The Roadmender by Michael Fairless
The Roadmender
by Michael Fairless
Wine in Peace and War by Evelyn Waugh
Wine in Peace and War
by Evelyn Waugh
Where the Blue Begins by Christopher Morley
Where the Blue Begins
by Christopher Morley
Jump to Glory Jane by George Meredith
Jump to Glory Jane
by George Meredith
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Translated Edward Fitzgerald
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Translated Edward Fitzgerald
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley
The Water Babies
by Charles Kingsley
Romola by George Eliot
Romola
by George Eliot
The Little Flowers of St Francis of Assisi translated by T.W. Arnold
The Little Flowers of St Francis of Assisi
translated by T.W. Arnold
Treasure Island illustrated by Edmund Dulac
Treasure Island
illustrated by Edmund Dulac
The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
The Vicar of Wakefield
by Oliver Goldsmith

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