Cover to 'The region of the eternal fire', 1884.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Decorative binding from 'The region of the eternal fire: an account of a journey to the petroleum region of the Caspian in 1883' by Charles Marvin (1854-1890), published in London in 1884. The development of publishers' book bindings in the late nineteenth century led to a huge increase of bright, decorative covers for popular science and technology books. Most were unsigned by artists employed by the publishers. This example in red publishers' cloth shows an oil well blocked in black. Here, the black oil is transformed to a bright fountain of gold.