This striking Art Deco design comes from the celebrated British bookbinder Sybil Pye (1879–1959), heralded as one of the top female artisans of her time.
One of the youngest pre–First World War women binders, Pye was the only binder in England (male or female), and among just a few worldwide, who specialized in inlaid leather bindings. With this, our first design reproducing work by Sybil Pye, we pay tribute to a pioneering woman in book design.
Exposed to the craft of bookbinding from a young age, Pye began her career with simple white or natural pigskin leather before graduating to coloured goatskin leather inlay panels, like the one reproduced here. By 1934 she was creating complex covers of many different coloured inlays, and her work was regularly exhibited throughout England and around the world.
This particular design, reminiscent of a tawny lion’s face and using masculine colours of red, black, green and brown evoking a rich leather study (or den), was designed to hold a collection of William Wordsworth’s poems.
Though we cannot be sure that Pye intended to evoke the image of a lion’s majestic head with this cover, we felt it offered a tantalizing connection between a design and its contents, as one of Wordsworth’s poems is titled “Picture of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, at Hamilton Palace.”
Our Lion’s Den design is available as an ultra, midi and mini hardcover journal and pencil case.