Margaret Armstrong Binding Artist

During the fall of 2012, Special Collections & Archives mounted an exhibition celebrating the career of American book artist and author Margaret Armstrong (1867-1944) who worked in the medium of publishers’ bindings, designing book covers and “decorating” texts from 1890 through 1926. Armstrong began her thirty-year freelance career by creating covers for the McClurg Publishing Company in about 1890. Later in the 1890s, she began working for a variety of publishers including Scribner, a company for whom she designed half of her total output of more than 300 bindings between1890 and1940. Armstrong’s bindings and illustrations are usually identifiable by her monogram, “MA.”

The George Mason University Libraries contains fifty of Margaret Armstrong’s bindings, novels, and even her guide to western wild flowers.


An example of Armstrong’s illustrations may be found in Paul Leicester "Ford’s Love Finds the Way" (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1904), in which Armstrong decorates the text by surrounding it with flowers that differ in kind from page to page. Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.



Armstrong created a number of series of book cover designs such as a series for author Henry Van Dyke, represented here by his book, "Days off, and Other Digressions," (New York : C. Scribner’s Sons, 1908). Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

The Margaret Armstrong books are part of a larger collection of decorated and signed bindings donated to George Mason University by Wendi D. Slagle.