Special Collections and University Archives

by Mark Schumacher

Exhibit Poster by Carolyn Shankle

In the late nineteenth century, book design in America was evolving, as single-color, embossed covers gave way to more colorful designs reflecting the aesthetics of the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements. One region of the country where women book designers and other female artists were particularly prolific was the Boston area. It is in this setting that Amy Maria Sacker (1872-1965) developed her considerable skills, designing book covers for several local publishers, starting in the 1890s, including Joseph Knight, Estes & Lauriat, and its successor, L. C. Page & Co. She also designed numerous covers for Little, Brown, Houghton Mifflin, and other publishers, beginning about 1900. Beyond her work as a book designer, she was also a respected illustrator, a painter, and excelled in jewelry, basketry, leatherworking, and other decorative arts.

Sacker’s work is interesting to me for a variety of reasons, some purely artistic, some more historical. I enjoy the fact that her covers display a wide range of styles, from pure Art Nouveau, as in covers for Elwyn Barron’s Manders (1899) or Mary Crowley’s A Daughter of New France (1901), to a so-called “poster style,” using clean lines to present a scene, as for Julia Dorr’s In Kings’ Houses (1898) or Willis Boyd Allen’s The Pineboro Quartette (1898). Other individual titles, such as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1901), show a definite eastern influence.

Amy Sacker created striking covers for over 345 books during her career. To learn more about her work, please visit this website :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>