Sybil Pye Bindings

Sybil Pye Bindings

This striking Art Deco design comes from the British bookbinder Sybil Pye (1879–1959), heralded as one of the top female artisans of her time.

Self-taught, Pye began producing her first works in the early 1900s using naturally coloured leather, before graduating to multi-coloured panels. By 1934 she was creating complex covers of up to six different inlays, and her work was regularly exhibited throughout England and around the world.

This particular design was crafted to hold a collection of William Wordsworth’s poems illustrated by Pye’s lifelong friend Thomas Sturge Moore. Though we can’t be sure that Pye intended to evoke the image of a lion’s majestic head with this cover, the possibility offers an interesting connection between the binding and its original contents, as one of Wordsworth’s poems is titled “Picture of Daniel in the Lions’ Den, at Hamilton Palace.”

One of the youngest pre–First World War women binders, Pye was the only binder in England who specialized in inlaid leather bindings. With this series, we pay tribute to a pioneering woman in the art of book design.