Armstrong, Margaret. Hard Cover. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1912. 1st Edition. Near Fine.
First edition, first printing. Publisher's dark blue decorative cloth binding designed and signed by Margaret Armstrong, with a fruit and flower tree illustration to the front board in gilt, orange and white, top edge gilt. Near fine or better, with a hint of rubbing to the front board, a few faint spots to the endpapers, else bright and fresh. A beautiful copy in a lovely binding. Gullans and Espey 285. The Unknown Quantity is a collection of short stories and prose by Henry Van Dyke, the minister, diplomat, and professor of English at Princeton University. His interests in nature, poetry, and religion are all evident in his collected stories which are united, he says, by "the sign of the unknown quantity, the sense of mystery and strangeness, that runs through human life." Van Dyke includes hidden meanings in the subtext of his stories (what he called "half-told tales"), inviting readers not to just read the topical story but to seek the underlying implications. Margaret Armstrong (1867-1944) was a renowned artist and designer. Along with her contemporary Sarah Wyman Whitman (1824-1904), Armstrong is an example of how the Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic movements at the time provided new opportunities for women's employment in the arts. After beginning her career with A. C. McClurg, Armstrong worked primarily for Scribner's and specifically focused on the works of a few authors. Armstrong's style, which was influenced by the floral patterns of Art Nouveau and the lines and shapes that are characteristic of the Arts and Crafts movement, made her bindings distinct, which was useful in terms of advertisement and branding an author's works as a unique set.