This elaborately produced, beautiful book is a bit of a mystery as far as its photographic plates go. Published by G. P. Putnam, New York in 1893, no expense was spared in the production. And the small prints from photographs are quite beautiful, described in multiple places as photogravures. While they have the grain characteristics of hand-pulled photogravure and are printed on an appropriate paper, they lack a plate impression and more significantly – the book appears very common. For example there are many copies available online (May, 2023) indicating a very large edition.
The Publisher’s Weekly (no. 1084) in November of 1892 described it…
"A new holiday edition printed from new electrotype plates, and uniform in size and general style with the Darro edition of the "Alhambra." It is illustrated with 30 photogravures from photographs, many of which were taken specially for this edition by R. H. Lawrence and others. Each page is surrounded by a Moorish border, the designs being carefully copied from Moorish decorations."
And from the MET about the books elaborate binding – A leading New York late nineteenth century book-cover designer, Morse studied at the Woman’s Art School of the Cooper Union, then under John La Farge before working for Louis C. Tiffany as a painter and designer of stained glass. In 1887 she began to concentrate on book-covers, fufilling eighty-three commissions for New York commercial publishers by 1905. To complement the text of The Conquest of Granada, Morse used a mixture of Arts and Crafts, Arabic, Moorish, and Persian ornament. The cover is bound in white plain-weave cloth, stamped in green, pink, and gold. This book and its companion publication, "The Alhambra," also written by Washington Irving, are two of the most elaborately produced gift books designed by Morse. An example of this cover was shown at the Woman’s Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago, in 1893.
MET Accession Number: 56.522.55
The Publisher’s Weekly, [No. 1084], Nov. 5, ’92 P. 718