mary crease sears - Tribute Book of Autographs, 1909

mary crease sears (1880 - 1938)

Tribute Book of Autographs, 1909

Binding: leather set with silver and an emerald; Ink on paper, 23 x 15 cm (9 1/16 x 5 7/8 in.)


Object details

Accession number



  • John Templeman Coolidge (Boston, 1856 - 1945) - designer
  • Mary Crease Sears (1880 - 1938) - binder
  • Agnes St. John - binder



Publication Place


Binding Description

Tooled leather with silver and emerald


Commissioned by Henry Lee Higginson (1834-1919), founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Mrs. Fiske Warren (Gretchen Osgood, 1871-1961), actress, singer, and poet and given to Isabella Stewart Gardner on her 69th birthday, 14 April 1909, Boston.


Dedication in ink (pages 2-3): We the signors of this book devine to give you an earnest expression of our feeling about the noble work done by you for Boston. / You have conceived and built a beautiful house and have filled it with treasures of art. To this end you have worked with / untiring energy and love of your task, a task involving ungrudging self-denial. / For us and for posterity you have created a museum priceless for refreshment and education, a unique achievement of imagination, skill and ardent purpose. / For this great public benefaction we offer you our deepest gratitude. Henry Lee Higginson / Ida Agassiz Higginson


"Exhibitions: Boston." American Art News 11, no. 27 (19 April 1913), p. 6. (as designed and executed by Mary Crease Sears and Agnes St. John)
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 166. (as designed by Mary Crease Sears in consultation with J. Templeman Coolidge, and executed by Miss Sears)
Kristin Parker. "Mary Crease Sears: A Complete Bookbinder." Guild of Book Workers Journal (2009), pp. 16-25, ill.
Christina Nielsen (ed.). Sargent on Location: Gardner's First Artist-in-Residence. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2018), pp. 33, 61, no. 20; ill. p. 38, fig. 26.

Rights and reproductions

The use of images, text, and all other media found on this website is limited. Please review Rights and Reproductions for details.


For Isabella’s 69th birthday, her friends Gretchen Osgood Warren and Henry Lee Higginson, founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, commissioned the binding for this book of autographs from the influential Arts and Crafts bookbinder Mary Crease Sears and her partner, Agnes St. John. More than 200 of Isabella’s friends signed it to show their appreciation for her creation of the museum.