These volumes, by a total of 28 different binders, date mostly from 1880-1910, and feature some of the most outstanding French bindings of that period. Other bindings from countries such as England, Germany, Spain, and the United States are included in the personal collection of the American book collector William Augustus Spencer. After his death aboard the Titanic, Spencer's collection came as a bequest to the Library in 1913. Most of these volumes were bound on Spencer's request, and include at least one binding designed by him. They represent the work of some of the preeminent French binders of his time, including Canape, Capé, Chambolle-Duru, Gruel, Joly, Lortic, Mercier and Marius Michel.
The donation of this collection, along with an endowment, formed the basis for the Spencer Collection. Its mission is to acquire "the finest illustrated books that can be procured, of any country and in any language, bound in handsome bindings...containing the original designs, drawings or paintings made by the illustrator."