Dust-Jackets, Dealers, and Documentation
G. Thomas Tanselle

In June 1971, I published in The Library an article entitled "Book-Jackets, Blurbs, and Bibliographers" (5th ser., 26: 91-134), which set out to give a brief history of the book-jacket, to recite some of the reasons for the importance of jackets in historical research, and to offer suggestions for recording jackets in descriptive bibliographies. To that account I appended a list of some 260 examples of pre-1901 printed jackets, slip-cases, and other detachable coverings. Now, over three decades later, I should like to add a postscript to the earlier piece, reporting on developments in the study and preservation of dust-jackets1 1 in the intervening years and providing a new list of early examples.

When I spoke in 1971 of the "general neglect" of book-jackets, I was aware that some collectors had for decades been willing to pay premiums for books in jackets; I was referring to the fact that many people still regarded them as unworthy of serious bibliographical attention. Most printed ephemera go through a stage of being disregarded and discarded before their historical value is recognized; that book-jackets had not fully emerged from that stage in the early 1970s is suggested by an anecdote John Carter revealed to me. My 1971 article originated as a paper that I delivered before the Bibliographical Society in London on 17 March 1970, during Carter's presidency. He had been pleased when I had proposed that topic in response to his invitation to speak, for he always welcomed any scholarly development in the study of nineteenth-and twentieth-century books. He had long been interested in jackets himself, having located an 1832 example thirty-six years before; and his discussion of jackets in his ABC for Book-Collectors (1952) had been ahead of its time, sketching the history of jackets accurately, mentioning their historically valuable features (such as illustrations and blurbs), and [End Page 45] noting that the concept of original condition demands their presence, even when they lack such interesting features. I gave Carter a copy of my paper a few days before the meeting, and his way of expressing his satisfaction with it was to suggest that I had justified his advocacy before the Council of the Bibliographical Society: he sent me a note at my hotel saying that "there were a few sniffs among the stuffier characters when your topic was announced (by me, with enthusiasm), as if such things as dust-jackets were a trifle frivolous—and this should blow them out of the water." Even allowing for a little over-dramatizing of the situation, I have no doubt that Carter's characterization of the Council's attitude was essentially accurate.

I would not wish to claim that no such sniffs would be possible today, but certainly jackets have come to be taken more seriously over the past thirty years, at least by collectors, dealers, bibliographers, rare-book curators, and historians of graphic art, if not always by publishing historians and non-rare-book librarians. Indeed, Brian Alderson has said that the date of my article "may be considered, coincidentally, as the time when disregard [for jackets] began to lessen." 2 The points I made thirty years ago are still valid, and what I have to say now will not supersede them. But I can supplement those earlier remarks in three ways: by surveying what has been written about jackets since 1970; by examining the role of dealers in calling attention to jackets and thus assisting in their preservation; and by augmenting my earlier discussion of the kinds of documentation that jackets offer—the information they transmit and the evidence they provide for the history of jackets themselves—supported by an appended list of early examples that incorporates those I have learned about since 1970. 3 In the end, I hope that these comments will encourage further recognition of the various ways in which book-jackets [End Page 46] constitute one of the most significant classes of printed ephemera and a basic category of evidence for publishing history.


The most consequential book on dust-jackets is the most recent, Ned Drew and Paul Sternberger's By Its Cover: Modern American Book Cover Design (2005), which studies the influence of European modernism and eclectic postmodernism on twentieth-century American designs for jackets and paperback covers. Its starting point is the "rise of the book jacket as an object of graphic design" (rather than what led to that rise); and it notes perceptively that the rise "coincided with the definition of the field of graphic design as a profession" and with the dominance of modernism as an artistic program. Therefore the jacket was in a position to become a "forum" in which designers could "engage modernism and define their practice" (p. 20). The authors offer a well-illustrated historical analysis of the evolution of jacket and cover designs from Rockwell Kent and Ernst Reichl in the 1930s to Chip Kidd and John Gall at the end of the century, tracing the artistic movements and cultural issues, as well as the commercial demands, reflected in those designs. This book caught the attention of John Updike, who wrote a piece about it for The New Yorker ("Deceptively Conceptual," 17 October 2005, pp. 170-172), thus creating one of the rare instances when a major author has reflected on book-jackets in a popular magazine.

Other book-length treatments of dust-jackets in the past thirty years have followed the general pattern of Charles Rosner's pioneering The Growth of the Book-Jacket (1954)—that is, a rather breezy text accompanied by a large number of illustrations, primarily from the 1920s and onward. 4 There is nothing wrong, of course, with paying attention to the designs of post-1920 dust-jackets, since they constitute an important genre of twentieth-century graphic art; but one wishes that jackets could receive more thorough historical treatments, even for the period covered by these books and certainly also for the earlier period, when most jackets were not artistically interesting. Thus Alan Powers's two recent books, Front Cover: Great Book Jackets and Cover Design (2001) and Children's Book Covers: Great Book Jacket and Cover Design (2003), [End Page 47] provide a considerable repository of illustrations of jackets (along with front covers of books, especially paperbacks); and, being organized chronologically, they do make a sketchy start on a historical account. 5 Although the second of these books shows some covers of children's books going back to the eighteenth century, it pays no attention to pre-twentieth-century detachable coverings (except for one illustration of an 1830 slip-case). And the earlier book, containing a brief chapter called "The Evolution of the Book Jacket" (pp. 6-11), devotes less than one paragraph to the period before 1901 and makes the erroneous statement that "Only after 1900 did book jackets begin to become commonplace" (p. 7). 6

A decade earlier, Steven Heller had brought out two similar books. 7 The first, Covers & Jackets!: What the Best Dressed Books & Magazines Are Wearing (1993), compiled with Anne Fink, emphasizes the artistry, rather than the history, of jackets and magazine covers, offering a large number of color illustrations. The other, Jackets Required (1995), produced with Seymour Chwast, is described by the subtitle on its front cover: "An Illustrated History of American Book Jacket Design, 19201950." After a hundred pages of illustrations of miscellaneous designs (first for fiction, then nonfiction), the remaining thirty pages are devoted to "The Great Designers," with sections showing the work of E. McKnight Kauffer, W. A. Dwiggins, Arthur Hawkins, Georg Salter, Alvin Lustig, and Paul Rand. The minimal attention, in the introduction, to the early history of jackets (pp. 11-12) accurately takes note of the "package-style" wrapping used in the mid-nineteenth century but inaccurately claims that jackets' "aesthetic, or even promotional, potential was ignored until after the turn of the century." 8 One does not go to this book, however, for information on the nineteenth century; and its survey of the great period of 1920-50 reflects a serious historical interest— as shown in the statement that jackets of these years "are artistic treasures [End Page 48] every bit as endemic to this modern visual culture as are the great affiches from 1920s and 30s France, Germany, and Italy" (p. 7). 9

Recognition of the place of book-jacket design in art history has led to books about individual designers and to exhibitions. 10 Not surprisingly, George (Georg) Salter, who had already been the subject of an exhibition and a small catalogue at least as early as 1961, 11 has recently been accorded substantial monographs in German and English. 12 And there have now also been books on Vanessa Bell (1984, 1999), Brian Cook (1987), Chip Kidd (1993, 2003), Don Maitz (1993), Wendell Minor (1995), Stephen Bradbury (1996), Richard Powers (2001), and Ezra Jack Keats (2002), among others. 13 Examples of recent exhibitions of jackets 14 [End Page 49] are the show Alan Horne organized (drawing heavily on his own collection) for the Robarts Library of the University of Toronto in 1989, on "British Illustrated Book Jackets and Covers"; 15 a display of American pictorial jackets of the 1920-50 period at the Broward County (Florida) Main Library in January and February 1997 (accompanied by a small catalogue, Pictorial Covers, containing a "Brief History of the Book Jacket" by James A. Findlay, who treats this subject in more scholarly fashion than it usually receives); 16 an exhibition of "Australian Dustwrappers" at the 25th Australian Antiquarian Book Fair in Melbourne in 1998; and a gathering of jackets (again of 1920-50) on books with a Chicago connection, organized by the Caxton Club in 1999 (and documented in an attractive catalogue, Chicago under Wraps, with an introduction by Victor Margolin). At least two jacket designers, Gary G. Gore and Chip Kidd, have created exhibitions themselves and actively lectured about jackets. 17 [End Page 50]

If the preservation of jackets for their artistry is by now well established, there are of course many collectors whose primary interest is the verbal content of books rather than graphic art, and for them the reason for collecting jacketed copies of books is (or should be) simply the fact that books published in jackets are not in their original condition if they lack the jackets. We should expect, therefore, to find that introductory manuals for book-collectors contain a fuller rationale for collecting jackets than is provided in the books on the art of the jacket. But we would be disappointed by the books that appeared in the 1970s and 1980s, when there was a flurry of largely unfortunate guides. 18

The most absurd is Maurice Dunbar's Fundamentals of Book Collecting (1976). Although he is not alone in being uninformed about the early history of jackets (believing that publishers "did not begin the practice of issuing books with jackets until about the turn of the twentieth century" [p. 55]), his manual is the only one to recommend "improving" jackets that are in poor condition (they can often, he thinks, be "salvaged and improved to an astonishing degree" [p. 58]). The first step is to "place high grade drafting tape along the margins" (that is, the edges of the unprinted side); next one uses "a smooth porous-pointed pen to restore the original color"—the preferred pen being a Bic Banana Ink Crayon (p. 59). The idea that jackets are important underlies this silliness, but the author clearly has no understanding of what historical evidence means. When he revised his book in 1980 under the title Books and Collectors, the same advice is, incredibly, still present—though he must have received a few protests because he admits that dealers and curators "wince" at such recommendations. But he cannot comprehend why: "They believe that it is better to leave them [jackets] hanging in shreds" (p. 58). 19

The other introductory manuals of the time do not descend to this level, but invariably they are not fully satisfactory in their discussion of [End Page 51] jackets. Seumas Stewart's Book Collecting: A Beginner's Guide (1972) defends the integrality of jackets to books by noting that reference to jacket designs may appear within books (pp. 251-252)—without saying that jackets are in any case part of what the publisher published. Catherine Porter, in Miller's Collecting Books (1975), after erroneously claiming that jackets were not "in common use in Britain or America until around 1910" (p. 51), warns collectors to "be wary of the exorbitant prices demanded for early dust-jackets" (pp. 62-63), without explaining the serious reasons that jackets are "now de rigeur" (p. 51) among collectors. Salvatore J. Iacone's The Pleasures of Book Collecting (1976) reasonably states that the presence of a jacket is of "paramount importance" because it is an integral part of the book (p. 42) but three pages later says, "If one is going to play the book collecting game, one must abide by the rules, one of the strangest and most unreasonable perhaps being the preference for dust jackets." G. L. Brook's Books and Book-Collecting (1980) asks, but does not answer, the question whether a book is complete without its jacket and then pointlessly asserts that publishers should never print on jackets any information that is not also included within the book (pp. 74-75). Robert A. Wilson's Modern Book Collecting (1980) takes for granted that jackets are important (pp. 99-102) and points out that a jacketed copy will sell for twice (and in some cases much more than twice) the price of an unjacketed copy; but he does not explain the reasons, which are obscured by his view that there is no harm in switching jackets from one copy to another. William Rees-Mogg, in How to Buy Rare Books (1985), similarly gives neophytes no idea of why the attention to jackets is more than a fad; anyone who believes that jacketed copies should not bring higher prices is going against the "consensus of opinion in today's market," he says, and "to disregard the sentiment of other collectors may be to throw your money away" (p. 67). 20

However unsatisfactory the treatment of jackets in these books, they at least show that jackets had become a topic that could not be ignored. And all the while, new printings and editions of Carter's ABC for Book-Collectors appeared, with a discussion of jackets that set a standard unequaled [End Page 52] by the other books. Its original 1952 entry for "Dust-Jacket" 21 remained unchanged through the second (1953), third (1961, hardcover and paperback), and fourth (1966, 1967, 1971) editions. For the fifth edition in 1972, Carter made only minor adjustments, adding additional reasons for the importance of jackets (such as biographical information and photographs), along with a reference to my 1971 article. This succinct, sensible, knowledgeable, and witty account has stood the test of time and has remained unchanged through the three succeeding editions revised by Nicolas Barker. The commercial success of the ABC (with sixteen printings of its various editions called for between 1972 and 2005) suggests that more people—fortunately—have read about jackets in this book than in any other. 22

Those who wished to have a more detailed, yet reliable, introduction to all aspects of the subject had to wait until 1998, when Anthony Rota included an eighteen-page chapter on "Book-Jackets" in his Apart from the Text (pp. 124-141). Rota gives an accurate historical sketch of the evolution of the jacket from protective covering to marketing device, and he surveys the characteristics of the jackets of a number of twentieth-century British publishers, noting the artists and designers they employed. After mentioning other reasons for being interested in jackets— such as the "remarkable amount of information about authors" they may contain—he makes, and then elaborates on, a basic point: "Jackets are worthy of preservation and of study, even if they present nothing but the names of the author and the publisher, and the title, because even such scanty information may provide clues to prevailing literary taste, economic circumstances, or snippets of publishing history" (p. 134). Among other topics he treats are the writing of blurbs by prominent authors and the use of advertising bands occasionally placed around jackets; and he recognizes that jackets are defective if prices have been clipped from them and that the switching of jackets is "tampering with bibliographical evidence" (p. 140). His enlightened approach is epitomized by the conclusion of the chapter:[End Page 53]

Most standard accounts of book publishing deal with jackets in a few paragraphs, as if they were of only marginal interest or importance. There is in fact a strong case for arguing that they are central to an understanding of the binding and marketing of books over the last two centuries, to the history of the individual books they envelop, and perhaps most intriguingly, as a reflection of changing tastes in the marketplace.

For a general introduction to the subject, one can do no better than to turn to Rota's essay. 23

It is superior to what had appeared in the glossy book-collecting magazines, though Antiquarian Book Monthly Review did pay considerable attention to jackets, publishing two serious articles on the subject and a number of briefer comments in the 1970s and 1980s. The earlier of the articles, George Locke's "Dustwrappers & Sundry Confusions" of March 1979 (6: 102-105), deals with the process of attempting to identify first-printing jackets when they are separated from the books, and it was the occasion for two important points to be made. One, expressed by Locke himself at the end of his article, is that "systematic bibliographical consideration of 20th century dustwrappers is long overdue." What this amounts to is a request for fuller treatment of jackets in descriptive bibliographies, including attention to how jackets on later printings differ from those on firsts, and there is no doubt that bibliographers should be urged to pursue and record jacket variations. The other point came in a letter written by Alan Smith after reading Locke's article and published in the May 1979 issue ("Jacket Conservation Year?", 6: 213). 24 Smith calls the discarding of jackets "a refined form of vandalism" and finds it a "tragedy" that "most institutional libraries have perpetrated this particular crime" and have thus shirked "their obligation to students [End Page 54] of the book"; he then calls for "a national archive of jackets," perhaps to be promoted during a "Jacket Conservation Year." One can only wish that these points about the preservation and recording of jackets had received wider attention, and everyone interested in book history should continue to publicize them. The other substantial article on jackets in Antiquarian Book Monthly Review came nearly a decade later, in December 1988, when John Miller published "The Book Jacket —Its Later Development & Design" (15: 452-461), a thoughtful treatment of the gradual development of the marketing function of jackets, with comments on the practices of a number of publishers. 25

Consciousness of book-jackets in the culture at large, beyond the restricted circle of the readers of book-collecting magazines, is shown by the way the subject erupts periodically in mass-circulation publications. To take the New York Times as an example, one may note that Walter Kerr's article on retaining jackets elicited a large response from readers. On 6 December 1978, Kerr published a piece called "Book Jackets Were Not Made for Stripping," in which he expresses his shock on learning that the celebrated editor Maxwell Perkins threw away jackets before shelving books. 26 Kerr himself had always kept them and had given his wife "a stern little lecture on the rectitude of preserving a book whole, pristine as the day it was born." His recognition that a book published in a jacket is not "whole" without it showed more understanding than many collectors and dealers displayed. And one of his editor-friends, he reported, saved jackets because of their artistry and the information on them. Six weeks later, on 23 January 1979, Kerr published another article ("Book Jackets: Other Readings"), expressing surprise at the quantity of mail he had received, which reveals that everyone in our "dust-jacket-conscious society" has "very firm thoughts on this particular subject." 27 The New York Times Book Review gave attention to jacket blurbs by well-known authors on 23 July 1978, when William Cole [End Page 55] wrote about his experiences in the publicity departments of Knopf and Simon & Schuster ("The Blurb and I"), and on 8 December 1996, when Pico Iyer, citing many interesting examples, called the blurb "a wonderfully coded subset of literature, rich with as many subtexts as a Derridean anthology" and offering "an unrivaled glimpse into the literary pecking order" ("Jacketeering"). And Henry Petroski, the engineer who has written about lead pencils and bookshelves, explained his devotion to jackets (despite the fact that one more book for every forty could be shelved in the same space if the jackets were removed) because they are often better made than the books and "do not strike me," he says, "as ephemera." 28

Treatments of jackets were not entirely absent from scholarly journals in the post-1970 period. 29 Serif—the journal of the Kent State University Libraries—was in the 1970s particularly hospitable to the subject, as evidenced by Joan St.C. Crane's sixteen-part series called "Rare or Seldom-Seen Dust Jackets of American First Editions." In this series Crane gives detailed descriptions of "unusual, variant or rare" jackets, mostly from the Barrett Collection in the University of Virginia Library (where Crane was a staff member). What she accomplishes here is not only to place on record thorough descriptions of nearly a hundred scarce [End Page 56] jackets from four decades (approximately 1890 to 1930) but also to set a model of what a careful description of a jacket should entail (involving quasi-facsimile transcriptions of texts and Centroid Color Chart designations of colors). All told, she takes up jackets for books by twelve authors, ranging from Bierce and Hearn to Hemingway and Faulkner, and fourteen of the jackets are from before 1901. Her admirable work supplements several author bibliographies and should be better known. 30 In addition to her series, Serif published two lists of pre-1901 jackets (one from Kent State, one from Ohio State) to supplement my 1971 list, an account of a 1791 printed covering, and a note on a scarce Gertrude Stein jacket. 31

Two well-known scholars also made contributions to the early history of book-jackets. Peter C. G. Isaac, writing in The Library in 1975 on "Some Early Book-Jackets" (5th ser., 30: 51-52), reported (and illustrated) three items from his own collection that provide early examples of several features. Two are jacketed books published by Reeves & Turner (London), in 1873 and 1878, with the text of the jacket for the latter printed on the reverse of the jacket for the former; both carry advertising on the front and back, and Isaac notes that the "bibliographical information on the [1878] jacket [such as the size of the edition] is consistent neither with itself nor with that given on the copy" of the book. The third jacket, on Charles Hindley's The History of the Catnach Press (1886), displays twelve wood engravings, including five on the flaps. Twenty-five years later, B. J. McMullin contributed "Precursors of the `Dust Wrapper' " to the Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand (24 [2000], 257-266), discussing both the cardboard sheaths that were common on the literary annuals of the 1820s and [End Page 57] 1830s and the printed wrapping paper that is known to have been used, at least occasionally, in the 1830-60 period. 32 Besides reporting several of the former in Australian libraries, helping to confirm their regular use on this class of book, he explains that an 1860 example of the latter (on The Museum of Classical Antiquities, ed. Edward Falkener) shows— more clearly than had been known before—how such wrapping was originally sealed over the edges of books. 33

The ultimate test of the scholarly recognition of the importance of jackets is the kind of treatment they receive in descriptive bibliographies. Although a few instances of detailed description can be found in the 1930-70 period, there was also a reluctance to deal with jackets on the part of some bibliographers, who occasionally expressed their views with force in the pages of their bibliographies. 34 And this unfortunate tradition has lingered to mar the work of a few bibliographers of whom one would have expected better. Edwin Gilcher, for example, in his 1970 bibliography of George Moore, is defiantly assertive: "As dust jackets and slip cases can in no sense be considered an integral part of the books they serve to protect and can easily be switched from copy to copy, they are not noted in the descriptions" (p. xiii). Yet even Gilcher makes an exception, for an instance in which the jacket designer is named in the book; one would have thought that this exception might have caused Gilcher to begin rethinking his whole position, but it apparently did not. 35 Equally disappointing is Dan H. Laurence's position in what [End Page 58] is in many ways a major work, his bibliography of Bernard Shaw (1983). Despite his inclusion of a section of dust-jacket blurbs written by Shaw (pp. 851-860), he declines to make jacket descriptions a regular part of his treatment of Shaw's own books:

Dust-wrappers have never figured notably in the collecting of Shaw's works, though most of his principal books have been issued in dust-wrappers since at least 1902. . . . Dust-wrappers are recorded only in those instances where Shaw either provided text, aided in the design, or commissioned and passed judgment on the finished dust-wrapper. (pp. xvi-xvii)

This statement reflects the outmoded view of descriptive bibliographies as collectors' guides rather than publication histories. And in any case it can scarcely be true: surely the collectors of Shaw do not lag so far behind those of other authors that they have not come to prefer their author's books in jackets.

Fortunately, disparagement of jackets by bibliographers has not been an influential attitude in recent years (hard as it is to believe that it exists at all). And because the majority of serious descriptive bibliographies of twentieth-century authors has appeared since 1970, one can now say that the standard treatment of jackets is acceptable (indeed, often admirable) in those bibliographies where the presence of detailed jacket descriptions makes the biggest impact. A helpful influence was the Pittsburgh Series in Bibliography, which began in 1972 with Joseph Schwartz and Robert C. Schweik's Hart Crane. The authors say,

Dust jackets have been described in greater detail than is common and often in quasi-facsimile form; this procedure results not from any overestimation on our part of the importance of dust jacket evidences, but rather from the belief that the description, if provided at all, should be sufficiently precise so as to provide bibliographically useful information. (p. xxi)

This somewhat apologetic statement was replaced in the next volume, Matthew J. Bruccoli's F. Scott Fitzgerald (1972), with the simple assertion that "Dust jackets for Section A entries have been described in detail because they are part of the orignal publication effort" (p. xx). This is all the justification required, and it was repeated in varying forms in most of the succeeding volumes of the series, which covered more than a dozen other twentieth-century writers. 36

The excellent example that had already been set by Joan St.C. Crane [End Page 59] in her Serif articles (1970-74) may have played a role here; it certainly underlay her own admirable Robert Frost: A Descriptive Catalogue of Books and Manuscripts in the Clifton Waller Barrett Library, University of Virginia (1974), which in turn no doubt influenced the thorough jacket descriptions in another series, the Linton R. Massey Descriptive Bibliographies, published by the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia (including volumes on Burroughs, Bishop, Warren, and Jarrell). The Soho Bibliographies have not been consistent, but one that pays attention to jackets is Richard Lancelyn Green and John Michael Gibson's A. Conan Doyle (1983); and the St. Paul's Bibliographies have been similarly inconsistent, with brief jacket descriptions in Robert Cross and Ann Ravenscroft-Hulme's Vita Sackville-West (1999) and thorough ones in Gillian Fenwick's George Orwell (1998). Other bibliographies, not in series, have also sometimes been careful in their treatment of jackets: James L. W. West's Styron (1977) is an admirable instance, and Bradford Morrow and Bernard Lafourcade's Wyndham Lewis (1978) contains some seventy-five illustrations of jackets (because Lewis designed most of them). 37 I need not cite more examples to make the point that descriptive bibliographers are increasingly cognizant of the necessity for including jacket descriptions in author bibliographies and that a large body of such descriptions is now in print. Because the entries for books in responsible descriptive bibliographies become the standard accounts of those books as physical objects, such bibliographies can play a powerful role in promoting widespread acceptance of the idea that jacket details are an expected, routine part of book descriptions, and thus that jackets are parts of books.


When we turn to the role that dealers have played in the dust-jacket story, pride of place goes to Ken Leach of Brattleboro, Vermont, who in the 1970s and early 1980s assembled, and then dispersed, the largest collection of pre-1901 jackets that has ever been formed (that is, since the days when they were current). In the first of his 1977 catalogues (77-1), he announced, "I am trying to build a collection of American books in their original DUST JACKETS published prior to 1900." After mentioning his two earliest (a printed envelope of 1848 and a [End Page 60] regular jacket of 1876), he stated, "If anybody has any for sale I would like very much to hear about. Or if you have any information about any early ones I would like to hear about." By 6 February 1979, about two years later, he had accumulated 212 examples, and in a letter to me (enclosing a list of them) he said, "I am beginning to suspect that probably at least 90% of all books published after 1890 were issued in dust jackets"—a statement he publicly altered the next year by changing the date to "1880" in a letter he published in AB Bookman's Weekly. The purpose of his letter was to correct some errors in Adeline R. Tintner's article "Henry James Writes His Own Blurbs": he noted that decorative jackets appeared at least as early as 1878 (not 1902) and blurbs as early as 1880 (not 1906), citing examples. But he acknowledged that information of this kind was not readily available: "There are probably," he said, "not more than two or three actual collections in the world. But I can walk upstairs to my `collection room' and inspect the shelves that contain over 270 American books printed prior to 1900 in their original Dust Jackets." 38

A little more than a year later, in the fourth of his 1981 catalogues (81-4), Leach offered his whole collection, then numbering "over" 440 items, for sale as a lot for $21,500 (item 82). In his description, he called it (accurately) "the largest extant collection of its kind in the world," noted that it "had been about ten years in the building," and gave a correct idea of the "enormous amount of information contained in and on these jackets; the salesmanship (or lack of) of the publishers, the artists involved, the advertisement information, the decorations, etc, etc." He also astutely pointed out that the lot was "two collections in one": since the jackets had protected the bindings, it was also a collection of pristine examples of late nineteenth-century publishers' bindings. Despite these valid points and a listing of some high spots, 39 the collection did not sell, and Leach wrote to me a year later (on 2 November 1982) asking for suggestions of possible purchasers. By that time, there were about 550 items, and the price was $26,000.

Another year and a half passed, with no more success in placing the collection en bloc, and Leach decided to sell it at auction. On Sunday, [End Page 61] 10 June 1984, at Hotel Northampton in Northampton, Massachusetts, Oinonen Book Auctions (of Sunderland, Massachusetts) offered as Sale No. 71 The Ken Leach Collection of Nineteenth Century American Books in Original Dust Jackets and Boxes. The sixty-page catalogue contains 608 lots arranged chronologically (and alphabetically by author within each year), with an author index. Since each entry includes some description of the binding and of the jacket (or box) and the name of the publisher, the catalogue is a useful reference tool, as Leach had hoped. In his introduction he says that the catalogue, which will "preserve a record of the collection as a whole," "should continue to provide a valuable sign-post for collectors." Another of his aims in selling at auction—"to establish a price guide for each individual item"—was more ambiguously realized, however, for a third of the lots failed to sell, even at the minimum bid of $5 (they were simply given to the successful bidder for the next lot sold), and books that were of little interest aside from their jackets fetched low prices (139 of them brought $5 apiece). 40 Thus the idea of buying jackets primarily to document their history was not much in evidence in the saleroom, despite the example set by Leach himself.

At the beginning of the auction, the entire collection was once more offered as a whole, with a reserve of $25,000, as stipulated in the catalogue, but there were no bidders. In the end, the sale realized a total of $18,632.50—an average of $46.58 for the four hundred lots that sold (or $26.29 if one eliminates the eleven items that brought more than $300). The highest price by far, $3400, was fetched by Norris's McTeague (1899), the other top prices being only in three figures: $700 for Stevenson and Osbourne's The Ebb-Tide of 1894 (the only Stone & Kimball jacket known); $600 for F. O. C. Darley's Six Illustrations of Rip Van Winkle of 1848 (in a printed envelope); $575 for Muir's two-volume Picturesque California of 1888 (in unprinted buckram jackets); $400 for the 1877 edition of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré; $380 for Abraham Cahan's Yekl (1896); $310 for Remington's Crooked Trails (1898); and $350-$440 for three Stephen Crane titles, The Little Regiment (1896). The Third Violet (1897), and The Monster (1899). The only other price that was over $300—the second highest one, in fact, at $900—was for the only lot (no. 31) that did not contain a detachable covering: an album (dated as "collected circa 18811895") of some 250 "original printed proofs of illustrated covers and dust jackets" from the New York firm of A. Hilgenreiner, produced largely for the Century and Scribner publishing firms.[End Page 62]

The earliest item in the sale was the Darley Six Illustrations (1848), labeled "The earliest recorded American dust jacket" but more accurately described (in Leach's words from his note in catalogue 77-1) as a "printed envelope." The next five lots, from 1851 through 1870, were books in publishers' slip-cases, not jackets. The earliest jackets in the collection were from 1875, represented by three volumes in Scribner's "Bric-a-Brac Series," and only thirteen more lots were for books dated before 1880—including a presentation copy of the first volume of Charles B. Turrill's California Notes (1876), published by the celebrated Edward Bosqui (Leach called this lot "The first California dust jacket?", but it brought only $110). From 1880 on, the rapidly increasing number of lots per year reflected the relative availability of such jackets in general: figures ranged from six for 1880 to twenty for 1888, with the total for the 1880-89 period coming to 108. Thus of the 608 lots in the sale, all but 128 dated from 1890 or later (the number from 1899 alone was seventy). The catalogue therefore offers a good basis for making generalizations about the widespread use of jackets in America in the 1890s. But the range of features represented even in the relatively few pre-1890 examples is considerable. Leach's introduction, for instance, mentions the earliest use of color printing in the collection as from 1878 (for Bryant's The Flood of Years) and the earliest blurbs as from 1880 (for Mary Russell Mitford's Our Village). And the geographical spread before the early 1880s includes San Francisco, Richmond, Toronto, and Chicago, in addition to New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Useful as the catalogue is, however, it does not come close to having the research value of the collection itself; the dispersal of so large a group of nine-teenth-century American jackets is indeed a setback for the study of this aspect of publishing history. Nevertheless, Leach's attentiveness to jackets was a notable contribution to the growing recognition of their historical value, which is a prerequisite to their preservation.

Another dealer that has offered an unusual number of early jackets (though far fewer than Leach) is Wilder Books of Elmhurst, Illinois. In catalogue 9 (1984), for example, there were five nineteenth-century books in jackets, 41 all important but assigned prices that were high for the time (especially in light of those realized at the Leach sale the same year): Kate Greenaway's A Day in a Child's Life (1881), $850, and her Almanack for 1891, $675; Poe's Lenore (illustrated, 1886), $1750; Henry Demarest Lloyd's Wealth against Commonwealth (1894), $1250; and Hardy's Wessex Poems (1898), $3500. The following year, catalogue 15 [End Page 63] opened with a section of thirty-nine items headed "Books in Dust Jackets, 1880-1900" (three of which were unprinted). All five from catalogue 9 reappeared here, and except for Wessex Poems they were listed at sharply reduced prices (the Lloyd, for instance, had dropped to $450). Twelve of the items were from the Leach sale, where none had sold for more than $100; their prices now ranged from $100 to $500 (Bellamy's Equality of 1897, for example, had gone up from $80 to $500). 42 Two years later Wilder's List 87-A, consisting of sixty items, was entitled Books in Their Rare Original Dust Jackets, 1881-1915. Half the items predated 1901, but fourteen of them were brought forward from catalogue 15 (many at considerably reduced prices), 43 and four came from the Leach sale; of those not previously listed, the most significant were E. W. Waterhouse's The Island of Anarchy (1887), known to science-fiction collectors, and Henry Blake Fuller's The Cliff Dwellers (1893), priced at $685 and $1025, respectively.

The Wilder firm's continuing interest in jackets was further shown eight years later with its catalogue 72 (1995), entitled Books in Rare Original Dust Jackets, 1882-1923, though the proportion of pre-1901 printed jackets had declined to twenty out of fifty-three items. Of those, three still remained from the 1987 list, and two (not listed there) had been in the Leach sale. Notable jackets from the early years of the twentieth century should not be overlooked, such as the 1910 jacket reproducing Will Bradley's cover design for Walt Mason's Uncle Walt ($150), the 1910 jacket with a color illustration by Harrison Fisher on André Castaigne's The Bill-Toppers ($175), or the 1903 decorated jacket (possibly printed at the Merrymount Press, as the book was) on Helen Keller's Optimism ($250). Other Wilder catalogues have listed early jackets from time to time, and at least one of them, number 61 (1993), had nine entries for pre-1901 items, including an 1827 slip-case for the 1828 volume of Forget Me Not.

The English dealer George Locke also deserves to be singled out for his attention to early jackets. A collector of science fiction and fantasy literature, he sells and publishes books under the firm name Ferret Fantasy, and in February 1988 he published a catalogue entitled Thirty Years of Dustwrappers 1884-1914. It is a sale catalogue only in part, for about half of the 159 items are unpriced, marked "NFS" (not for sale). The primary purpose of the catalogue (inspired, he says in his introduction, by his purchase of two dozen jacketed books at an Edinburgh [End Page 64] auction in October 1987) is "to describe a number of dustwrappers of English language books published during the 30 years prior to the first world war." Each entry, besides describing the binding, gives a detailed acount of the jacket, often ending with interesting observations. 44 Altogether the catalogue contains thirty-four entries for pre-1901 jackets, five of them for 1880s books, including the twenty-five-volume Centenary Edition of Scott's Waverley Novels (1885-88, £385). The prices for individual nineteenth-century jacketed books (as opposed to the Scott set) range from £15 to £350 (for George MacDonald's Phantastes of 1894). Early jackets also turn up in other Locke catalogues, such as Q88 (January 1990), which lists an 1886 Jules Verne item. Locke's interest in jackets has not been limited to the pre-1915 period, however. In the summer of 1978 he purchased, from Picture Books of Brighton, a group of about three hundred jackets from the 1920s and 1930s (jackets only, without the books) that had come from a rental library. His account of the process of cataloguing them 45 (in the Antiquarian Book Monthly Review article mentioned earlier) is a good outline of some of the clues (such as prices, blurbs, and the dates of other titles) that must be investigated to determine whether a given jacket is consistent with what could have appeared on the earliest copies of the book or whether it is clearly a later printing. Even in the extensive index to his three-volume catalogue of his own collection (A Spectrum of Fantasy, 1980-2002), he uses a symbol to mark each pre-1941 title for which he has a jacket.

Many other dealers, of course, call attention to early jackets when they have them for sale, generally placing a heading (like "In the Rare Original Jacket") above the relevant entries in their catalogues. 46 And at least one such dealer, Kevin Mac Donnell (of Austin, Texas), who has handled a hundred or more nineteenth-century jackets over the years, [End Page 65] has been assembling pre-World War I jacketed books to form a special catalogue. 47 For dealers in twentieth-century first printings, jackets have for many years been a major concern; 48 and it is no longer uncommon to find such dealers' booths at book fairs stocked exclusively (or nearly so) with books in jackets. Because dealers who list books on the internet often provide images, their websites constitute a large (though uncoordinated and impermanent) archive of illustrations of jackets. 49 One of the major firms specializing in modern firsts, Bertram Rota Ltd., has been a leader in the responsible handling of jackets, as Anthony Rota's admirable 1998 essay on "Book-Jackets" (in Apart from the Text, mentioned above) shows. The Rota firm, indeed, has sometimes been taken to task by those who do not understand the significance of jackets: John Turner, for instance, in his April 1977 column for Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, claims that a Rota catalogue shows how "this rather odd phenomena [of valuing jackets] may have taken root, or is perhaps being nurtured, in this country and not exclusively in the U.S.A." (4: 161). 50 Dealers who take jackets seriously (like the Rota firm) condemn the practice of switching jackets as a violation of bibliographical evidence (a point Anthony Rota makes explicitly); and one is therefore not surprised to see that his son Julian has recently chaired an Antiquarian Booksellers Association subcommittee to consider refinements in the organization's "Terms of the Trade," including the matter of replacing jackets.

Although Julian Rota's position is the same as his father's, 51 the work of his subcommittee has occasioned considerable debate, first within the ABA leadership in late 2004 and then, in early 2005, in the pages of the Bookdealer. On 6 January 2005 the Bookdealer printed (under the heading "Code of Good Practice") a letter from Jonathan Potter, president of ABA, stating that "the Association is now recommending that its members indicate clearly not only any variance in condition between [End Page 66] the book and wrapper, but, where applicable, to state that a wrapper has been supplied from another copy" (p. 9). Two weeks later (20 January 2005) James Fergusson devoted much of his column ("Catalogue Review") to arguing that switching jackets produces "a sort of forgery" and to criticize Potter's statement: "it is surely shocking," Fergusson says, "that the ABA should appear to be condoning or at least licensing the sophistication of modern first editions." Rather than implying that dealers may switch jackets so long as they state the fact, the ABA should, Fergusson says, "be purist in its insistence on authenticity, it should be rigorous about original condition, it should stand up for bibliographical truth" (p. 10). This forceful and admirable statement was echoed by another dealer the following week (27 January 2005): Laurence Worms said, "The switching of dust-jackets can never be a responsible practice, whether declared or not" (p. 8), and he added (p. 10) that "the bookseller's bibliographical duty of care in these matters is actually more important on the humble and humdrum books that (as yet or perhaps for ever) fall outside the scope of the full-scale bibliographies" (which offer "the protection of some other documentation or evidence"). And Potter himself wrote to affirm that "dust-wrappers must be considered an integral part of a book" (p. 10). This whole exchange, and its extension in the ensuing weeks, 52 gives welcome publicity, in a journal aimed at a booktrade audience, to the fact that switching (or "enhancing") jackets is as serious a bibliographical offense as inserting or replacing a leaf within a book.

If jackets are both important and scarce, as well as being integral parts of the books they cover, one should expect them to command high prices. Anthony Rota once said, after explaining the significance of jackets, "For all these reasons my firm has always preached that it was worth paying a premium to buy a copy in the dustjacket as opposed to one that lacked it." 53 That the market has followed this dictum in recent [End Page 67] decades is unquestionable, and one regularly sees notable instances cited —such as the 1982 auction prices of £75 and £500 for an unjacketed and a jacketed copy of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale (1953); Biblioctopus's 1984 price of $17,000 for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1891) in jacket; the 1986 auction price of £2600 for Kipling's Just So Stories (1902) in jacket (called by Sotheby's "the highest auction price, we believe, for a dust-jacket; the book on its own being worth about £100"); and the 1999 auction price of £80,700 for Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) in jacket. 54 F. Scott Fitzgerald jackets have become celebrated for their high prices, but in fact jacketed copies of books by all the major authors of the 1920s and 1930s have been steadily rising for many years. Twenty years ago, for instance, Pepper & Stern (in their List N) asked $7500 for a jacketed copy of Faulkner's Soldier's Pay 926); but at any book fair today one can see a considerable number of jacketed copies of books from this period priced in five figures. Dealers have often made generalizations about the percentage rise in price that a jacket brings about. Allen Ahearn, in The Book of First Books (1975), for example, stated, "On the average the presence of a dust wrapper will increase the value of a book by 50%. On books 20 years old or older the average increase in value added by the dust wrapper would be closer to 100% providing the dw is in fine condition," though he added that for Fitzgerald books the figure would be 300-400% (p. 6). Eight years later the Los Angeles dealer Gordon Hollis was of the opinion that "when a desirable pre-1925 book has its jacket, it is worth 10 to 15 times more than a copy without the jacket" (and a post-1925 book is "next to worthless without its jacket"). 55 Some dealers have even worked out charts to summarize the price levels under varying circumstances, 56 but such attempts at precision can never be more than vaguely indicative.

Whether jackets are worth the large premium often asked for them is one of the most ubiquitous topics that jackets have generated, and one of the silliest. If the price difference between an unjacketed and jacketed copy of a book is, say, $500, it is pointless to claim, as some purchasers [End Page 68] complainingly do, that the jacket has cost them $500. The truth is that the unjacketed copy is simply a defective copy; and the higher price is what is required (taking the usual factors into account) to buy a perfect copy. Even if one, illogically, were to think of jackets as separate items, there would still be no grounds for complaining about high prices, for jackets would then have to be compared with so-called ephemera, and important ephemera of all classes always bring high prices, given their rarity. Indeed, one should be surprised not at how expensive some jacketed books are but rather at the fact that, in light of their historical significance and their scarcity, they are not more expensive. Gordon Hollis, in his excellent discussion of the reasons that justify high prices for jacketed books, points out that jackets add significantly to the prices only of those books that would bring relatively high prices even without jackets. Then he adds,

This standard may change if, in the future, the collector comes to value any early dust jacket the way we today value any incunabulum; it may change if we begin to fancy dust jacket art and come to collect `art deco' or `jazz age' jackets; it may change if we start collecting jackets with blurbs written by collected authors, no matter where those blurbs appear. (p. 3891)

Dealers can play a leading role in bringing this desirable change about. They cannot of course afford to set prices that customers will not pay; but they do play an important role in educating collectors, and the respect they give to jackets, manifested in the prices they ask, is a part of the process. Prices support preservation, for items not widely perceived to be valuable are less likely to be taken care of, and dealers have already had a major influence on the preservation of jackets.

The pricing of reputable dealers reflects an expert assessment of authenticity, which is complicated in the case of jackets by their detachability. But this problem, though perhaps different in degree, is certainly no different in kind from the task of critically examining every other feature of books. One point that did not emerge explicitly from the Bookdealer exchange is that a distinction must be made between dealers' own switching of jackets and their selling of books that came to them with switched jackets. The former should be absolutely forbidden; it should be considered a practice that no responsible dealer ought ever to engage in. But the latter is impossible to avoid because the changing of jackets has long been widespread, and still is. Every jacket encountered on a book should be initially regarded with suspicion, until a close inspection leads to the conclusion that the jacket is not [End Page 69] inconsistent with what could have originally been present on that copy— which is the most one can ever say. 57 When dealers find that books in their stock are wearing switched (or probably switched) jackets, they should annotate those books accordingly and report the information in their catalogue entries, just as they would do with any other defects they have discovered. Some mistakes will of course be made, but the goal must always be to present as accurate an assessment as possible of the status of each book in every respect. Once jackets are understood to be an integral element in what "original condition" means, all the rest— both pricing and commentary—follows as a matter of course. The professionalism of dealers requires that they (along with other bibliographical scholars) set an example of how jackets should be approached as historical evidence, just as they have regularly treated other aspects of books in this way. And there are many dealers who have indeed already shown this sense of responsibility and thus have invigorated the study of jackets.


Everyone who has ever seen a publisher's book-jacket—and thus virtually everyone—knows that such jackets usually carry both a design (however minimal in some cases) and information. Although not everyone is necessarily interested in either of these aspects of a jacket's content, both constitute historical documentation and offer ample reasons for the importance of jackets and the desirability of preserving them. A jacket's design may be spare or elaborate; it may display only words (in typography or calligraphy) or words in combination with decorations or illustrations. Whatever the design, it shows something of the publisher's taste and of the style of the times, and it may in addition display the work of interesting or significant designers and illustrators. As for the more overtly informational content of jackets, there are several noteworthy categories: (1) commentary on the book, in the form of signed "blurbs" (by the author or by other writers) or unsigned sentences [End Page 70] or paragraphs of description and praise (generally written by the publishing-house staff); (2) biographical information about the author, including photographs, lists of books, and summaries of dates and events; and (3) details of publication history, relating both to the specific book (such as the price, the size or date of the printing, or a date or name that supplements or clarifies what is provided within the book) and to other books (such as notices of related books recently published or, in the case of books in series, lists and serial numbers of other titles in the series). Besides these specific items of documentation, all of them taken together help to document the publisher's approach to advertising.

In my 1971 essay I gave many examples of these various means by which jackets preserve notable content. To underscore the value of jackets as historical documentation, I shall simply note here a few further examples. In regard to typographic design, one need only mention Berthold Wolpe's jackets for Faber & Faber and Stanley Morison's for Victor Gollancz 58 to make the point that the full picture of these major figures' accomplishment requires access to jackets. The same can be said of the designer-illustrator Warren Chappell, as David L. Vander Meulen has demonstrated in his comprehensive collection, with its rows of jacketed copies. He has made the point 59 that a large number of Chappell's designs, because they were on popular books and therefore can be found in many people's houses, have become part of the stock of imagery known to a mass audience, including persons not particularly alert to graphic art—a point that applies equally to the yellow Gollancz jackets and many other famous designs. Some of Vanessa Bell's decorations for Hogarth Press books appear on jackets; and John Minton's illustrative jackets for John Lehmann, Rex Whistler's and John Piper's for Faber & Faber, and Brian Cook's for Batsford suggest the quality of the artwork that can be found on jackets. The drawings by Irene Hawkins for Sacheverell Sitwell's books were overseen by Sitwell himself, who went so far as to claim that "they are perhaps an unique instance of careful collaboration between an author and an artist." 60 The illustrations on [End Page 71] jackets sometimes do not appear within the books themselves, a situation that Brian Alderson has noted as a fairly common one in connection with children's books. 61 Jackets may also include illustrations not specifically created for these jackets: the one on the American edition of Pio Baroja's Weeds (Knopf, 1923), for instance, displays a painting by John Dos Passos (as well as a blurb by him).

Nineteenth-century jackets are not normally associated with specific designers (understandably, given their generally sparse layout), but sometimes the designer can be identified: for example, The Pageant of 1897 (published by Henry & Co. of London) notes on the leaf following the title-leaf, "The outer wrapper is designed by Gleeson White." Although the designers of the decorative bindings of the 1880-1910 period have received a great deal of attention, there is a tendency to ignore the jackets that frequently covered those bindings, since they were often very plain, but sometimes they reproduce the binding designs. Thus Charles Gullans and John Espey's Margaret Armstrong and American Trade Bindings (1991) gives almost no notice to jackets; but Eunice R. Schwager's notable collection of Armstrong, which contains jackets for thirty-seven titles, 62 shows that contemporary book-buyers would have encountered many of Armstrong's designs first in their usually single-color and sometimes abbreviated form before experiencing their full splendor on the covers beneath. She obviously did not intend her designs specifically for jackets, but one cannot fully gauge the presentation and influence of those designs without taking the jackets into account. Other binding designs by well-known designers of the great period of publishers' bindings also were repeated on jackets, along with their monograms: examples are W. Reader's design for Andrew Lang's Johnny Nut and the Golden Goose (Longmans, Green, 1887), Laurence Housman's for Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market (Macmillan, 1893), Elihu Vedder's for the Rubaiyat (3rd Houghton Mifflin edition, 1894), Amy Sacker's for Louisa May Alcott's A Hole in the Wall (Little, Brown, 1899), and Ernest Seton Thompson's for Frank M. Chapman's Bird Life (Appleton, 1899). In the case of the American edition of Kipling's The Seven Seas (Appleton, 1896; noted on the 1899 printing), the designer's [End Page 72] initials appear on the jacket but not on the same design on the cover of the book. 63

Turning to the explicitly informational content of jackets, we may note that the importance of blurbs has been recognized by at least one collected edition: in 1980 the Pterodactyl Press of San Francisco published a volume of Carl Van Vechten's blurbs for his own books (Ex Libris, edited by Paul Padgette and Bruce Kellner). This book reminds one of the value of attempting to discover the authorship of unsigned commentary, since it may be by the author or by a well-known member of the publisher's staff. 64 Sometimes it offers a useful supplement to the book, as in the case of the 1881 American edition of Disraeli's Endymion (Chicago: Belford, Clarke), where the front of the jacket includes a key to the characters of the novel; or the Fugitive anthology Driftwood Flames (Nashville: Poetry Guild, 1923), where the front flap prints a concise summary of what the Fugitives stood for; or Kenneth H. Myers's SRDS: The National Authority Serving the Media-Buying Function (Northwestern University Press, 1968), where the jacket flaps carry an "Addendum" bringing the story to January 1969. 65 Among the innumerable examples of signed blurbs by famous authors, I shall simply note that the publisher B. W. Huebsch, whose jackets were usually fairly sedate, went all out to promote Roger L. Sergel's Arlie Gelston (1923) by lining up blurbs from Sherwood Anderson, Ben Hecht, and Theodore Dreiser. This combination can symbolize the groupings of signed blurbs on many thousands of other books and can suggest the ways in which literary reputations, friendships, and rivalries are reflected on the surfaces of book-jackets. The more straightforwardly biographical information on jackets can also be revealing, since the details included in biographical sketches are likely to have been selected by the authors— [End Page 73] or written by them, as in the case of Michael Sadleir's signed two-paragraph statement about "the chief influences" on his work for the jacket on the American edition of Forlorn Sunset (Farrar, Straus, 1946), which also includes a picture of him.

Indeed, photographic portraits and drawings of authors (sometimes not easy to locate elsewhere) are often striking supplements to other biographical details. One thinks of the famous photographs of Truman Capote and Gore Vidal, but of course there are thousands of less well known instances that are equally communicative of the author's character. A few of my favorites are the photograph of May Sarton by Jill Krementz (different from the one used as the frontispiece) on the jacket for Sarton's A World of Light (Norton, 1978); the Leon Kroll drawing of Nancy Hale on the jacket for Hale's The Prodigal Women (Scribner, 1942) and the Rollie McKenna photograph of her on Black Summer (Little, Brown, 1963); and the drawing of David McCord by Grace Thayer Richards (Mrs. James Bryant Conant) on the jacket of McCord's In Sight of Sever (Harvard, 1963). If one lines up Wright Morris's novels, one has a whole portrait gallery, for nearly every one displays a different jacket photograph—sometimes taken by Morris himself, as on The Works of Love (Knopf, 1952) and Ceremony in Lone Tree (Atheneum, 1960). A picture on the jacket for one of an author's books may also be relevant to the reading of another one. As David L. Vander Meulen has reported to me from his Peter De Vries collection, Henry A. Hagel's photograph of De Vries on the back of the jacket for Comfort Me with Apples (Little, Brown, 1956) includes De Vries's daughter Emily, whose death from leukemia in 1960 provided the backdrop for The Blood of the Lamb (1962). All these photographs are on back panels; but B. W. Huebsch placed a photograph of Joyce on the front panel of the jacket for his edition (1918) of Chamber Music. The effect that jacket portraits can have on readers is suggested by a comment of Ted Morgan's in Churchill: Young Man in a Hurry, 1874-1915 (1982): "On the jacket [for Churchill's The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898)] was a pensive young man with thinning hair who, dressed in a morning coat with silk lapels, did not look in the least like the officer on active duty whose experiences the book recounted" (p. 93).

The usefulness of jackets in reconstructing a book's publication and marketing history is illustrated by instances of variant jackets. The first jacket, in three colors, for J. D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey (Little, Brown, 1961) was disapproved of by Salinger, and a new one was designed. Frank Conroy's The Disinherited (Covici, Friede, 1933) appeared in a jacket with an illustration on the front and another jacket with blurbs by Whit Burnett and Erskine Caldwell, among others. Thomas [End Page 74] Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel (Scribner, 1929) also had its first jacket replaced with one quoting from reviews; and two jackets have been recorded for Jack Kerouac's On the Road (Viking, 1957) and for Twelve Poets: A Miscellany of New Verse (Selwyn & Blount, 1918). An unusual instance is Paul Goodman's Stop-Light: Five Dance Poems (Harrington Park, N.J.: 5 × 8 Press, 1941): some copies carry a later jacket, the front flap of which reports new information, introduced by the words "Being obliged to replace lost dust jackets we now may note that . . . ." The survival of proof states of jackets may also preserve variants, as in the case of advance unbound copies of Thomas Pynchon's Slow Learner (Little, Brown, 1984) covered with proof jackets.

Discovery of some of these variants has been facilitated by the fortuitous existence of copies of the books carrying both jackets; 66 but there are other instances in which books were intended to be clothed in two jackets simultaneously at the time of publication. The second volume of the Parke-Bernet catalogue for the A. Edward Newton sale (1941), for example, was published with two jackets, the one underneath being a replacement for the original first-volume jacket; a printed notice in the second volume states that the original jacket was "not substantial enough to withstand the amount of handling to which the book is exposed." And Alexander King's Mine Enemy Grows Older (Simon & Schuster, 1958) has an outer jacket that includes the following comment: "If this jacket (the author painted it) is too strong for you, take it off. There's a conservative jacket for conservative people underneath." Purchasers of Billy Graham's Just as I Am (Harper/Zondervan, 1997) were offered a similar choice, except that the alternative jackets were not on the same copies but rather were displayed together in bookstores and pictured side by side in advertisements: one showed Graham (both on the front and on the spine) in a suit and tie, whereas the other depicted him in a frayed denim shirt open at the throat. 67 (In the Newton and the King instances, by the way, and perhaps in the Graham as well, there is the implied expectation that the books will be kept in jackets.)[End Page 75]

When a later printing of a jacket appears on a first printing of a book, there is normally good reason to be suspicious, but not always: some copies of the first printing of the American edition of Dylan Thomas's Collected Poems (New Directions, 1953) bear a second-printing jacket (so labeled), but at least one copy is known to have a letter from the publisher laid in, stating that "we simply ran short of jackets." 68 Sometimes information appears on the inside (or reverse) surface of jackets, in addition to the familiar use of that space to list titles in a series. 69 The inside of the jacket for Bruce Palmer's novel of the Spanish Civil War, They Shall Not Pass (Doubleday, 1971), prints sketches and brief descriptions of seven major characters in the book. And readers' comments on Humphrey Cobb's Paths of Glory (Viking, 1935) appear on the inside of the jacket. Instances of cross-references between the jacket and the book can go both ways: the verso of the title leaf of William Verral's The Cook's Paradise (London: Sylvan Press, 1948) notes an error on the jacket, whereas the jacket for John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman (Cape, 1969) states, "The author and the publisher assure the reader that there are no pagination errors in the final chapter of this story." Among the kinds of information that may appear only on the jacket, the publisher's name is one of the most surprising; but the Golden Hind Press reprint of the Biblion Society's 1927 Pasquerella and Madonna Babetta (Boccaccio) mentions the Golden Hind Press only on the jacket. 70

Even when jackets survive, they often are not intact, and the commonest kind of mutilation is the clipping off of the price (or the words "Book Club Edition") from the corner of a flap (or from the spine or front, where prices more often appeared in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries). Such clipping is of course usually perpetrated by those who give books as presents, but used-book dealers have also been known to conceal books' original prices in this way. Although there are other sources for the price (such as advertisements and publishing-trade journals), the jacket price serves as confirmation and can document price changes. Obviously the documentary value of a jacket is lessened when any part of it is missing, and those collectors who now insist on unclipped [End Page 76] jackets (when it is feasible to do so) are to be applauded. There are, however, instances where jacket clipping is done by the publisher in connection with a price change: the seventh printing (1960) of R. B. McKerrow's An Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students has a jacket with the price of 28s. printed in the lower corner of the front flap; the eighth printing (1962) has the price clipped off and a sticker with the price of 30s. affixed nearby. 71 Some publishers have also abetted clipping by printing a diagonal dotted line at the corner of the flap where the price is given or where a concise or coded identification of the book is placed (enabling booksellers to get credit for unsold copies by simply clipping those corners and sending them to the publisher). 72 Jackets with these various features bear witness to marketing history with a level of detail probably not available elsewhere.

Further insight into marketing history is afforded by jackets supplied by bookseller-distributors rather than the original publishers: I have a copy of Pio Baroja's Youth and Egolatry (Knopf, 1920) in a printed jacket with the spine imprint of the Chicago bookseller-publisher Argus Books; its spine and front panel give the title and author, but its other surfaces list other publishers' books that were available from Argus. Even the [End Page 77] number of surviving copies of jackets for particular books, especially if they are in fine condition, can in itself be evidence of publishing history: that certain books of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are found in jackets more frequently than one might expect suggests that publishers' stocks of those books were not quickly exhausted and that new copies of the original printings were still being sold many years after publication. (The dealer Cedric L. Robinson indicated in a 1977 catalogue that he could supply "new copies" in jacket of an 1885 Lippincott book, Gabriel Harrison's John Howard Payne.) As with any other class of historical evidence, there is no way of predicting all the kinds of information that book-jackets may reveal or corroborate when examined in context by a knowledgeable person.


Besides disseminating graphic design, transmitting information, and simply being an element in the original published form of a book, every jacket plays its role in documenting the history of book-jackets in general. The account of the early development of the jacket that I offered in 1971 was based primarily on a sampling of only 262 items through 1900; I now know of more than that number just through 1890 (half again as many), and the number from the next decade is close to a thousand. 73 But I need not retell the story in detail, for the outline remains the same. There were the sheaths (slip-cases open at one or both ends) that covered the literary annuals, gift books, and pocket diaries during the last years of the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries. Then by the 1830s came printed wrappings that were sealed to cover all edges of books—a style that persisted at least through the 1860s, simultaneously with the emergence of jackets with flaps. The latter form—that is, the one that became standard—carried little printing in general during the nineteenth century, often only on the spine (or the spine and front panel), though there were early examples in which advertising appeared on the back and illustrations on the front and back (the flaps were not much used for printing until the 1890s). Although jackets of the 1890s and the first decade or so of the twentieth century frequently had decorations or illustrations, those embellishments were generally derived from, if not actual reproductions of, the binding designs; and the jackets were clearly secondary to the bindings from the point of view of design and still largely served as protection for the elaborate bindings, though with a marketing function showing up in [End Page 78] many instances. It was not until the second decade of the twentieth century that publishers' bindings began to grow plainer and the jackets more decorative.

If this familiar story is not altered by the knowledge of a larger number of nineteenth-century jackets, there are nevertheless several contributions made by the expanded list, in addition to serving as a nucleus to which additional examples can be added. One is simply that the story now rests on a broader base of evidence. Second, by providing some help in the task of locating and examining a larger number of early jackets, the new list can encourage further study and potentially support additional insights. Third, it permits more detailed conclusions about the practices of some publishers and thus allows one to postulate the existence of jackets for certain books at the time of their publication, even when none are known to have survived. If, for example, one wondered whether Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge (Smith, Elder, 1886) or the hardcover issue of Howells's A Hazard of New Fortunes (Harper, 1890) originally appeared in jackets, one could consult the list and feel fairly certain in the first case and quite certain in the second that these books were published in jackets (since the list records a Smith, Elder book in 1882 and one in 1885 and shows eight Harper books in 1890). And when one book from a series or set is listed (such as a volume of the Longman "Badminton Library" from 1888 or the Warne "Chandos Classics" from 1889) one can sensibly believe that the others also once had jackets or boxes.

Although such an exercise provides useful support for a surmise, one could argue that the range of examples in the list as a whole may give one some reason to suppose that any book from a major firm after the mid-1870s or so is probably more likely than not to have been published in a jacket. The list can serve these various purposes even though it is not a systematic attempt at a census of all surviving examples of early British and American publishers' detachable book-coverings. It is simply a list of those that have come to my attention during more than thirty-five years (including, that is, those in my 1971 list as well as those encountered since), and there are unquestionably many hundreds more that I have not learned about. But even if the total is two or three times the present number, what is now known constitutes a significant mass of evidence for studying an extremely scarce and widely scattered body of material. A few observations not made in 1971 are therefore in order. 74 [End Page 79]

It seems reasonably certain that the earliest detachable coverings enclosing publishers' bindings were the sheaths that came with pocket diaries beginning in the late eighteenth century and with children's doll-dressing books beginning about 1810. Examples of the former are known for The Royal Repository, or Polite Pocket Diary for 1796 (London: J. Evance and W. Richardson, 1795) and The American Ladies & Gentlemans Pocket Almanac and Belles Lettres Repository for 1802 (New York: David Longworth, 1801); examples of the latter from 1810 to 1814 survive for a number of the little books with loose paper-dolls and costumes published by S. & J. Fuller at their Temple of Fancy. The German Taschenbuch of this period, with sheaths sometimes printed with calendars, was probably the model, at least for the diaries. Thus when in 1822 the London publisher Rudolph Ackermann, drawing on his knowledge of the German custom, set in motion the vogue for annual gift books in the English-speaking world by publishing the first number of the Forget Me Not, there was already a precedent for enclosing annuals in sheaths. For nine years, through the volume for 1831 (1830), Ackermann published the Forget Me Not in sheaths, as confirmed and explained by the Gentleman's Magazine review of the volume for 1832. According to the reviewer, Ackermann considered the glazed-paper-over-board covers no longer "worthy of this great age of improvement" and therefore had begun to clothe the annual "in the splendid but durable attire of crimson silk, which supersedes the necessity of a pasteboard case, as heretofore, to protect it from the soil of a dusty table." 75 Many of the other annuals, on both sides of the Atlantic, also employed sheaths during the 1820s. Although the number of examples in my list is small, comprising (in addition to eight volumes of the Forget Me Not) only sixteen instances, they are distributed among eleven annuals published in Boston and Philadelphia as well as London, and thus they imply a fairly widespread and regular use. Certainly the sheath of the literary annual, which was an extremely popular genre, gave prominence to the idea of a detachable publisher's covering, and [End Page 80] one can agree with Ruari McLean that it "can be called the progenitor of the book-jacket, since its function was to attract and protect." 76

The next step was the use of printed wrapping paper rather than sheaths to cover copies of annuals; the paper—printed with identifying text—was sealed around each book, enclosing it completely. Although the earliest examples known are on British annuals, The Keepsake for 1833 (Longman) and The Juvenile Scrap-Book for 1845-50 (Fisher, then Jackson), this style of covering was also used for other kinds of books at least through the 1860s. Surviving examples are understandably scarce, since these wrappings were likely to have been destroyed in the process of removing them in order to open the books. But a survivor on a book published by Appleton (New York) and Whitaker (London) in 1857 (Richard S. Gedney's Poetical Works), two others on books published by Longman in 1860 (Edward Falkener's Daedalus and The Museum of Classical Antiquities), and one on a book published by the Catholic Publication Society (New York) in 1869 (Aubrey De Vere's Irish Odes) suggest—since at least two of the publishers of these books were major trade firms—that the practice had a continuing life even after jackets with flaps began to be used. Indeed, sealed wrapping is not unknown in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries: at least one number of Bradley His Book (no. 3, July 1896) was wrapped in glassine printed with the notice that it was to be unsealed only by the owner; and Oliver Herford and John Cecil Clay's Happy Days (Kennerley, 1917) came completely sealed in unprinted glassine. 77 The covers were of course visible through the glassine, which was thus a forerunner of shrink-wrapping.

Other forms of coverings—related to sealed wrappings in that they cover books more fully than the now traditional jackets with flaps do— have been used over the years for certain types of books. For pamphlets or thin books, the equivalent of a slip-case may seem more like an envelope. The earliest item in my list is a four-flapped wrapping (like the eighteenth-century mailing covers) around a 1791 Philadelphia pamphlet by John William Gerar de Brahm, with a 115-word presentation epistle (to be signed by the author) printed on the inside, where the pamphlet would lie. One might also best describe as an envelope the [End Page 81] covering for the 1848 publication of F. O. C. Darley's Six Illustrations of Rip Van Winkle. And some of Kate Greenaway's small books for children—judging from surviving examples of her Almanack for 1890 and 1891 (Routledge)—were provided with mailing envelopes. 78 (Of course, publishers' envelopes—sometimes unprinted—for pamphlets, especially those intended as gifts, continued to appear in the twentieth century, as on some of the Paul Elder booklets.) Another variation was to have three flaps at both front and back, so that a flap could fold over each edge of the covers (tops and bottoms as well as fore-edges): an 1878 example is a cloth jacket (now in the Bodleian) on William Stirling Maxwell's Antwerp Delivered in MDLXXVII (Edinburgh: David Douglas). A possible example, on Herbert Kleist's copy of Love Poems and Sonnets by "Owen Innsly" (Boston: Cupples, Upham, 1883), may instead be another instance of what was once a sealed wrapping, since the flaps are less than an inch wide and may well have originally been pasted together to cover the edges of the sheets of the book.

In fact, some of the survivors among previously sealed wrappings are presently soiled, folded, or cut in such a way as to indicate that they survived by being forced to fit the book in the fashion of present-day jackets with flaps, so that they could continue to be used to protect the books during reading. On occasion publishers even encouraged readers to engage in this practice: a surviving jacket (in the Leach sale, lot 65) for John E. Wheelock's In Search of Gold (New York: Thompson, 1884) has a front flap printed with the words "Cut open at this line and use wrapper for outside cover." The activity of converting wrappings to jackets calls to mind the fact that models for jackets with flaps certainly existed in the early nineteenth century, whether or not they were used by publishers (and they may well have been), for the circulating libraries placed books in jackets printed with their names and the rules their members were supposed to follow. Thanks to Michael Zinman, I can report three American examples: one for the Glazier, Masters & Co. Circulating Library (Hallowell, Maine), with the printed date of October 1828; another for Roorbach's Circulating Library (Charleston, S.C.), which includes an advertisement for Roorbach's book and stationery store (this jacket is presently on the December 1831 issue of the London [End Page 82] Ladies Magazine); and a third for the Free Library of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York.

Circulating-library books obviously needed protection, but there is evidence that individual owners also wished to protect their books, sometimes using wallpaper or other decorated paper for the purpose. 79 The rise of cloth binding clearly produced the urge to protect those bindings, and manufacturers were glad to satisfy this demand with ready-made covers of varying sizes. By at least the 1870s the London firm of Marcus Ward & Co. Limited was selling "Marcus Ward's Adaptable Book Covers, (registered) for Book Clubs, Lending Libraries, Schools and Home Use." Available in seven-, eight-, and nine-inch sizes, at one shilling per dozen, these covers were made of patterned paper with a blank space on the spine for lettering. In America, Sherwood's of New York made for P. F. Van Everen "The `Van Everen' Self-Fitting Adjustable Book Covers" (patented 14 February 1888), advertised as "the Aristocrat of book covers" and as "the standard of perfection since extra covers came into use"; they were offered in three sizes made of "heavy craft paper which sheds water and is impervious to moisture," with flaps to be folded over all edges and glued according to detailed instructions printed on the jacket ("leaving no part exposed, even on flat juveniles"). Discounts were available for libraries and schools, and "Van Everen's perforated and gummed numbers & alphabets" could also be purchased, so that titles and dates could be affixed to the jackets. 80 The existence of this kind of product should not be taken to indicate that publishers' jackets were uncommon; rather, the emphasis on the durability and protective features of these [End Page 83] "extra covers" seems designed to suggest their superiority to the fragile and easily detached jackets provided by publishers. Many individuals no doubt made their own jackets instead of buying such products, and one can never be sure whether a plain (unprinted) jacket on a nineteenth-century book was placed there by an owner, perhaps to replace a damaged printed jacket, or by the publisher—except in those rare cases where one encounters a number of copies in identical jackets. 81 That is why I have limited my list of early jackets to ones that are printed, but there are many examples of plain jackets that one is tempted to believe are actually publishers' jackets. 82

Although in assembling my list I have recorded only British and American examples, it is important to be aware of the European context, as the relation of the slip-cased Taschenbuch to the form of the English-language annuals suggests. 83 Sheaths continued to be used for French as well as German annuals for several decades, 84 but sheaths and [End Page 84] boxes were sometimes used to house other kinds of books as well. 85 At least as early as 1839 modern-style paper jackets were apparently in use in Germany. Jerome E. Anderson reported to me in 1971 a copy of an 1839 Bädeker book, Friedrich Hoffmann's Funfzig Räthsel und Bilder für Kinder von 8-12 Jahren, in a jacket of pink porous paper printed on the front (title), spine (title, author, decoration), and back (list of other titles). And by the 1860s and 1870s there are such examples as Chamisso's Peter Schlemihl (Leipzig, 1860), Lessing's Nathan der Weise (Berlin, 1868, with the date on the jacket), Karl Wilhelm Osterwald's Erzählungen aus der alten deutschen Welt für Jung und Alt (Halle, 1868, with the date on the jacket), Album für Deutschlands Töchter (7th ed.; Leipzig, 1871), and Hessel Gerritsz's The Arctic North-East and West Passage (Amsterdam, 1878). Eric Quayle, whose collection contained a copy of the Osterwald jacket in 1971, called it "The earliest printed dust-wrapper that can be dated with certainty. . . . No printed dust-wrapper manufactured earlier . . . is known to have survived." This comment (if we exclude slip-cases and wrappings that enclose books completely) could rather be applied to the 1839 Hoffmann jacket, which—as far as my knowledge goes—precedes the earliest reported English modern-style jackets by about two decades. 86

The Hoffmann jacket makes clear that the idea of using the back panel for advertising occurred early, and it reminds one that the earliest [End Page 85] known English paper book-covering, for the 1833 Keepsake, also has an advertisement on the back. In light of the many nineteenth-century jackets that have printing only on the spine, or the spine and front panel, one may be surprised by these early instances of advertising on the back. But one should remember that there was a model ready to hand in the form of the advertisements and testimonials printed on the covers of some books in the boards-and-label period spanning the last years of the eighteenth century and the early decades of the nineteenth century. Although those covers were not readily detachable, publishers assumed that many owners would regard them as temporary and have them replaced with leather bindings. As coverings that were truly detachable and dispensable came to be used over bindings that were meant to be retained, it would have been natural to continue the practice of placing advertising in the same visible position, as the 1833 Keepsake and the 1869 Magnolia (New York: Leavitt) did. But the custom was clearly not universal (nor was it, of course, on the printed boards earlier): examples are known from major publishers in the 1870s (Lee & Shepard, Putnam, Routledge) and onward, but there is a large number of surviving jackets from the 1870-1900 period with blank back panels.

This observation reinforces the point (which I made in 1971) that the use of jacket surfaces in the second half of the nineteenth century does not display a steady general development but rather reflects the practices of individual publishers. John Carter was saying much the same thing in his historic letter to the Publisher and Bookseller (19 August 1932) when he noted that the 1860 jacket for Pilgrim's Progress "is so far from looking primitive that it would not look out of place on a book published to-day." Although one can locate jackets of the 1880s with printing on the front, spine, back, and even the flaps, 87 one also finds (for example) many Harper and Houghton Mifflin jackets of the 1890s printed only on the spines. Similarly, the retail price was often included on jacket spines or fronts from the 1870s through the 1910s, 88 or on flaps (I know of Lothrop examples from 1888 and 1895), or on box labels (Macmillan, 1894); but often the price is not given at all on jackets of this period. The indication of the number of copies in print also [End Page 86] appeared fairly early (an 1874 example is "Fourteenth Thousand" on the jacket for Poe's poems in Griffin's "Emerald Series"; and a later printing of an 1883 Revell book, Hannah Whitall Smith's The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, carried a jacket proclaiming "Thirty-Fifth Thousand"); but the practice does not seem to have become common in the nineteenth century. Illustrations, too, were used at least as early as 1860 (on the Longman edition of Pilgrim's Progress) but were not a regular feature of nineteenth-century jackets. And binding designs were repeated on jackets by some publishers in the 1860s (Jonathan Couch's The History of the Fishes of the British Islands, published in London by Groombridge & Sons in 1862-65, and The Bryant Festival at "The Century," published by Appleton in 1865); but many books with interesting bindings in the 1890s have unattractive typographic jackets. Among the few general trends that can be asserted with some confidence is the dominance of the modern-style flapped jacket over other types of covering by at least the mid-1860s. Another, as I suggested earlier, is that such jackets were as commonly used by publishers during the last quarter of the nineteenth century as they were during the twentieth century. I base this conclusion not simply on the number of surviving examples but also on the fact that most of the major British and American publishers are repeatedly represented, with a wide range of types of books, as well as many smaller publishers from a variety of geographical locations. 89

Just as the nineteenth century began with gift books in slip-cases, so the end of the century saw a similar phenomenon. The books were not annuals but rather popular novels, classics, and travel books that could be marketed in fancy illustrated editions, frequently in two volumes; and the slip-cases were not sheaths but boxes with their open sides corresponding to where the spines of the books would show and with printed labels affixed to the opposite side (and sometimes the wider sides). These books, though their bindings were protected by boxes, also were generally supplied with jackets, commonly made of cloth backed with stiff paper and printed only on the spines. 90 In some instances the open (spine) side of the box was covered with a removable lid, and the label was pasted on one end of the box, indicating that these [End Page 87] boxes were intended to sit, in the bookshop or on the parlor table, so that the books inside were resting on their fore-edges. When certain one-volume works were given this treatment—especially thin books with elaborate bindings, often containing a single heavily illustrated poem— the lid usually fit over one of the wide sides of the box, exposing the front cover of the book (or the front panel of the jacket) when removed. If such boxes for one- and two-volume gift editions were a striking phenomenon of the late nineteenth century, 91 the use of boxes with printed labels or hinged lids for multi-volume sets went back at least to mid-century: they were commonly used for series of children's books, such as "Cousin Lucy's Stories" by Jacob Abbott (Auburn, N.Y.: Derby & Miller, 1850), and for standard sets, such as The Handy-Volume Shakespeare in thirteen volumes (London: Bradbury, Evans; New York: Wynkoop, 1867).

In the early years of the twentieth century there was little change in publishers' practices in using jackets and boxes. That their function was still largely to protect decorative bindings is suggested by a jingle printed on the jacket of the 1913 Methuen edition of John Oxenham's Bees in Amber: "This outer wrap is only meant / To keep my coat from detriment. / Please take it off, and let me show / The better one I wear below." 92 It was not always necessary to take the protective jacket off in order to see the binding, or at least part of it, as my copy of Margaret Turnbull's Looking after Sandy (Harper, 1914) shows: the jacket has an oval hole in the front panel, revealing the picture that is pasted to the front cover of the binding. 93 Despite the appearance, before this time, of jackets with illustrations and blurbs printed on them, the idea that the artistry and verbiage of jackets could be a marketing tool had not yet become a dominant force in the production of jackets, though it was certainly a growing one. And during the 1910s this situation changed dramatically, so that by the 1920s many publishers thought of jackets rather than bindings as the place for striking designs. Since jackets were an established presence, it made sense to use their surfaces to the full [End Page 88] and save money on the less visible bindings. From then on, the history of book-jackets is primarily the story of shifting tastes in graphic design and in advertising style, rather than of changes in form or function.

One formal development worth noting, however, is the occasional addition of the wrap-around band or "flash," a narrow strip of paper extending around the jacket, with ends either stuck together or folded inside the book covers along with the jacket flaps. (An example is the one on the American edition of Edward Dahlberg's The Flea of Sodom [New Directions, 1950], which quotes from Herbert Read's introduction.) Such bands were naturally meant to attract additional attention to the books they adorned and often reported a late-breaking news item, such as the award of a major prize to the book or its author. The result for collectors and other students of publishing history was to create an additional challenge, for bands are understandably more ephemeral than jackets, and their survival rate is even lower. 94

A similar challenge is locating the dust-jackets for paperback books. The emergence of mass-market paperbacks in the 1930s was of course one of the major events in Anglo-American publishing history in the twentieth century, and by that time jackets were such an established part of publishing that one should not be surprised by their use on some early Albatross and Penguin paperbacks. 95 There were even more specific reasons, however, for the jackets that appeared on Pocket Books and Bantam titles in the 1940s: jackets with new illustrations were added to resuscitate slow-selling titles, or to call attention to movies, or to indicate [End Page 89] new publishers' takeover of existing stocks. The classic holy grail for paperback collectors (like the Gatsby jacket for twentieth-century hardcover collectors) is the Stanley Meltzoff jacket on some of the later printings (beginning in 1945) of the Pocket Books edition of The Maltese Falcon. 96 (A related phenomenon is the use of jackets on wrapper-bound proof copies: an example, reported by David L. Vander Meulen, is the "Uncorrected Proof" of Frances Parkinson Keyes's The Gold Slippers [Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1958], in wrappers and with a jacket.)

If surviving examples of paperback jackets and nineteenth-century hardcover jackets are scarce enough that it is feasible to list them, a different means must be found for gaining bibliographical control over the vast quantities of twentieth-century examples on hardcover books. We can look to descriptive bibliographies of authors and presses and to monographs on graphic artists for the recording of many significant jackets, but the number dealt with in this way will always be a tiny fraction of the total. The logical solution is for libraries to take note of the presence of jackets in their cataloguing of books 97 and to make it possible for such references to be located through searching in electronic catalogues. Some special-collections libraries already do this, but others do not. 98 In any case, the prior requirement is for libraries to preserve [End Page 90] jackets in the first place—something that research libraries have generally been loath to do, except for books that go into special collections (though public libraries have often kept jackets, with a protective covering around them, on circulating books). The situation is reflected in Robert A. Tibbetts's comment, regarding the Charvat Collection of pre-1901 American fiction at Ohio State University, that "most of the dustjackets that once accompanied its books were lost to library processing before the collection became an entity." Libraries' disregard for jackets is epitomized by the response of a major research library when it was offered the opportunity to purchase en bloc the great Leach collection of American nineteenth-century jacketed books: it rejected the offer on the grounds that a large portion of the books duplicated those already in the collection, ignoring entirely the fact that none of the jackets would have been duplicates. Barbara Ringer, when she was Register of Copyrights in the U. S. Copyright Office, was so "appalled" by the Library of Congress practice of throwing away the "vast majority" of the jackets it received that she arranged to store them at her own expense. 99

Library practices vary, as A. S. A. Struik discovered in the mid-1990s when he conducted a survey of eighteen Dutch libraries and thirteen national libraries in other countries. His questionnaire asked, among other things, whether the jackets of newly acquired books were saved (and if so, how they were described and housed) and whether pre-1900 jackets had been inventoried or were ever purchased as such. The replies were not encouraging. Although many of the libraries claimed to save some of the jackets on newly acquired books, these affirmative responses were often undercut by various qualifications, and only two libraries (both Dutch) reported any effort to describe their jackets, even superficially. And not a single library answered yes to the question whether it intended to "collect or simply save" jackets in the future. As far as pre1900 jackets are concerned, only one library—the Museum Meermanno Westreenianum in The Hague—indicated that it maintained an inventory of such jackets, and only five (the British Library, the Library of Congress, and three Dutch libraries) stated that they had ever bought a book purely for the sake of its jacket. 100

That so many libraries, including copyright-deposit libraries, are so [End Page 91] unconcerned with jackets brings to mind the language (quoted earlier) of Alan Smith, who calls it a "tragedy" that libraries have shirked their "obligations" to scholars by engaging in the "vandalism" of destroying jackets. This language is not too strong because book-jackets, as an important class of primary documentation of publishing history, are unquestionably part of what research libraries are pledged to preserve. Other categories have been neglected in the past, such as publishers' archives, but for a long time now the value of such records has been well understood. It is shocking, therefore, that in the early twenty-first century, with the field called "book history" flourishing, there should be so relatively little thinking directed toward the preservation and cataloguing of past and future book-jackets. The picture is not entirely bleak: thanks to the understanding of collectors and dealers, which has become widespread only in the past generation or so, special-collections departments are now in possession of a great many jackets, which have arrived largely as parts of collections but sometimes through the purchase of single items. These jackets are likely to be noteworthy because of their age or the fame of the books they cover, and their preservation seems assured. What we need to be concerned about is the fate of all the other jackets that survive and all that will appear on new books in the future. Some large libraries have not destroyed all the jackets that came their way; but those they have saved (often intermittently and inconsistently) tend to be very difficult (or in some cases nearly impossible) to use because of the way they have been stored and the lack of adequate (or any) cataloguing. 101 Many jackets of the past are lost, but many others await an act of reclamation.

The idea of a "Jacket Conservation Year," proposed by Alan Smith, may be unrealistic; but there is reason to hope that we are entering a period of consciousness-raising in regard to jackets, judging from the conference on jackets that was sponsored by the Institute of English Studies at the University of London on 19-20 September 2005, 102 along with the news that a future series of Panizzi Lectures may deal with the subject. Libraries must be encouraged to face (and be given assistance in [End Page 92] dealing with) three long-neglected tasks. First is the proper housing of all the jackets in their possession that are not in special-collections stacks, as well as all that come with future acquisitions. Whether jackets are kept on the books, with mylar around them, or filed separately will be decided differently by different libraries; the important matter is that they be carefully and systematically preserved. Second is the inclusion of a reference to the presence of a jacket in catalogue entries for books, so that a library's jacket holdings can be ascertained as readily as its book holdings. Third is the requirement for taking jackets into account in acquisition policies for noncurrent books.

Besides these basic necessities, the creation of a cooperative database of digitized images of jackets is a great desideratum (despite the problems that copyright may pose), so long as it does not lead anyone to suppose that the originals can be disposed of—a response that has all too often followed the microfilming or digitization of monographs and serials. Reproductions of jackets, like reproductions of anything else, can never replace originals. 103 And the need for the preservation of multiple copies is just as crucial in the case of jackets as it is for books, newspapers, and all other printed items, since jackets are just as susceptible to variation among copies and since the value of widespread access to originals is just as great. Whenever libraries in quantity begin to regard the collecting and cataloguing of jackets as an accepted part of their mission and start contributing to a union database of images, we will be well on the way to rescuing what remains of a body of material that enriches publishing history, and thus cultural and intellectual history as well. [End Page 93]

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