Original specimens of book jackets, mounted and bound.
Despite the fact that dust jackets often include useful information about a book and its author, including biographical notes and often a portrait, it has long been Research Libraries practice to remove the jackets from new books during processing for their permanent place in the stacks. However, from 1926 to 1947, anonymous librarians selected and saved interesting jackets from books of all sorts, but no record has surfaced of the selection criteria used. Arranged roughly by date published/acquired, these paper covers eventually filled the 22 large scrapbooks presented here. This collection offers views of each jacket's front, spine, and inside flap, and jacket backs and flaps.
The jackets are from books published in the United States and Europe during two turbulent decades. Throughout, the illustrations and titles mirror the era's changing political concerns and desires. The dominant Art Deco design trends of the early years are evident. Many of the most powerful designs come from the Weimar Republic. The economies of scarce resources during the war years, 1942-45, are not evident in the continuity of graphic design, though the paper is low-grade.
The book jacket, defined as a protective paper cover folded around the boards of a new book, has been in use since at least 1832. Since that time, publishers have exploited the possibilities of text and image printed on the jackets to increase the attractiveness of their offerings. Jackets also provide a means of advertising other currently available titles.
Citation/reference: Findlay, James A. "Brief History of the Book Jacket." In Pictorial Covers: An Exhibition of American Book Jackets, 1920-1950 Bienes Center for the Literary Arts, The Dianne and Michael Bienes Special Collections and Rare Book Library. Broward County (Fla.) Main Library (c1997)