Wednesday, July 20, 2016

260. Dust-Jackets on Ricketts's books (3): In the Key of Blue

In Mark R. Godburn's recently published Nineteenth-Century Dust-Jackets, examples of dust-jackets in many varieties are given, and the most compelling evidence for their widespread existence after 1850 is found in the collection of file copies of John Murray Ltd. (incorporating Smith, Elder & Co.), a collection that is housed at the Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Mark R. Godburn, Nineteenth-Century Dust-Jackets (2016, pp. 168-169)
The list of more than 200 jacketed titles in the archive from 1858 to 1900 shows the increasing usage of dust-jackets: 1 from the 1850s, 4 from the 1860s, 11 from the 1870, 44 from the 1880s, the rest dates from the 1890s.

The list contains plain waxed paper jackets, illustrated jackets with advertising, printed jackets, plain semi-transparent jackets, printed jackets with price on spine, plain jackets, decorated jackets, blue printed jackets, jackets printed on spine, and printed jackets repeating binding design. 

There are also publishers who printed advertisements on the flaps, for example with information about other books in the same series.

There was a great variety of styles of printing on the jackets, including colour, but even after the initial use of the wrapper as a marketing tool, many jackets still were plain without any form of decoration.

John Addington Symonds's In the Key of Blue and Other Prose Essays, published in the week of 7 January 1893 by Elkin Mathews & John Lane in London and Macmillan & Company in New York, was issued in a plain jacket.

John Addington Symonds, In the Key of Blue and Other Prose Essays (1893):
back cover, spine and front cover (copy without a dust-jacket)
No image of this dust-jacket is known to me, and only one copy seems to have survived. It was mentioned in a catalogue issued by John Updike Rare Books in Edinburgh in August 2000: The Eighteen Nineties. Listed on page 40, no. 224, was a copy of the first edition of this book in the cream cloth binding designed by Charles Ricketts.

The 'elaborate gilt-stamped design of curvaceous laurel and hyacinth by Charles Ricketts is still bright', the catalogue mentioned, and this may partly have been the case because of its protective paper wrapper: 'original plain paper dust jacket just a little edge-worn'.