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Some Favourite Dust Jackets

· Fine Book Collecting,Dust Jacket Art,Favourites

This week I thought I would share five of my favourite dust jackets from the library. Photos of dust jackets have often been seen in previous musings but they have been there to support the story. This week it is about them.

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I am proud of this book because it was a rescue effort. Near where we lived in Maryland, there was a book warehouse run by a local charity. Here they accumulated donated books for shipment to various communities in Africa. Once a month, they would allow people to enter and purchase books as a way of generating some cash. When I came across this book it was a Wow moment and it became one of my treasures. South Wind Blows, by Clark Porteous, was published by Current Books, Inc – A. A. Wyn, New York, 1948. It is a story about a lynching in Mississippi. The protagonist of the novel is not Ab Lacey, who is lynched, nor the newspaperman who investigates the lynching, but the very town itself. The dust jacket art is signed “Fischer”. No information about this creative artist. The book is a pretty good read but for me it is all about the dust jacket!

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Beast or Man, by Sean McGuire, was published by Cecil Palmer, London, 1930. It is a rare lost- race fantasy set in West Africa, “of a race of club-carrying gorillas whose leader is a creature something between man and ape.” The dust jacket is by Beresford Egan, a Londoner man about town and illustrator. I have put together a significant collection of his work. This book came from the collection of Spectrum of Fantasy author George Locke. He arranged to get Egan to sign the inside flap of the dust jacket in 1983, a year before Egan died. This book and the dust jacket is a great example of a work actively pursued by collectors from different worlds – Sci-fi collectors and those who collect the artist Egan. Good to see this book move from one camp to the other. Ha!

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Don Blanding (1894 – 1957) was an American poet, sometimes described as the "poet laureate of Hawaii." This book was published by Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, 1935. He was also a journalist, cartoonist, author and speaker. I think of him as an artist rather than a poet – because that is my interest line. He was somewhat prolific, and his books are both accessible and fun.

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Who has not heard of Robin and his Merry Men – let alone Robin and the lovely Maid Marian! The Song of Robin Hood; selected and edited by Anne Malcolmson; Music Arranged by Grace Castagnetta; and Designed and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton. The book was published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Cambridge, Mass. In 1947. The design and illustrations in this volume are truly breathtaking.

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This is one of the ugliest dust jackets you will ever see. It is also one of the rarest dust jackets you will ever see. Dust jackets first appeared around 1830 and it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that publishers started to concentrate more on the dust jacket than on the binding of the book itself. Some of the early dust jackets were plain paper, their role was to protect the book until it got a home and it was then discarded. But primarily from the earliest days the dust jacket promoted the book. As you can see in this instance the dust jacket was advertising a stationary store in Lewiston, Pa. The book is actually a school textbook. The Third Reader by Lewis B. Monroe, published by Cowperthwait & Co., Philadelphia, 1873. One can only imagine how it worked but I would think the advertising revenue helped to offset education costs in some way.

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