Dust Jackets from American and European Books, 1926-1947
September 10, 2008 10:17 PM   Subscribe

Over 2500 dust jackets of American and European books from the years 1926 through 1947. Here are some that caught my eye: Burned Evidence, If You Know What I Mean, Ikaria, Murder for the Millions, Dream of the Red Chamber and A Farewell to Arms. Finally, I can't help but link to a German book about Russian book jackets, the subject of an old post by Alvy Ampersand.
posted by Kattullus (13 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, forgot one thing. Both the American/European and the Russian dust jacket collections are from the New York Public Library.
posted by Kattullus at 10:18 PM on September 10, 2008

I was looking for Neil Patrick Harris in the "If You Know What I mean" cover and that Hemingway one was, well, odd. Thanks for the post, I work overnight, this will probably be a fun way to spend a couple hours, now, off to get lost in antiquated dust jackets. Huzzah!
posted by IvoShandor at 10:23 PM on September 10, 2008

Oh! And forgot another thing! There's a "view verso" link up top in every enlarged image window that, if clicked, will show you the back of the dust jacket.
posted by Kattullus at 10:28 PM on September 10, 2008

I am honored, sir.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:15 PM on September 10, 2008

Yet another treasure. Many memories of my parents' books shelves. I can smell the books looking at those images.

posted by nickyskye at 11:18 PM on September 10, 2008

Since I have spent time pouring over these: a few of my favorites: Gegen die Herrschaft der Minderwertigen, (the eyes alone will haunt me for weeks) The Woman Who Commanded 500,000,000 Men (if just for the title and subject matter alone), Hero of the Camp (as the possible origin for all 1980s teen summer camps films), The Hobbit (just an awesome cover), Here Comes the Mail (a postal procession, possibly disgruntled).

Others that are intresting (there were more but I didn't want to overwhelm), Strictly from Hunger, Mein Kampf, I Saw the Crucifixion, The Menacing Sun, The New Order, The Darker Brother, The Half-Haunted Saloon, Stuart Little, Negro Drawings, Mules and Men, Witchcraft: Its power in the World Today, The White Deer.

That's just through the first thousand or so. There are a lot of old histories in there that I didn't link to, interesting to see the way events of the past are portrayed in these old covers.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:35 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

10 Brilliant Book Artists
posted by homunculus at 12:32 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

I wonder how the NYPL deals with copyright. For example A Farewell to Arms is still in copyright. A fair use claim can be made, fair enough. But the NYPL is *selling* the pictures. Not fair use. Looks to be copyright violation, unless I'm missing something.
posted by stbalbach at 6:18 AM on September 11, 2008

Great post, thanks!
posted by languagehat at 6:30 AM on September 11, 2008

Wow! That Farewell To Arms is awesome, as is the Dream of the Red Chamber. I wonder if you can purchase prints of these.
posted by spicynuts at 6:32 AM on September 11, 2008

For example A Farewell to Arms is still in copyright

The book itself (i.e. the content) may still be in copyright, but the license to use the art work on the cover of that particular edition may have expired long ago, meaning the artwork of the cover may be public domain. Not sure but that would be my guess.
posted by spicynuts at 6:34 AM on September 11, 2008

Is there a name for style of Dream of the Red Chamber's cover art? Or possibly the name of the artist? I'd really like to see some more examples of it.

Maybe I should head over to AskMe. Oh, beautiful cover art, I do enjoy it so!
posted by Mister Cheese at 2:29 PM on September 11, 2008

Wonderful post, thanks.

Btw, folks who like that Farewell to Arms cover can read more about it in chapter 3 of Leonard Leff's wonderful, wonderful book Hemingway and his Conspirators: Hollywood, Scribners and the Making of American Celebrity Culture. Seems Scribners had three concerns: 1) appealing to women readers - who, believe it or not, were from the start of Hemingway's career a big part of his reading audience, 2) toning down Hemingway's use of "cocksucker" and "fucking" so Book-of-the-Month-type clubs (which Hemingway called "litero-menstrual clubs") would accept the book, and 3) trying not to get lost in the sea of war books that had come out that year, including All Quiet on the Western Front, which was already a US bestseller and headed for the big screen.

The artist was Cleonike Damianakes, whose successful sexy design for The Sun Also Rises had also been created to reach out to "the feminine readers who control the destinies of so many novels." Damianakes' first design for Farewell to Arms was rejected as too warlike, but his third, linked in Kattalus' post, was accepted by an increasingly desperate Scribners. The mix of sex and classical respectability helped make the book a big hit.

Oops, this is an oddly specific derail. But honest, Hemingway and His Conspirators is really great - it connects so many threads about early 20th century pop culture, the rise of celebrity, Time magazine, golden age Hollywood, etc, with a fascinating look at Hemingway's bizarre trip (only sometimes under his own control) from outsider to masculine icon to self-parody.

/embarrassingly captivated Hemingway fan
posted by mediareport at 7:13 PM on September 11, 2008

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