Thursday, July 7, 2011

1839. German jacket with ads and decoration.
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Funfzig Rathsel und Bilder fur Kinder von 8-12 Jahren (Fifty Riddles and Pictures for Children 8 - 12), by Friedrich Hoffmann. Essen: Verlag von G. D. Baedeker (n.d. but 1839). First edition. Original paper covered boards. 8vo. Illustrated. [Private collection]

This is the fourth earliest known publishers’ jacket, following two sealed wrappings issued on British annuals in 1829 and 1832, and a flap style jacket on another German children’s book in paper boards from 1836.

The book has no printed date, but the 1839 printing was apparently the only one. Another copy has been located with an 1846 inscription. The jacket is rose colored paper, faded to brown externally, printed on the front with “Rathsel-Buch” (Riddle Book) and a decorative line, on the spine with a long row of decorative devices and “Hoffman’ s Rathselbuch,” and on the back with an extensive list of ads for other books. The jacket flaps are narrow, plain and bevel cut at all four corners.

The binding is cream colored paper over boards with printing on the front, spine and back. Illustrations are tipped-in.

Of the seven volumes recorded in publishers’ jackets before 1850 (two are different years of the same annual), five of the jackets carry advertising, and six have some form of decoration. Only one is plain, and only one was made from coarse brown paper. The others were made from yellow, rose, cream or buff paper, including glazed and wove texture, and some were printed with colored ink. Four of the jackets are sealed wrappings which, purposely or not, resemble gift wrapping. In short, nearly all of the surviving pre-1850 jackets were used as marketing tools to some degree--they were not just protective devices. They were designed to attract customers to the books they covered and in some cases to promote and sell other books as well. Together they indicate that the use of publishers’ jackets for marketing not only occurred early but may have been common before mid century.

The front panels of the 1836 and 1839 German jackets (left and right respectively) are strikingly similar, as are the books themselves, although they were issued by different publishers. Both are illustrated children’s books in decorative paper covered boards. The front of each jacket is printed with a single word with a line under it.

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