Tuesday, July 5, 2011

1882. Walter Crane illustration on jacket.
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Household Stories, From the Collection of the Bros. Grimm. Translated from the German by Lucy Crane and Done Into Pictures by Walter Crane. London: Macmillan & Co., 1882. Decorated cloth. 8vo. 269 pp. [Reproduced with permission of The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, Toronto Public Library, Canada]

Jacket reproduces title page including the Walter Crane illustration, with more illustration on spine and extensive advertisements on back, flaps plain. The jacket is entirely different from and perhaps even more attractive than the binding, which was rarely the case in the 19th century. The book’s price of six shillings is on the front panel of the jacket, as was common on other known Macmillan jackets of the period.

Macmillan & Co. was founded in 1842 and may well have used dust jackets before mid century, as did some of its competitors, although few Macmillan jackets are known to survive before the 1880s. The earliest recorded Macmillan jacket dates from 1869 on a Thomas Hughes book, with three other Macmillan titles known in jacket from the 1870s on books by Christina Rossetti, Lewis Carroll and Henry James. Correspondence between Carroll and Macmillan in 1876 regarding the jacket for the first edition of The Hunting of the Snark also reveals that copies of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass then in the Macmillan warehouse had plain jackets. These were likely reprint editions from the early and mid 1870s. (Carroll wanted the plain jackets replaced with printed ones so that bookstall vendors would be more likely to leave them on the books and keep the bindings cleaner and more saleable. Macmillan complied.) Whether the first printings of Alice (1865/6) or Looking-Glass (1872) had jackets is not known, but they probably did.

In any event, the 1882 Macmillan jacket is sophisticated and attractive. It clearly was intended to help sell the book (and other titles), not merely to protect it prior to sale. Booksellers surely would have left jackets of this artistic merit and cross-selling value on the books as they put them out for sale, and some customers must have kept jackets of this caliber on their books after purchase, at least for a while.

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