First Book Dust Jacket

Neues Taschenbuch Von Nürnberg (2 Volumes)

Neues Taschenbuch Von Nürnberg (2 Volumes)

From Biblio Blog: “Prior to the 1820s, most books were issued as unbound sheets or with disposable board covers. Customers would buy the text-blocks and commission bindings themselves–often to match the other titles in their library. For this reason, dust jackets were neither needed nor desired. Instead of a dust jacket, some printers would protect the exterior with a blank page (called by some a “bastard title”).

Besides these temporary boards or blank pages, the earliest version of the dust jacket was a slipcase, or sheath, first seen in the late 18th century. They were essentially small boxes, open on one or both ends, often constructed of pasteboard. The sheaths typically housed literary annuals, gift books, or pocket diaries. Literary annuals were quite popular and during the 1820s, it became common for publishers to print them in sheaths.

According to dust jacket authority, G. Thomas Tanselle, it was likely these sheaths that “gave prominence to the idea of a detachable publisher’s covering.”  Indeed, typographer Ruari McLean asserted that the sheath “can be called the progenitor of the book jacket, since its function was to attract and protect.”

The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

But of course, though forerunners, sheaths were not dust jackets. During the 1820s, publishers began encasing annuals and gift books in a sort of wrapping paper, printed with just enough text to identify the volume. While many book bindings of the period plain, annuals and gift books tended to be more ornate, and publishers sought to protect these books in transit.

In 2009, the Bodleian Library, Oxford discovered what is often cited as the earliest known example of a dust jacket. It was a paper wrapper for a gift book, bound in silk, entitled Friendship’s Offering (1829). The wrapper was intended to completely enclose the book, and in fact, there remain traces of sealing wax from where the paper was secured. Prior to the discovery of this volume, the earliest-known example was another gift book, The Keepsake (1833).

However, it is now considered uncertain whether Friendship’s Offering is the oldest known dust jacket (although it does seem to be the earliest English language example). The German two volume Neues Taschenbuch Von Nürnberg—surviving in multiple copies–seems to precede Friendship’s Offering by over a decade. Published in 1819, the set, encased in plain paper dust jackets, describes many of Nürnberg’s most famous attractions and personalities, including Albrecht Dürer and Peter Vischer.

Leaves Of Grass Including Sands at Seventy...1st Annex, Good-Bye my Fancy...2nd Annex, A Backward Glance O'er Traveled Roads, and Portrait from Life by Walt Whitman
Leaves Of Grass Including Sands at Seventy…1st Annex, Good-Bye my Fancy…2nd Annex, A Backward Glance O’er Traveled Roads, and Portrait from Life by Walt Whitman

It is difficult to ascertain when, exactly, paper wrappers first were employed by publishers, since they were intended to be discarded. In fact, the wrappers were frequently destroyed in the process of opening them–think of all the torn wrapping paper on birthdays or Christmas. Nevertheless, examples have survived from 1829 through the early 20th century.

The modern-style dust jacket was first introduced in the 1830s–although possibly earlier (evidence is inconclusive). Featuring flaps, it was a much-improved design. These dust jackets could remain on the book when it was opened, providing protection for volumes even as they were read.

By the 1870s, dust jackets had become common–although in many cases, they were left blank. A letter from Lewis Carroll to his publisher in 1876 provides insight into how dust jackets were viewed in the period. He requested that the publisher print the title of his latest book, The Hunting of the Snark, on the spine of the “paper wrapper” so that the book would remain in “cleaner and more saleable condition.” He goes on to ask that the same be done for his older books, “even those on hand which are already wrapped in plain paper.”

Carroll’s letter is evidence of the next stage of dust jacket evolution. From plain paper, publishers began printing titles on the spine of the jacket–allowing customers to view a book from the shelf and know its contents without opening it or removing the paper. While some dust jackets of the 1870s and 1880s did feature printing on the front, back, and flaps, these practices were not common and were instead specific to each publisher.”

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History of Credit Cards (Video)

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First YouTube Video

First YouTube video, April 23, 2005

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Sales of Analog and Digital Cameras 1933-2014



92% of smartphone users worldwide say that the camera is the most used feature on their phones.

Source: PetaPixel

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The Greatest Storytellers (Infographic)

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A Midnight Modern Conversation by Hogarth


William Hogarth A Midnight Modern Conversation

One of Hogarth’s most popular and pirated early engravings. Its publication did much to spread Hogarth’s fame to the continent. The scene is said to be the interior of the St. John’s Coffee House, Temple Bar, the time on the clock is 4 a.m and the candles are all burnt out. The maudlin and drunk patrons, all men, are gathered around a large circular table on which stands a huge punchbowl, empty glasses and broken clay pipes. In the foreground a drunken man, said to be Hogarth’s friend Dr. Ranby, unsteadily clings to the back of a chair and pours a bottle of wine onto the bald head of the prostrate figure of the prizefighter James Figg.


James Figg c. 1727–1729. The verses read: The Mighty Combatant, the first in Fame, The lasting Glory of his Native Thame, Rash, & unthinking Men! at length be Wise, Consult your Safety, and Resign the Prize, Nor tempt Superior Force; but Timely Fly The Vigour of his Arm, the Quickness of his Eye. (Wikipedia)


On the far right a politician in a huge periwig (possibly Hogarth’s friend Ebenezer Forrest) sets fire to his ruffle instead of his pipe, seated next to him a man in a tie wig is about to be sick into the fireplace and complacently ladling punch and smoking a pipe on the far side of the table is the parson Dr Cornelius Ford, a reprobate cousin of Dr. Johnson. Behind him is a noisy man waving his glass in the air, said to be John Harrison, a tobacconist, the lawyer sitting with his wig askew on Ford’s right is Kettleby ‘a vociferous bar Orator’ and the glum, deaf man in a white turban is a bookbinder named Chandler who worked for Hogarth. On the extreme left a man has fallen asleep with his mouth open in a tilted back chair, hats and discarded wigs hang on the wall, while on the floor is a pile of empty bottles, broken pipes and an overflowing chamberpot.

Source: Michael Finney

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Taxonomies of Knowledge, 1751 and 1780


‘Genealogical distribution of the arts and sciences’ by Chrétien Frederic Guillaume Roth from Encyclopédie (1780)

A remarkable tree featured as a foldout frontispiece in a later 1780 edition of the French Encyclopédie by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert, first published in 1751. The book was a bastion of the French Enlightenment and one of the largest encyclopedias produced at that time. This tree depicts the genealogical structure of knowledge, with its three prominent branches following the classification set forth by Francis Bacon in ‘The Advancement of Learning’ in 1605: memory and history (left), reason and philosophy (center), and imagination and poetry (right). The tree bears fruit in the form of roundels of varying sizes, representing the domains of science known to man and featured in the encyclopedia.

Source: Brain Pickings from  The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge

More here and here and here 



The “figurative system of human knowledge”, sometimes known as the tree of Diderot and d’Alembert, was a tree developed to represent the structure of knowledge itself, produced for the Encyclopédie by Jean le Rond d’Alembert and Denis Diderot.

The tree was a taxonomy of human knowledge, inspired by Francis Bacon‘s The Advancement of Learning. The three main branches of knowledge in the tree are: “Memory”/History, “Reason”/Philosophy, and “Imagination”/Poetry.

Notable is the fact that theology is ordered under ‘Philosophy’. The historian Robert Darnton has argued that this categorization of religion as being subject to human reason, and not a source of knowledge in and of itself (revelation), was a significant factor in the controversy surrounding the work. Additionally notice that ‘Knowledge of God’ is only a few nodes away from ‘Divination’ and ‘Black Magic’.

The original version, in French, can be seen in the graphic on the right. An image of the diagram with English translations superimposed over the French text is available.

Source: Wikipedia



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