Thursday, July 10, 2008

Speaking of Book Covers... New Acquisitions

Continuing our theme today of bookcovers I wanted to share photos of two books I ordered recently after I saw them on "Handsome Books." I feel duty bound to give them a plug because after looking at everything on their site, I ordered my copies from cheaper sources. Well, the real prize for me is this one, The Spell of England (The Page Company, Boston, 1912) and the "Handsome Books" copy had been sold anyway.

This arrived while I was off on my recent trip and I was very happy to find it wating upon my return. Needless to say, sucker for Romantic England that I am, I love the cover, and the spine too, though it is a little faded. The Handsome Books website has a nice bit of information about this "Spell of" series of books, aimed at American tourists in the early part of the 20th century, and lots of wonderful images of these beautiful covers.

I just started reading this and it's interesting in a sociological sort of way. The author,one Julia deW. Addison, begins by recounting a discussion she had with a friend about whether England had any "spell" to speak of. England was too practical for spells, was the main point of contention. The author concluded the argument this way:

"If I write about the spell of England will you promise to read it?"

"Yes, I will see what I can make of it," answered my matter-of-fact friend.

"Very well, it is a bargain. And if you don't make anything out of it either you or I will be to blame. It will not be England."

I liked that. There's a lovely fold out map just inside the cover that shows the main cities of England and the surrounding bodies of water. No roads or anything so practical. Anyway, it is charming object and that was the reason I wanted to have it and now I do. Total cost was about $15.00, delivered. Very fair, although I see it has been previously price marked at $3.75. Oh well.

The other book, In the Days of Giants by Abbie Farwell Brown (Boston 1902) was a bargain find. My copy does not look so glamorous as the one on Handsome Books - what looks like an embossed cover and gilding on the Handsome Books site looks like yellowish ink on my cover. This is what happens when you go trawling for bargains. (There was no picture on the listing from whence it came). Still, it is a very nice book, I paid about $12.00 for it and I think that was just fine. It has wonderful illustrations of Norse giants by "E. Boyd Smith." This is the kind of thing that inspired Tolkein and maybe I'll find some inspiration too.

A Quick Note on the Joy Street Annuals - Dust Jackets Sighted on Ebay

I was having a little look around ebay just now and I see that someone is selling a little passel of Joy Street annuals complete with the dust jackets. I blogged at some length about this series from the 1920s and 30s a few posts back and I noted there that I had never seen one with a surviving dust jacket (the boards are cloth covered). Like this:

So, if you have any interest here's a chance to have a look at these rare survivors. You can search "Number Joy Street" in the "books" category and that will bring up quite a few results. The seller is asking a pretty penny ($199 for the best covers). We'll see how that goes. If you nip over there and run that search, you'll see that there are several other volumes on offer right now and those without covers are not terribly expensive, though there is quite a range.

My friend Juliet has an interesting post on the deceptive nature of the cover of a recent book that she read and enjoyed. I recommend that as food for thought about the purposes, legitimate, deceptive or otherwise, of book covers.

The Joy Street covers are as good as I suspected they would be. The series was marked by a consistent high quality.