Since The New York Times just released their Best Book Covers of 2022, we decided to take a look back and see what the past had to offer in the realm of book covers one century prior. What we found in 1922 was the dawning of an era in publishing and printing that is noted for heavily illustrated dustjackets and bold boards.
Highlights of Our Favorite Book Covers of 1922
Edgar Rice Burroughs was quite popular by 1922, and the iconic cover art for most of his science-fiction novels was done by J. Allen St. John, who is considered by many to be “The Godfather of Modern Fantasy Art.” While Burroughs and St. John may be most famous for the Tarzan series, The Chessmen of Mars was the fifth in Burrough’s also popular Barsoom series.
The Beautiful and Damned was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s second book and it was released to much acclaim. The cover was illustrated by W. E. Hill. Both in sketch and in prose, the lovers on the cover were inspired by Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda.
The Velveteen Rabbit is a wistful classic of a children’s book – one of the first modern picture books, in fact! The beloved tale of the floppy rabbit was illustrated by William Nicholson.
In the second of the Doctor Doolittle books, Hugh Lofting is credited as both the author and the illustrator. While the look of this one is lovely, the more modern releases have fewer offensive terms and phrases for people they meet on their travels than in this original edition.
For as demure as the cover may be, P. G. Wodehouse provides a chaotic tale of true love on a trans-Atlantic voyage. It was originally published as The Girl on the Boat but it was reissued with this lovely illustrated dustjacket. Unfortunately, we can’t find the proper credit for the illustrator. Leave a comment if you can answer that question!
The Dawn of Dustjackets
After the end of World War I, the technologies and industries of printing and paper changed dramatically. Prior to the war, dustjackets were considered a disposable item, an ephemeral protector of the more important hardcover boards. The post-war boom included a flush of art and dustjackets became much more commonplace and earned a place of appreciation on the bookshelf. In fact, original dust jackets in good condition significantly increase the value of a modern first edition. Learn more in A Brief History of the Dustjacket from the Biblio Book Collecting Guide.
Modern First Editions
What’s a modern first edition? This rather popular category of collecting doesn’t have a universally agreed-upon beginning date. While some may place the starting point for modern firsts in the late 19th century, others begin at the dawn of the 20th century. We begin our list of the most collectible modern first editions with 1919.
Amber is the marketing coordinator at Biblio. A lifelong love of the written word brought her to Biblio and she happily spends her days talking about books and delving into the wide world of antiquarian books.