Over the weekend I picked up a 1940 edition of a Hemingway novel published by Scribner's Sons. Obviously it's a classic addition to any library, but I won't lie: the vintage linen cover sold me. The aesthetic appeal of books has been a reoccurring theme on this blog. (Remember Andy Spade's exhibition of covers?) So it seems like the most celebrated American book jacket should receive at least a small mention here.
Francis Cugat, the Spanish-born brother of bandleader Xavier Cugat, painted the Art Deco work that was used for the original 1925 cover of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Countless scholars have written about the thematic connections between Cugat's painting, with the famous haunting eyes, and Fitzgerald's story. (You were probably assigned a paper about it in high school.) And the dust jacket image is widely available in poster form too.
While teaching at the University of South Carolina, Charles Scribner III, a member of the legendary publishing family, wrote a fascinating article about the Gatsby cover.
The covers shown above are other examples of Scribners many alluring 20th century dust jackets. When a cover has graphic appeal -- and the book is something you actually want to read -- these vintage books bring instant flair to a room. Billy Baldwin said, "The best decoration in the world is a roomful of books."
To learn more about vintage and antique books, visit Fine Books & Collections.
Images above, except the magazine cover, are courtesy Princeton University Library.