The Art of The Book #1 – New York City Deco Dust Jackets From The 20’s & 30’s
From the 1920’s until the 1940’s, book publishers put out some phenomenal books about New York. They also hired talented artists to design the book’s dust jackets.
The eye-catching art deco graphics were meant to attract potential buyers. Unfortunately, most people who purchased books 80 years ago would discard the dust jacket once they brought the book home with them.
Because of that, many of these books from that time are very scarce in their original dust jacket.
This is the first part of a five part series looking at the dust jackets of books about New York City, the artists that created the work and the authors.
Below are some fine examples of New York City books from the golden era of publishing.
(click on any photo to enlarge)
Quex was the pseudonym of reporter George H.F. Nichols (1881-1933) of The Evening News of London. Nichols was at the time of his death one of the highest paid reporters in the world. Nichols was the originator of articles written in the form of “the diary of the man about town.” Quex’s observations about about New York are well worth reading.
The dust jacket is classic New York, but I am unsure about the attribution to Arthur Dixon, so we will leave biographical information out until someone can provide a conclusive identification on the artist.
Lawrence Morris Markey (1899-1950) was a news reporter who covered the city for many publications including The New Yorker where he established the feature “A Reporter at Large.”
Johan Bull (1893-1945) was a self-taught artist and etcher and worked from 1918-1925 for Norway’s largest newspaper The Oslo Aftenposten. He came to America in 1925 and contributed cartoons and illustrations to many publications including Colliers, The New York Times and The New Yorker. He was especially known for his sports scenes.
The escapades of Joe Smith, (no relation to the author) the house detective at the original Waldorf Astoria on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue (now the site of the Empire State Building.) This is one of the rare cases where I can find nothing about the author and the dust jacket illustrator is uncredited which in itself is a crime, as it is one of the best New York related dust jackets from the 1920’s out there.
Round Manhattan’s Rim by Helen Worden, published by Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, 1934, dj illustrator, Helen Worden
Newspaper reporter Helen Worden (1896-1984) walks the perimeter of Manhattan with a friend and shares history and odd facts she finds along the way. If you were to do the same thing today walking along the water’s edge you would find much has changed. Really a great read if you can pick up a copy of this gem. Worden’s four other books about New York and its people are worth searching for. An under-appreciated writer. Worden also drew all the pictures in the book and created the dust jacket.
Amusing stories about the famous Algonquin Hotel by its manager /owner Frank Case (1870-1946). The Algonquin was the setting for the literary and creative set to get together at “the round table” in the Algonquin restaurant where the likes of Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, Harpo Marx, Charles MacArthur and George S. Kaufman traded anecdotes, quips, barbs and insults.
Although I am not positive, but I believe the dust jacket was done by New Yorker cartoonist Otto Soglow (1900-1975) as he illustrated Case’s second book Do Not Disturb in 1940 and it is looks to be Soglow’s style.
The Golden Earth The Story of Manhattan’s Landed Wealth by Arthur Pound, New York: MacMillan, 1935, dj illustrator Lundquist (possibly Birger Lundquist)
Arthur Pound (1884-1966) was a historian and author. New York’s evolution is told from an interesting perspective; its valuable real estate.