The Art of The Book #4 – New York City Deco Dust Jackets From The 20′s & 30′s
Continuing our look at the those great New York City books from 80 years ago, here are more great dust jacket covers. (click on any photo to enlarge)
The first book of its kind – anecdotes of a New York taxi driver. Even back then the meter could be rigged and Hazard explains how it was done. The dust jacket is gorgeous and unfortunately the artist is unattributed.
Vernon Howe Bailey (1874-1953) was a noted illustrator whose work was seen by many people regularly in newspaper and magazines. Bailey’s style is known as on-the-spot drawings. In The New York Sun newspaper he drew a feature called “Intimate Sketches of New York.” A selection of those sketches comprise the 122 full page illustrations that make up the book. They are executed beautifully and accompanied by useful and interesting information provided by noted author Arthur Bartlett Maurice (1873-1946). The city is undergoing a magical change as Maurice points out as the old gets swept away. This book ends up being a sentimental time capsule of a vanished New York.
The multi-talented Cecil Beaton (1904-1980), British photographer, diarist, Broadway stage set designer, observes New York from his unique perspective. The book’s prose is as colorful as its dust jacket.
Justus George Frederick (1882-1964) was the author of many books on a variety of topics from cooking to business. Adventuring in New York is a unusual guide book which covers a lot of the uncommon places to eat, visit and explore. It is one of the only vintage New York guide books I’ve ever seen that covers browsing among old and unique bookshops.
Andrey Avinoff (1884-1949) was a man of many careers and talents. Born into a wealthy Russian family as a gentleman-in-waiting to the Czar and his family, Avinoff traveled the world pursuing his interests which included painting, dairy farming, collecting rare butterflies and commercial illustration. Avinoff eventually became the director of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History. As a scientist Avinoff was known worldwide for his scientific work on butterflies. He also purchased the museum’s crown jewel: a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil skeleton in 1941.
Jay Dratler’s novel Manhattan Side Street is full of real life ethnic characters and takes place on West 55th Street. The New York born and bred Dratler became a Hollywood screenwriter and is remembered today for two screenplays Call Northside 777 (1948) starring James Stewart and one of the all-time great film noir classics, Laura (1944) starring Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews and Clifton Webb.
John O’Hara Cosgrave II (1908-1970) was an expert illustrator who specialized in nautical subjects. He also did commercial work besides illustrating dust jackets for dozens of authors.
More reminiscences from Algonquin hotel proprietor Frank Case (1870-1946) covered in part 1. Otto Soglow of The New Yorker drew the illustrations for the book and the dust jacket. Soglow produced a number of cartoon books for other authors and did several compilations of his own work. Soglow was a master at the sight gag or cartoon without a caption. Soglow’s most famous creation The Little King had a cartoon panel that was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers from 1934 until his death in 1975.
Illinois native, Grace Humphrey (1882-1961) was a history writer who was honored by the government of Poland for her history of that country. Humphrey wrote a series of books based on the “Father Takes Us To…” theme, with the locales being Boston, Philadelphia and New York. We learn about the city through children Ruth and Robert Stuart who accompany their father on the trip.
Scudder Middleton (1888-1959) wrote for Stage Magazine but was primarily known for his poetry. He was the brother of playwright George Middleton. As the title clearly states, the book is a guide to Manhattan’s restaurants, night clubs, hotel supper rooms and drinking establishments that cater to cafe society. Loren Stout (1891-1942) began his artistic career at the Kansas City Star, eventually moving to New York where he became well known for his book and magazine illustrations.
Click here to read the final part of the series.