Mark Godburn’s website about early dust jackets has been reinvented in blog format, at earlydustjackets.blogspot.com. He will chronicle about all manner of early dust jacket topics, “including precursors to publishers’ jackets and early 20th century jackets; also publishers’ boxes, slipcases and sheaths.” Godburn’s upcoming book is called Nineteenth Century Dust Jackets: An Illustrated History.
In his blog’s sprawling inaugural post, he prints Dodgson’s letter to his publisher Macmillan in re the “paper wrapper” for The Hunting of the Snark. Mr. Godburn says this is the earliest written reference he knows to 19th century dust jackets. “I should like the same thing done for Alice and the Looking-Glass for the future,” writes the Reverend, “–and even those on hand, which are already wrapped in plain paper, might be transferred into printed covers.” And speaking of peculiar creatures that won’t be caught in a commonplace way, here’s the skinny from Godburn on the state of Carroll dust jackets:
At least eight or ten copies of the 1876 Snark are known to survive in jacket, but no copies of Alice or Looking-Glass from the 1860s or ’70s are known to survive in either plain or printed jackets. (If a first English edition of Alice in Wonderland ever does turn up in an original publisher’s jacket, it will certainly be a $100,000 book, perhaps half a million.)