Sunday, January 5, 2014

Five nifty back covers of books

Over the years I've posted a couple hundred (if not more) front covers of books on Papergreat. But not many back covers. So here's a small collection of things I found when flipping my books over.

Norwegian Folklore Simplified
I was reading this slim 1959 volume by Zinken Hopp1 last night while Sarah played Mists of Pandaria and Joan worked on the outstanding new website Unschool Rules. This is the back cover that inspired this afternoon's topic. It's nothing special, visually, but I just giggled when saw the vintage advertisement for a book titled What you have eaten in Norway. The price, by the way, is in krona.


A Medicine for Melancholy
This is the trippy Bantam paperback version (originally published in 1960) of one of Ray Bradbury's collections of short stories. Yes, that appears to be a jester riding a lobster, though it's not clear whether that's a tiny jester or a humongous lobster. Tales in this volume include "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit," "Icarus Montgolfier Wright," "Dark they were, and Golden-eyed," "The Great Collision of Monday Last," and "The Day it Rained Forever."


The Union Speller
I posted the front cover of this 1872 textbook in March 2013. The book was published by Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor & Company, and this copy belonged to Miss Ella Hill at one time, according to an inscription. The back cover is an advertisement for other education products, including Spencerian Double Elastic Steel Pens.2 This book is holding up well for its age, unlike a book we shall come to shortly.


More Soviet Science Fiction
This is a First Collier Books Edition, which was published in 1962, in the midst of the Cold War. The book's introduction was written by Isaac Asimov. The five stories included are "The Heart of the Serpent" by Ivan Yefremov, "Siema" by Anatoly Dnieprov3, "The Trial of Tantalus" by Victor Saparin, "Stone from the Stars" by Valentina Zhuravleva, and "Six Matches" by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.


The Deserted Village
Finally, here's the back cover of a book that's not holding up well. In fact, this ornate but crumbling back cover is barely attached to its book at all. The book in question is the Porter and Coates edition of The Deserted Village, a long poem by Oliver Goldsmith. There is no publication date, but a little searching reveals that this edition, which features numerous illustrations by Hammatt Billings, was published sometime between 1880 and 1884. The text and illustrations are in nice shape, but the covers and binding have had it.


Footnotes
1. Zinken Hopp (1905-1987) was, according to Wikipedia, a Norwegian author, nonsense poet and playwright who was perhaps best known for translating Alice's Adventures in Wonderland into Norwegian. I highly recommend Norwegian Folklore Simplified, which might have been better titled Norwegian Folklife Simplified, as it discusses architecture, furniture, everyday life and religion, in addition to folklore. Here's a short excerpt from a section about trolls:
"The trolls have their own king, called 'Dovregubben', who lives inside the Dovre Mountain with his court. We meet them all in Ibsen's 'Peer Gynt'. All high mountains have their special troll, and there are those who can even turn themselves into ordinary human beings who walk beside you on the road and who might talk to you with your suspecting their identity."
2. Here is some of the text from an advertisement for Spencerian Double Elastic Steel Pens in the April 24, 1875, issue of The Daily Alta California:
"More than
6,000,000
Of One Number Alone of the
Justly Celebrated
SPENCERIAN
Double-Elastic
Steel Pens
Were sold in 1874 — being a gain of more than 1,000,000 over the year previous; this, with the marked increase in the sales of the other numbers, shows that the superior qualities of these Pens are being more and more appreciated, and that they are destined to take their place as the most popular Steel Pens in the market. They are made of the best steel, by the most skillful workmen in Europe, and are a nearer approximate to the real Swan Quill action than anything of the kind hitherto invented. The Spencerian Steel Pens are universally used in the Commercial Colleges throughout the U.S., more largely than any others by the United States Government, and quite generally in the Banks, Counting Houses and Schools of the country; and are for sale by the trade generally."
3. Anatoly Dnieprov (also spelled Dneprov) lived from 1919 to 1975. According to Wikipedia, "today he is almost a forgotten writer, but his predictions about artificial intelligence and self-replicating machines are uncanny."


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