A Dust-Jacket for Alice

A guest post and a further request for help from Mark Godburn, author of “Nineteenth-Century Dust-Jackets” (Private Libraries Association & Oak Knoll Press, 2016).

I am looking for copies of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (London, Macmillan & Co., 1886) with white endpapers and dated ownership inscriptions.  I want to survey the ownership dates to help determine how early the copies in white endpapers were bound.

Carroll ordered 5,000 copies of this book late in 1886.  The earliest bound copies had black endpapers and two pages of advertisements which stated that Alice in Wonderland was in its 78th thousand and The Nursery Alice was “in preparation”.  It was long thought that the copies with white endpapers were bound circa 1919 to 1931.  Some white endpaper copies have the type of dust-jacket that Macmillan used in the 1910s-1930s, made of brown paper with dark blue lettering and advertising on the back panel (as commonly seen on Kipling’s books of that period).  Such jackets were either put on copies of AAUG that were still being bound in the twentieth century, or to replace earlier out-of-date jackets on remaindered copies that were already bound. The bindings of red cloth gilt and the text sheets with 1886 title pages are the same on all copies, regardless of endpaper color.

I have a copy with white endpapers and a jacket that is much earlier than Macmillan’s twentieth-century jackets.  It is clearly a nineteenth-century jacket in both its printing style and its paper, and probably dates from 1886 or soon after.  This jacket has the same lengthways spine printing of the title that Carroll had requested for his Snark jackets in 1876.  And this copy of the book also has the earliest advertisements (as do some other or perhaps all copies with white endpapers).  These advertisements were out of date by 1889. And another copy with white endpapers has a 1905 owner inscription, proving it was bound no later than that year.

I am hoping to find other copies with white endpapers with even earlier ownership dates.  Macmillan used white endpapers commonly by the turn of the twentieth century, and to some extent in the 1890s and perhaps earlier.  I suspect that my copy and some others in white endpapers were bound between 1887 and 1905 and received original jackets that had been stored with the sheets.  (A letter from Macmillan to the printers R. & R. Clark in Edinburgh in 1886 instructed that dust-jackets should always be printed and sent to the bindery with the sheets, not printed separately and sent later, to avoid delays in production.  Macmillan presumably stored its jackets with the sheets and used them over time as the sheets were bound.)

I would also like to know if any jackets survive on copies with black endpapers, and whether those jackets are the same as mine, as I suspect.

I have already spoken with several of the well-known Carroll scholars, collectors and dealers. Thank you, Mark Godburn, Norfolk, Connecticut, United States – email: bookmarkstore@att.net

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