Beautiful Antique Book Covers

Taking a leaf out of Rebekah’s book (no pun intended), I decided to have a look at some of my favorite antique books, searching out the nice covers.

Not a first edition, published in 1903 (originally published in 1899). The plays are dated
but actually quite funny.

This book of poems by James Russell Lowell appears to be hand-bound and painted. The book
was originally published in 1848 but there’s no date inside the book itself. A newspaper clipping
 dated 1910 was folded inside.

This one isn’t in very good shape. It is a first edition published in 1920, one of a Grosset &
Dunlap series. Tom Swift books are the originators of “Tom Swifties”. No one in these books
“says” anything. Things are “declared”, “exclaimed”, “stated”, “queried”, “expressed”.

This is a first edition published in 1935 and signed by Colleen Moore, a famous star from the
silent film era. She always loved dollhouses and started the construction of her most famous
one in 1928. It was completed by 1935 and she took it on tour around the US to raise money
for children’s charities. It now resides in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
She wrote the book to accompany the dollhouse as the action in the stories takes place there.

Obviously not a first edition. I just like the cover. (:

The title of this book is “The Ingoldsby Legends or Mirth and Marvels”, a first edition
published in 1890.

This is a first edition from 1918.

This is a first edition from 1903. The inside cover has “Sophie Lewis, Easter 1903” then there’s
a pasted-in bookplate with the name “Sophie Lewis –lund”.

This is a first edition from 1905. The inside cover has “Ida May Watkins, August 24, 1905,
 bought at Springfield Ohio”

This belonged to my father as a child and was given to him in 1956.

This is NOT a first edition. The original was published in 1896 and this was published in
1911. The fun thing is you can see stamped on the inside: “Agent Fred Downing” which
appears to be a boy’s “secret agent” label.

11 thoughts on “Beautiful Antique Book Covers

  1. What a nice collection – do you collect antique books, or did you just happen to have/acquire these?

    At the risk of sounding far older than my 41 years…”they just don't make them like they used to.” The quality and beauty of the cover illustrations and artwork is refreshing and real.

    Thanks for sharing these.

    (another) Elizabeth


  2. I hate to say I “collect” books because that implies I catalogue them and take extra good care of them. I think the more correct term would be “gather” books! I love to read to I tend to gather books from everywhere. And if I really like it, it doesn't matter if it's falling apart. Believe me, I have some of those. I don't think I've ever spent very much on a used book. Some of the ones pictured were in the family (Roses, Poems, Treasure Island) and some I picked up at used books stores. You're right: they *don't* make them like they used to. That includes paper quality and binding quality. New books fall apart quicker.


  3. I've thought about collecting books for a while purely for the covers. I love the nautical covers especially! I have started collecting various oddities over the years but never enough to call it a collection! Did I ever show you the pictures of the framed vintage scarves that I found online?? They looked amazing all together in different colored frames, and it was done on a dime…


  4. Thanks for sharing! This is great! I liked the Bobbsey Twins the best & Treasure Island. Neat story about Robert Louis Stevenson…I taught his great, great grand niece. She wrote some incredible poetry! 🙂 I still have some of it (I think) in a box somewhere around here. I have met some really neat kids in my teaching career!


  5. Oh, LOL! I liked that you said “gather books”! Looks like a collection to me, that is quite pristeen! I had Amber autograph my copy of Treasure Island in 4th grade & put her relationship after her name. She thought that was cool! 🙂 Her brother & sister, too. I love thinking of the history behind antiques! ❤


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