Dust Jacket Detectives is a new and admittedly specialist Facebook Page set up by collector Adam Teitge. This specialist resource for book collectors may prove a remarkable trip down memory lane for many, intended for collectors of old British books forever in search of extremely rare and often missing dust jackets – removable paper covers, generally with a decorative design, used to protect a book from dirt or damage.
Albums on the page have been created per annual title.
“I set this group up as a research page for mostly early children’s books and annuals,” explains its founder Adam Teitge.
Adam also runs Stafford Books and Comics, where he sells spare books from his collection to find purchases of titles he’s collecting.
“From reading various book collecting guides such as The Best of Chums, numerous Denis Gifford publications and more, I could find little to zero mention of dust jackets, let alone images of them,” he expands.
“I also had an encounter with a rather snooty book dealer who, following my query if they had any annuals with jackets, replied they weren’t published with them. ‘Au contraire!’ I retorted, showing images of copies I had on my phone.”
In fact, at one time, most annuals were produced with a jacket, although this practice appears to have declined. Few survive, many presumably removed or destroyed by their young owners, some ending up in scrapbooks or repurposed, perhaps as wall pictures.
“If you have any children’s annuals, or indeed general children’s books, with a coloured cloth spine with no markings to identify what the annual is, it certainly did have a dust jacket,” Adam explains.
“You might sometimes see evidence of it by opening the book and seeing a difference in colouration on the first white page.
One real rarity he’s collected are examples of books and annuals with ‘glassine’ dust jackets. “They are extremely scarce today but a thrill to find when searching through old books,” he enthused. “They feel lie a cross between tissue paper and grease proof paper.
“The best part of them is the text on the spine, you can identify what the annual is when placed on the shelf.
“Some had little to no artwork, others the same as the cover or completely different.”
Adam reveals a regular frustration that these books are so difficult to find with dust jackets. “Given the great artwork and design, for the life of me I can’t understand why anyone would throw them away,” he notes.
“From the likes of Chums Annual, Boy’s Own, the DC Thomson books, Gerald Swan publications, Tiger Tim and more, the majority were published with a dust jacket,” he says of British publications of yesteryear.
“Whether that be paper jackets, glassine (once referred to me by a fellow collector as ‘sexy sugar paper jackets’), I can find no online archive of images.
“It’s my hope to create an online photographic reference for dust jackets that were, more often than not, carelessly tossed away.
“Feel free to share images of dust jackets you have have in your collection!”
All photos via Adam Teitge