Judging a book by its cover

This exhibition of dust jackets in the Rare Books Collection showed how these covers have changed from being a simple cover for protection to the main vehicle for advertising a book.  From the Edwardian period onwards publishers began to lavish their design effort on the jacket rather than the book cover and we see jacket design start to reflect trends in commercial art.

This exhibition included dust jackets from 1860 to the recent deluxe limited edition Penguin Designer Classics series, and those designed by well-known artists and engravers Salvador Dali, Edward Bawden, John Farleigh, Robert Gibbings, Barnett Freedman, Eric Gill, E. McKnight Kauffer, Sidney Nolan and many more.

The exhibition was seen from 6 June – 30 September 2014 at the Rare Books Exhibition space, Level 1, ISB wing, Sir Louis Matheson Library, Clayton campus, Monash University.


Richard Overell, Rare Books Librarian.

The most immediately striking feature of a modern book is the dust jacket, or dust wrapper as it is also known. This is essentially an advertisement, meant to catch the eye at point of sale. When such features were first introduced in the mid-19th century they were meant primarily as protection for the often gorgeously decorated cloth covers underneath. Read more