Straight Jackets: the Art of the Book Jacket University of Otago Straight Jackets: the art of the book jacket

[F. E. Maning] A Pakeha Maori, Old New Zealand.

London: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1912. Duplicate. Hocken Library.

[F. E. Maning] A Pakeha Maori, Old New Zealand.

There is very little documented evidence of artists and designers of book jackets in New Zealand. Indeed, a recent search for the earliest extant book jacket printed in New Zealand has fielded only two solid responses, with others repeating the message: 'We would be very interested to discover what you find out.' Luckily, some book jackets have the names of some printed on the flaps, for example, Vernon Brown, Eric Lee-Johnson, while others can only be guessed at, for example, Leo Bensemann at The Caxton Press, Christchurch.

Much of New Zealand's own popular trade publishing began with Whitcombe and Tombs, who began publishing in the 1880s. While W&T were prolific producers of school readers, none of these publications were jacketed; they were simply stapled. However, the earliest jacket so far discovered comes from their stable: John Rutherford, the White Chief, edited by James Drummond, and printed sometime after February 1908. From the firm of Gordon and Gotch there is William Lawson's Steam in the Southern Pacific. This work was published in Wellington in 1909 and has a jacket with illustrations signed by one W. Macbeth. There may be earlier samples; these have yet to be discovered.

This edition of Frederick Maning's Old New Zealand is a 1912 W&T printing out of London. It was discovered in the Hocken Library with two different jackets: one coloured and advertising other books about New Zealand; the other highlighting Dr Hocken's editorship and promoting only one book - Cowan's Kimble Bent.



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