Boni & Liveright Modern Library

Scot Kamins kamins at
Mon Jan 28 11:47:33 EST 2002

At 7:33 AM -0800 1/28/02, Ron Thoman wrote:
>Still, the question is legitimate.  Does anyone have one/some B/L in 
>dust jacket for sale?  And when they do come up for sale, what is 
>the price range?  Could a normal person afford one?

The answers so far have also been legitimate. Nearly every ML 
collector wants at least one decent (read: VG-/VG- or better) B&L 
example in hir collection. But they are extremely scarce, with "first 
catalogue" examples being downright rare.

The problem is the dust jackets themselves. DJs of the period were 
the most ephemeral of things. They were made of extremely thin paper, 
very cheaply made indeed. They tended to dry out and fall apart very 
quickly, especially if exposed to the elements.

And being exposed to the elements was one of the two jobs of a dust 
jacket - to protect the book until the owner got it home, when s/he 
was more or less expected to throw it away.

The other job of the dust jacket was advertising. Theses DJ's had 
blurbs about the book on the front, and a general blurb on the back 
about the series. And beginning in 1918 or so, catalogs began to 
appear on the back advertising the rest of the books in the series. 
(Coupons didn't appear until Cerf & Klopperer bought the firm in 
1924-25 - I forget which - which encouraged folks to cut up the 

Add to this the fact that many of the earliest examples are 
cross-collectable by individual author collectors (Oscar Wilde, 
Strindberg, Kipling, Stevenson...) and by ephemerists wanting early 
book advertisings, and you've got scarce puppies indeed!

Price range is $60-80 for damaged jackets, around $125 for VG-/VG- 
copies in the later catalogs and double that for 1st catalog examples 
(any of the the original dozen), and double that again - that is, 
$400 and up - for really fine examples.

God knows what a Treasure Island would bring, and I won't even think 
about a 1.1!!!

Could a normal person afford one? Depends on your definition of "normal."  :-D


Scot Kamins
Collecting The Modern Library 1917-1970
(because fanaticism is not limited to politics, religion, or economic systems)
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