On my journeys through the amazing Flickr Commons, one of the more exciting finds is a collection of late 19th century book covers from the British Library. The nearly 900 covers are primarily what we today call “pulp novels” written for the mass market, but there are also travel books, text books, and other miscellany. In the image gallery in this post, I’ve included some of my favorites, covers with interesting art or a lurid title — “Her Bitter Awakening” is a special favorite right now. (Click any one of the images to expand the image and navigate through the collection.)
I’d love to read “Seth Slocum, Railroad Surveyor, or the Secret of Sitting Bull” — how often do you see an adventure story about a surveyor, an important but not glamorous job? I suspect that the story is about a surveyor working in the western territories who gets mixed up in conflicts between settlers and Native Americans. Unfortunately, the book is available as a PDF download and the text quality is rather poor, as the screenshot of two pages from the digitization below show. It would not be easy to read this book on a computer or mobile device. (But here’s something worth trying: use Acrobat Pro to extract the Seth Slocum part of the PDF as images, then use an image editor to sharpen the text.)
All book covers from the British Library’s Flickr Commons collection, in the Book Covers found by the community from the Mechanical Curator Collection. No known copyright restrictions.
Her Bitter Awakening
Buffalo Bill – The Buckskin King, or the Amazon of the West
Lance and Lasso! or Adventures on the Pampas!
Seth Slocum, Railroad Surveyor, or The Secret of Sitting Bull
The Skipper of the Seagull
Tiger Dick the Faro King, or The Cashier’s Crime