During the summer, when I was hunting for books at estate sales with Huck, I came across seven dustjackets. Normally, I wouldn’t be interested in dustjackets without books, but, as you can see by the titles in the two images above, these dustjackets were — ahem — different.
In 1959, Reginald S. Leister and Roger Crawford created and designed a series of ridiculous and amusing dustjackets in order “to provide thousands of Americans with the opportunity to amaze and amuse their friends and party guests with a new and different form of subtle humor.” It was hoped that a person would put the comic dustjackets on regular books and display them in rather conspicuous places.
According to Leister, some of the conspicuous uses of such dustjackets could include, high school and college students who want a “never-ending source of fun for fooling members of the faculty”.
Further, “Persons desirous of attracting attention or of making new friends and influencing people under rather unusual conditions will discover these book jackets are truly the answer to their problem, especially if displayed while commuting on the bus or trolley; when traveling by plane or train; when lying on the beach; while waiting for a friend on a street corner, or in a hotel lobby; or when dining alone in a strange restaurant.”
He goes on to encourage traveling salesmen to use the dustjackets on books “as a stimulant to lagging conversation with a buyer or as a means of breaking the ice with a tough purchasing agent, especially if the book is casually laid on the prospect’s desk and then simply wait until his curiosity at seeing such a book can contain itself no longer.”
Leister encouraged his customers to send him ideas for more comic book jacket ideas: “We can’t guarantee that they will be used, nor that you will receive any financial reward, but at least you will have had the satisfaction of knowing that you may have contributed in some small way to keeping your fellow Americans smiling.”
Leister Game Company was founded by Reginald S. Leister in the basement of his home in Toledo, Ohio in 1933. Now in business for over 75 years, the company continues to specialize in novelty gags and gifts as well as party games and books.
Each dust jacket:
Toledo, Ohio: Leister Game Co., Inc., 1959. 8 1/2″ x 21″. Color printed dustjacket complete with illustrated front cover, “author” photo and “publicity endorsements” on the back cover. Designed by Roger Crawford. Photography by Emily A. Leister (née Worcester), Reginald’s wife.
If you’d like to see all of the dustjackets in the series, they are featured today in a post at the always interesting BOOKTRYST by bookman extraordinaire, Stephen J. Gertz. The dustjackets will make you laugh — I promise. The copy written on the rear panel of each dustjacket is visible there, complete with “author” photograph. If you’d like to purchase one of the dustjackets featured in the post at BOOKTRYST, they are for sale at my website for $25 each.
UPDATE: All of the dustjackets have now sold. Thanks!