University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Victorian Paperback Covers

ca. 1860 - ca. 1900

Graphics Collection Number: 112
Extent: Two boxes, 271 items.
Content: Printed proofs of paperback covers.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: Iris Snyder and Tabitha Groh, 1998.

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Table of Contents

Historical Note

The first books with pictures on the front paper covers were produced in England in the eighteen forties, but the style did not gain popularity until the eighteen fifties. The best known of these early paperbacks were referred to as "yellowbacks," small inexpensive books bound in straw boards covered with a glazed colored paper (usually yellow) which were sold largely in railway bookstalls. By the mid-eighteen fifties, publishers were producing popular fiction in paper covers, with an illustration pertaining to the text on the front cover and, often advertisements on the back cover.

Many of the books were published in series with titles such as "Parlour Library," "Books for Everybody," and "Books for the Country." A series might include a mix of new fiction titles and reprints of older works. The covers shared a similar design; each would have a brightly colored illustration representing the story. Among the most popular publishers of paperbacks in England during the second half of the nineteenth century were George Routledge, Ward & Lock, and Frederick Warne & Company.


Dr. Chester W. Topp, Victorian Yellowbacks & Paperbacks, 1849-1905. Volume I: George Routledge. Denver: Hermitage Antiquarian Bookshop, 1993.

Scope and Content Note

This collection is composed of 271 lithographic page proofs for illustrated paperback covers published in England and the United States between 1860 and 1900. The titles include popular fiction, children's literature, religious publications, and popular magazines for children. Among the publishers included in the collection are Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.; S.W. Partridge & Co.; Routledge & Co.; Ward, Lock & Tyler; and Frederick Warne & Co. Most of the proofs show only the front cover and some show only the cover illustration with part of the text cut off. A few are complete with both front and back covers.

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

1              Series I.  Publishers by name 
     F1        Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.
                    Miscellaneous Titles  (7 items)
     F2        Church of England Sunday School Institute 
                    Sunday Scholar's Companion and Boys and Girls Companion  (8

     F3        W.W. Gardner
                    Miscellaneous Titles  (10 items)

               S.W. Partridge & Co. (Also Seeley, Jackson & Halliday)
     F4             The Family Friend  (9 items)

     F5             The Friendly Visitor  (9 items)

     F6             Children's Friend  (11 items)
     F7             Band of Mercy Advocate and Infant's Magazine  (7 items)

     F8             Miscellaneous Titles  (6 items)

               Routledge & Co. (& Sons) 
     F9             Miscellaneous Children's Titles  (5 items)

     F10            Little Wide Awake  (12 items)

                    Miscellaneous Titles (alphabetically by author)  
     F11                 Answorth - Grant  (10 items)

     F12                 Green - Poe  (10 items)

     F13                 Rives - Warren  (10 items)

     F14                 Unknown authors  (12 items)

     F15       Scottish Temperance League 
                    The Adviser  (3 items)

               Series I. Publishers by name

1              Ward, Lock (&Tyler)

     F16            Animal Titles  (8 items)

     F17            Children's Story Books and Nursery Tales  (11 items)
     F18            Children's Miscellaneous Titles  (12 items)

     F19            Children's Bible and Morality  (12 items)

     F20            Miscellaneous Titles  (6 items)

     F21       Frederick Warne & Co. 
                    Miscellaneous Titles   (6 items)

2              Other Publishers
                    Miscellaneous Titles (alphabetically by publisher)
     F22                 Bell - Funny Folks  (10 items)

     F23                 James - Murray  (11 items)

     F24                 Nelson & Sons - Simpkin, Marshall & Co.  (12 items)

     F25                 Smith - Willoughby  (7 items)
               Series II.  Unknown Publishers

     F26       Children's Miscellaneous Titles  (21 items)

     F27       Mother Goose  (4 items)
     F28       Fully Illustrated Wrappers  (3 items)
               These wrappers were designed as one image that covers the front, back
               and spine of the book.

     F29       Birthdate Books  (3 items)

               Series II.  Unknown Publishers

     F30       Non-fiction titles  (6 items)

     F31       Serials  (3 items)

     F32       Miscellaneous Titles  (6 items)

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