Taken literally, the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ usually applies to your average book in a bookstore. It also applies, however, to rare books.
When I first decided to highlight pieces of the Cotsen Children’s Library rare book collection for this series on archives, I was eager to talk about some of the showier items the collection has to offer–Queen Elizabeth’s Latin grammar book, the Beatrix Potter original letters or elegant Spanish toy theaters from the 1930s.
That is not, however, what we ultimately decided to kick off the series with. Instead, Andrea Immel (the curator of the collection) suggested this book, ‘The Paper People.’
It’s an unassuming text, printed and cloth-bound in the 1800s. But in this interview, which you can listen to above, Andrea explains some of the information that can be gleaned from the contents, the cover, the catalogue of advertisements, and even the end-papers.
So give that a listen, and check out our gallery of photos for better visuals than audio can offer. For a complete, three-dimensional experience, you should absolutely head down to the Cotsen Children’s Collection at Princeton’s Firestone Library and page the book for yourself.