Judging books of the Liberation of France by their cover: a new feature of Cambridge University Library catalogue

Book covers, originally designed to protect the pages of a book, now serve a commercial purpose: they attract the gaze, aiming at inducing the purchase and reading of a book. Their design and appearance are determined by national or sectorial rules and traditions: academic versus popular publishing, paperbacks versus hardbacks. In this blog, I will explore some of the characteristics of current French book covers’ design, the growing importance of book covers images in social media and digital collections, and a specific project designed at Cambridge University Library: adding pictures of book covers to catalogue records of the Liberation collection, 1944-46. Continue reading

Caricatures of the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune (1870-71)

Cambridge University Library holds six large volumes of illustrated plates entitled Collection de caricatures et de charges pour servir à l’histoire de la guerre et de la révolution de 1870-1871 (KF.3.9-14). Among those, the digitisation of volume 1 is now available on Cambridge Digital library. This is a set of highly interesting primary material, visual sources dealing with the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune. The caricatures, most of them coloured, make fun of politicians and public figures of the time, soldiers and civil populations during the war and the siege of Paris by the Germans. They were probably assembled in Paris shortly after the events, then brought to London, where several sets were compiled and subsequently sold or donated to different institutions, up to the 1880s: the British Library (at least 10 vols), Heidelberg University Library (9 vols), the Victoria & Albert Museum (9 vols), Cambridge University Library (6 vols) and the Bodleian Library (1 vol.).

French Emperor Napoleon III, Cambridge University Library, KF.3.9

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