The Originals: Dust Jacket Art of Ian Fleming First Editions

The art of a first edition dust jacket is magical.

Twenty, fifty, even one hundred years removed from the date on which the book was first published, the dust jacket design reveals the book as it was first pulled off the shelves and read. It is how the book appeared, pristine, before it gained status as a classic or a flop, before it became banned or revolutionary or forgotten. It is hope and expectation. It is beautiful.

In this series I’m giving you a tour of the original dust jackets of famous authors. This week: Ian Fleming’s James Bond books.

Casino Royale, first edition, 1953. BRB 84800.
Casino Royale, First Edition, 1953. BRB 84800.

Fleming created the design of the first Bond novel. Artist Ken Lewis executed the idea, which originally involved diamonds rather than hearts.

Live and Let Die, First Edition, 1954. BRB 82840.
Live and Let Die, First Edition, 1954. BRB 82840.

Ken Lewis once again executed Fleming’s design, although a striking element has changed. In the original design, the jacket was supposed to have a blue background. Due to technical problems of the color printing with blue and yellow, it was switched to the now iconic magenta.

Moonraker, First Edition, 1954. BRB 85583.
Moonraker, First Edition, 1955. BRB 85583.

The last jacket executed by Ken Lewis, although as usual the design came from Fleming. According to him, the jacket “contains the red, yellow and black, which experts have told me are the most striking combination for poster purposes, so it should show up well on the bookstalls.”

Diamonds are Forever, First Edition, 1956. BRB 84192.
Diamonds are Forever, First Edition, 1956. BRB 84192.

Unhappy with Lewis’ work, Fleming requested a different designer for the fourth Bond book. Working first with Adolf Hallman, Fleming eventually developed this design with Pat Marriott. The diamond pictured is based on a real gem called “Afghanistan.”

From Russia with Love, First Edition, 1957. BRB 81061.
From Russia with Love, First Edition, 1957. BRB 81061.

The first dust jacket designed by Richard Chopping, whom most see as the Bond artist today. It’s also often considered his best.

Dr. No, First Edition, 1958. BRB 102615.
Dr. No, First Edition, 1958. BRB 102615.

Pat Marriott was hired once again for this jacket. Fleming initially suggested Bond girl Honeychile appear in a guise referencing Venus. The idea was scrapped but the woman on the jacket remained.

Goldfinger, First Edition, 1959. BRB 100437.
Goldfinger, First Edition, 1959. BRB 100437.

Chopping has returned, and for good. He believed this was his best Bond jacket.

For Your Eyes Only, First Edition, 1960. BRB 82531.
For Your Eyes Only, First Edition, 1960. BRB 82531.

Fleming asked Chopping for a grey iris, noting “this is James Bond’s.” It’s the only original jacket that depicts any part of Bond.

Thunderball, First Edition, 1961. BRB 102737.
Thunderball, First Edition, 1961. BRB 102737.

Chopping’s services were much in demand, leading him to hesitate taking on another project in Thunderball. Fleming wrote him, “Please do this Dickie as it would be a really wonderful subject for your macabre vein.”

The Spy who Loved Me, First Edition, 1962. BRB 103023.
The Spy who Loved Me, First Edition, 1962. BRB 103023.

After critics panned this book, Fleming asked that it not be published again in his lifetime.

On her Majesty's Secret Service, First Edition, 1963. BRB 103024.
On her Majesty’s Secret Service, First Edition, 1963. BRB 103024.

The hands depicted here are Chopping’s own.

You Only Live Twice, First Edition, 1964. BRB 100939.
You Only Live Twice, First Edition, 1964. BRB 100939.

The last novel completed entirely by Fleming before his death.

The Man with the Golden Gun, First Edition, 1965. BRB 103395.
The Man with the Golden Gun, First Edition, 1965. BRB 103395.

Fleming died before completing the final revision of this novel, leaving Chopping for the first time without input for the design.

Octopussy, First Edition, 1966. BRB 103523.
Octopussy, First Edition, 1966. BRB 103523.

For the last of Fleming’s Bond books Chopping received such a large payment that the New Yorker called him “the highest paid book-jacket designer in the world.”

Sources and Further Reading

  • The descriptions for each jacket were taken from Jon Gilbert’s rigorous and authoritative bibliography, Ian Fleming: The Bibliography (2012).
  • Search “Ian Fleming” on the Bauman Rare Books website for more details on available first editions at the company where I work.
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20 Comments Add yours

  1. Dan Fincher says:

    Thank you Rebecca for another interesting topic. Love these jackets!

  2. CJujitsu says:

    Who’s cooler than James Bond? But more importantly, the dust jacket is only one aspect that makes print books so much more interesting than digital books. Thanks Rebecca. Great stuff!

  3. Luis Enrique Sánchez says:

    thank you so much Rebecca, very interesting

  4. Mike says:

    Thanks so much for this post, Rebecca! I’m a huge James Bond fan and am currently in the process of collecting autographs of everyone who has appeared (credited/uncredited) in the Bond films, as well as directors, musicians, set designers, stunt coordinators, etc. I’ve read the Fleming Bond novels more times than I can count and own multiple copies of each, though I’ve never been able to acquire any first editions (yet). Your post is a keeper for me…thanks, again!

  5. Robert James says:

    Good work Rebecca. I miss your pretty face on Pawn Stars. You must come back more frequently.

  6. arkclown says:

    love it!!!

  7. awax1217 says:

    The jacket does it all. It collects the dust and preserves the book. It is an art which is dying out because of ebooks, email and ecoli.

  8. Michael says:

    Hi Rebecca. Very informative once again. I do have a question. Since the last two books were published posthumously who did the final revisions? Was another author brought in immediately (John Gardner) or did the publishing house edit and release the novels on their own?

  9. canadense1 says:

    Next, how to identify book club jackets that have married up…

  10. Thanks , didn’t know the story behind the story

  11. Sergio Guarneros says:

    Hi Rebecca, I am from Mexico and I love the work you do. I think you have one of the most interesting jobs in the world. I like you. On the other hand I am a James Bond fan since many years ago, since the first film. Thanks again for all you do. Kisses.

  12. Bob says:

    You Only Live Twice wasn’t published posthumously

    1. Thanks for this. You are right; that was a misreading on my part of my source material. Fleming died before the publication of Golden Gun, after You Only Live Twice. I’ve fixed this in my post–thank you again for taking the time to point that out!

  13. lynnscruise says:

    I have read all of the Bond books but never in the hard cover, only the paperback issued in the 60’s. the covers are really great. thank you for showing the original when published.
    rob/lynn

    1. bjames37921 says:

      You tell them Becky!

  14. Thanks Rebecca. I’m a fan of yours from Pawn Stars. I actually have a complete set of Fleming firsts, including what I beleive to be one of the best Casinos in existence (condition-wise). Buying these books in the 80s was the best investment I’ve ever made. If I ever need to sell, maybe I can bring them to you to have a look? Thanks again.

  15. 009 says:

    Nice job Rebecca.

  16. Isaiah Cox says:

    I’ve read through every one of your blogs since discovering your work this week. I greatly appreciated them and I feel like I know much more about my hobby now.

    It’s funny, I have two main hobbies (and too many other lesser hobbies), book collecting and sports cars, and for sports cars there are blogs coming out almost every hour (google Jalopnik) but I rarely find interesting vignettes for books.

    Thank you for putting out excellent work which is interesting, scholarly and, equally as important, engaging. I note that your blogging timeline is very brief in recent history. It’s my sincere hope there will be more to come!

    Something I’ve been pondering lately, which I’m sure you would be able to make an interesting blog out of, is how do booksellers know which century the binding is from?

    I’ve recently been purchasing 400-500 year old books and often in the description it will say something to the effect of “17th century binding”. How in the world do they know?

    I have picked up that when the text is trimmed suspiciously close to the edge it was likely trimmed and rebound. Why was this done? Were older books often saved? Who did this, libraries?

    Anyways, thanks again for excellent blogs!

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words. I’ve been working on a number of other projects lately, which means things have slowed down here–but I promise you will still see plenty of content from me in the future.

      As for bindings, there are different traits on bindings from different eras, and different geographical locations. The type of leather used, the type of sewing, the tools used to add blind or gilt-stamped decoration, etc. etc. are all evidence that will indicate the source of the binding. Usually it’s extensive experience handling a variety of bindings (with the tutoring of a veteran, especially), that’s how one gains this knowledge.

      Trimmed edges are very common in rebinds because when the binder puts all the pages back together, they are often just a bit uneven. In order to make the edges uniform again, the binder trims them. In fact, this is the case for the first binding as well, not just rebinds. However, careless re-binders are more likely to catch text because the book has already been trimmed at least once before in binding, so they have less margin to work with.

      Thanks again, and thanks for reading.
      Rebecca

  17. Isaiah Cox says:

    Thank you Rebecca, I look forward to future blogs 🙂 I am now “subscribed”

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