The Dusty Victorian is home to a private library of nearly 5,000 books and with it comes a librarian/archivist/Canadiana expert/husband, at my service. The bookcases at the DV contain Brian's extensive collection of books and The Dusty Bookcase is his blog. Needless to say, his books are his proud possessions and whether they are of great or little value, he treats them all with much respect. He also believes that a book is meant to be read and if damage occurs during the reading process, well it may have lost a bit of value, but the mind is richer for having read it.
Being who I am, I asked him to pull out some nice looking books from the Victorian era, never mind the content or who wrote it. (Poor Brian, he did not marry a kindred intellectual). The covers were either made of linen or leather, often painted and embossed with charming scrolls and/or illustrations typical of the time. Dust jackets, before the 20th century, were non-decorative, minimally descriptive and often discarded before being placed on the bookseller's shelf. They were really only meant for advertising and/or protecting the ornately decorated book during transportation. Made of paper and fragile by nature, a Victorian book with its original dust jacket is extremely rare and if found, should belong in a museum.
I encourage you to click on the images to see in detail, the intricate illustrative work.
A related post on Victorian Law Books from way back.