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Thursday: July 21, 2011

What Comes in a Plain Brown Wrapper?

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:03 PM GMT-0500

Yesterday, Dustbury and Ann Althouse blogged the death of Alex Steinwess, who invented the album cover in 1939. Before that, “[t]he covers were brown, tan or green paper. They were not attractive, and lacked sales appeal.” (So Steinwess, quoted by Dustbury.)

Some countries were quicker to improve the esthetics of their album covers than others. These two were published as late as 1958 and 1961 respectively:

Of course, German publishers may have been slow to add unnecessary frills after the destruction of World War II. Or perhaps buyers of Heinrich Schütz records expected something in a plain brown (or tan) wrapper. The music on both records is quite austere stylistically.