Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973, writing in the Princeton University Library Chronicle 53, no.2 (Winter 1992): 141-155, explains how he came to own the original dust jacket design for The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940). Scribner’s cousin, George Schieffelin discovered the gouache sketch, painted in 1924 by Francis Cugat (1893-1981), in a trash can of publishing “dead matter” and took it home. Eventually Scribner inherited the painting, enjoyed it at home for several years, and then donated it to the Princeton University Library for the Graphic Arts collection (GA 2006.02659).
According to Scribner’s research, Francis Cugat was born in Spain and raised in Cuba. His brother, Xavier Cugat, became a musician and an orchestra leader. Francis worked as an illustrator in the 1920s, performed in New York City in the 1940s, and then moved to Hollywood, where he is credited as technical color consultant on sixty-eight films from 1948 to 1955.
Cugat received the commission for the Fitzgerald dusk jacket in 1924, while the book was still unfinished. Originally titled “Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires,” Fitzgerald also toyed with calling it “Trimalchio in West Egg,” “On the Road to West Egg,” and “Gold-hatted Gatsby.” The author liked the design Cugat proposed (for which he was paid $100) and wrote to his publisher, “For Christs sake don’t give anyone that jacket you’re saving for me. I’ve written it into the book.” Cugat called his design “Celestial Eyes.”
The novel was first published with this jacket in 1925 and again in 1979 for the Scribner Library paperback edition. See: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (New York: C. Scribner’s sons, 1925). Rare Books (Ex) Behrman American: Fitzgerald no. 1