Monday, June 1, 2009

What are the rarest juvenile series books? In Ed Mattson's A Collector's Guide to Hardcover Boys' Series Books (1997) a number of long time collectors gave their lists. With the advent of the internet I think the choices would be somewhat different. Books published by the cheap reprint publishing houses such as Grosset and Dunlap, A.L. Burt, Cupples and Leon among others surely would no longer be included. Personally I think that the books published by publishing houses that did not specialize in juvenile books and had limited print runs would find their books on the rarest book lists.

Among the very toughest are the two series written by Howard Garis (of Uncle Wiggily fame) published by R.F. Fenno and Company. Mattson notes only two series by Fenno. Those Smith Boys and The Island Boys Series.

Those Smith Boys consisted of two books. Those Smith Boys (1910) and Those Smith Boys on the Diamond (1912). The former book has four glossy pictures illustrated by Wm. F. Taylor. The latter book has four glossy pictures done by Louis Wisa. Ads state "Other books in preparation" but none were ever done.

The second series The Island Boys only consists of "The Island Boys" (1912) and has 4 glossy illustrations by Louis Wisa. Of interest is that a second title in this series is mentioned on the last page of the book as well as in the ads-The Island Boys in Camp. It appears it was a phantom title since it was never published.

You will note that both 1912 books which were illustrated by Louis Wisa also have the initials LW in a small box on the book cover. This undoubtedly indicates that Wisa also designed these two covers.

Those Smith Boys was reprinted by M.A. Donohue. This reprint is not common but nowhere near as rare as the Fenno version.

Of course, it is certain that these books originally had dust jackets but I have never seen one.

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