Sunday, July 26, 2009

H.M. Caldwell and the Famous Books for Boys Series


Herbert M. Caldwell founded the publishing company of H.M. Caldwell Co. in 1896. He was born in Whitby, Ontario. Early on he worked at several bookstores in Toronto. Later he was in the employ of John Lovell and Henry Altemus.

He brought the strategy of Altemus' publishing with him. That is, numerous series of similar books, beautiful bindings, and reasonable prices. High quality bindings were a must. to compete with other book publishers. I believe that all of Caldwell's books all were either jacketed or boxed.


Caldwell published mostly reprints but there were exceptions. In 1908 he came to an agreement with Blackie and Son to publish all the future works of Captain F.S. Brereton, Alexander MacDonald, and Robert MacDonald.

The Caldwell imprint continued until 1914 although in 1910 Dana Estes of Estes and Company bought the controlling interest. Dana Estes in 1914 sold the interest to the Dodge Publishing Company as Estes planned his retirement from the book publishing business. (New York Times , April 12, 1914.)

I thought at times I would showcase various publishers' series here. Today is Caldwell's Famous Books for Boys. This set includes works by Hortio Alger, Oliver Optic, Edward Ellis and even Stratemeyer books- Ralph Bonehill. Interesting is that ads in the back refer to Street and Smith's The Boys' Own Library from which many but not all the books of this series were part of.


This series is bound in Holliston cloth (This cloth means nothing to me but it was noted in a review of the series and it sure sounds impressive). Each year new titles were added. A companion series for girls called "Famous Books for Girls" was also published.

One additional point of interest is the signed binding. I have previously mentioned the Decorative Designers as major book cover designers. This book has the monogram of two separate R's on the cover. This is the monogram of Rome K. Richardson who left the Decorative Designer firm in 1901 to start his own company in 1902. (Thus also helping us to date this book)

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