Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Tone Masters by Charles Barnard

In the 1870's Lee and Shepard and its competitors in the juvenile series arena began to diversify their subject material. Less moralistic drivel and more adventure stories. After all competing with dime novels and each other was big business. Lots of historical biographies of explorers were published in this time frame. But there were some series that just seemed out of place. The Tone masters was one of them.

The Tone Masters was a three book series that was advertised as a "musical series for the young". Each of the books highlight the lives of two famous composers. As was noted in an interview of the author "the particular object of the present series being to interest and inform children by the reading...accounts of the lives of the great masters". It is hard to know how successful the author was but these books were reprinted by the Musical Herald Company and the New England Conservatory of Music into the late 1880's.

Charles Barnard (1838-1920) began his career as a florist but later turned to journalism. He wrote a number of pieces under the Jane Kingsford pseudonym.
Later he was an editor in his native Boston of the Boston Journal of Commerce and Vox Humana. He wrote numerous books and plays beside this series of books.
He lived for a time in New York City where he was an officer in the American Dramatist's Club. (Dictionary of American Biography)

The Tone Masters
1. Mozart and Mendelssohn 1870
2. Handel and Hadyn 1870
3, Bach and Beethoven 1870

As can be seen, the books are blind stamped with gold gilt decorations and lettering on the spine. As is typical of most of the Lee and Shepard books of this era, both maroon and green colored covers have been seen. I have seen additional title pages with the Music Herald Company listed as the publisher. Even the first edition Lee and Shepard books have a title page with the New England Conservatory of Music imprint.


  1. I have a book Titled The Tone Masters Handel and Haydn Lee and Shepard from a coal Baron/civil war col Victor Audubon Wilders' private collection of books. I actually have several old books from 1800's that were kept in a beautiful old cabinet in a home that Victor a Wilder lived in in 1800's.

  2. I have a set of all three of these books in the maroon binding. Where can I find their value?