Saturday, June 6, 2009

Altemus advertising of Shakespeare Series (#164)

Altemus ephemera
In the early 1900’s department stores were a popular place to buy books. Most large stores had impressive book departments. I remember even as late as the 1950’s in my hometown of Milwaukee Gimbels, The Boston Store and Schusters had these departments.

Here is a fascinating advertising ephemera piece.

The Shakespeare Series (#164) was a 39 volume set published from 1899 until Henry Altemus Company went out of business in 1933. The books were sold separately as well as by the set. Boxed sets were sold beginning in 1909. As of the date of this flyer in 1907 the hard cover books sold for 35 cents while the soft leather ones sold for 50 cents.

One of the things that I have noticed over the years is how common these books are. I am asked questions about this series almost as often as I am about any Altemus books. The only reasonable explanation is that they were a giant selling success for Altemus. Perhaps this flyer helps us understand a bit.

Here is a department store from Rochester ('s) that is offering quite a deal. Sibley’s offers 27 volumes of this series at 15 cents each i.e. 56% off the retail price. This is on some payment plan that is not elucidated by the flyer but when the payments are done, the remaining 12 books are given to the buyer for no additional cost. This is a great deal. Effectively that is selling the whole set for $4.05 -a bit more than a dime per book.

The reverse side of the flyer allows the purchaser to select which 27 titles he wants.
This flyer which is 7.75 x 3.75 was found in a copy of one of the Shakespeare’s books. This is the only flyer I have seen that mentions Altemus books which was not an Altemus publication.

For more information on Henry Altemus please refer to my site .

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