Friday, July 31, 2009

Canvassing Books / Sample Books

Above are two sample covers for this book.

To the left are three possible spines for this book

In the mid-late 19th century many books were sold door to door by agents. These salesmen would commonly go into areas where bookstore access was limited. They carried with them books called canvassing books (also salesman's samples and sample books) which would supplement newspaper and magazine advertisements.

The books generally would consist of several parts.
1. Specimen pages
2. Specimen plates
3. promotional text
4. subscription leaves
5. sample bindings

These 5 components were then bound into a book which included one or more sample bindings frequently inside the front or back covers.

Here is a sample page and sample plate. This canvassing book has inserts which basically annotate the stories of this volume.

In fairness, these salesman's samples have always been a curiosity to me. They are interesting but I just didn't know much about them. In addition, until I found one that was related to a collecting area within my interest it seemed they were irrelevant. Then I found one that advertised George W. Peck's Bad Boy Series (see a future blog) and I changed my tune. I never really gave it much thought that many first edition points might be seen in these books.

I have discovered one great reference. Canvassing Books, Sample Books, and Subscription Publishers' Ephemera 1833-1951 in the Collection of Michael Zinman by Keith Arbour. Published in 1996 by The Hadyn Foundation. This book explains about the book selling agents and their wares. Several thousand canvassing books are also listed.

This is the page of promotional text.
Note that there are four different bindings advertised. The salesman's book does not show them all.

I have included an example of the components of the usual sample books here. They come from a book entitled My Mother's Bible Stories. This canvassing book only advertises one title. Oftentimes these books promote several titles. I have included the subscription page from another book since this book's is blank. Must have had a lousy salesman.

I hope to show some of the interesting canvassing books I find from time to time.

Above is a sample subscription leaf. Here is where the agent records the information about the buyers.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Charles E. Lauriat's Bookstore

As I was doing to work on a future blog about Kate Douglas Wiggin, I found a sticker on the bottom of one of the front end papers of a book. It says Chas. E. Lauriat Co. I knew that Lauriat was one of the founding/ named partners of the 19th century Boston publishing house of Estes and Lauriat. But did he also sell books? Here is the scoop.

In 1898 Charles Lauriat (1842-1920) decided to became a bookseller only and leave the publishing to his former partner Dana Estes. So their partnership was dissolved. Dana Estes continued to publish books as Dana Estes and Company. Lauriat bought out the stock of Estes and Lauriat and on June 1, 1898 started his retail establishment at 301 Washington Street, Opposite "Old South". He sold the Estes books as well as the books of other publishers He moved to larger quarters in 1906 just down the way at 385 Washington Street. He remained as president of this company until his death.

Here is the 385 Washington location.

Unfortunately even with a magnifying glass the
resolution is not good enough to make out any
significant details.

This is the bookstore at 301 Washington.

How would you like to be able to browse in this store today??

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Our Lucky Series -Paper Book Book

Lee and Shepard published numerous sets of juveniles from the 1860's until 1905.
Authors such as Oliver Optic, Elijah Kellogg, and James DeMille were among numerous extremely popular authors that wrote books for this publisher. Virtually all of the Lee and Shepard books for juveniles came in sets although they were sold individually as well as in boxes. Nowadays of course finding boxes is quite difficult.

There are 114 Lee and Shepard juvenile series listed in my 19th century bibliography and there is only one I know of that the books were published in both hard cover and paperback. Those books are part of the Our Lucky Series. It is a multi authored series of Boys' adventure books.

The Good Old Times written by Rev. Elijah Kellogg is pictured here in both formats.
The illustration on the cover of the paper back book comes from an illustration in the cloth book after page 124. Although the cloth bound book has numerous illustrations, the paper back book has none.

Paper back Lee and Shepard books are quite uncommon.

Here is a list of the books which were published in 1878.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Edward Ellis Autographed Letter to Henry T. Coates

Edward S. Ellis was a very prolific author. He wrote both juvenile as well as historical novels. In addition, he wrote hundreds of dime novels.

His biography has been well outlined by others. The picture comes from the Wikipedia.

Today's comments are not to rehash his literary accomplishments but rather to focus on the letter presented here. This is a letter to Henry T. Coates in 1883. Coates at that time was one of the named partners in the Porter and Coates publishing firm located in Philadelphia. Years ago Denis Rogers , an Ellis biographer, wrote in the Dime Novel Round-up that Ellis had written over 450 major works. Rogers listed 160 books for juveniles. Of those, a number were published by Porter and Coates in series form.

The Porter and Coates Series included the Wyoming Series, the Deerfoot Series, the Log Cabin Series, the Wild Wood Series and the Boy Pioneer Series. Ellis also wrote a few non series books for Porter and Coates. These included the Life and Times of Daniel Boone and The Life of Col. David Crockett. Both of the latter books were part of the large multi volume multi Author Alta Series. Of interest is that the series books were $1.25.

Eight cents per $1.25 is a royalty of 6.4%. This appears to be the bottom line for Ellis without any bizarre add ons or calculation magic by Porter and Coates. Presently trade hardcover books give the author about 10% for the first number sold and the percentage escalates as sales go up. (I looked this up and I certainly could be wrong here). Nonetheless, Ellis was not breaking the bank on his book checks.

I was unable to locate any Porter and Coates books written by Ellis' pseudonym, Rollo Robbins.
Perhaps he planned to use this name for Porter and Coates and just never did.

I am including a couple of pictures of representative Porter and Coates' Ellis books.
I will discuss his books at later dates

Monday, July 27, 2009

Box and Dust Jacket from 1888

It is one thing to find a boxed book from the 1880's. It is another stroke of good fortune to find a dust jacketed book from the same era. But to find one item that has both is extremely good fortune.

Here is a box (9.75 x 9) for the book Winged Flower-Lovers by Fidelia Bridges and Susie Barstow Skelding. The book was published book by Frederick A. Stokes and brother in 1888. This company was in business from 1887-1890. It succeeded White, Stokes and Allen and it was succeeded by Frederick A. Stokes Company.

The jacket is a plain brown with the words seasons greetings on it. The book cover is actually a wrap around a soft paper cover. The book itself is only 22 pages and consists of poems and pictures of birds.

Overall a nice example of a 19th century box/dust jacket.

By the way, I wanted to wish my daughter Alyssa a very happy birthday.

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)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Horatio Alger Series -- The Federal Book Company

The Federal Book Company published numerous juvenile reprints during their two year existence from 1902-1904. They were the successors to the F.M. Lupton Publishing Company.

During its short life, Federal published a number of juvenile series. The new Henty Series, the Jack Harkaway Library and the Horatio Alger, Jr. Series were some of the single author series. The Boys' Own Library Series was a large multi authored juvenile series mainly originating with the Street and Smith Series of the same name. Adult general fiction series included Our Line of Copyright Fiction Series and The Superb Series (in wrappers).

The Horatio Alger, Jr. Series included 36 titles at 50 cents each. The book covers varied in color not format. The books were jacketed as can be seen here. Although the books are not too difficult to find, the dust jackets are somewhat scarce. I have seen the book covers in four different colors. I suspect there may be more.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stitt Publishing Company Dust Jacket

Stitt Publishing Company Dust Jacket

Stitt published books in 1905. It was founded by William Stitt, Jr. and two partners Joseph Scammell and William Mershon. This company basically took over Mershon's list. Things did not work out well however and they dissolved in February, 1906. (For much more see " Tom Swift, The Bobbsey Twins and Other Heroes of American Juvenile Literature", John Dizer, Edwin Mellen Press , 1997.)

Although Stitt published books are quite easy to find, the same cannot be said about dust jacketed Stitt books.
Here is a great example of one. Fast in the Ice written by Robert Ballantyne which was part of the Stitt Wideawake Library.

Of course, without the dust jacket you would never know it. As with many of the early series books, key information is on the dust jacket. There is no mention of the Wideawake Series anywhere in the book itself. But on the front of the jacket is the name of the series , on the back of the jacket is the series list , and on the flaps are other titles both in and not in this series. There were 163 books in this Stitt Series.

Here is the rear flap with the rest of the
Wideawake Series book list.

The Wideawake Series was first published as early as 1900 by Mershon. Again the series name and book titles are noted on the Mershon jackets as early as 1900 with an evolving book list. The Stitt Series added a few additional books to the 1904 Mershon series list.

A key question that has been asked is whether Stitt reprinted the Bobbsey Twins book that was initially published by Mershon in 1904. The fact that hundreds of Stitt juvenile books are listed on the jacket with the Bobbsey Twins clearly omitted would be a piece of evidence indicating there is no Stitt Bobbsey Twins. This fact plus the lack of a book in hand certainly makes it more likely than not that this Stitt Bobbsey does not exist.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lothrop Trade Card -- Magazines

Here is a trade card from D. Lothrop and Company. Lothrop advertised its
five magazines with this card. As you can see , each magazine is designed for a different group of readers. From older juveniles to babies, Lothrop has it covered.

The magazines for older children were great vehicles for Lothrop to showcase some of their authors especially Pansy.

Shown below is a copy of Babyland which was the magazine designed for the youngest readers.

The copy here is from February, 1890. At 5 cents it clearly was reasonably priced (even for 1890 dollars).

Of great interest to me are the advertisements. In a 2009 reader like this the ads would be for baby food, toys and other items for toddlers

In this magazine however this is clearly not the case.
Here is a representative page of ads. Hospital remedies, Dr. Schenk's Pulmonic Syrup and others would not seem to be verey exciting for children. Other ads not shown for an Autoharp , hair curlers and engines are also not for kids. This is a curious disconnect that is hard to explain.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Longshore Boys Advertising Flyer

Here is a nice two page advertising flyer for William O. Stoddard Jr.'s Longshore Boys which was published in 1909 by J.B. Lippincott Company.

The book tells of the adventures of three boys sailing on the south shore of Long Island. There are four glossy colored illustrations done by Herbert Pullinger. Although Stoddard did write one juvenile Series, the Noank Series published by D. Lothrop Company and later reprinted by Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, mainly he wrote single volumes like the book described here.

William O. Stoddard Jr. was the son of a former secretary to Abraham Lincoln. He wrote a number of boy's books, but his claim to fame was as an inventor. He had a number of patents for automobile textiles including Duratex which was an artificial leather.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Marco Paul's Adventures by Jacob Abbott

Before Rollo travelled to Europe, Marco Paul meandered through the Northeast. Jacob Abbott's six book series was initially published in 1843. It was reprinted a number of times, the latest editions being done in the 1880's.

Abbott stated in his preface that the design of these books was not just to entertain readers with a "narrative of juvenile adventures" but also to help the reader in the "acquisition of knowledge and the formation of character". As was typical of the era, books for boys and girls were to educate, promote religion and inspire morality. It was not until the 1850's with Goulding's Young Marooners that juvenile books really sought to entertain. But even in the 1850's reviews cited the Marco Paul books as "among the best books which can be put into the hands of youth". Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review, William Dana, 1852

Although the Abbott books of this and his other series still sold well into the 1880's and 1890's , more and more they became niche books.

T. H. Carter 1844 T.H. Carter 1843

In this series Marco, a boy of about twelve travelled with his cousin (and tutor) John Forester in the Pursuit of Knowledge. In fact initially the series was known as Marco Paul's Adventures in Pursuit of Knowledge. Later once B.B. Mussey in 1848 and then Harper and Brothers began reprinting the volumes in 1852 the title was expanded to Voyages and Travels in the Pursuit of Knowledge.

Initially all six volumes were Published by T.H. Carter & Company in Boston in 1843. Preceding the hardcover versions the stories were published in 12 monthly parts. These parts which were 12.5 cents each had 144 pages. I believe but am not sure that the serialized version appeared in the Girls' and Boys' Magazine edited by Mrs. S. Colman. The books were published throughout 1843.

In 1844 and 1845 the series was republished by T.H. Carter. As of 1845 the title page said 5th edition on the titles.

In 1844, 1845 and 1848 Benjamin B. Mussey of Boston also published the set. Of note is that these two publishers were printing the books at the same exact time in the same city.

Later in 1848 Wm. J. Reynolds published the set.

B.B. Mussey 1848

Wm. J. Reynolds 1848

Harper and Brothers 1852

Harper and Brothers did several reprint editions between 1852-1853 and later in 1880. The first four books were first done by Harper in 1852 and the last two were done in 1853.

It was not until the earliest of the Harper reprints that the name of Jacob Abbott appeared on the title page. Prior to this it said "By the Author of Rollo, Jonas and Lucy Books. THe Marco Paul series came boxed as a set by Harpers. They could also be purchased individually. In 1858 the books were 50 cents , by 1870 they were 90 cents each.

The books:
Marco Paul
1. In the City of New York
2. On the Erie Canal
3. In the Forests of Maine
4. In Vermont
5. In the City of Boston
6. At the Springfield Armory

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Tale of Peter Rabbit- American Piracy-Part 2

Today I would like to discuss the third format of the Tale of Peter Rabbit published by Henry Altemus. This is by far the most familiar format of the Wee Books for Wee Folks Series.

In 1917 the third format was introduced. At that time The Tale of Peter Rabbit along with three other Peter Rabbit titles were introduced . They all had the familiar applique (paste-on) on the front cover.

The other three books were Went to Sea, At the Farm and Christmas.

All four of these titles initially stated Wee Books for Wee Folks on the top of their title page. By 1918 all four books stated Peter Rabbit Series at the top of their title pages as they became the first four books of the 20 book Peter Rabbit Series.

Thus the 1917 books are easily distinguished from the 1918 books and the 1917 books are easily distinguished from earlier Peter Rabbit books. Again remember that even this format's The Tale of Peter Rabbit has the 1904 copyright notice on its title page,

A couple of other points.
1. The 1917-1922 books have blank end papers.
2. The lettering on the cover of the 1917-1921 books is yellow (red for Peter Rabbit's Christmas)

So anytime a book seller notes the paste-on in his ad for this title, the book is at least a 1917 book.