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J.M. Dent Books in Series

Three New Checklists for Booksellers and Collectors

by Craig Stark

#139 2 November 2009

I'm pleased to announce that Everyman's Library collector Terry Seymour has compiled three new checklists of J.M. series books - Mediaeval Towns, Dent's Double (and Treble) Volumes and Children's Illustrated Classics. All are now available as a package from BookThink for $9.99. Click here to purchase.

Those of you not familiar J.M. Dent and/or the Everyman's Library can come up to speed quickly with the following BookThink articles:

Buying and Selling Everyman's Library

Everyman's Library Checklist

Here is Terry's introduction to the checklists:

A Sampler of J.M. Dent Books in Series

Mediaeval Towns This series was inspired by travels that J. M. Dent had enjoyed during the 1890's. He was particularly fond of Italy. The series began in 1898 with Perugia. Other cities were added rapidly through 1912. This date coincides roughly with the almost total halt in new titles that Dent experienced as a result of World War I. No new titles were added until 1923. Ultimately there were a total of 39 different volumes, most of which remained in print through the 1930s. Some popular cities such as Florence were reprinted many times, while a handful of cities were never reprinted. The list indicates the older volumes that were never reprinted and thus more difficult to find. One extreme rarity is Santiago de Compostela. I have heard from more than one source that this book had to be pulled from distribution due to some plagiary issues. The story is consistent with the evidence we have. That title was issued in 1912. It was common practice to advertise in each volume the other volumes available in the series. All reference to Santiago disappears shortly after 1912. All of the titles were initially available in two binding styles - a light blue cloth with full gilt spine and a full roan leather with a similar spine. All books were jacketed, initially in a rather plain, beige color. Later (in the mid 1920s) the jackets were more decorative. It is uncommon to see the early jackets survive.

In an apparent effort to move some Everyman's Library stock, Dent launched a series of Double Volumes in 1933. While the books never mention Everyman's Library either externally or internally, the contents of each Double Volume are merely two Everyman's Library volumes without all of the preliminary pages. Actually the volumes were quite a convenient way to buy and own these works. The books were sturdily sewn in a somewhat drab orange/brown cloth. Each had a dust jacket with a large, decorative bell on the spine and front cover. Many of the dust jackets survive. Most of Questthe volumes were released in 1933 but some appeared later in the 1930s. For reasons unknown, many of these books are plentiful and some are very hard to find. The list identifies the rare volumes. Two three-volume works were issued as Treble Volumes. There are 30 Double Volumes in all.

Children's Illustrated Classics

The Children's Illustrated Classics series was started in 1948 as the publishing industry was beginning to recover from wartime shortages and disruptions. There was a conscious decision to begin migrating Everyman's Library children's titles to this more lavish and colorful format. Many other titles appear in the series, and some of the Everyman's Library titles were abridged, (e.g. Gulliver's Travels). Of course all of the books have attractive dust wrappers and it is common for these to have stayed with the books. As with any children's book, finding examples in fine condition is somewhat of a challenge, but a fair number seem to have survived. First editions of the earlier titles are hard to find and there are a few later titles that are scarce. These titles are indicated on the checklist.

Terry Seymour
Questions and information always welcome.

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