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The Everyman's Library Checklist

An Introduction

by Terry Seymour

#76, 28 August 2006

Everyman's Library was a colossal publishing endeavor stretching from 1906 to the mid 1970's in its collectible phase. More than 60 million of these books were issued, thus ensuring that any bookseller is likely to stumble upon a mass of them without trying very hard. When selling to collectors it is important to describe the book in enough detail so that the collector will not need to initiate further inquiries or, worse, decide to deal with someone else. Most collectors attempt to assemble every published serial number and it is common for them to keep an inventory by serial number. Thus, it is very useful to provide the serial number with the listing. While there is no serial number higher than 1000, several of the numbers were re-used. The checklist indicates a reused number with the letter "R" appended to the serial number. Other numbers were given a letter suffix by Dent or Dutton. These letter suffix volumes are included in the checklist. Note that most of the letter suffix volumes had fairly limited distribution and usually command premium prices, particularly in a dust jacket.

It is important to clarify the binding style and dust jacket style when describing the book. The earliest volumes were issued in a full gilt spine cloth binding, a full gilt spine leatherette, a sturdy library binding, and a special quarter pigskin binding. The full gilt cloth binding was replaced in 1928 with a shield-shaped gilt device on the spine. The pigskin volume was discontinued around 1919. The leatherette was superseded by a sturdier, less decorated binding around 1920, and in 1935 by a plain spine with gilt lettering. The library binding also received a plain spine in 1935, but continued with its sturdy construction and plain end papers.

Dust jackets are best described by the device appearing on the spine: sundial 1906-1927, lighthouse 1928-1932, plain scrollwork 1933-34 and knot 1935-1952. In 1953 Everyman's Library changed to a larger format, only issued in cloth. Many dealers assume that the early Everyman's Library volumes were issued without a dust jacket. This is wrong. Every volume started life with a jacket and the early ones are in great demand.

First editions generally are not so stated until 1928. The checklist uses the shorthand (NS) to indicate such a practice. Dutton issued some volumes in a completely different format in the early 1950's. These volumes all have an "A" appended to the serial number and the checklist also appends an (A) to indicate the American printing. This format is not widely collected.

Very few Everyman's Library titles are scarce. Most of the value assigned by collectors is due to condition and the presence of the dust jacket. There are some exceptions to this rule and the checklist describes these more valuable volumes in the "Scarce?" column.

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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