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The following information includes updates and addenda to the bibliography as well as corrections of errors (substantive, typographical, etc) found in the 1st edition of our Henry Altemus bibliography. You can review this section by the most recent entry or by the series number. Non series listings follow series listings.


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Updates, Addenda & Errata
Date Series Num Information
16 Jun 2009 206

American Series


A Phantom Series is one that is advertised but never published. Altemus advertised a boy’s series called the Ben Lightbody Series in the 1912-1914 era. The series was noted in numerous book and print ads. For whatever reason it was never published.

I have just come across another phantom series. It is mentioned in a periodical called the Critic. The excerpt below comes from the June 19, 1897 issue.

There is no evidence that the “American Series” was ever published. Trif and Trixy was published in 1897. Of great interest is that although many copies (in red and green) show the 1897 date at the base of the title page, there is a way to distinguish the very rare first edition from the later edition.

Look carefully at the page below which is the last page of ads in the back of the book. The earlier 1897 book lists Trif and Trixy at 35 cents whereas the later lists it at 50 cents. Subtle but real. Of course, there is no evidence it was offered at 30 cents which is the phantom series price.


Critic excerpt

Title Page



01 Apr 2009

Unknown Series


Even the expert can be stumped from time to time. There are times when I just cannot identify which series a book is from but I am sure that the book does belong to a series. After working with Altemus books over the years, the series books just have a certain feel to them. There are some instances where the series has not been advertised or listed anywhere, yet the book, its jacket or its box gives a series name (Series #65- Christmas Gift Series). There are other instances where there is not mention of a series but several books of the same format and style have been seen. In these instances I have arbitrarily given the series a name (See Series #205 Little Color Books Series).

Below are two examples of books that undoubtedly are within a series but at this time the series cannot be identified.

The Scarlet Letter below was published in 1899. It has a picture with an 1899 copyright which indicates an 1899 or later publication date. It was published by Henry Altemus not Henry Altemus Company which tells us it was published before 1900. Thus, 1899 is the year. There is no 1899 series that this book fits within. There is also no 1899 Scarlet Letter published outside a series published in 1899 based on the Altemus catalogues.

Tanglewood Tales below has the same characteristics as the Scarlet Letter book. 1899 copyright picture and published by Henry Altemus. Also therefore an 1899 book. But again no series that this books fits into.

Both books are the same size -6.5 x 4.5. They clearly however have no other similarities of style/format.

Hopefully other similar books will turn up in the future. For now these books will be categorized as UNKNOWN SERIES

Of unrelated interest is that these titles are frequently wrongly dated by unsophisticated sellers/buyers. Reprints of these titles always include the original prefaces. These prefaces are dated in the 1850's. Some mistake the preface reprint for an original publication date.



25 Oct 2008

Jacob Abbott and Altemus


Between 1848 and 1861 32 biographical histories "the Makers of History" Series were published by Harper and Brothers. 22 of these were written by Jacob Abbott while the remaining ten were written by his brother, John S.C. Abbott. Henry Altemus as well as numerous other publishers reprinted these works between the late 1890's and the early part of the 20th century.

Altemus published 18 of the 32 in three different series. First they were published in Series #35 Abbott's Historical Series (1900). Shortly thereafter they were included in Series #202-Formats 2 and 3 - The Young People's Library. Finally in 1911 they were used in Series #170 Stories from History Series.

The Altemus Abbott books all used the same same plates and had the same illustrations. But they misidentified the author in several books. Frequently these books were all attributed to Jacob Abbott even though John S.C. Abbott wrote his fair share. Some later reprint series noted Jacob Abbott as the author of all 32 books. Altemus does credit John S.C. Abbott as the author of Marie Antoinette but as can be seen below Altemus states Jacob Abbott wrote the other 17 biographies.

In fact, John S.C. Abbott wrote Hernando Cortez, Josephine, Madame Roland as well as the Antoinette book.



07 Sep 2008 87

Favorite Series


This series of fiction/fairy tale books was published in two formats between 1901 and 1907. The first format which has either horizontal or vertical lines surrounding an applique has been thought to have only 18 books. The series is advertised with an 18 volume book list and each of the books has an advertisement for the series on the back of the title page with the same 18 books. On the top of the title page each book says Altemus' Favorite Series.

Imagine my surprise when the book below was found. It has the characteristic cover, title page and advertisement page for the Favorite Series. One problem however exists. It is never listed in any advertisement for the series-not in the book ads, Altemus catalogues or other book seller catalogues.

I am adding this book as #19 to the series but it just goes to show that there are many surprises even in areas where there should be none.



08 Jun 2008

Mary Godolphin and Altemus


Lucy Aikin (1781-1864) wrote a number of one syllable versions of well known classic books. These were published under the Mary Godolphin pseudonym. Several of these books were copied without attribution by Henry Altemus for inclusion within some of its series. The adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Aesop's fables and The Pilgrim's Progress are the titles appropriated by Altemus.

The illustrations are not the same but the text is identical. The Altemus books can be found in The Young People's Library (#202), One Syllable Series (#137), Favorite Series (#86/#87), Boys and Girls' Classics Series (#57), Ever New Books for Young People (#82).

The Godolphin authored books were published many times by countless publishers. The original editions were published in the late 1860's by Routledge. Thereafter, reprints were done by Cassell, McLoughlin, Monarch, Hurst, A.L. Burt, Saalfield, and many more. A number of publishers reprinted these stories without using the author's name - i.e. Altemus.

Altemus published several other "One Syllable" titles not written by Godolphin. I suspect that they "borrowed" those books as well. In the 1890's Cassell published a one syllable series that included the Godolphin books as well as Gulliver's Travels. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks I will be able to review this book.

Examples of a Robinson Crusoe and an Aesop's Fables book are shown below.



20 May 2008 137

One Syllable Series


The 8 books that make up Format 1 have been seen with a characteristic early spine pattern. See: http://henryaltemus.com/series/series137.htm. Until now it appeared that the pattern was absolute for early books in this format. Now a new spine decoration has been discovered. It is unclear whether it predates or post dates the other spine. What is clear is that it is much scarcer than the usual pattern seen. Here is an example of the more common spine (pattern divided in two) with the newly discovered rare spine pattern (continuous). It is my suspicion that the newly discovered pattern is the earlier one but this is not based on any real data.)


Regular Spine

Variant Spine


20 May 2008 180

Vademecum Series (later numbering)


This book has an applique which is from an Alphonse Mucha painting called Summer. Originally it was part of a set of paintings called The Seasons Series. With the discovery of this painting three of the four "Seasons" have been seen as appliques on this 1901 Vademecum Series book. The other pictures are also shown below.






12 Mar 2008 71

Conversational Dictionaries


In the bibliography these books are listed with anonymous authors. These books were edited by Richard Jaschke.

11 Feb 2008

Record Album


A phonograph album published by Altemus has been discovered.

The album pictured below has 12 numbered pages each with a slot for a record. It is not dated and there are no clues as to the publication date.

On the back of the cover the Henry Altemus Co. name above the word Philadelphia is noted.

I assume it was published sometime in the 1920's but this is a guess.



05 Feb 2008

Altemus book bindery


In the early years of Altemus & Company the main order of business was as a book bindery. Examples of early work however are hard to find.

Here is an 1850 example (Leaflets of Memory edited by Reynell Coates). This book published by E. H. Butler & Co. cites Mr. Altemus as the executor of the embellished binding.



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