Altemus published a number of publisher’s series in the 1890′s and early 1900′s. These series consisted of numerous reprints of poetry, fiction, the classics, essays, etc. Each series had a unique decorative cover. These series’ covers changed every year or so for the series which were long lasting.
The Diplome D’Honneur Series was published only in 1902 and only had 50 different titles. See http://henryaltemus.com/series/series76.htm.
Thus this is perhaps the rarest of the Altemus publisher’s series. What makes it interesting is its cover. It is half-white vellum on the left with a decorative pattern. On the right half of the cover is brocaded satin in one of several colors. Altemus only published this series with satin covers. I suspect it was to give the consumer a greater selection of decorative books to choose from. The books originally came boxed.
Today I am adding two new cover pictures for this series to the database. Five different satin covers have now been seen.
This series was introduced in 1894 with a three book boxed set. Starting in 1895 the books of this series were published in two book boxed sets.
(http://henryaltemus.com/series/series77.htm) This early three boxed set is incredibly rare.
As I have noted before all Altemus published books originally came boxed or in a dust jacket.
It is always special to find a book inscribed by the author. Here and there over the years I have discovered a few Altemus published books with author inscriptions.
Here is an example.
Ruth McEnery Stuart (1849 or 1852-1917) was mainly known as an author of “Negro dialect books”. She developed her writing style utilizing experiences from her birth state of Louisiana and subsequent years in Arkansas. In 1891 she moved to New York City where she spent the rest of her days.
Her only Altemus book is George Washington Jones- A Christmas Gift that Went A-Begging. It was published in 1903. There are five glossy illustrations done by Edward Potthast. http://www.henryaltemus.com/images/NS_57.htm
Stuart presented the book shown here in 1911 to Florence Hall Colgate. Interestingly, Colgate’s engagement to Major St. John Greble is noted in 1917 in the New York Times. Her father was Gilbert Colgate, president and chairman of the Board of Colgate & Co.(of Colgate-Palmolive fame). His five children divided up his three million dollar estate upon his death in 1932.
This early Altemus publisher’s series has forty one books in its list. They are all reprints. In Format 1 (of Four formats) each book has a unique cover. See http://henryaltemus.com/series/series37.htm for examples. Although it is frequently held that these books from the early 1890′s did not have dust jackets, this is generally not true. All Altemus books either came boxed or with a dust jacket.
The first format books of the Altemus Library had dust jackets. Here is an example from book #26 Heroes and Hero Worship. This book was published in 1893.
Interestingly, there is an earlier and later format of the reverse of the 1893 Altemus Library dust jacket. The later one prices the Half Genuine English Calf Altemus Library book at $2.00 whereas on the earlier one the price in $1.75.
Dust Jacket Front
1893 Dust Jacket later
1893 Dust Jacket earlier
In the first format of this series, there is a common left sided cover design with one of sixteen possible flower pictures on the right side of the cover.
Here is a new flower picture for the first format. The database now shows has five different flower pictures.
Q: I have taken the liberty of attaching very bad photos of a book left to me by an Aunt. The book is titled “Drummond’s Addresses” and seems to have a copyright date of 1891. Any information you could offer me on this book would be greatly appreciated.
A: Your book was published in 1901 as part of the La Belle Fleur Series.
It is a reprint and only has nominal value.
Q: I have this copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales from 1898 but I have not seen one with this particular cover on-line. I would like to sell it but it’s hard to tell what it’s worth when I haven’t seen another like it. Would you be able to tell me more about it and who I might call to find out its worth? The fabric is quite torn on the binding.
A: Your book is part of the Young People’s Library Format 4.
It is pictured here: http://henryaltemus.com/series/series202F4.htm
It was published between 1923 and 1933. The copyright is not the same as the publication date with your book.
Without the dust jacket it has only nominal value.
Q: I recently purchased a book by Author John Ruskin, which was published by Henry Altemus Company in Philadelphia. I did not see this title mentioned on your website as being one which was published in 1893, when the publishing company did a number of volumes in English calfskin. However, my volume is bound entirely in English calfskin, and it has a gold leaf imprint on the cover as well. Additionally of interest, several of the pages are also not separated (meaning that the publisher did not cut apart the paper after the paper was folded over and bound). I’ve attached a few photos to show you what I mean.
I was researching the publishing company so that I could best determine a publication year for my volume. I am a collector and do not intend to sell it, however I like to catalogue my books with their publishing information. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or comments on the publication date.
A: Your book is part of the Gem Series and was published in 1913-1914.
Altemus published this title numerous times. If you put the title into the index, you will see a listing.
Altemus did not publish any books with the soft ooze calf (like your book) in 1893.
The Young People’s Library was a long running Altemus series (1895-1933) which was published in four different formats. The second format which was published between 1898 and 1902 (http://henryaltemus.com/series/series202F2.htm) is easily determined by its characteristic spine flower decoration.
Today I am adding a picture of the very earliest Format 2 Dust Jacket to the database.
This jacket has only 22 titles on its reverse. This is an early 1898 book. Chronologically the next jacket has 29 titles on its reverse. There is a slightly later jacket which has 31 titles.
If you are dating these books appreciate that occasionally Altemus used earlier jackets on later books. Thus, when dating use the book not the dust jacket.
Shown below are the three earliest Format 2 Dust jackets and the Format 2 spine.
Dust Jacket Front
Format 2 Spines
Q: I cant seem to find information on the book “Rab and his Friends” with a Mucha painting likeness on the cover.
I found it at a consignment shop for $5 but the cover’s worn – inside pages are very clean.
Anyway, your site is only site I found with related info…. would someone know if they worth anything or should I just shelf it?
a pic is attached.
A: Nice book but unfortunately it has no real value. (less than $20)
It is part of the Petit Trianon Series (http://henryaltemus.com/series/series143.htm) and was published in 1901-1902.
For what it’s worth it is one of six Mucha covers that Altemus “borrowed”.