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Anyone can list a book on Ebay. Although most people attempt to describe their books accurately, not infrequently the descriptions are incorrect. Unsophisticated buyers may pay much more for the book than it is actually worth. This section will review some of the inaccurate descriptions and give the correction.


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Ebay Description Errors:
Date Series Num Information
22 Jul 2006 150

Popular Series of Famous Authors


The Reality:  The true first edition was published in 1850. Altemus printed this book numerous times but all were reprints. This 1892 book edition is quite common.

22 Jul 2006 180

Vademecum Series

Ebay description:  The Crucifixion of Philip Strong
by Charles M. Sheldon

Gift Copy with gilded roses on green board covers, Published by Henry Altemus Co. - Philadelphia No Copyright date found, though with research, I believe this to be circa 1898 and most likely a FIRST EDITION THUS. Small, almost mini, book about 4 3/8 " x 6 1/4" with 257 pages, plus 32 pages of Altemus book listings and several with descriptions, a virtual Book Catalog! The frontis shows a woman finding a man dead in the street forming a CROSS! It was done by Adolf Thiede in 1898 (signature shows at lower L corner)

The Reality:  This is a 1915 publication. This title was published numerous times by Altemus prior to this printing. A very little bit of research would have shown this seller that this book was post-1900. The title page shows Henry Altemus Company as the publisher. Altemus incorporated in 1900. Checking the ads would have revealed many books and series that were of a much later vintage than 1898!!

22 Jul 2006 180

Vademecum Series

Ebay description:  Jerome, Jerome K. The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow. Circa 1894. Altemus, Philadelphia. About 6 by 5 inches, 226 pages w/ 32 pages of ads in back. This is a beautiful little book bound in a rich, green cloth and lavishly embossed with floral patterns on the cover along with a print that appears as a landscape scene. The embossed areas originally had some gold gilding, and most of it is rubbed off of the front cover though remnants of it still exist. The gold gilt still adorns the spine with the title and other designs. This book is not dated, but through research Iíve found that it was printed sometime between 1890 and 1905. Only a few copies of this edition were found in my research (5 total), so it is a rather scarce edition.

The Reality:  This book was published in between 1909-1913. This seller's research is faulty. Simple evaluation of the ads in the back would have given a good range as to the date of publication. This format is quite common and frequently found. Remember, Henry Altemus Company books are post 1900. Instantly this seller could have known that this book could not have been published prior to 1900 by just looking at the imprint on the title page.

22 Jul 2006 196

World's Classics Series

Ebay description:  Printing Year: 1880 "The Thoughts of The Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" translated by George Long. The softcovered book measures 4-1/2 x 6-1/2 inches with a total of 318 pages. The book is not dated, but from circa 1880's to 1890's. It was published by the Henry Altemus Company, Philadelphia.

The Reality:  This series was published between 1912-1916. Again the most common Altemus description error involves dating books. Sellers just guess instead of attempting to do quality research.

10 Jul 2006 57

Boys and Girls Classics

Ebay description:  This is for a 1900 The Little Lame Prince and His Traveling Cloak by Miss Mulock published by Henry Altemus Company Philadelphia with Twenty-four Illustrations.

The Reality:  A very common error in dating. This series of 15 books used the plates from the Young People's Library ( Series #202). This included the title page which displayed the original copyright date. Altemus used this title page for years after the actual publication date. Series #57 The Boys and Girls Classics was first published in 1908-1910 and reprinted for several years thereafter.

03 Jul 2006 185

Wee Books for Wee Folks Series (Peter Rabbit)

Ebay description:  Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Co., 1904. FIRST PIRATED AMERICAN EDITION. Green cloth with front cover illustration in blue, navy, white and red and spine lettered in red. 123 pages. The very first of the endless series of Peter Rabbit pirate editions in the US, allowed because of Warne's failure to secure copyright, possibly the most expensive copyright error in history. With 31 full page color illustrations. A very hard to find edition.

The Reality:  This is really the second pirated American edition published by Altemus. Not especially rare. The first edition is much more uncommon. This mistake is made frequently. The problem is that Altemus never removed the original publication date from the bottom of the title page. Thus all the Peter Rabbit books published for years after the first edition look as if they are first editions. The true first which has the half vellum and picture in the oval is pictured here. By the way, the books are identical except for the covers.

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