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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.


Click thumbnail images to enlarge.


Ebay Description Errors:
Date Series Num Information
26 Oct 2008 180

Vademecum Series

Ebay description:  Count TOLSTOI 1898 1ST ED BOOK "WHAT IS ART?" EXQUISITE

Buy It Now price: US $299.99


The Reality:  This is a 1905-1906 Vademecum Series (#180) book. One of the numerous reprints that Altemus did of this title. Relatively common reprint and of no particular collector interest.

Henry Altemus did publish this book in 1898 as non series book #144. The first however was published earlier in 1898 by Crowell.

This reprint edition in this marginal condition should not bring more than $5. Presently there are 7 books of this title published by Altemus on ABE. They range from $2.78 to $20. The price of $299 is truly extraordinary. Good luck getting this price.

24 Sep 2008 189

Wee Folks Peter Rabbit Series

Ebay description:  PETER RABBIT'S CHRISTMAS 1917 1st First Edition G. DUFF

RARE! This is a Signed 1st Edition of an early Children's classic Peter Rabbit tale.

Title: Peter Rabbit's Christmas
Author: Duff Graham
Publisher: Philadelphia: Henry Altemus
Year: 1917
Edition: First Edition, First Printing

Authenticity Guaranteed by me, or your money back!

The Reality:  Clearly not a first edition since the lettering on the first edition in 1917 was red. See below.

In addition, in the first edition it says Wee Books for Wee Folks on the top of the title page. See below.

This seller was apprised of these facts but stated: "I'm sorry but that website is not what I consider a reliable source of information. I still believe it to be a first but if you don't, then don't bid on it."

Perhaps a more appropriate dialogue would be for him to explain why he thinks it is a first edition. Since he will be unable to verify his conclusion how in the world will someone be able to "get your money back". This is the ultimate in buyer beware about book claims on Ebay. Too many sellers are just guessing and really have no clue.

I suspect that his books has later ads in the back of the book as well as the later endpapers. Those were not commented on by the seller.

For more information about this series see http://henryaltemus.com/series/series189.htm.

01 Sep 2008 82

Ever New Series


Special Attributes: 1st Edition
Category: Children's
Printing Year: 1890

Title: Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.
Author: Lewis Carroll
Publisher: Published in Philadelphia by Henry Altemus Co. No printed date but circa 1890's. Early Edition.

The Reality:  Nobody can be expected to know about all the lesser known works/series of the Henry Altemus Company. But if a seller does not know much of anything about a book, then just post the pictures and what can be gleaned from the book itself. Make no claims about what you really have no clue. When I was a medical student a long time ago, the bottom line was when you didn't know the answer to a point blank question-don't bullshit-just say you don't know.

This seller has no idea when this book was published. It is part of the Ever New Series and was published in 1915. Secondly, it is not an Altemus first edition or an American first edition. Just another late reprint.

If you do not know- make no claims-just show a lot of pictures.

Let the buyer decide about the book without the BS.

08 Jun 2008 202

Young People's Library Format 2

Ebay description:  The Pilgrim's Progress
by Bunyan, John

Price: $150.00
* Book condition: Fair Loose front and back boards Spine Fair/writing
* Edition: First Edition 1895
* Binding: Hardcover
* Publisher: Henry Altemus Philadelphia

Henry Altemus Philadelphia First Edition 1895.

The Reality:  Altemus first published this book in 1890. See: http://henryaltemus.com/images/NS_28.jpg. This book's cover appears to indicate it is part of The Young People's Library-Format 2 probably published in 1898 well after Altemus had published this title numerous times in numerous formats. So not only is it not an Altemus first but not a true first which initially appeared in the late 1600's.

The price of $150 for a common late reprint in dismal condition is beyond belief. I suspect that this book will remain unsold for many years.

01 Jun 2008 162

Sanspareil Series

Ebay description:  Tales From Shakespeare: Charles & Mary Lamb: 1878

Book description: Henry Altemus: Philadelphia: 1878. Introduction by A.A. (Rev. Alfred Ainger)368pp. plus ads. Green floral illustrated covers with gilt background and red flowers. Same on spine.

The Reality:  As has been noted in a previous Ebay error involving this title from another Altemus Series, (See: Ebay Errors 30 Nov 2006), the preface has nothing to do with the publication date. This book was published in 1898. The fact that the preface is dated 1878 is irrelevant. Altemus published this title in numerous different series over the years and most often reprinted the 1878 dated preface. The offending preface date is shown here.

27 Apr 2008 17

High School Boys Series

Ebay description:  The High School Captain of the Team

Our price: $65.00

Edition: First
Publisher: Altemus
Place: Philadelphia
Date published: (1910)

Philadelphia: Altemus. (1910). First. Second state with applied-paper pictorial. Page edges and binding a little soiled, else very good lacking the dustwrapper. A nice copy of a cheaply made book. Football action at high school level. Last of the four "High School Boys" series.

The Reality:  This book has the paste-on (applique) cover which is part of the third format of this series which was published at its earliest in 1926. See: http://henryaltemus.com/juveniles/ This ubiquitous book without a dust jacket has only nominal value. As is frequently the case, the seller confuses a copyright date with a publication date.

Appreciate with very few exceptions that these juvenile series books without jackets have virtually no value. They are just too common to be worth much.

24 Apr 2008 123

Little Black Sambo Series


RARE FIRST LARGE EDITION PRINTING, after original American small format edition from Altemus Publishing, with HELEN BANNERMAN'S ORIGINAL COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS. 6+" x 9-"

Published by David McKay, in the Original Tan Buckram Cloth, with Full Color Front Cover paste-on.

The Reality:  This book is actually a reprint of the Altemus book which is the same size as the McKay. The seller's claim stating that this is the "Rare First Large Edition Printing" is flat out incorrect. Pictured is the 8.25 x 6.25 earlier Altemus edition.

Also of note is that the Altemus copyright is 1931. The McKay version was published a few years later.

Finally the extraordinary starting bid of $299 is too startling for words. The McKay version is relatively common with on the average at least one being put up for sale a month on Ebay. And to top it off the seller's book has no dust jacket. His book just does not warrant that kind of money.

19 Apr 2008 202

Young People's Library Format 2

Ebay description:  "Old Louisa M Alcott Book! Flower Fables!

You are bidding on a Louisa M. Alcott book with 34 illustrations!!

I don't know a lot about vintage books but here goes!!
It was given to someone in 1898
Publisher is Henry Altemus.
It apears to be a first addition!
Boston Dec 9 1854.."

The Reality:  This is a 1898-1902 book which is part of the Young People's Library-Format 2.

See: http://henryaltemus.com/series/series202F2.htm

Altemus published no books for reading until 1889. The first edition was published by George W. Briggs, a Boston publisher in 1855 (Xmas, 1854).

This might be a first "addition" to your collection but it will not be a first edition.

23 Feb 2008 162

Sanspareil Series

Ebay description:  PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS Rudyard Kipling 1808 1st Am?

PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS by Rudyard Kipling. This small hardcover book is copyright 1808 and I am thinking it may be a First American Edition. Publisher is Henry Altemus of Philadelphia, PA.

The Reality:  This is an 1898 book from the Sanspareil Series. Since Kipling was born in 1865 it is somewhat unlikely he wrote this book in 1808. http://henryaltemus.com/series/series162.htm
The first American edition was published by Macmillan and Co. in 1890.

26 Jan 2008 181

Valenciennes Series

Ebay description:  The Sketch Book by Washington Irving 1848.

The Sketch Book By Washington Irving, Hardcover.
Publisher: Henry Altemus, Philadelphia
Small volume in fair condition. Bound in cloth, elegantly decorated with floral design on front cover. Spine moderately faded, board edges rubbed. A solid copy. The preface to this revised edition is dated 1848.

The Reality:  This book is part of the publisher's multi volume Valenciennes Series and was published in 1897. Once again a seller mistakes the preface date for the publication date. This book originally came within a labeled box.

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