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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
11 Oct 2007 105

Holly Tree Series

Ebay description:  1904 HC THE RULE OF THREE Susan Coolidge Embossed Cover

Special Attributes: 1st Edition
Printing Year: 1904

Here is a vintage hard cover book entitled "THE RULE OF THREE" by Susan Coolidge. The book has illustrations by Joseph Johnson Ray, tan cloth boards with and a beautiful color illustrated cover, 3 ladies walking perhaps from a school with red flowers on either side with gilt design. The hard cover book has a beautiful frontspiece (see picture #2) and many black & white illustrations throughout the book.

The Reality:  The seller's book is not a first edition. This book is a second format printing of this title published after 1909. The first format is shown here. For more information on this series see: http://henryaltemus.com/series/series105.htm

Format 2

Format 1

09 Oct 2007 141

Petit Trianon Series

Ebay description:  Cranford Mrs Gaskell Henry Altemus 1st ed hc

Very rare, I am pretty sure 1 edition. PRe 1890, CRANFORD, by Mrs Gaskell, produced by, Henry Altemus, Phildelphia.

The Reality:  This book was published in 1896 as part of the Petit Trianon Series. As with most all of the books in this and in the other Altemus publisher's series, it is a reprint. The American first edition was published by Harper and Brothers in 1853.

07 Oct 2007 48

Beauxarts Series

Ebay description:  1879 Kept For The Masters Use by Frances R Havergal

The Reality:  This is a 1900 published book. Where the 1879 came from is a mystery.

22 Sep 2007 202

Young People's Library, Format 4

Listed is an 1895 publication by Henry Altemus Co of Philadelphia of Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. ...The paste on picture on the cover is faded and is the same picture as the frontispiece. .... It is 6 1/2 by 5 1/4 inches with 287 pages. There is no publication date or copyright date listed. Other sources list the date as 1895.

The Reality:  I am unaware of any sources that claim this to be an 1895 book. Certainly just the fact that this book was published by Henry Altemus Company makes it a post-1900 book. It is part of The Young People's Library (Format 4) and was published in 1923 or later. The ads in the back of the book would also reveal a number of books not published until the early 1920s. This book originally had a jacket.

Since this book lists no copyright date, the dating process if you are unaware of this series, should start with a review of the ads in the back. In this instance, the ads make the earliest possible publication date obvious.

20 Sep 2007 202

Young People's Library - Format 4

Ebay description:  1897 Through The Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll book, 1st

Here's a beautiful copy of THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS AND WHAT ALICE FOUND THERE by Lewis Carroll. Philidelphia printing Henry Altemus Company, first edition.

The Reality:  This book was published after 1923 and is not the Altemus first thus or the true first. It is part of the Young People's Library which published this title from 1895-1933 but this format was not published until 1923 plus as part of the 4th format of this series.

28 Aug 2007 202

Young People's Library - Format 3

With 42 illustrations


As you can see from my listings and feedback, I usually do not sell books and I am not a book expert. I inherited a few books form someone who clearly loved and took very good care of them. All in very good condition.

Sales are considered final unless item is substantially misrepresented. If you have any questions, please email. Or if you require more photos of parts of the book which I did not include, please email and I can take more photos and forward them to you.

The Reality:  This is the ultimate in misrepresentation. This seller acknowledges that he is not a book expert. Yet when he was emailed the reality about his book, he chose not to include the information in his listing. Currently the high bidder is at $81. As usual the bidders are low feedback obviously unsophisticated book people who are relying on inaccurate information from a less than candid seller. This book is worth about $10. It is from the third format of this series published not before 1902. Altemus published a number of Alice books prior to this one. The first edition was printed in the 1860s. This edition is very, very common.

24 Aug 2007 202

Young People's Library - Format 3

1ST Edition by Henry Altemus Philadelphia

The Reality:  This book is part of the Young People's Library -Format 3. This is based on the characteristic spine. It was published no earlier than 1902.

The first Altemus publication of this title was in 1895 in the first format of this series.


This first American edition was published in 1866 by Appleton.

28 Jul 2007 163

Sanspareil Series

Ebay description:  The Sketchbook by Washington Irving
1848 edition, used by a schoolboy in 1901!

This 1848 edition was used as a textbook, from about 1901. It was published by Henry Altemus, but no publication date is given. It contains several well-known favorites: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Rip Van Winkle, The Spectre Bridegroom and many others. On the flyleaf, the owner pencilled in his name and address and the date, March 26, 1901. Six illustrations, including the Headless Horseman!

The Reality:  This book is part of the Sanspareil Series and was published in 1899. It is unclear where the seller found the 1848 date. Henry Altemus actually did not take over the company until the 1850s. He was born in 1833.

12 Jul 2007 141

Petit Trianon Series

Ebay description:  The House of the Seven Gables by Hawthorne 1st Edt.1851

This auction features a 1st edition hardcover book titled "The House of the Seven Gables" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1851 by Henry Altemus in Philadelphia. The book contains 374 pages and is in great condition for 156 years old.

The Reality:  Again a seller confuses a reprint which includes a dated preface from an original publication for the date of their book. The first edition was published by Ticknor, Reed and Fields. This reprint was published in 1897 as part of the Petit Trianon Series.

16 Jun 2007 47

Beauxarts Series

Ebay description:  Weird Tales by Edgar Allen Poe
Special Attributes:
1st Edition

Printing Year:

Edgar Allen Poe's Weird Tales. In a beautifully gold embossed hard cover. Copywritten 1895 first edition by Henry Altemus. This book is in good condition with slightly yellowed pages and a small fracture in the binding. Absolutely a must for the true collector.

The Reality:  This book was published in 1897 and therefore is not even the Altemus first. This title is one of the most hyped Altemus titles on the web. Altemus published Weird Tales in numerous series which accounts for its prevalence.

This book consists of a collection of 14 short stories by Poe. None of them appear in print for the first time in the Altemus published book. The first time Altemus published this collection was in 1895. It was published simultaneously in The Altemus Library (#37), Fairmount Series (#83), Laurel Series (#119), and the Vademecum Series (#179).

Previously Poe's works had been published by Widdington in 1876 and by Stone and Kimball in 1894. These are multi volume sets which include everything in the Altemus books and much more.

Thus Weird Tales is a compilation of short stories that have been published numerous times before. Frequently, this Altemus title brings real dollars but usually the bidding is done by unsophisticated buyers who are unaware of the common nature of the book and are also unaware of its reprint status.

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