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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
15 May 2007 14

Grace Harlowe Overland Riders

Ebay description:  2 BOOKS- 1921 GRACE HARLOWE'S OVERLAND RIDERS SERIES
1ST EDITIONS WITH ORIGINAL DUST JACKETS- ALTEMUS

This is a super lot of 2 books written by Grace Harlowe and published in 1921 by Henry Altemus company and copyright 1921 by Howard Altemus. They are titled "Grace Harlowe's Overland Riders In the Great North Woods and On The Great American Desert".


The Reality:  These books are not first editions but rather second format books. They were published in or later than 1924. This is based on the format date (see bibliography) as well as the back ads which show books published in 1924. Below are pictured the first format jackets. See: http://henryaltemus.com/series/series14.htm


01 May 2007 38

Altemus Library

Ebay description:  The Man Without a Country Edward Everett Hale 1st ed.

Published by the Henry Altemus Company in Philadelphia, PA in 1908. First edition of the famous novella by the grand-nephew of the famous Revolutionary spy Nathan Hale. The story was originally published anonymously in the Atlantic Monthly magazine in 1863, to foster patriotism in the North during the Civil War. This classic tale has been made into a movie four times, including the well known 1937 version and a made-for-tv version in 1973.


The Reality:  This series (books #1-5) was first published beginning in 1913. This title was #8out of 8 in the series and was published in 1914. The first edition of The Man Without a Country was published by Ticknor and Fields in 1865.


30 Apr 2007 180

Vademecum Series

Ebay description:  BEAUTIFUL CLASSIC NOVEL *TOM BROWN'S SCHOOL DAYS

Title: - Tom Brown's School Days (Illustrated)
Written By: - Thomas Hughes
Illustrated: - Hand-drawn Illustrations
Publisher: Henry Altemus Company - Philadelphia (There is no date printed in the book but research has led me to believe it circa's around 1895.)
Size: It is 4 1/4 x 6 1/4 inches tall.
Edition: - 1st Edition


The Reality:  This is a 1904 book and again the fact that the publisher was Henry Altemus Company indicates a 1900 or later date. The seller's research obviously has been somewhat incomplete. More egregious however is the first edition claim. This book which was the first of the two Tom Brown books by Hughes- Tom Brown's School Days at Rugby published in 1857 by Ticknor and Fields. Between then and the turn of the century there were more than 50 different publishing houses that reprinted this book. These editions are well described in my Bibliography of 19th Century Children's Series Books 2003.


30 Apr 2007 202

Young People's Library - Format 3

Ebay description:  Alice In Wonderland 1897 First Ed Color Chromos

A beautiful 1897 copy of Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland". Published by the Henry Altemus Company, Philadelphia. A first edition of this version. 183 pages. Profusely illustrated with a number of Colored Chromolithos.


The Reality:  Reality. Based on the spine this is a format 3 Young People's Library book and was not published before 1902. Since it was published by the Henry Altemus Company it was published after 1899 since Altemus incorporated in 1900. This format was used in the format 2 books also. Thus, not a first edition in this format and not an 1897 book. In this case, strike 2 and you're out!


24 Apr 2007 202

Young People's Library

Ebay description:  GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES ~ ORIGINAL DUST JACKET ~ 1898

1st Edition
Printing Year: 1898


The Reality:  As the prices rocket up in Ebay bidding on this item, I wonder why no one bothers to do any research. First it is obviously not a first edition because that was published in the 1820s. Second, it is not even an Altemus first thus. The Henry Altemus Company on the title page (not shown here) as well as the jacket dates it after 1900. The titles on the back of the jacket are typical of a post-1911 Young People's Library Series book. It was in 1911 that the Abbott books were dropped from the series. The spine reveals that this is a format 3 Young People's Library book -1902 or later. I suspect that the ads in the back of the book also are post 1910 ads. Some unsuspecting bidder will end up with a nice book but perhaps not what he thinks it is. But since the seller has shown numerous pictures it is an example of "a fool and his money".


19 Apr 2007 181

Valenciennes Series

Ebay description:  4 Rare Books Over 100 Yrs Old -
Tales From Shakspeare

I believe that this book is an incredible 143 year old book. Authors are Charles and Mary Lamb. The publishers are Henry Altemus Philadelphia. There is 368 pages. Hardcover book with green cloth like covering, silver lettering on spine and flowers, outline lines on front and back in silver also. The size is 4" X 6".


The Reality:  This series of reprints was published in 1897 and 1898. This book is from 1897. Henry Altemus was not publishing any books for reading in 1864. In fact that was only the second year that Altemus & Company had published anything on their own imprint and that was photographic albums. Where the seller came up with this date is unclear.


13 Apr 2007 79

Esperance Series

Ebay description:  Old Christmas, by Washington Irving, dated 1896-Classic

Old Christmas. Philadelphia. Henry Altemus Company, 1896. First Edition dark green felt cloth cover embossed with Leaves and the title & authors names embossed in gold. 64 pages; book measures aprox. 6 x 4. ... Considering that this book has been in use for 111 years, I think this is minimal wear!

This book was listed for sale on an antique book website for $275.00, I will sell at a starting bid of $40.00


The Reality:  This book is part of the Esperance Series which began publication in 1905. See -- http://henryaltemus.com/series/series79.htm.
The post-1900 publication date is obvious because of the Henry Altemus Company imprint. This book was published a number of times by Altemus before this Altemus printing. A first edition, clearly not.

Even if this book had the original box, the value would be nowhere near $275 or even $40. The buyer who pays north of $40 for this book hopefully will also be interested in some magic beans I have growing in my backyard.


11 Apr 2007 186

Wee Books for Wee Folks

Ebay description:  Little Black Sambo 1st Altemus Edition in D/J c.1920s

Little Black Sambo. Altemus' Wee Books for Wee Folks. No author. With Twenty-seven Illustrations. Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company, n.d. (circa 1920s). Tall 32mo., 63 pp., color illustrated dust jacket, purple illustrated paper over boards, red cloth spine, color illustrated pastedown on front cover matches the dust jacket, illustrated endpapers, 27 full-page color illustrations within.


The Reality:  The first Altemus Little Black Sambo was published in 1918 and had yellow lettering. See below. It is unclear to me how a book published at an unknown ("circa 1920s") date can be described as a first edition. Clearly the seller has no information whether this is a first or not.


11 Apr 2007 189

Peter Rabbit Series

Ebay description:  PETER RABBIT'S CHRISTMAS-1917-DUFF GRAHAM-ALTEMUS CO.
RARE PIRATED AMERICAN EDITION OF POTTER'S WORK

PETER RABBIT'S CHRISTMAS
BY DUFF GRAHAM
PART OF THE ALTEMUS' PETER RABBIT SERIES
COPYRIGHT 1917 BY HOWARD E. ALTEMUS; PRINTED IN UNITED STATES

PIRATED AMERICAN EDITION OF BEATRIX POTTER'S WORKS....ILLUSTRATIONS NOT POTTERS.

LAST 5 PAGES (NOT PART OF 63 PAGES) ADVERTISING FOR "WEE BOOKS FOR WEE FOLKS" SERIES BY ALTEMUS

Special Attributes:
1st Edition
Printing Year: 1917


The Reality:  The true first edition of this book had red lettering (see picture below). Also the end papers were blank until 1921. This green/grey pattern was not used until 1926. If there were 5 pages of advertising for Wee Books in the back of the book, it should be relatively easy to date this book exactly. Why guess about the edition of the book when it is so easy to do a modicum of research and date the book exactly.


01 Apr 2007 47

Beauxarts Series

Ebay description:  1898 THE SONG OF HIAWATHA by LONGFELLOW 1st Ed.

THE SONG OF HIAWATHA
by H. W. LONGFELLOW

Copyright 1898 Henry Altemus 1st Edition!!!


The Reality:  The first American edition of this book was published by Ticknor and Fields in 1855. Henry Altemus published this title as a reprint numerous times. In 1898 it was published as part of the Beauxarts and the Vademecum (#179) Series. The Beauxarts book is shown here.


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