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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
01 Jan 2007 180

Vademecum Series

Ebay description:  THE SCARLET LETTER 2nd Ed 1850 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE L@@K

Starting bid: US $200.00

Fantastic rare book find of a 1850 second printing of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

# Printed by the Henry Altemus Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1850
# Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a fantastic piece of Americana
# A complete 2nd edition copy of the Scarlet Letter in hard cover


The Reality:  Seller is clearly delusional. This is a 1915 Vademecum Series book which under the best of circumstances without a jacket would bring $5-10. Note that the publisher is listed as Henry Altemus Company indicating a post-1900 publication. Altemus published no titles for reading until the 1890s. How this seller determined the erroneous 1850 date is unclear. Perhaps the preface was dated.


27 Dec 2006 180

Vademecum Series

Ebay description:  Washington Irving, The Sketch Book,hc gld stmp,1848
Henry Altemus Company-Philadelphia

The Sketch Book
by Washington Irving
1783-1859
Henry Altemus Company-Philadelphia 1848 (printed in preface)


The Reality:  This 1905 book was part of the Vademecum Series. The fact that there is a date within the preface is of course not relevant regarding the date of a particular book. This is again a typical dating error that could have been avoided with a modicum of effort. As is frequently the case with Ebay books-Buyer Beware.


27 Dec 2006 202

Young People's Library

Ebay description:  1896 GULLIVERS TRAVELS 1ST EDITION ALTEMUS w 55 ILLUS

This antique hard cover book is titled Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift D.D. with 55 illustrations Henry Altemus Company Philadelphia, copyright date 1896 (no other date is given so I'm guessing this is a first edition?)


The Reality:  This book is a third format Young People's Library book published after 1901. The earliest Altemus Gulliver was published in 1896. But the first edition Gulliver's Travels was published in England in the 1720s.


23 Dec 2006 30

Submarine Boys Series

Ebay description:  ... The Submarine Boys Secret Mission, First Edition, with Dust Jacket, from 1920. ... The publisher is Altemus, written by Durham.

The Reality:  This book with the pictorial dust jacket was published at its earliest in 1926 as part of the 3rd format of this series. The 1920 copyrighted book was first seen in the 2nd format of this series. The jacket is white coated with a line drawn picture. See below.


17 Dec 2006 69

Classics Series

Ebay description:  Gold Dust......1890s DJ

UP FOR AUCTION A CIRCA 1890s BOOK. "GOLD DUST" PART OF THE ALTEMUS CLASSICS SERIES, PUBLISHED BY HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY. NO COPYRIGHT DATE, I DID A LITTLE RESEARCH AND BOOKS SIMILAR TO THIS WERE LISTED AS 1890s TO 1907.


The Reality:  The Altemus Classic's Series was first published in 1907. The name of the series was changed to the Slip-in-the--Pocket Series in 1909. Thus this book was published in 1908-1909.


11 Dec 2006 57

Boys and Girls Classics

Ebay description:  SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON 1899 FIRST EDITION

Author: Henry Altemus

Publisher: Henry Altemus Company

Published: 1899- First Edition


The Reality:  This book was part of the Boys and Girls Classics which were published beginning in 1908 and reprinted for numerous years thereafter. The title page is from the Young People's Library which states 1899 making the dating of this book somewhat confusing. But simple research easily reveals the actual date of the very rare first edition.


07 Dec 2006 150

Popular Series of Famous Authors

Ebay description:  FIRST 1ST EDITION HOUSE OF SEVEN 7 GABLES HAWTHORNE

THIS AUCTION IS FOR A FIRST EDITION THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES, BY NATHANIAL HAWTHORNE. IT MEASURES: 5 3/4"H X 4 1/4"W

PUBLISHED BY HENRY ALTEMUS IN 1893

THIS WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO OWN A FIRST EDITION HAWTHORNE ...


The Reality:  Since Nathaniel Hawthorne died in 1864, it is unlikely that the first edition of this popular book was published 29 years thereafter. Actually the first edition was published by Ticknor, Reed and Fields in 1851. AS is usually the case-Altemus did late late reprints of very popular 19th century novels.


06 Dec 2006 179

Vademecum Series

Ebay description:  Rare 1850 Altemus Marvel's Reveries of a Bachelor

Here is an 1850 antiquarian collectible volume titled Reveries of a Bachelor, by IK Marvel. Produced by Henry Altemus of Philadelphia. Several illustration plates throughout this volume, printed in green ink. Inscription by Donald G Mitchell dated May 1892 inside 2nd page appears to be hand written with ink quill pen. Illustration of Donald G. Mitchell opposite title page.

This volume is printed with possible stone or early lithograph process from mid-1800's. I do not have a letter of authenticity however I believe this volume speaks for itself.


The Reality:  This is an 1896 book published as part of the Vademecum Series.

The seller actually invents some "early lithographic process from the mid-1800's" comment to help convince someone of the authenticity of this book's date.

The "inscription by Donald G. Mitchell" is in reality a facsimile signature which can easily be noted by simple inspection.

This is a late reprint. The American first edition was published by Baker and Scribner in 1850. The seller is probably mistaking a preface in the book dated 1850 with the publication date of this book. The preface just like the book was a reprint.


30 Nov 2006 58

Boys and Girls Classics (old)

Ebay description:  1888 Tales From Shakespeare Charles + Mary Lamb

Edition: Presumed First Edition Binding: Hard Cover Publisher: Henry Altemus, Philadelphia Date Published: 1878 Description: Very Good. No Jacket. 12mo-over 6"-7" tall. 1878. First edition. Hardbound. Book very good, no jacket. Date 1878 from intro, no other dates. Cover brown with gilt and colored illustration of jester with mask and bladder on front, color plate of Romeo and Juliet as frontis piece. Introduction by publisher A.A. dated October 1878. From the Altemius Illustrated Vademecum Series.


The Reality:  This book was part of the Boys and Girls Classics Series (not Vademecum Series) published in 1900-1901. Not a first edition but just another reprint. This seller clearly is not even close to describing this book accurately. But even worse is the $80 buy it now and the $11.25 shipping cost. Find me the buyer of this book at this price. I have a bridge to sell!


13 Nov 2006 180

Vademecum Series

Ebay description:  Heroes and Hero Worship, Thomas Carlyle, c. 1898
Published by Henry Altemus, undated, ...Some illustrations, averages around $50.00 from dealers.


The Reality:  This book is part of the Vademecum Series. None of the books of this series are worth anything near $50. Again, as stated before, what a dealer lists a book for is frequently nowhere near the price that the book eventually sells for.


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