Henry Altemus Company


Publisher's Series Books



Henry Altemus published numerous series, mostly with beautifully decorated covers, which were completely composed of reprints of religious stories, essays, poetry, moralistic tales, adventures and fiction novels. Authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe, Emerson, Drummond and the like were well represented. For the purpose of this discussion these series will be called Publisher’s Reprint Series or Reprint Series.

Between 1892 and 1926 Altemus published these series. Predominantly they were printed between 1892 and 1902.

Thereafter only a couple series continued.

There are several keys to understanding these series.

1. The same titles appeared over and over, year after year in most of the series. Any one title in a particular year or series might be difficult to locate but that does not make it valuable. It would be virtually impossible for a completist collector of one title or author to find every format of his/her interest.

A great example is from the Vademecum Series. In 1903 there were six color covers used and 41 different paste-on pictures used. Thus for any given title there were 246 possible books. And this is just one year for one particular series.

2. Most of these series changed the format of the cover every year or so. Thus if you know what series your title is part of, you can identify its year of publication easily. (All this information can be seen within this website)

3. Each publisher's reprint series cover was seen in a number of different colors.

In 1892 the first of the reprint series were published (The Altemus Library). Although as the years went on, the different series could easily be distinguished from each other by their differently decorated covers, early on this was not necessarily the case. In fact, between 1894 and 1896 a number of the series used the exact same books. The books and their series could only be differentiated from each other by the boxes they came in. The boxes had paste-on labels that noted the series name as well as the book titles and authors.

As noted above in 1899 all the reprint series used the same alphabetical list of books. The difference was which titles were included in which series. The booklist changed not only from series to series but also within the same series year after year. Each series also had unique well decorated covers which also changed year to year. Most likely Altemus published the various different series for decorative purposes as well as literary content. Otherwise there would have been no point in publishing multiple series with basically the same books.

In fact, the Jordan and Marsh book catalogue of 1899 says this about the Vademecum Series: “Exquisite Specimens of Book Art. The foremost book artists of Europe and America have contributed their greatest efforts to the bindings and illustrations of these books. An entirely new process of binding has been originated which produces the superb effects hitherto obtainable only on fine leather by the handwork of skillful foreign craftsmen”.

The alphabetical list of #1-#244 (see below) was used by all the 1899 and later major publisher’s reprint series (called the alphabetical list). Of interest is the fact that there are numerous numbers without a representative book. Why Altemus skipped numbers is unclear. One possibility is that Altemus planned to fill in the missing numbers at some time in the future. Indeed, it does appear that books which could potentially have been added in the correct alphabetical order and which would have filled in the missing numbers are present in the various Altemus catalogues and booklists.

Prior to 1899 the reprint series used several different numbered lists. Some series used the same lists whereas others used lists exclusive to those series. Also of note is that several series had more than one numbering pattern. These are documented clearly in the website page for the individual series.

Appreciate that many of these books were initially boxed. Equally significant is the fact that the non-boxed books originally came jacketed. These jackets from before the turn of the century and into the first few years of the 1900s are very scarce.

I have included here what I consider to be the main publisher's series. These are the series with the elegantly decorated covers. These and all of the other Altemus series can be found by clicking on the appropriate series name in the "Altemus Series List".

Series that included some of these books but really do not fit the definition of publisher's series are Altemus Library, Three Volume Sets, Laurel Series and the Divinity Classics.

Beauxarts Series #47 (early), Beauxarts Series #48 (later): During this period there were two numbered booklists seen. The first (1897-1898): was the same 109 book list as seen with the pre-1899 Vademecum books. The second list (1899-1902) used was the basic alphabetical list. All four format covers are shown in the picture section. Ornamental inlaid design, inlaid Indo-Afghan design in gold, unique inlaid design in gold and colors are seen. The 1897-1898 books are 6.25 x 4.25. The 1899-1902 books are slightly larger at 6.5 x 4.25.




1899 - 1901




Diplome D’Honneur Series #76 (1902): This series had a one year publication run. It used the usual 1899 alphabetical booklist. Because there were only 50 volumes in the series, the books of this series are much scarcer than the other publisher’s reprint series. The book covers are quite unique and unlike any other Altemus books. The left half of the cover has gold decorated vellum. The right half has a tightly wrapped linen cloth substance. 6.5 x 4.25.




La Belle Fleur Series #115 (1901): One year publication with only one cover style. “New and original inlaid effect in colors”. This book had a dust jacket. 6.5 x 4.5. Used the main 1899 alphabetical list.




L’Art Nouveau Series #118 (1901): Only a one year publication run. "Gold and inks and handsome illuminated inlaid sides." Usual post 1899 book list numbering. Very scarce. Originally boxed.




Marqueterie Series #130 (1899): This series was published in only one year and had only one cover style which is seen in the picture section. The cover was described as "Japanese inlaid veneer binding". The main numbering list was used. See the bibliography for the book list. They are 6.5 x 4.5. "Embracing popular works of popular authors."




Petit Trianon Series #141, #142, #143: This very popular series went through three numbering variations. The last, from 1899-1910, was the same as the alphabetical 1899 list. Those books are 6.5 x 4.25. The 1898 list was the same list as the 1898 Valenciennes Series used. This list is of note in that the first 54 title are the same as that in the the first Vademecum list. Thereafter the list is different. The books are 6.25 x 4.25. The 1896-1897 list is unique to this series. This is the only one of the large publishers' series that has three different numbering patterns. The books with the exception of the last couple of years all had white vellum on the left and various patterns- floral patterns, "artistic effects in gold" etc. on the right.









1901-1902 Mucha







Riviere Series #158 (1901): Only one year of publication. Used the main 1899 and later book list. Larger size of 7 x 4.5. "Handsome new and original inlaid binding effects." Unusual green floral endpapers. Cover example is in the picture section.




Sanspareil Series #162/ #163: There were two numbered booklists. The 1898 list was alphabetical but different from the 1899 list which was also alphabetical but unique to this series. The former books were 6.25 x 4.25, had covers with floral pattern within and without an oval, and had dust jackets. The latter books were 6.5 x 4.25.






Vademecum Series #179/ #180: This series was the largest by number of volumes and the longest in terms of years published of all the publisher’s series. The first booklist was used between 1895 and 1898. The second booklist between 1899 and 1926. In the first year there were several formats including leather bound and half calf volumes. Thereafter this series had numerous ornamental designs, inlaid covers and pictorial appliqué pictures.















1905-1906 Orchid











Valenciennes Series #181/ #182: This series used a numbered booklist during its one year publication run that only it and the Petit Trianon Series had. "Masterpieces of American and English Authors". They were boxed. 6.25 x 4.25.





All of the large publishers' reprint series as well as a few smaller series published during and after 1899 used the main Altemus alphabetical numbering list that is noted here. The Vademecum Series had the most extensive list. This list is alphabetical. Of note is that some of the numbers were never used in any series. It is presumed that these latter numbers had books earmarked for them but for unknown reasons were never used in any of these larger series.

Only the Beauxarts, Vademecum and Petit Trianon Series had significant changes during their publication history. That is, year after year the books included in the series changed. Below is the complete numbered list.

Here is the main alphabetical list for the 1899 and after reprint series.

1. Abbe Constantin
2. Adventures of a Brownie
3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
4. American Notes
5. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
6. Autocrat of the Breakfast Table
7. A Son of Carolinas
8. Antony and Cleopatra
9. A Midsummer's Night Dream
10. Allegories of the Heart
11. Bab Ballads and Savoy Songs
12. Bacon's Essays
13. Balzac's Shorter Stories
14. Barrack-Room Ballads and Ditties
15. Battle of Life
16. Biglow Papers
17. Black Beauty
18. Blithedale Romance
19. Bracebridge Hall
20. Bryant's Poems
21. Beecher's Addresses
22. Best Thoughts
23. Brook's Addresses
24. Black Rock
25. Changed Cross and Other Poems
26. Camille
27. Carmen
28. Charlotte Temple
29. Chesterfield's Letters, Sentences and Maxims
30. Child's Garden of Verses
31. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
32. The Chimes
33. Christie's Old Organ
34. A Christmas Carol
35. Confessions of an Opium Eater
36. Cranford
37. Cricket on the Hearth
38. The Crown of Wild Olive
39. Comedy of Errors
40. Crucifixion of Philip Strong
41. Coming to Christ
42. Courtship of Miles Standish
43. The Day Breaketh
44. Days with Roger de Coverley
45. Discourses, Epictetus
46. A Dog of Flanders
47. Dream Life
48. Daily Food for Christians
49. Drummond's Addresses
51. Emerson's Essays, First Series
52. Emerson's Essays, Second Series
53. Endymion
54. Essays of Elia
55. Ethics of the Dust
56. Evangeline
57. Elizabeth and Her German Garden
58. Englishwoman’s Love Letters
61. Fairy Land of Science
62. Fanchon
63. For the Daily Bread
67. The Grammar of Palmistry
68. Greek Heroes
69. Gulliver's Travels
70. Gold Dust
73. Hamlet
74. Hania
75. The Haunted Man
76. Heroes and Hero Worship
77. The Song of Hiawatha
78. Holmes' Poems
79. House of the Seven Gables
80. House of the Wolf
81. Hyperion
82. Holy in Christ
87. Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow
88. Idylls of the King
89. Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture
90. In Black and White
91. In Memoriam
92. Imitation of Christ
93. In His Steps
95. Julius Caesar
96. Jessica's First Prayer
97. J. Cole
98. John Ploughman's Pictures
99. John Ploughman's Talk
100. King Richard III
101. Kavanagh
102. Kidnapped
103. Knickerbocker's History of New York
104. Keble's Christian Year
105. Kept for the Master's Use
106. King Lear
107. La Belle Nivernaise
108. Laddie and Miss Toosey's Mission
109. Lady of the Lake
110. Lalla Rookh
111. Last Essays of Elia
112. The Lays of Ancient Rome
113. Let Us Follow Him
114. Light of Asia
115. The Light that Failed
116. Little Lame Prince
117. Longfellow's Poems, Vol. I
118. Longfellow's Poems, Vol. II
119. Lowell's Poems
120. Lucile
121. Line Upon Line
122. Legends of Province-House
123. Manliness of Christ
125. Morning Thoughts
126. The Magic Nuts
127. Manon Lescaut
128. Marmion
129. The Master of Ballantrae
130. Milton's Poems
131. Mine Over People
132. A Minister of the World
133. Mosses from an Old Manse
134. Mulvaney Stories
135. Macbeth
140. Natural Law in the Spiritual World
141. Nature, Addresses and Lectures
145. Old Christmas
146. Outre-Mer
147. Othello, the Moor of Venice
150. Paradise Lost
151. Paradise Regained
152. Paul and Virginia
153. Peter Schlemihl
154. Phantom Rickshaw
155. Pilgrim’s Progress
156. Plain Tales From the Hills
157. Pleasures of Life
158. Plutarch's Lives
159. Poe's Poems
160. Prince of the House of David
161. Princess and Maud
162. Prue and I
163. Peep of Day
164. Precept Upon Precept
165. Paul Kruger
169. Queen of the Air
172. Rab and His Friends
173. Representative Men
174. Reveries of a Bachelor
175. Rip Van Winkle
176. Romance of a Poor Young Man
177. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
178. Romeo and Juliet
179. Robert Hardy's Seven Days
182. Samantha at Saratoga
183. Sartor Resartus
184. The Scarlet Letter
185. School for Scandal
186. A Sentimental Journey
187. Sesame and Lilies
188. Shakespeare's Heroines
189. She Stoops to Conquer
190. Silas Marner
191. The Sketch Book
192. The Snow Image
193. The Shadowless Man
194. The Shepherd Psalm
199. Tales from Shakespeare
200. Tanglewood Tales
201. Tartarin of Tarascon
202. Tartarin on the Alps
203. Ten Nights in a Bar-Room
204. Things will Take a Turn
205. Thoughts
206. Through the Looking Glass
207. Tom Brown's School Days
208. Treasure Island
209. Twice Told Tales
210. Two Years Before the Mast
211. The Merchant of Venice
212. The Merry Wives of Windsor
213. Talks to Children about Jesus
217. Uncle Tom's Cabin
218. Undine
222. Vic
223. Vicar of Wakefield
224. The Visits of Elizabeth
226. Walden
227. Water-Babies
228. Weird Tales
229. What is Art
230. Whittier's Poems, Vol. I
231. Whittier's Poems, Vol. II
232. Window in Thrums
233. Woman's Work in the House
234. A Wonder Book
235. With Christ (La Belle Fleur 1901) or Wee Macgreegor (Vademecum 1903)
241. The Yellowplush Papers
244. Zoe




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Last RevisionJuly 8, 2012