Friday, March 9, 2012

some more consignment books....Scribner's Illustrated Classics

First- a note from my consignor: 

If after seeing the book from my previous blog post about the Delsarte System  (elocution, et al), anyone has a burning interest in old books regarding elocution and oratory -- please let me know.  There are several more boxes of books on this subject available. Unfortunately, their not the cool, illustrated ones with dramatic poses.  The ones that are still tucked away happen to be more... dry.  They do, however, cover a time period from late 1890's through the 1930's  and range from elocution (the way you pronounce things to sound "correct")  and veer off towards linguistics or language acquisition.

And now I'm going to make a plug for Firsts Magazine.

I could have tracked down the information I needed by laborious slogging, but luck and timing were on my side last month when the consignment collection came my way.

To whit:  A subset of the books that came in this collection are from a series called The Scribner's Illustrated Classics.  The lucky thing was that Firsts Magazine issued a wonderful Holiday Issue this last year (December 2011) devoted to the works of N. C. Wyeth, which includes a long, detailed article about his relationship with the Scribner Illustrated Editions.

I did not simply take this information and stop there, mind you.  That would be folly. I took the information I found in this article and used it as a springboard to further research.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (illustrated by N.C. Wyeth)

While Scribner's had had books in a similar format for a number of years (beginning with Eugene Field's Poems of Childhood, illustrated by Maxfield Parrish in 1904), the first formal book in the Scribner's Illustrated Classics is considered Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson and illustrated by N. C. Wyeth, 1911. 

N.C. Wyeth was not the only illustrator whose work was featured in this bold series, but he did illustrate the largest number of books - 16 - more than any other artist.

The series (by 1911) had a regular format:  Black cloth covers with pictorial pastedown illustrations to the front covers and anywhere from 9-14 interior illustrations in color. Most of the books were originally issued with a dust jacket that included a sizable color illustration (usually the dust jacket illustration matched the front cover illustration, but not always).  These dust jackets are now quite scarce and in some cases very rare. 

Legends of Charlemagne, by Thomas Bulfinch (illustrated by N.C. Wyeth)

 The books themselves, have become collectors items.  Partly that collect-ability is due to the authors whose work was featured. But mostly the collect-ability now comes from the illustrators and the illustrations which are such an integral part of these books.

David Balfour,  by Robert Louis Stevenson (illustrated by N. C. Wyeth)

 Today, several of these books are very difficult to find in early printings (a quick check today showed that modern editions - with or without the original illustrations - are reprinted regularly).  The First Editions, when found in Very Good+ or better condition can range from  three to four figures depending on the author, illustrator and copies available.

Quentin Durward, by Sir Walter Scott (illustrated by C. Bosseron Chambers)

 The book series, begun in 1911, continued on a nearly one-a-year basis through the 1930's though the number of copies issued per book lessened as the depression took hold.  Book titles in the series ranged the gamut from adventure stories, to historical fiction, to westerns, and even poems. Some of the books are true classics of fiction, such as James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer and Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, while other titles were much more recent, including  John Fox Jr.'s The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (published in 1903) and Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's The Yearling (published 1938).

The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson (illustrated by N. C.Wyeth)

The books were very popular from the start and were reprinted regularly, though some small changes might occur between printings. Mostly, the number of color plates decreased for the reprint editions.  If the First Edition contained 12-14 color plates, later printings might have 8-9 color plates.  (Probably as a way to save on costs).  Not all reprints were modified and it is not a simple thing to determine First Edition status without some assistance of bibliographies.

The White Company, by A. Conan Doyle (Illustrated by N. C. Wyeth)

The series became so popular that other publishers took note and either worked with Scribners, or cribbed the idea and made their own, even to the point of getting the same illustrators (namely N. C. Wyeth) to work with them. So far I haven't found much information regarding these other illustrated series (haven't had time to yet), but the books were similarly bound, most had pictorial pastedowns on the covers, and in many cases, looked almost identical to the Scribner's books.  The David McKay Company, Cosmopolitan (NY), Houghton Mifflin and even Harper (and Brothers) got in on the act, releasing illustrated editions of classic books during the same time period as Scribner's did - getting in on the craze, as it were.

There's more to the story, of course -- it just happened that the publishers happened to have some of the greatest illustrators in history to work with -- and a buying public that was willing and able to purchase the goods.    And it's lucky for us that the books not only were published, but have survived so that we can enjoy them as well.

(PS:  crass commercial plug here -- the books shown today, in the last blog post, and in any future posts regarding the consignment collection ARE indeed available {on a first come first serve basis}, however they have not yet been posted to my website.  For more information about any of the titles shown here, or any other titles in the consignment, please feel free to email me).

1 comment:

Hugo Xavier said...

You might want to refer to this page for The Scribner Illustrated Classics for Young Readers series.!scribners-illustrated-classics-/cyev