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Book publishers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries used a number of means to promote their latest works. Trade magazines such as Publishers' Weekly were packed with the latest publishers' offerings. Some companies sent out fliers to bookstores and potential customers. Altemus mainly used inserts placed into books. Sometimes these consisted of a mini-catalogue of books. Other times the ads were a single sheet advertising several books. Although I have accumulated a number of these over the years, I am convinced that what you see here is just the tip of the ad iceberg.

During the 90 plus year history of the Altemus publishing firm it published more than books, photographic albums, Bibles etc. Altemus not only bound books for others in the early years but produced numerous items under the Altemus & Co. imprint for others needing paper items. In this section some of these items will be shown.


Click thumbnail images to enlarge.


Date Series Information
18 Feb 2012 NS

Altemus Bindery


Here is the 1848 version of Christmas Blossoms by Uncle Thomas. This book was published by Phillips and Sampson, a Boston publisher. As can be seen above this same cover was used in 1849 by E. H. Butler with its publication of that year's Christmas Blossoms by Uncle Thomas.

If you look closely, the words "Altemus Binder" and "Phi" are placed in the gold gilt on the bottom left of the front cover.

Bottom Left


15 Feb 2012 NS

Envelope-Advertising Cover (1890)


This is a very rare Altemus advertising cover from 1890. In 1889 Altemus published the six titles of the Dore's Masterpieces Series. (http://henryaltemus.com/series/series78.htm). All six oversized volumes were published until 1903 in a number of different formats. Because of the beautiful Gustave Dore illustrations, these books are always in great demand and sell for a premium.

This advertising cover pictures Format 1- Volume 1 in the series. The other books are listed at the top of the envelope. Die Dore Bibel Gallerie is a German translation of Volume #1 and was included in this series beginning in 1892. (Thus, at that point there were seven titles in the series.)

In my opinion this is one of the rarest pieces of Altemus ephemera.


19 Oct 2011 0

Pamphlet Advertising for Juvenile Series (1910-1911)


This 32 page advertising pamphlet advertises four different boys juvenile series: Motor Boat Club, Submarine Boys, Pony Rider Boys and High School Boys. There is an excerpt from each series and then a full page ad listing the books from the series. It is 6.5 x 4.5.

The pamphlet lists books published as late as 1910 but not any 1912 books.

This is the second Altemus advertising pamphlet that I have seen. Both only highlighted juvenile series.

Front Cover

Altemus message to "Young Booklovers"



Representative Pages


29 Sep 2011 NS

Altemus & Co. Postcard-1892


This is the only postcard I have seen with the Altemus and Co. imprint. It is dated November 17, 1892 and relates to a bill. This is a very unusual and scarce item.


28 Sep 2011 NS

Altemus letter- 1890's



07 Aug 2011 NS

Stationery/ Altemus Letter 1891


Although I have seen envelopes with the stamped Altemus return address, I have previously not seen stationery with the Altemus letterhead. Here is an example from 1891.

Interestingly the subject of this letter relates to a potential order from a firm in Curwensville. Just above there are two invoices/receipts from the Curwensville Bank. These invoices were written one month after the letter. Perhaps they are related.


04 Aug 2011 57

Boys and Girls Classics (new)


Here is a new advertising flyer for this series of fifteen books. The one sheet advertisement which is 9 x 3.25 shows an example of a book cover and lists all of the books.

This series had a number of cover pictures all of which were made from different linen swatches. See http://henryaltemus.com/series/series57.htm.

The books initially came in labeled boxes but later some were issued with dust jackets. Frequently there is confusion between these books and those from the Young People's Library. This is because the interiors of the books of the same title are identical including the title page which states "Young People's Library".

The date of publication can be confusing also since Altemus often put the copyright date on the title page. This series' books can be dated by studying the ads in the back of the book. The series was published between 1908 and 1926.

Shown below with the flyer are cover, box and dust jacket examples.


17 Jul 2011 NS

Non Series #16- Baby's Requirements


Product advertisements in Altemus books are basically unheard of. Leinbach & Bro advertised its clothing store but that was in books that Leinbach gave away.

See: http://henryaltemus.com/ephemera/leinbach.htm. Here is the only example that I know of a product advertisement in an Altemus book. It is bound into the extremely rare 1895 Altemus edition of Baby's Requirements by Elisabeth Robinson Scovil. The book which is 6.25 x 4.5 has a limp leatherette binding.

As you can see, here is an ad for Ivory Soap. It is placed in the back of the book and there are no other ads present. I cannot explain why this ad is in this book.

There is a chapter on bathing infants in the book but it does not mention Ivory Soap.


04 Jul 2011 0

Pamphlet Advertising for Juvenile Series (1913)


This 32 page advertising pamphlet for Altemus' juvenile series books is exceptionally uncommon. I have seen two such pamphlets (including this one) over the years. This piece is 6.375 x 4.5.

Five boys' juvenile series are highlighted with full page ads that show the book's cover. Four of the five have an excerpt from the book in the pamphlet.

Interestingly this pamphlet has a store name, P. B. Magrane Store, stamped on it. Most likely Altemus made these advertising pamphlets available to stores which thereafter could individualize them. Really, an excellent way for Altemus to market its books.

What is fascinating is that the store advertised the books for sale at 25 cents even though the price on the books was actually 50 cents. Perhaps the store got a bulk deal on the books or maybe was willing to take less profit per book to get the customer into their store.

The P. B. Magrane Store in Lynn, Massachusetts , like most large department stores before the era of free standing book stores (now coming to an end) had a book department.

Patrick Byrne Magrane (1852-1933) had immigrated from Ireland. He founded his namesake store in 1876 in Lynn, Mass. The store was still in business in the 1950's.


07 Jun 2011 NS

Non Series #88- A Little Garden Calendar


This two page flyer was found in a Young People's Library-Format 3 book published in 1911-1912. The Little Garden Calendar was first published by Altemus in 1905. There is nothing on the flyer that can help to date it. The price of the book is noted to be $1.00. This was the price that Altemus listed in every ad for the book from 1905 on.


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