Henry Altemus Company




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Salesman Samples

Stationery/Altemus Letters

Stock Certificates




This little advertising calendar (3.875 x 2.375) from 1880 from Altemus & Co. points out the company's ability to manufacture whatever type of book the client wanted. At this time Altemus had not been routinely publishing reading books on its own imprint. Bibles, photographic albums and scrapbooks were the mainstay of their own imprint's publishing business but Altemus was very busy publishing for the needs of others.




Here is an early check made out by an employee of Altemus & Co. Of interest is a reference seen which referred to J. S. Young and Altemus regarding an 1865 donation to Union causes.




This 1884 item printed by Altemus appears to be a promissory note. This "check" is different from previous ones seen as noted by the picture not present on others.




Here is yet another check printed by Altemus & Co. at the turn of the century. This one is of interest because the company the check was issued for was in New Jersey as opposed to Pennsylvania.




Here is another check published by Altemus & Company for a Philadelphia bank. This was printed at the turn of the century. Although the books had the Henry Altemus imprint, the paper items had the Altemus & Company imprint.




This check was printed by Altemus & Co. as noted by the imprint on the bottom left. Most of the printing work done by Altemus was for Philadelphia companies.




Here is a 1927 letter from the Henry Altemus Company to an unknown Book Review Editor touting the greatness of the Wages of Peril written by Jack Bechdolt. The letter summarizes the plot of the book.

There is a note on the bottom of the letter which says "Did not review".




As has been noted, Altemus & Co. continued to produce blank books, ledgers, etc. while they published books (as late as the 1930's). Here are two envelopes with the Fourth Street address. These envelopes are both postmarked in 1932.

Finding these blank books and ledgers is difficult because they are frequently not identified as being the product of the Altemus house.




Here is a pre-1900 Altemus envelope. The Henkel & Co. Printers and Publishers was founded in 1806. It still operates today.


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.




After Altemus stopped publishing books, it still produced blank books and did some printing with the Altemus & Co. name. Here is an envelope from 1937. As has been noted before, most of these blank books have no Altemus identifying features and therefore are very hard to locate.




Below is a reel of film filmed by the James C. Muir and Company, a Philadelphia firm. This reel contains 32 pictures (no text) from the Wee Folks Cinderella Series Tom Thumb Book (http://henryaltemus.com/series/series188.htm).

The reel is titled "Filmascope" Tom Thumb and was "reproduced with the Permission of Henry Altemus Company Philadelphia", Copyright 1921.

Apparently Muir produced a number of these little reels in the late 1920's. I presume that the little metal canister is an original.




Even as Altemus became more involved in book publishing, it still sold non-book items. Here is receipt from 1891 in which pens were being sold.




Another receipt for items that were purchased by the Curwensville Bank in 1891. Here is evidence that Altemus produced many non-printed book paper goods. The receipt noted ledgers, collection books, etc.


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.


Salesman Sample
Series 180 Vademecum Series 1903


Here is an extremely rare item from the Henry Altemus Company. Whether this was a salesman sample of covers or some sort of marketing aid is unknown. My guess is that this piece was used to show store owners the variety of covers that Altemus books could be found with and how this variety could help sales.

Between 1901 and 1907 some of the Altemus' Vademecum Series' books had appliqué covers with European paintings. More than 40 different ones have been seen. In most instance several different cover pictures could be put together to form a larger illustration. See: http://www.henryaltemus.com/vademecum.htm

The cover templates below were from books published in 1903. Very interesting is that the title :"Allegories of the Heart" which is on the fourth cover from the left was never published by Altemus.

I have seen one similar item over the years. That item has three of the six 1904 Wee Books for Wee Folk's Series' covers. See below.


Salesman Samples


This piece includes the attached covers of three of the six books of the Format 1 Wee Books for Wee Folks Series (#185). No other information about this item exists.


Salesman Dummy Book
Series 78 Dore's Masterpieces


Here is a salesman dummy (sample) book for this series. It was published in the early 1890's. These books were used by traveling salesman (such as H. M. Caldwell) to show the different books that were available. Frequently different formats of the same title were included in the Dummy Book. Here different titles in this same series were shown.

Series titles #1-4 are included in this sales piece. #1 Dore's Bible Gallery and #4 Dante's Purgatory and Paradise make up the front and back cover respectively. The book covers are 12 x 9.75 and are from the Format 1 books.


Titles #2 (Milton's Paradise Lost) and #3 (Dante's Inferno) are displayed when the book is opened.


Inside the back cover is a representative spine for the series.


In the back of the book there are sheets to record purchaser's names and addresses.


Within the book there are short excerpts from The Dore Bible Gallery, Dante's Inferno,and Milton's Paradise Lost.

This item is among the rarest of all the Altemus ephemera I have seen over the years.

Salesman Dummy Book
Series 78 Dore's Masterpieces


This sample book is from the early 1890's. The door to door publisher'srepresentative would show this book to prospective buyers. This book highlights Format 1 of the Dore's Masterpieces Series.

This is the second Salesman Sample book of this series that I have seen. This book differs a bit from the other one. Its condition is not quite as good and I think two of the covers that would have been part of the book may have been removed.

The external covers have Milton's Paradise Lost and Dante's Inferno, Note that the other sample book has these two covers internally. Milton's Paradise Lost was bound upside down. The covers are 12" x 9.75".


Inside the front cover are three sample spines.


Within the book are excerpts from Dore's Bible Gallery, Dante's Inferno, and Milton's Paradise Lost. Interestingly a one page flyer advertising Paradise Lost is tipped in at the first page of its excerpt.


In the back are a number of pages of customers who had ordered one ofthese books. The addresses are all in the northern California area (Sacramento, Stockton, etc.)


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.


Stationery/ Altemus Letter 1890's



Stock Certificate


Here is a stock certificate printed by Altemus & Co. in 1897.


Stock Certificate


This stock certificate from the Packer Coal Company was printed by Altemus & Company. The signer, Israel Morris, bought 38 shares in 1885. Of note is that the Packer Coal Company which was located in South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was founded by Asa Packer, the founder of Lehigh University. (My daughter's school). Of further interest is that the signer Israel Morris was a well known and well connected Philadelphia businessman.

As noted before, Altemus & Company did various types of printing in the 1800's. Stock certificates are only one example. This is the second different company's certificate printed by Altemus that I have located. I suspect that there are more. (The Altemus & Co. imprint is on the lower left of the certificate.)


Stock Certificate


This is another stock certificate printed by Altemus and Company. This certificate differs from the other two that have been found in two ways. First, the other two stock certificates were printed for local Pennsylvania companies whereas this one was printed for a company located in Colorado. Secondly, this is the earliest of the three being printed in 1882.

All three certificates have the Altemus & Co. Phil in the bottom left.


Stock Certificate


Altemus and Company was mainly a printer in the 1880's. In addition to blank books, stationery and the like, a number of Altemus printed stock certificates have been seen. Here is a second stock certificate (for this website) for a Colorado mining company. This 1881 certificate for 500 shares was issued by the Lincoln Mining Company of Leadville, Colorado. Note the "Altemus & Co. Phil" imprint on the bottom left.

It is impossible to know how many companies contracted with Altemus to print their stock certificates. Here is the fourth one that I have found.



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Last Revision May 17, 2017