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Showing posts from March, 2009

Kroch's Bookstores, Chicago - 1933 letter

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Here is a letter from Kroch's Bookstore in Chicago on company letterhead, dated Sept. 12, 1933. Kroch's was a twentieth century institution in Chicago, having gotten its start in 1907, by Adolph Kroch, as a German language bookstore. By the time this letter was written, the company had long since changed its business model to become an English language bookseller. Later still, under the guidance of Adolph's son, Carl, they would become Kroch's & Brentano's, the largest privately owned bookstore chain in the United States, with several stores around town. An innovative force in bookselling, their pioneering concepts in book display and store design became common throughout the industry. By 1993, though, Kroch's was facing serious challenges as changes were sweeping across the bookselling world. The big discount chains like Crown Books and Barnes & Noble were giving the independents a run for their money and running many off. Indeed, the New York Tim

New Orleans book trade labels

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I recently posted here a 1900 billhead for F.F. Hansell & Bro. of New Orleans and received a comment the other day from a gentleman who had found a Hansell label in the back of a book in his library. I was envious, wished I had one, and wondered what it looked like. Well, the book gods smiled on me that day or pure dumb luck kicked in because the same day I received the comment I found a book while out scouting used books that also contained a Hansell label. What are the odds? Granted, my label was on a printed page among other labels from New Orleans book shops, but I don't get too nitpicky with serendipity. The book was a gift out of the blue: The Booklover's Guide to New Orleans , by Susan Larson, with additional research by Kevin McCaffrey; Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1999. The images aren't coming out too great, but hopefully the enlarged sections below will present the individual labels better. Color would have been nice, but it's still

Henry Altemus Company - Philadelphia

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Having recently corresponded with Frank DeFreitas over at Antiquarian Holographica about certain historical sites in Philadelphia, I guess the Philly force was with me yesterday when I was out scouting for books. I found a decent copy of The Story of Young Benjamin Franklin , by Wayne Whipple (Henry Altemus Company, Philadelphia, 1916). Whipple wrote a series of children's books portraying famous Americans such as Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin. He also wrote about American icons such as the Liberty Bell and the American Flag. I might have passed on the Franklin book if not for what was tucked inside as a bookmark--a contemporary brochure from the publisher, Henry Altemus. There's a little character at the top of the first page, standing next to a row of books and with a book in hand, he exclaims, An Altemus book and nothing to do until tomorrow. Oh, joy! The brochure opens up into a front-and-back listing for Altemus' 20th Century Books for Boys and Girls. One s

Book shop labels from Rhodesia

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I've had a draft of this post sitting in the hopper for a week or so, but feel compelled to finish it now because of something posted about this site in the Fine Books & Collections blog. Exile Bibliophile referenced this site for the book shop labels that have appeared here before. It's been infrequent of late (thanks, though, for the mention), but I found several recently in a batch of books originally sold in Africa. Scouting for books a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an intriguing 1950s/60s collection of hardcovers from Rhodesia and Central Africa: Bryant's Abridged English-Zulu Word Book , Zulu Bibles with titles like Ibhayibheli Elingcwele and Itestamente Elitsha (New Testament), Baptist Hymnals compiled in Shona, Ndebele, and Chewa , and The Standard Shona Dictionary , to name several. These titles, along with certain inscriptions by the previous owner, indicated they belonged to a missionary working there 40 to 50 years ago. There were other generic ti

Little, Brown & Company

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How is current day (2009) French publisher, Hachette Livre, connected with a post-American Revolution bookstore founded in Boston in 1784 by a man named Ebenezer Battelle? That venerable old Boston publisher, Little, Brown & Company, is the link between the two. They (Charles Little and James Brown) got their start with Carter, Hilliard & Co. (directly or indirectly, as indicated further down), eventual successors to Battelle’s bookstore, and went into business for themselves in 1837. Today, they are one of many publishers comprising French publishing giant Hachette Livre. Here's a billhead for Little, Brown & Company, dated 1892, which I recently acquired. What got my attention on this was the business description underneath the company name: Law Booksellers, Publishers & Importers . Publishers, what they're known for today and for the last half century and more, gets second billing. But the modifier Law is what grabbed my attention. I was ignorant of