An American Bookshelf

Macy-Masius (New York, US)
Series dates: 1927-1935
Size: 5″ x 7.5″

The An American Bookshelf series extended to only six titles, published in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The series was specifically focused on “accepted classics” of American literature that was, nevertheless “racy and entertaining, but little known.” The series was edited by Mark van Doren.


George Macy established the trade publishing firm Macy-Masius in 1923. Macy, apparently tiring of the trade book business, sold Macy-Masius to the Vanguard Press in 1928. An American Bookshelf continued to be published for several years after the merger. An American Bookshelf series seems to have set Macy to thinking about the prospects of the reprint series. An American Bookshelf was published within the dollar book, sold-at-stores model. After Macy-Masius, Macy was responsible for several very successful reprint subscription series including the Limited Editions Club (1929), the Readers’ Club and Heritage Club.

At 5″ x 7.5″ the series was larger in format than many other reprint series. The books and jackets were designed by Clarence Pearson Hornung although the initials “JG” are appended to the illustration on this particular jacket. The jackets had illustrations unique to each title, as with the somewhat strange and hideous jacket for Samuel Sewall’s Diary, below.


A blurb describing the book is included, with the book price, on the front and rear dust jacket flaps. The book itself has a rather over-the-top blue and red art deco inspired design.


The six initial (and only) titles in the series are listed on the page facing the title page.