Bourbon Classics

The Dial Press (New York, US)
Series dates: 1929-1930
Size: 6″ x 9″

Dial Press’ Lincoln MacVeagh was a polymath of sorts, speaking half a dozen languages fluently, serving as a Major in WW1, after which he served as a director at Henry Holt & Co. In 1923 he left Holt and established the Dial Press in the same building as Scofield Thayer’s The Dial Magazine and the two publishing efforts were coordinated. MacVeagh sold the Dial Press in 1933 before accepting the position of American minister to Greece. After WW2 MacVeagh played a significant role in shaping the Truman Doctrine. He engaged in archaeology while in Greece in the post-WW2 era, wrote children’s books, and served as ambassador to Portugal and Spain in the 1950s. Dial Press was partially acquired by Dell Publishing in 1963, and eventually ended up as an imprint of Random House.

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The Bourbon Classics series was a subset of titles from the Broadway Library of Eighteenth-Century French Literature published by Routledge in the UK. Routledge published 19 titles (and announced, but never published 4 additional titles) from 1927-1930. Brentano’s published 13 titles from the Broadway Library under that series name in 1927 and 1928 (and announced but did not publish 8 more), before abandoning the series. Dial changed the series name and published the last 6 titles in the series before discontinuing the series in 1930.

The Bourbon Classics series was similar to the Dial Press series Golden Dragon Library which was issued at the same time. Both were co-published by Routledge (in the UK) and Dial (in the US). Both series contained a selection of very literary and sometimes esoteric books focused on, with the Golden Dragon Library, Eastern literature, and, with the Bourbon Classics, 18th century French fiction and memoirs. The books had a high quality design and were of much better than average quality than the typical reprint series book. With such quality came a price, anywhere from $2.50 to $5.00, which was well above the typically sub $1 price of other popular reprint series. For comparison, $5 (the price on the Lespinasse title immediately below) is approximately $70 in 2017 dollars.

The Bourbon Classics consist of six titles, those published in the UK by Routledge but not by Brentano’s in the US. It is possible that a series name containing “Broadway” was seen as confusing for a U.S. audience, who may assume the name referred to Broadway (and the theatre) in the US. One title, Prevost’s The Adventures of a Man of Quality, mysteriously appears in WorldCat with the Bourbon Classics series name but Routledge UK imprint. This may be a mistake.

**1929: The Adventures of Zeloide, Augustin Paradis de Moncrif
**1929: The Picture of Paris Before and After the Revolution, Louis Sebastien Mercier
**1929: The Love Letters of Mlle. De Lespinasse, To and From the Comte de Guibert
*1930: The Adventures of a Man of Quality, The Abbe Prevost
**1930: Memoirs and Correspondence of Madam D’Epinay
**1930: The Memoirs of Marmontel

* Sold in the UK by Routledge as part of the Bourbon Library

** Sold in the UK by Routledge as part of the Broadway Library of Eighteenth-Century French Literature

Bourbon Classics titles share a common jacket design. The design differs from both the Routledge and Brentano’s version of the series. The series name is indicated on the top of the dust jacket spine, as well as the top of the jacket front and front jacket flap.

This copy of The Love Letters of Mlle. de Lespinasse is dated 1929, and is among the first three titles in the series. The spine indicates “Illustrated” but includes no price. The price is included on the front jacket flap ($5) which also includes a description of the book.

The back of the jacket describes the first three books in the series, along with a description of The Picture of Paris.

Books are bound in burgundy plasticized material with gold typography on the spine, including the series name. Debossed decorations are included on the front of the book.

The half-title page: The main title is printed in dark blue ink, the rest in black.

A frontispiece illustration faces the title page. The dark blue ink is used for the title and publisher name. The date (1929) is included in Roman numerals.

The copyright page includes the year of printing (1929) is indicated. The book was printed in Great Britain. Routledge seems to have arranged for the printing of the Bourbon Classics and shipped the books to the US for sale.

A second copy from the series, The Memoirs and Correspondence of Mme. D’Epinay was among the first six titles in the series, and was printed in 1930. Unlike the earlier title, the price ($4) is included on the jacket spine. The front jacket flap advertises another Bourbon Classics title, The Picture of Paris.

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The rear of the jacket contains a list with prices of the six (and only) titles issued in the series by Dial. The rear jacket flap advertises The Love Letters of Mlle. de Lespinasse.

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The burgundy plasticized binding material with gold typography on the spine, including the series name. Debossed decorations are included on the front of the book. This is the same as the 1929 copy above.

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The half-title page: The main title is printed in dark blue ink, the rest in black.

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A frontispiece illustration faces the title page. The dark blue ink is used for the title and publisher name. The date (1930) is included in Roman numerals.

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The year of printing (1930) is indicated. The book was printed in Great Britain.

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