Burt’s Home Library

A. L. Burt Company (New York, US)
Series dates: 1883-1937
Size: 5″ x 7.25″

Burt published numerous reprint series including many gift and juvenile series from 1883 until the company was sold in 1937. A few, such as the Cornell SeriesBurt’s Home Library and Burt’s Pocket Edition of Standard Classics included titles by standard authors, copyright-free and often seemingly printed with older plates (thus the type is often uneven and broken in places) purchased from other publishers.

The copy of Burt’s Home Library below is from 1903 according to the jacket (the jacket spine lists additional titles for 1903; the front jacket flap lists additional titles for 1902). The jacket is similar to one on a 1904 book from Burt’s Cornell Series, with an eye-straining list of titles in the series covering the entire jacket – including the latest list of new titles (from 1903) on the jacket spine. This is actually a good idea, considering the jacket spine is all a typical book buyer would see when browsing bookstore shelves. The jackets are common to the series, and vary only in the printing of the book’s title and author on the jacket spine. The front top of the jacket includes a blurb about the series (above) and illustration of a representative tome. Price is $1.00.

The list of titles continues on the rear of the jacket and back flap.

This 1903 book is solidly bound in wine colored cloth with gold typography. The series name is included on the book spine.

The book does not incorporate a half-title page. An illustration, the only in the book, faces the title page, separated by a sheet of bound in page of tissue.

The title page:

There is no copyright indication nor date in the book itself.

The rear of the book includes a blurb for the series, as well as a six page listing of titles in the series.

 

burtshome_dj2_chairguyBy the the late 1920s the jackets are redesigned.

Of the two jackets I have seen from this era of the series, I believe the white jacket is the earlier one. It includes a rather elaborate logo for the series, but is otherwise commonly designed for the series.

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An advertisement for the series is included on the rear of the jacket.

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The bindings are cloth, maroon with gold stamping. The name of the series is included on the spine, but nowhere else in the book.

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The series titles are printed on the back of the dust jacket (which can be enlarged here by clicking). 450 titles are listed at $1.25 per book.

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While there are no dates to distinguish the chronology of the previous and next jacket, I believe the jacket below was used later. Probably published in the Depression, the jackets are redesigned to be more attractive and the price dropped to $1. This price drop happened with other series (such as the Borzoi Pocket Books) during the depression.

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Both jacket flaps and the back of the jacket are used for series advertisement. A gentleman with his suit and tie and a stogie provide for an image of the ideal Burt’s Home Library reader.

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The catalog loses about 50 or so titles. This was not unusual during the Depression when poorly selling titles were left to go out of print.

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Burt and its imprints were sold to Reynal & Hitchcock (publisher of Blue Ribbon Books) in 1937. In 1939, Doubleday acquired Reynal & Hitchcock, along with the Blue Ribbon Books and Burt imprints. Doubleday would issue the New Home Library from 1943-1947. Few of the Burt’s Home Library titles were issued in this revamped series, however. Instead it was a series of newer fiction and non-fiction reprints.