Casket Library

Blackie & Son Ltd. (London, Glasgow, UK)
Series dates: 1905-1929
Size: 4.75″ x 7″

Blackie & Son published educational and juvenile books including several series: Blackie’s Library of Famous Books (1890s), Blackie’s Famous Books, (1910-1965) and the Kennett Library (late 1950s onward). They also published a scholarly series called the Casket Library which reprinted titles from an earlier series, the Red Letter Library.

The name “Casket” Library may seem odd to Americans, given the term is used as a euphemism for coffin in the US. Casket in its original sense means a “small box for jewels, etc.” Thus a series of small containers (books) with jewels (literary jewels).

Jackets for the Casket Library are printed on heavy linen paper. The jacket designs are common to the entire series, varying only the titles of the books. “A Unique Library of English Prose and Poetry, beautifully produced, 2s. 6d. net per volume.” A charming model holds forth a lovely casket on the front of the jacket.

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The books are of solid cloth binding with minimal detail.

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The eleven titles in the series on the back of the jacket include a few Stevenson’s, Gissing’s autobiography of Dickens, and edited collections of English prose and poetry, probably intended for college classroom use.

A note before the table of contents in the book indicates that “This book was originally issued in ‘The Warwick Library of English Literature,’ under the general editorship of Professor C.H. Herford.”

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Many of the Casket Library titles, then, had been published in an earlier Blackie & Sons series. An advertisement from The Publishers’ Circular and Booksellers’ Record, Volume 84 (January 6, 1906) advertises the Warwick Library:

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An additional jacket and book from the Casket Library series, this one advertising another Blackie & Sons series, the Wallet Library.

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