Harrap’s Shilling Library

George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1931-1935
Size: 5″ x 7.25″

The pre-WW2 Harrap’s Shilling Library series is one of those publisher’s series that was typically the bottom rung: the last, cheapest cloth-bound printings of back catalog titles, usually popular fiction by low-brow authors, in this case with non-publisher advertising on the jacket and book. The jackets are garish, the paper and binding cheap. The low price is a major selling point (in this case, indicated in the series name), but also suggested by including two price indicators on the jacket spine (see below). In essence, pop fiction for low-brow readers with a small book budget.

Harrap’s Shilling Library first appears in book lists in 1931 and the focus is mystery, crime and adventure novels. Monsieur Blackshirt by David Graeme was issued as #76 in the series in 1935. Graeme was one of the pen-names of popular author Graham Jeffries. “Set in 16th century France, Monsieur Blackshirt was ‘A gallant scallawag who is quick with his tongue & his sword & as quick to bandy words with a pretty wench.’ It is said that in his veins ‘flows the blood of the great de Rohan and a tawny gypsy girl.'” (source)

Jackets are unique to each title, with the cover illustrating a scene from the undoubtedly gripping tale contained between the covers. One source identifies at least one of the jacket artists in this series as H. W. Perl (“Redheads are Poison” – Collecting Pulp Fiction: H. W. Perl [1897-1952]).

The jacket spine includes the price, two times, author and title, but no publisher. The series name is included on the front of the jacket. The front jacket flap includes a brief description of the book along with, in this case, the six newest titles in the series (including this title). The price is also included on the front jacket flap (1/, net).

While publisher advertising is common on most publisher’s reprint series books, non-publisher advertising is less so. In this case, Euthymol toothpaste is advertised on the back fo the jacket by a full-color exemplar of the pearly-whites the product produces. The rear jacket flap lists titles currently available in the series, omitting those that are out of print. A list of titles is below.

Titles in the series are below. The series has at least 85 numbered titles. 25 titles with an asterisk were not included on the jacket above (out of print). I have found only 1 of these titles (#45). 8 titles with two asterisks were added after the list on the book above was printed. At the end are 10 titles I know are in the series but don’t know the number. Thus 24 known titles with unknown numbers, and 14 unknown titles in the series. Years are included if I’ve found a reference to the year of printing in the series. A few (such as #3) seem to have been reprinted (the original year in the series for #3 should be 1931).

3. Bluefeather, Laurence W. Meynell (1934)
8. Behind That Curtain, Earl Derr Biggers
11. Blackshirt, Bruce Graeme (1932)
12. The Return Of Blackshirt, Bruce Graeme
20. Rogues And Diamonds, Selwyn Jepson
22. The Strange Disappearance Of Mary Young, Milton Propper
24. Deluge, S. Fowler Wright (1932)
25. Gaboreau, Paul Steward
26. Gaboreau The Terrible, Paul Steward (1932)
27. William Cook – Antique Dealer, Richard Keverne
28. The Verdict Of You All, Henry Wade (1932)
29. The King Against Anne Bickerton, Sydney Fowler
30. Ultimatum, Victor MacClure (1932)
31. The House Of Disappearance, J. Jefferson Farjeen (1932)
32. The Case Of The Marsden Rubies, Leonard R. Gribble
33. The Shadow Syndicate, Clifford Hosken
34. The Duke Of York’s Steps, Henry Wade (1932)
35. The Havering Plot, Richard Keverne (1932)
36. Carteret’s Cure, Richard Keverne (1932)
37. The Missing Partners, Henry Wade (1932)
38. The Ace of Spades, Henry Holt
39. The Bell Street Murders, Sydney Fowler
40. Seven Keys To Baldpate, Earl Derr Biggers (1932)
41. The Grand Modena Murder, Leonard R. Gribble
42. The Rayner-Slade Amalgamation, J.S. Fletcher (1933)
*45. Murder in the Embassy, ‘Diplomat’ (1933)
46. Dream, S. Fowler Wright (1933)
47. Elfwin, S. Fowler Wright (1933)
48. Murder At Wrides Park, J.S. Fletcher
49. Is This Revenge? Leonard R. Gribble
50. The Wolf’s Claw, Henry Holt
51. The “Crying Pig” Murder, Victor MacClure
52. Murder In Four Degrees, J.S. Fletcher
53. Alias Blackshirt, Bruce Graeme (1933, 1934)
54. Murder In The Squire’s Pew, J.S. Fletcher (1934)
55. The Stolen Home Secretary, Leonard R. Gribble (1934)
56. The Case Of Matthew Crake, A.G. Macleod (1934)
57. The Sagebrush Buckaroo, T.G. Springer
58. The Creed Of The Range, G.B. Rodney (1934)
59. Royce Of The Royal Mounted, Amos Moore
60. Murder Of The Ninth Baronet, J.S. Fletcher
61. Murderer’s Luck, Henry Holt
62. The Counterfeit Murders, Victor MacClure (1934)
63. To The Victor –, Henry Von Rhau
64. The Canyon Of No Return, W.D. Hoffman (1934)
65. Cross Knife Ranch, A.H. Gooden
66. Murder Of The Only Witness, J.S. Fletcher
67. The Secret Of Tangles, Leonard R. Gribble (1935)
68. Mr. Coroner Presides, Seldon Truss
69, Paid In Full, Laurence Meynell
70. “Gallows ” Grange, Henry Holt
71. Death Behind The Door, Victor MacClure
72. Watch The Wall, Laurence W. Meynell (1935)
73. Who Killed Alfred Snow? J.S. Fletcher (1935)
74. The Transatlantic Ghost, Dorothy Gardiner (1935)
75. The Yellow Bungalow Mystery, Leonard R. Gribble
76. Monsieur Blackshirt, David Graeme (1935)
77. The Clue Of The Dead Goldfish, Victor MacClure
**83. Dangerous Men, Paull Steward (1936)
**85. The Case of the Sulky Girl, Erle Stanley Gardner (1937)

* “Numbers missing are now ‘out of print'”
** Added after list on Braeme title above issued

Titles without a known series number:

The Chinese Parrot, Earl Derr Biggers (1931)
The Chestermarke Instinct, J.S. Fletcher (1931)
Dead Men’s Money, J.S. Fletcher (1931)
The Trail of the White Knight, Bruce Graeme (1931)
The House of Fear, Robert W. Service (1931)
Inspector Frost’s Jigsaw, H. Maynard Smith (1931)

The Crook’s Shadow, J. Jefferson Farjeon (1932)

The Victory Murders, Foster Johns (1936)

Odds on Bluefeather, Laurence W. Meynell (1937)
The Vengeance of Monsieur Blackshirt, David Graeme (1937)

The entire red, cloth book cover is shown below. The front and spine are printed with decorative elements that suggest the early part of the century. In case the book owner discards the jacket, Euthymol toothpaste is advertised on the back cover of the book itself. This kind of non-publisher advertising is uncommon (also seen on books in Hutchinson’s 7d. Novels and Hurst & Blackett’s 7d. Novels series).

To save less than a fraction of a cent, there are no endpapers in the book (no page between the inside covers and first/last pages in the book). The book opens directly to the half-title page.

A simple title page with the Harrap imprint and publisher’s descriptive details.

First published in 1935. “Made in Great Britain. Printed by Purnell & Sons, Ltd. Paulton (Somerset) and London.”

The last page in the book faces the back cover, with, again, no endpapers.