Hour-Glass Stories

Funk & Wagnalls (New York, US; London, UK)
Series dates: 1902-1911
Size: 4.75″ x 6.5″

Originally a publisher of religious books upon its founding in 1875, Funk & Wagnalls increasingly focused on reference books after 1890, including digests, dictionaries, and encyclopedias. They published several encyclopedic fiction sets in the 1910s and 1920s, including the collected work of authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, as well as The World’s One Hundred Best Short Stories, the Pocket Library of the World’s Essential Knowledge, and The World’s 1000 Best Poems. 


The Hour-Glass Stories was a diminutive series of “novelettes” published by Funk & Wagnalls for a decade in the early 20th century.  The series was one of the many bijou gift series published in the late 19th and early 20th century. The art nouveau designs on the binding are by Margaret Armstrong. At least 14 titles were included in the series with dates ranging from 1902 to 1911:

#1: The Courtship of Sweet Anne Page, Ellen Talbot
#2: The Sandals: A Tale of Palestine, Zelotes Grenell
#3: The Transfiguration of Miss Philura, Florence Kingsley
#4: The Herr Doctor, Robert Macdonald
#5: Esarhaddon, King of Assyria, Leo Tolstoy
#6: Parsifal: Story and Analysis of Wagner’s Great Opera, H.R. Haweis
#7: The Trouble Woman, Clara Morris
#8: The Czar’s Gift, William Partridge
#9: Balm in Gilead, Florence Kingsley
#10: Miserere, Mabel Wagnalls
#11: The Old Darnman, Charles Goodell
#12: The Emancipation of Miss Susana, Margaret Hannis
#13: The Return of Caroline, Florence Kingsley
#14: Mary Stuart, Una Birch

This list is taken from the catalog in the back of the last volume, Mary Stuart, available on Archive.org. The numbering of these titles varies in a few cases. They may not have been actual series numbers but merely numbers used in the catalogs. The series numbers are not otherwise on the jackets or books.

Jackets for the Hour-Glass Stories are common to the series, with a pale blue hour-glass design overprinted by the book title, author, and description on the front of the jacket. The price (.40 cents) is printed in the same pale blue as the series name and illustration. The spine includes the book price. The front jacket flap advertises the another Funk and Wagnalls title (not in the series), Stars of the Opera.


The back of the jacket is blank and the rear flap advertises the first seven books in the series. At least one more title was added to the series.


The bookbindings were designed by American designer Margaret Armstrong. Illustrated bindings and dust jackets by Armstrong are illustrated at Margaret Armstrong Decorated Bindings Collection.

The book cover does not include the series name.


The half-title page:


An illustrated frontispiece. While advertised as illustrated (on the jacket) this is the only illustration. Tissue separates the frontispiece from the title page.


The title page with the Funk & Wagnalls logo.


The copyright page includes the original copyright date (1901) and the date of printing (March 1902) in the Hour-Glass Series.


The first four titles in the Hour-Glass Series are advertised at the end of the book. Two, with descriptions, on one page…


And two more on another: