Nisbets’ Shilling Novels

aka/ Nisbets’ 1/- Novels

Nisbet & Co., Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1914-1917
Size: 4.75″ x 7″

James Nisbet began publishing in London in 1809. Nisbet & Co., Ltd. primarily published evangelical religious texts along with bibliographies and juvenile books. The firm began publishing secular titles by the latter part of the nineteenth century.

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Along with many other publishers at the time, Nisbet issued a Shilling Library. The series shows up in advertising from 1914-1917 and does not seem to have included more than a half dozen or so titles. Like other similar series, the quality of the book is low, but wrapped in a colorful jacket. Oliver Onions’ The Debit Account is one of a trilogy of novels called (and eventually republished as) Whom God Hath Sundered. Onions is best remembered for his ghost stories. Whom God Hath Sundered is the story of a carefully planned and seemingly justifiable murder and the three people entangled in the situation.

Jackets on the series seem to have been unique to the title with a somewhat boisterous cover design meant to attract buyers. An illustration related to the novel is included on the front of the book along with the series name. The 1/- price was covered by a sticker (possibly a price increase) which someone attempted to remove. The spine has a description of the book, “recognized as a masterpiece of modern literature.” The price is also included on the spine. The front flap is blank.

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The rear flap is missing from this particular jacket. The back of the jacket lists the five titles in the series as of 1917. Two of the titles in Onions’ Whom God Hath Sundered trilogy (In Accordance with the Evidence and The Debit Account) are listed.

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Cheap board binding has black printing and debossing.

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The paper is of low quality, yellow and crumbling, as seen on the page facing the half-title.

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Facing the title page is a list of the other Oliver Onions books in the series. The third part Onions’ trilogy (The Story of Louie) is noted as in preparation. This book does seem to have been published by Nisbet in 1917. The series may have added a few additional titles beyond the 5 on the jacket and the third Onions title.

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The copyright page indicates “First published at 1/ – in 1917.”

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