T.C. & E.C. Jack (London & Edinburgh, UK), Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd. (London, UK) and Dodge Publishing Co. (New York, US)
Series dates: 1912-1925
Size: 4.25″ x 6.5″
Edwin Jack was a partner in the Edinburgh publisher T.C. & E.C. Jack which was acquired by Thomas Nelson & Sons in 1915 and kept as an imprint of that publisher. The Dodge Publishing Co. was founded in 1897 in San Francisco as the Dodge Book and Stationery Company. They moved to New York soon after and in 1899 changed their name to the Dodge Publishing Co. They originally printed calendars and gift books. The company was bought out in 1927 by Robert M. McBride and Company.
People’s Books sold in the US have the Jack and Dodge imprint. Titles sold in the UK have the same imprint early on, but by 1916 the imprint on some books is Jack and Nelson. Titles published in the UK after 1919 have the Jack and Nelson imprint, and sometimes the Jack and Dodge imprint, and the jackets indicate “New Issue” suggesting the series was redesigned potentially with some new titles.
The People’s Books were one of several series (such as The Home University Library) that assumed a readership with low means but high intellectual goals. The People’s Books were distinguished by their succinct format, written by experts, at a very low price. At least 155 titles were issued. This is not a reprint series, but instead a series of new titles commissioned by the publishers. The brevity + quality + low-cost gained many glowing reviews when the series was released. Snippets from reviews are included at the end of some of the catalog scans (below).
It seems likely that the books were printed and bound in the UK then copies sent to Dodge who added the US jackets. Besides the jackets, the UK and US books themselves are essentially the same.
The earliest UK editions have a common, plain text jacket with the series name dominating the front of the book. Also included on the front of the jacket is the author and title, a blurb for the series, price, publisher and direction to the list of 60 titles planned for the series. This copy of Mrs. E. O’Neill’s England in the Middle Ages was published in April 1912. Oddly, the only date in the book is near the printer’s imprint at the back of the book (in this case, 4/12; see below). This title was among the second dozen titles issued. The jacket spine contains the series number, price (6d.) and book title.
The front jacket flap includes the first half of a list of the first 60 volumes, of which two dozen were available at the time this book was issued. The series titles were not issued in order; instead, they were issued a dozen at a time, out of serial number order (probably based on when the manuscripts were completed).
The planned and available titles continue on the rear jacket flap. Categories are science, philosophy & religion, history, social & economic, and letters. Titles are listed up to #61 (thus one more title beyond the 60 noted on the front and front flap of the jacket). Review opinions of the series fill the rear of the jacket.
The bindings are cloth printed in black ink, including a stern looking monk reviewing a scroll of knowledge. The series name is printed on the front of the book itself.
The half title page including the series name in the upper right corner:
The title page:
Dates are typically not included in the front of the books and the copyright page is typically blank.
The dates in the People’s Books series are indicated near the printer’s imprint at the end of the book. In this case, 4/12 (April 1912). A catalog of the first dozen titles published are listed with quotes from reviews:
The catalog continues and adds an un-annotated list of the second dozen titles (among which this tile is one):
Tucked in the book is a small two-sided advertisement for other T.C. & E.C. Jack titles, including the Woman’s Book, The Era Shakespeare…
…the Masterpieces in Color series, and Jack’s Reference Book:
A September 1912 (again dated from the printer’s imprint in the back of the book) copy of the Reverend Canon Masterman’s The Church of England reveals a modified dust jacket design, and a jacket printed on peach colored paper. The title of the book is moved to the top of the jacket front and the type size larger. The series name is and blurb is below it. Space is devoted to listing new titles in the series (in this case, the 4th dozen volumes issued). The series name, binding, and price is, as on the earlier jacket, included on the jacket front. The front flap adds the series editor’s name (H.C. O’Neill) and lists the first 36 titles with quotes from reviews of each title.
The annotated list of the first 36 titles continues on the rear jacket and rear jacket flaps.
Bindings remain unchanged from the April 1912 copy above.
This particular book does not have a half title page. The title page:
Again, a blank copyright page:
The date of the book’s printing is included with the printer’s imprint, in this case 9/12 (September, 1912). Ninety volumes are planned, with 48 marked as issued. This is at odds with the 36 listed on the jacket.
The catalog continues:
Tucked inside the book is another advertising flyer. In this case, Innes A History of the British Nation is advertised, to be issued in October of 1912.
The flip side is the same as the advertising insert in the April 1912 copy.
A December 1912 copy of H.J. Watt’s Psychology advertises the 5th dozen volumes issued on the front of the jacket, which includes this particular title. The jacket details the first 48 titles not including the 12 on the front of the jacket. The book is otherwise the same, except the catalog in the rear lists 109 planned volumes with 60 to be in print by Spring of 1913.
An April 1913 copy of Ethics by Canon Rashdall advertises the 6th dozen volumes issued, including this title. The first 60 volumes not including the 12 on the front of the jacket are detailed on the jacket flaps. The book is otherwise the same as earlier copies. In this case, there is no catalog in the rear of the book itself.
Dodge issued the People’s Books series in the U.S. simultaneously with the U.K. publications.
Advertisements by Dodge (in The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer, Volume 36, April 12, 1912) introduces the series to the U.S. Market:
A followup advertisement covered two pages of the May 15, 1912 of the same periodical:
The US version of the People’s Books have common dust jacket designs that differ from the UK jackets.
On the US jackets the center front of the jacket has a brief prospectus for the series. The author/title is on the front of the jacket. This first year of series copy of Aristotle by A.E. Taylor (dated August 1912 from the date in the rear of the book by the printer’s imprint) has a .20 cent price printed on the front of the jacket as well as the spine. Postage of .05 cents is also mentioned (there was an effort to sell these books via the mail).
The front flap (along with the series editor, H.C. O’Neill) lists, on this book, the “first 24 volumes in the series.” A selection of titles with the highest serial number of 61 are in the list. Looking at the catalog in the rear of the book (see below) it is evident that the books were issued out of sequence, as with the U.K. books.
New titles issued to be issued in October 1912 are listed on the rear of the jacket. They too are out of sequence.
The books were bound in different colors (green below, also red, orange) and had a printed cover and spine. The series name is at the bottom of the front cover of the book. The series logo – a medieval scholar gazing at a scroll – is also printed on the front of the book, as with the UK versions.
The half-title page includes the series name in the upper right corner. The purpose of the tiny “A” in the lower right corner is a bit of a mystery. No letter shows up there on the other two copies of People’s Books I have.
The title page with a facing portrait of Aristotle.
The books were printed in the UK.
The catalog in the back of this 1912 book indicates 90 titles, but 91 are listed. 36 are marked as available. The math works: the jacket flaps list 24 titles, and the jacket back lists 12 new titles for October 1912. 36 in all, available by October 1912 (marked with the asterisk in the catalog below).
A copy of Marie Stopes’ Botany: The Modern Study of Plants is dated January 1912 (from the printer’s imprint). Stopes was a paleobotanist, woman’s rights activist, eugenicist, sex advice author, and birth-control rights advocate.
The list of available titles in the book’s catalog (see below) is 60. The jacket suggests 96 are available. One guess is that the books were printed and bound in the UK and shipped to Dodge, who added jackets to batches of books as they were ordered. It is then possible that a later jacket (say from early 1913) was added to an unjacketed 1912 book the publisher had in stock. Divergence between book and jacket dates is not uncommon (nor is divergence between printing and binding) with series books (for example, Everyman’s Library books often were printed, bound, and jacketed at divergent times, all based on demand). The price has also risen to .25 cents.
A jacket from Kant’s Philosophy by A.D. Lindsay is a July 1913 printing with a September 1913 list of titles on the jacket, revealing 96 volumes in print.
A catalog from the back of this book lists 84 titles in print, so the book may be a bit older than the jacket.
The highest serial number listed 116. A 1916 copy of Sister Matilda’s Home Nursing (seen on abebooks.com) has the serial number #155 so at least that many titles were issued in the series. Two pages of quotes from reviews follow the catalog.
In 1930, several years after the People’s Books series was being sold, London bookseller Hudson’s was advertising cut-rate copies of remaindered titles from the series. The advertisement below is from the inside of the dust jacket for a “recycled” series Hudson called the English Masterpieces which was remaindered copies of the publisher John Long’s Carlton Classics series with new jackets added by Hudson’s. See the entry for English Masterpieces for more information.