J.H. Sears Co. (New York, US) & Kingsport Press (Kingsport, TN, US)
Series dates: 1925-1928
Size: 4.75″ x 7″
Sears and the Kingsport Press collaborated on the Readers Library series with the Readers Library Publishing Co. (London, UK) from about 1924-1930. Around the same time, Sears initiated three of their own classics series, more upscale than the .10 cent Readers Library: The Royal Collection, The Royal Blue Library, and the Royal Red Library. The Royal Collection series, which sold for $1.25, was significantly higher in quality than the Readers Library books – better binding and paper. More information on Sears and the Kingsport Press at the entry on the Readers Library.
The Royal Collection was the more ambitious of the Sears series. The titles were thematic compilations of classic prose and poetry. Each title had an introduction by “Hamblin Sears” – a pseudonym for different editors who had been hired to compile and edit particular volumes. For example, Katherine Anne Porter edited the What Price Marriage volume in the series.
This copy of The Common Book of Poetry is copyrighted 1925 which is probably the printing date of the book. It is a special promotional edition presented to attendees at the Women’s National Book Association annual dinner (March 4, 1926). The jacket is printed on gold foil paper. The series name is not indicated on the front or spine of the jacket.
The back of the jacket describes the series – “Old Wine in New Bottles.” Four titles are listed as in print with six more in preparation and more to follow. As this jacket was printed specifically for distribution of the complimentary books at the dinner, there is no price.
The binding for the book is red fake leather with gold stamping. The material has held up well over time. The series name is not mentioned in the book itself unless the particular title has a catalog in the back (not all titles have a catalog).
Gold foil paper continues on the endpapers, which spell out the series name on the bottom of the endpapers.
A half-title page.
The title page includes the series logo, also printed on the book cover.
Copyright date is, in this case, printing year.
The second printing from 1927 (first 1925) of Boccaccio’s Decameron Tales has the normal series jacket. The jackets are common to the series and include a summary of the book on the front flap (along with the $1.25 price). The back cover has a prospectus for the series and the back flap a list of titles in the series.
The dust jacket reverse has a descriptive list of titles in the series.
The binding is the same as The Common Book of Poetry (above).
Copyright page indicates a second “edition” (printing) and includes, on the facing page, a forward to the Royal Collection series:
The back of this copy includes a catalog for the series. This catalog repeats the descriptive catalog on the reverse of the dust jacket.
Along with the Readers Library, the Royal Collection seems to be discontinued around 1928.