Shakespeare House (New York, US)
Series dates: 1951
Size: 4.25″ x 6.75″
A peculiar post-WW2 series consisting of an assortment of classics, contemporary fiction, a book of operas and a cookbook. Similar to the Doric Books (which were published in New York in 1950). The prospectus for the Shakespeare House series claims:
“These exquisite examples of bookbinders’ and printers’ arts are for you who appreciate the luxury of fine books. The decorative touch of 24-carat gold-edged paper and many other elements add beauty and dignity to any library. The quality of the paper is high, the type modern and legible and, although individual volumes may contain more than 600 pages, they are designed to balance easily in the reader’s hand. The varied contents are especially selected to ensure reading enjoyment for the entire family. This book-lover’s dream can be realized by anyone seeking to add really fine volumes, handsomely bound, to their own home libraries.”
I assume the cookbook was included for mom. The 15 titles in the series seem to have all been issued together in 1951 and no other dates of publication or reprint are indicated in the 9 copies I have. WorldCat shows no other years than 1951, but a few online sources indicate 1957 and 1960 printings. Searching the internet and other resources turn up no information about the mysterious Shakespeare House publisher. Their address is a large office building in New York.
Besides binding color and jacket design details, the books are very similar.
Jackets are unique to each title and are either typographic or have a simple graphic design. Front jacket flap includes a description of the book. Shakespeare House is indicated on the spine. No price is evident in any of the books.
The back of the jackets and rear flap are also blank, besides a continuation of the color/design from the front of the jacket.
Bindings are more detailed than usual, part cloth and part plasticized material with gold stamping (that is typically faded). Mr. Shakespeare is included in a medallion on the front of each book. He is not, however, included in the series itself. A sewn in cloth bookmark is included in each book.
Each book has heavy linen endpapers. The color is coordinated with the cloth cover. Other colors include red and blue.
The title page indicates the publisher’s name and location in New York.
The original copyright holder is indicated as well as the Shakespeare House copyright, 1951 in every case.
A few copies of the Shakespeare House series include a three-page description of titles in the series.
Additional jackets are shown below.