St. Martin’s Library

Chatto & Windus (London, UK)
Series Dates: 1906-1930
Size: 6.25″ x 4″

Albert and Charles Boni (New York, NY)
Series Dates: 1925
Size: 4.75″ x 7″

stmartins_spinesChatto & Windus developed a series of about 60 titles issued under the St. Martin’s Library name from about 1906 to the early 1920s. This included 17 R.L. Stevenson titles, a sprinkling of older classics and publisher’s back catalog titles. The books were small and compact with a simple, common jacket design including the book title and catalog. Publisher Albert and Charles Boni issued a few of the titles in the US in 1925.

A 1912 copy of Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes is in a plain jacket common to the series. The binding (cloth) and paper (“fine-paper edition”) and price is indicated on the jacket spine and front. The front jacket flap is blank.

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The rear of the jacket lists titles in the St. Martin’s Library and different bindings available. The series name is not included elsewhere (on the jacket or in the book). As with the later Phoenix Library, Chatto and Windus marketed titles as part of a series, but subsets of the series could be also marketed as run of uniform books by one author. Stevenson’s 16 titles in the series at the time are a good example of this dual marketing strategy.

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The clothbound books have gold stamping on the spine and debossed text and graphics on the front of the book.

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Decorative endpapers:

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Half-title page:

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A list of the works of Stevenson follows the half-title page:

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An illustration (the only one in the book) faces the two-color title page. The date is also indicated.

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Blank copyright page:

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Printer information is on the last page:

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This copy of Stevenson’s Across the Plains has a 1920 publication date. The common design for Chatto & Windus St. Martin’s Library jackets has changed slightly since 1912; the price is indicated on the jacket spine (3/6) and the front flap lists Stevenson titles in the series:

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Titles in Chatto & Windus’s St. Martin Library series as of 1920 cover the back of the jacket and rear flap:

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Bindings are less ornate than the 1912 copy, and the book has blank endpapers.

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A list of the works of Stevenson is maintained facing the half-title page.

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The title page is also simplified. The date is included.

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The copyright page is blank:

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Printer information is included on the last page of the book:

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In 1925 Albert and Charles Boni issued a subset of the Chatto & Windus titles with only a few modifications, most likely using the same printing plates as the Chatto & Windus titles. It was common practice to trade series printing plates between publishers. Creating new plates was costly. Copyright could also be transferred in this trade. It is sometimes possible to trace the same set of printing plates through several different series (sometimes in different countries). The Boni imprint St. Martin’s Library books are larger than the Chatto & Windus copies with a heavier binding.

Boni & Liveright originated the Modern Library series upon their incorporation in 1917. In 1925 they sold the successful series to Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. This sale is now seen as a significant tactical error which contributed to Boni & Liveright’s bankruptcy in the early 1930s. The Modern Library would go on to be one of the world’s most successful reprint series and the core of Random House Publishers.

The Boni imprint St. Martin’s Library jackets were also common in design, with a price ($2) on the inside front jacket flap. Modern Library titles, by comparison, were .95 cents.

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Many fewer titles – eleven in total – in Boni’s St. Martin’s Library in 1925.

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Wine colored cloth bindings with minimal gold stamping:

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The half-title page:

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A longer list of titles in the St. Martin’s Library appears facing the title page in the Boni copy of Robinson Crusoe. This listing includes Chatto & Windus’ titles in the series. This list was probably left in the book by accident, or as advertising for the UK series.

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The copyright page indicates the book was printed in Great Britain. Chatto & Windus seems to have printed and possibly bound the books for Boni.

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Printer information is included on the last page in the book:

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Boni’s St. Martin’s Library series titles don’t seem to have been reprinted nor the series expanded after the initial offering in 1925.

The St. Martin’s Library name seems to have been revived for a paperback series in the 1950s by Macmillan.