Sunday, 6 November 2022
Collins Dictionary Part II - Canadianess
Saturday, 5 November 2022
Avon Books in Canada Part I
There are nearly 650 posts on this blog. Unsurprisingly, given the blog's masthead, the vast majority are about Canadian paperbacks from the 1940s and 1950s. What isn't explicitly said is that these books are unique offerings from Canadian publishers, not Canadian printings of US or UK published editions.
I've done a few posts about these other Canadian paperbacks, but here is a first in-depth look at Avon Books.
On November 21, 1941 the first twelve Avon Books went on sale in the US. Two weeks later, in the December 6, 1941 issue of Publishers Weekly (PW), the “new, fast-selling Avon Pocket-Size Books” are advertised for sale. Readers learn that the “entire first edition was sold out!” and a second is now in preparation. The advertisement doesn’t mention where the books are sold but part of that first sold-out edition may have been in Canada.
Avon Pocket-Size Books arrived in Canada at the same time they were first seen in US bookstores, department stores, drug stores, cigar shops and news stands. An advertisement in the Canadian equivalent of PW, Quill & Quire (Vol. 7, No. 11, December, 1941), announced that the Canadian branch of British publisher Longmans, Green “takes great pleasure in announcing that they have been appointed [Avon’s] exclusive Canadian representatives.” The US editions did not have a cover price but the Canadian advertisement notes they will sell for 39¢. Avon joined Pocket Books, whose agent was also Longmans, Green and had been selling in Canada for two years, as well as Penguin and Wm. Collins’s White Circle imprint from the UK.
In these early years the Avons sold in Canada were imported US editions so there is no way to distinguish them from copies sold in the US. Here are a few examples.
Friday, 4 November 2022
Harlequin's Historical Novels Part IV
Steven Hayward, Globe & Mail February 25, 2012
This comment in a review of a historical novel caught my attention.
Do any of Toronto publisher Harlequin's 45 historical novels by 30 authors that showed up in Canadian newsstands and drug stores between 1949 and 1959 "reclaim the past"? I don't know. I haven't read any and would need some training to assess how a novel might "reclaim the past". So I'll use the comment as an excuse to list the novels and show off a few covers.
Thursday, 3 November 2022
Sign of the White Circle
Wednesday, 2 November 2022
I recently learned (thanks Morgan) about an early Canadian mass market paperback that I did not know existed. It joins another book in a series that I had always thought was the only one published.
The publishing history for these two books is confusing to say the least. Both title pages list the publisher as "The National Publishing Company" of Toronto. On unnumbered page seven National is repeated with a 1945-46 copyright date. The inside front cover notes two other companies. The first is "Century Publications Ltd." with a 1946 copyright date below that. Below that is "Printed by Duchess Printing and Publishing Co. Limited", also in Toronto. The cover, inside front cover and spine have a circle with "A Superior Publication" around a maple leaf. The back cover has a larger version of the circle. Both books are 256 pages. Neither book has signed art work which is by the same artist.
The two books are:
The Damned Lover by Roswell Williams. First published 1933, The Macaulay Company of New York.
Some Take a Lover by Ann Du Pre (pseudonym for Grace Lumpkin). First published 1933, The Macaulay Company.
The Duchess/Superior connection is seen on a number of other books. For example see one here and a non-Duchess Superior here. But these are the only two (so far) with National as the publisher. The Century listing is a mystery. There was a Century in Chicago that published paperbacks circa 1945-1947 but not these two books.
Friday, 1 July 2022
155 and Counting
The British North American Act, enacted March 29, 1867 by the British Parliament, provided for Confederation of the three British North American colonies, Canada (Upper and Lower), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Now much amended as the Constitution Act, 1867, it was proclaimed into law on July 1, 1867 and Canada was born. The first official birthday celebration was in 1868, July 1 being named Dominion Day in 1879 and Canada Day in 1982.
Just eleven years on from 1867 The Cromaboo Mail Carrier was published in Guelph, Ontario. The author is Mary Leslie (1842-1920). Cromaboo is Erin, described by Leslie as "the most blackguard village, and is settled by the lowest Irish, Highland Scotch, and Dutch. ... Fights are frequent, drunkeness flourishes, vice abounds; more tobacco is smoked there than in any village of the same size in the Dominion; swearing is so common that it passes unnoticed, and there is an illegitimate child in nearly every house." The good citizens of Erin were not happy and looked to have copies destroyed. The book is rare.
Monday, 23 May 2022
Martha Ostenso's Lost Novel
Martha Ostenso (1900-1963) found early success with Wild Geese (1925). She lived for a time in Canada but lived most of her life in the US. Her bibliography appears complete but is missing one novel. No doubt because of its odd publishing history.
First published in the February 1938 issue of McCall's, and the Town Talked eventually found a book publisher. Toronto based Export Publishing brought the novel to the Canadian newsstand and drug store in September 1949. Living in the US it is possible Ostenso did not know about the book. The Export edition is nearly complete with a few sentences removed at the end of some of the chapters to make the chapter end at the bottom of a page. It was also published in the July 1939 issue of Australian Women's Weekly.
Export, as always, was enthusiastic about their publication:
"and the Town Talked is a gripping story of a vivacious and daring dancer who rocks the smug aristrocacy of North Hill with corroding scandal. ... Martha Ostenso in her vigorous and inimitable style, has created a masterpiece, intriguing the reader with its wealth of human emotions."
Wednesday, 23 March 2022
Bell Features and Publishing Artists Part III - René again
The mystery discussed in the last post on early Canadian paperback artist René has been solved (thanks Morgan). He is Rene Kulbach.
He worked on Bell Features original early 1940s comics and did the covers on two of Bell's 17 paperbacks.
Here I'll show his front cover signature which matches up with his comic one.
Monday, 21 March 2022
Bell Features and Publishing Artists Part II - René
The seventeen paperbacks published by Toronto's Bell Features and Publishing circa 1946 have seven signed covers. Five are by Adrian Dingle and two by an artist signing as René. Both covers have a difficult to decipher signature. Fortunately he/she signed the back cover of The Canyon of Death more clearly as "RENÉ".
Assuming this is not René Magritte the artist remains unknown.
Sunday, 6 February 2022
Studio Publications Part VII
Ten years ago I introduced the Junior Adventure Library from Toronto's Studio Publications. It is an obscure four issue paperback series targeted to kids published in 1952. Three of the titles are well known texts and/or authors. The fourth is different. I just found this uncommon book and learned that it is a collection of four stories.
The book is digest sized with 90 pages of text, including five illustrations. All artwork is unsigned.
Dawn Patrol by Thomson Burtis (1896-1971). First published in the June 1924 issue of American Boy. As far as I can tell this is the only book appearance.
The Man Who Went Down by Laurie York Erksine. The source for the story is unknown.
"I Am a Dog" Confessions of a Dachshund by Clark W. Grayson. I can find nothing about the author or story.
"Bawler Out" and "Nimble-Feet" by William Heyliger (1884-1950). The source for the story is unknown.
A 1955 Canadian Lung Association Christmas Seal stamp has been added to the front cover.