Sunday 6 November 2022

Collins Dictionary Part II - Canadianess

Part I introduced two 1940s era dictionaries from Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada. Here is a third - The Modern Standard English Dictionary as well as some questions about all three.

The New Improved Standard Dictionary was issued as a small paperback sized hardback. The August 22, 1942 edition of the (Toronto) Globe and Mail has a review on page 9 which praises its "Canadianess" and said that "it is hard to imagine greater value per cent [the book cost 25 cents] than this [dictionary]."

The Modern Standard English Dictionary is also a hardback and, except for the title, is identical to The New Improved.

The "King's English" Self-Pronouncing Pocket Dictionary and Vocabulary Builder is a paperback and is also identical to The New Improved as described in Part I.

Why three versions with different names but identical contents? Collins trying to increase sales I guess.

What is "Canadianess"? The covers state "30,000 words ... using the official standard of spelling taught in Canadian schools". What authority established the "official standard of spelling"? Don't know but this is still an issue - see here.

Who are the editors, J(ohn) M(axey) Parrish and John R(edgwick) Crossland? They were British, not Canadian. In addition to editing other dictionaries such as The Westminster English Dictionary they edited many non-dictionaries such as The Mammoth Book of Thrillers, Ghosts and Mysteries and The Mammoth Wonder Book for Children, all published in the UK. The impression is that they were not professional lexicographers. Begs the question - what is the source for the Canadian dictionary?

Collins is still in the Canadian Dictionary business - Collins.

White Circle Pocket Library S3 

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.

Quill & Quire Vol. 7 No. 11 - December 1941, page 27

Avon 4 - later printing 1943

Avon 11 - 1941

Avon 24 - 1943

Friday 4 November 2022

Harlequin's Historical Novels Part IV

"If the historical novel continues to exert a particular fascination on our imagination, it surely has to do with its curious ability to reclaim the past, to use it as a tool for shattering the sameness - the inevitability - of the present."

                            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. 

Harlequin #     1 - The Manatee - Nancy Bruff - 1949 
Harlequin #   11 - The Wicked Lady Skelton - Magdalen King Hall - 1949 (reprinted as #181)
Harlequin #   31 - The Golden Feather - Theda Kenyon - 1950 
Harlequin #   34 - Mobtown Clipper - S.S. Rabl - 1950 
Harlequin #   65   Bridewell Beauty - H.M.E. Clamp - 1950 
Harlequin # 113 - Beyond The Blue Mountains - Jean Plaidy - 1951 
Harlequin # 138 - Emma Hart - Lozania Prole - 1951 
Harlequin # 141 - Roger Sudden - Thomas H. Raddall - 1951 
Harlequin # 152 - Great Oaks - Ben Ames Williams - 1952 
Harlequin # 164 - Captain For Elizabeth - Jan Westcott - 1952 
Harlequin # 169 - Lady Of Cleves - Margaret Campbell Barnes - 1952 
Harlequin # 170 - The Sea Is So Wide - Evelyn Eaton - 1952 
Harlequin # 178 - The Goldsmith's Wife - Jean Plaidy - 1952 
Harlequin # 179 - Madame Serpent - Jean Plaidy - 1952 
Harlequin # 184 - Black Jade - Angeline Taylor - 1952 
Harlequin # 189 - The Nymph And The Lamp - Thomas H. Raddall - 1952 
Harlequin # 190 - Slave Ship - H.B. Drake - 1952 
Harlequin # 193 - The Firebrand - George Challis - 1952 
Harlequin # 196 - His Majesty's Yankees - Thomas H. Raddall - 1952 
Harlequin # 203 - Daughter Of Satan - Jean Plaidy - 1952 
Harlequin # 207 - Three Ships West - Harry Symons - 1953 
Harlequin # 208 - Pillar Of Fire - George Borodin - 1953 
Harlequin # 209 - The Rock Cried Out - Edward Stanley - 1953 
Harlequin # 215 - Turn Back The River - W.G. Hardy - 1953 
Harlequin # 217 - The Sea Hawk - Rafael Sabatini - 1953 
Harlequin # 225 - Sir Rusty Sword - Phillip Lindsay - 1953 
Harlequin # 237 - Island Of Escape - Alexander Key - 1953 
Harlequin # 247 - Dark Surgery - Ben Ames Williams - 1953 
Harlequin # 261 - Light In The Wilderness - E.B. Osler - 1953 
Harlequin # 266 - Catalina - W. Somerset Maugham - 1954 
Harlequin # 268 - The Unholy Woman - Jean Plaidy - 1954 
Harlequin # 269 - Queen Jezebel - Jean Plaidy - 1954 
Harlequin # 272 - The Fabulous Nell Gwynne - Lozania Prole - 1954 
Harlequin # 276 - Conflict - E.V. Timms - 1954 
Harlequin # 278 - The Bait And The Trap - George Challis - 1954 
Harlequin # 280 - The Nut Brown Maid - Philip Lindsay - 1954 
Harlequin # 286 - Colonel Blood - Max Peacock - 1954 
Harlequin # 290 - The Violent Years - E.V. Timms - 1954 
Harlequin # 298 - Pride's Fancy - Thomas H. Raddall - 1954 
Harlequin # 301 - Mary Read, Buccaneer - Philip Rush - 1954 
Harlequin # 303 - Captain Gentleman - Verne Fletcher - 1954 
Harlequin # 318 - The Half-Breed - M. Constantin-Weyer - 1954 
Harlequin # 330 - Convict Town - E.V. Timms - 1955 
Harlequin # 331 - Woman in Chains - E.V. Timms - 1955 
Harlequin # 373 - Tonight, Josephine! - Lozania Prole - 1956 

Harlequin 11 - September 1949

Harlequin 31 - February 1950

Harlequin 65 - August 1950

Harlequin 141 - December 1951

Harlequin 170 - May 1952

Harlequin 196 - November 1952

Thursday 3 November 2022

Sign of the White Circle

Seventy years ago, sometime in the first half of 1952, the last of 459 books in the White Circle Pocket Library series was published by Toronto's Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada Ltd. The series had lasted 10 years. Collins publicized the series in the usual way - ads in newspapers and bookstore display. Here is an example of a bookstore promotion.

The sign is about two feet long and was originally at the bottom of a wood display case. The price helps date the sign. The first White Circle with a price is #55 (Death Takes a Flat) from spring 1943 but it doesn't look like the sign's version. The first one that does (with small differences) is #74 (Tunnel From Calais), the first book published in the fall of 1943. Examples below. The last White Circle to have a price is #225 (The Commandos) from the fall of 1944 (note: there are no books with numbers 119-199). So the sign dates from fall 1943 to fall 1944.

White Circle 80 - 1943

White Circle 81 - 1943

White Circle 85 - 1943

Wednesday 2 November 2022

A Discovery

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. 

The Damned Lover - 1945/46

The Damned Lover back

Some Take a Lover - 1945/46

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, OntarioThe 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 [sic] 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."

News Stand Library 69 - September 1949   

McCall's - February 1938

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.

Studio Junior Adventure Library J2 - 1952

Studio Junior Adventure Library J2 back