Monday, December 20, 2010

The Jade Necklace-Macrae Edition

Pemberton Ginther's titles for the Cupples and Leon Mystery Stories for Girls were originally published by Macrae Smith Company. It's not too difficult or expensive to find these editions with bare boards, but in dust jacket, they're extremely scarce. When I first started looking a couple of years ago, there were none to be found. The only two copies that I've found since then, I've immediately purchased. This one was $15, and my copy of The Thirteenth Spoon was $30. I'm still on the lookout for The Secret Stair, but I have no expectation of finding it soon (and it's also my least favorite of the three titles).

I had initially wondered whether or not the cover art and frontispieces were different at all. Luckily the seller with The Thirteenth Spoon had both Macrae and Cupples editions and was able to confirm before I ordered that they were not the same. While I don't know that I LOVE either cover, I do prefer the Macrae edition. The cover is stylized and Deco, but the art on the spine has a distinct Arts and Crafts flair. I'm uncertain of the artist of either. And yes, the Macrae one is covered in scribbles, courtesy of Mary McPhee.

I was even more pleased to discover that there are different frontispieces, with Pem herself as illustrator. In this case, while I like both, I prefer Pem's. If you look closely, you can see the monkey perched on the back of the chair to the right. As you can see here, the Macrae editions have extremely nice, thick, good quality paper, although they're slightly smaller than the Cupples editions. The end papers are plain.

If I was pleased to have a different frontpieces, I was thrilled to find three internal illustrations, which the Cupples editions lack completely. As a note, the name that almost rivals Clytemnestra in the book is the "preposterous" Amanda.

I remembered that in the Cupples edition, Roslyn's name is misspelled Roselyn on the front dj flap. Apparently this is a carry over from the Macrae edition, because the same mistake is made.

This is a great book. If you'd like to read my original review, it's here.


  1. Thanks for posting these images. I had never seen the Macrae dust jackets. I need to get around to reading Pemberton Ginther's books eventually.

  2. I'm never sure whether my non-review posts are of interest to anyone, so that's great to know. I try to post things that I would want to know about, but that's not always the best guide.

    And yes, you should definitely try out at least the ones that Cupples and Leon republished. I prefer them to the other ones I've read so far. If you like other fiction from that period, that might be a better predictor than if you only like series books from that period, though. I like both, so they work for me.

  3. I always like getting new information about books, so I definitely enjoyed these posts. I didn't know about the Macrae dust jackets, so that was great to see them.

    I do have the Pemberton Ginther books that were published by Cupples and Leon. I have read some old fiction, although usually by authors of series books. As far as I'm concerned, these qualify. Perhaps I'll try them after I read through the Grace Harlowe and Biff Brewster books.

  4. Blogspot choked on my last reply so I'll try again and probably be more succinct as a result.

    Lenora, it's good to see you posting again. For my own part, while I like reviews to determine if a book should be put on the "to read" stack, I also like to "see" scarce editions and variations so I'm more likely to remember them and pick them up in a store or eBay if I spot them.

    Macrae seems to be an author's nightmare for a publisher. The high priced books they offered could be afforded by very few people and only some sellers would even try to carry them. How many new $50 novels have you purchased this year? If we had access to the royalty statements for these two books, I would not be surprised if the total sales for a six-month period would be measured in the dozens or few hundreds of copies.

    Edward Stratemeyer often had cause to complain to the various publishers who issued his personal writings at higher prices (usually $1.00-$1.50), especially when they did not make much of an effort to "sell" them to the booksellers (via traveling publisher representatives) and the public (via display advertisements and circulars). He was in a rare position to be able to contrast a given season's sales with those of more mass-market publishers like G&D and C&L. The books from those latter firms actually sold.

    The ratio of a $1.50 high-priced book with a 50c
    "popular" edition is similar to the ratio of hardcover vs. paperbacks today. Hence, the popular edition books were the mass-market reading of their day the way paperbacks are today. While there were some books which resemble paperbacks, they were frequently reprints of low-class literature such as dime novels and serials from story papers and these were sold at newsstands for about 10c.

    A book could be reprinted in a popular edition in a couple of circumstances:

    * the high-priced publisher went bankrupt and their plates were auctioned off to anyone who would buy them.

    * the high-price publisher felt they had obtained all of the sales possible in their market and selling or leasing the plates gave them a new income.

    * a disappointed author bought back the plates and took them to another publisher.

    Stratemeyer did the third example for works from publishers like A.S. Barnes, A. Wessels, and Dana
    Estes. The sales of his personal books were so low from these firms that he bought the plates back and took them to his other publishers. Since he owned the plates, he got a little higher royalty on each copy sold. The publisher, who made less money on these, didn't push them as hard as other books so the sales were still weak on many of them.

    The author-publisher relationship for a book usually fell into one of two classes. A book could be sold on royalty (e.g. 5% where a 50c book earns the author 2.5c) or outright ($100-$250 per MS.). Most authors had to sell a story outright so they had no further interest in the book.

    You mention the frontispiece illustration in the C&L edition is not the fp for the Macrae. Is it one of the interior illustrations? If so, C&L might have selected the "best" illustration of the four to use as a fp. If not, perhaps a new illustration was created because the others were not suitable or the plates were not available.

    When Stratemeyer bought the plates, he bought not only the page plates but also the illustration plates, the book cover dies, etc. -- everything needed to print and bind the book. Sometimes this was called the "plant" for the book.

    Again, it's great to see some new messages in this blog. I know how hard it is to keep a blog going, especially if you are unsure if people are reading it (beyond automated web crawlers).

    James Keeline

  5. I like your analogy of the "popular" edition to a paperback today--that makes a lot of sense.

    The frontispiece for the Cupples edition isn't one of the internal illustrations from the Macrae edition. It's initialed FW, while the illustrations from the Macrae are all by the author herself (signed in full with her pen name). The page numbers match up exactly between the two books, so I assume the original plates were used for the text at least.

  6. So it sounds as if C&L got the page plates and the cover dies but not the illustration printing plates. That's not too unusual.

    At one point when Stratemeyer offered his Alger completions to a publisher that he knew was only using one illustrations in their editions, he suggested that he could retain the others because they were generic enough to be used in other stories.

    Sometimes as stories were moved from one publisher to another one or more of the illustrations were replaced. This occurred with The Island Camp (A.S. Barnes 1904) which was reprinted by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard as The Gun Club Boys of Lakeport with a new frontispiece illustration by Charles Nuttall.

    Considering that the C&L reprint of Jade Necklace came out in 1932, "FW" could be "Ferdinand Earl Warren," the illustrator of the Dana Girls books. The images are too small for me to make a comparison of style. Perhaps you can compare them with copies on hand since you likely have a purple Dana Girls I imagine :)

    James Keeline

  7. That's not a bad guess. I do have some purple Dana Girls, but I'm not sure after comparing them. My first instinct would be that Warren's Dana Girls illustrations have a rougher, "scratchier," style, with visible pencil (charcoal?) marks. They're also not initialed in the same way that the Cupples illustrations are. But as I've not seen his other work, I don't know if that particular style was specific to the Dana Girls illustrations. It would make an interesting post for the future, with some scans.

    I hadn't thought about it, but a lot of series book illustrations really are pretty generic. I feel like girls series have a lot of illustrations featuring closet/wardrobe doors (either enclosing them or the villain) and any series has at least one illustration with the characters around a table. I've wondered in the past why the publisher/illustrator have chosen to illustrate certain scenes, that I didn't think were particularly important or visually interesting--maybe this explains a few of them.

    I like Ginther's illustrations because they do have some personal touches (the monkey in The Jade Necklace--even if they ARE around that table) and because it gives you a unique opportunity to see the characters as the author pictured them. I will also give props to Tandy, whose internal illustrations were almost always both exciting and beautiful.

    I wonder how many of those original illustrations have survived? I've seen a printing plate of Tandy's Old Clock cover, and paintings for the covers of other series, but I don't think I've seen any original illustrations, frontis or internal.

  8. That's cool, there's actually a book named The Jade Necklace! I just ran across this while searching for our products. Anyway, it's good to see someone else writing about The Jade Necklace :p


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