Wednesday, August 21, 2019

421. Advertising The Vale Press Books in 1896

Before the first books of the Vale Press appeared, the firm Hacon & Ricketts opened a shop, published an advertising leaflet (The List of Books...) and the fourth issue of The Dial. In the meantime, the new publisher had also announced its forthcoming publications through advertisements.

The earliest advertisements appeared in several weekly magazines on 14 March 1896. I had never seen them before (or read about them), and in order to find them, I had to browse through several complete volumes of magazines, page by page, and read through all the small advertisements. (Some of these magazines are now available digitally, but often the small advertisements are not easy to find). The Vale Press advertisements can be found among other small announcements of typists, new magazines, publisher's agencies, etc.

The Saturday Review, 14 March 1896

The advertisement appeared in several weekly newspapers. The first one I found was in The Saturday Review of 14 March 1896. On the same day The Academy and The Athenaeum published similar ads.

The Athenaeum, 14 March 1896
Probably all these magazines got the same text, but because of their own editorial instructions, each advertisement is spelled slightly different. Sometimes there are even verbal differences, an example of which is the sentence about the original spelling in which the new editions would be published.

The Editions will be printed with Spelling with which they were written. 
(The Saturday Review)
The Editions will be printed with spelling in which they were written. 
(The Athenaeum and The Academy)

The Academy, 14 March 1896

The advertisement clearly shows that the fourth issue of The Dial was for sale from 14 March. This early date was not yet known.

The text of the announcement in The Academy reads:

THE SIGN of the DIAL. – Messrs. HACON & RICKETTS, 52 Warwick Street, Regent Street, W.  – Messrs. HACON & RICKETTS beg to announce the forthcoming publication of carefully edited Books, for which a fount of type has been designed to accompany the illustrations and decorations cut on the wood by Charles Ricketts and other original engravers. The Editions will be printed with spelling in which they were written. Catalogues may be had on application. THE DIAL, of which No. 4 is now ready, will henceforth be published at their shop, 52, WARWICK STREET, REGENT STREET, W.

This advertisement did not appear in the newspapers (such as The Times) or in other magazines (such as Pall Mall Gazette), at least not on 14 March 1896. These papers did not have extensive sections with publisher's advertisements. The three weeklies mentioned did have such sections and they published reviews and lists of books published that week. 

Apart from that, these journals were aimed at an academic audience, often an audience of collectors. Reports on book and art auctions regularly contained details that would interest the bibliophiles among them. The phrase about the spelling of the classics of English poetry was of course aimed at an audience of scholars and connoisseurs.

Advertisements in The Studio and The Bookman for April 1896 have been noticed before, but these earliest advertisements are new discoveries.