Crowell’s Colonial Series

Thomas Y. Crowell Co. (New York, US)
Series dates: 1917-1923
Size: 4″ x 5.5″

Thomas Y. Crowell began publishing books in 1876 after running a bindery under his name for 6 years. His company was acquired by Harper and Row in 1979. While not primarily a publisher of cheap reprints, Crowell published a significant number of series with many binding variations.


Crowell’s Colonial Series consisted of a short list of at least eight small format titles all consisting of brief collections of quotes. The series is related to the Sesame Booklets series, published in England by Harrap and in the U.S. by Crowell about 1908-1917. Some of the titles are the same or similar, as is the small size and brief book length, and it is likely that when the Sesame Booklets ended around 1917 (for both Harrap and Crowell) Crowell reprinted some of the titles as its Colonial Series.

This undated copy of Great Thoughts from Stevenson has a simple, arts & crafts influenced jacket design, common to the series. The title is included on the spine of this slim (32 page) volume. The front flap is blank. The series is difficult to find in contemporary advertising, but one source lists the books as available in 1917 for .35 cents. Another source indicates they were still available in 1923. This title is probably from the late teens.


The back of the jacket promotes the series (“…a pleasant companion to take with one on a ramble…”) and lists the other available titles, all prefaced with Great Thoughts…

Titles in the series include:

Great Thoughts from Emerson
Great Thoughts from Browning
Great Thoughts from Stevenson
Great Thoughts from Kipling
Great Thoughts from Longfellow
Great Thoughts on Friendship
Great Thoughts on Happiness
Great Thoughts from Tennyson


The books are bound in heavy cardboard (“boards”) which repeat the design from the book jacket, but without the title printed on the book spine. There is no indication of the series name on or in the book.


A portrait of Stevenson faces the title page. The entire book is printed in a sepia colored ink.


There is no copyright page, just a quote to start of the collection of quotes.