Handy Classics

aka/ Winston’s Illustrated Handy Classics
John C. Winston Co. (Philadelphia, US)
Series dates: 1912-1925
Size: 4″ x 6″


The name of the Handy Classics published by Winston can only be found on the dust jacket (without a jacket it is not evident that a book from this series is part of a series).

The John C. Winston Company’s strategy for their Handy Classics reprint series was to purchase the books from Collins (London and Glasgow, sold in their Collins Classics’ and Collins Illustrated Pocket Edition series). It seems that Collins actually printed the Handy Classics jackets and possibly also bound the books (then shipped them to the US; see below for evidence of this). Winston had taken over stock and distribution of Collins books in the US around 1905.

The rear of the dust jacket has a ringing endorsement of the “Noteworthy Features” of the series:


There were approximately 220 numbered titles in Winston’s Handy Classic series. The bindings are a shiny faux leather with a gold top-stain and sewn in bookmark. The author’s name is gold stamped on the front cover of the book.


The jackets are common to each book in the series, varying only by an overprinted book title and author on the jacket front and spine.


Titles in the series are listed on the front and rear jacket flaps.


The connection between Winston’s Handy Classics and Collins’ Classics is evident on several fronts – besides the dust jackets, the books in each series are identical (except for differing title pages).

I have a copy of a Collins’ Classics title, Kingsley’s The Heroes, with a dust jacket printed on an old Winston’s Illustrated Handy Classics jacket – with the Winston title (Dicken’s Martin Chuzzlewit) blanked out:


This is the reverse of the Dickens jacket:


I suspect that Winston ended their agreement with Collins at some point, leaving already printed (and possibly bound) copies of the Handy Classics, which were rebound and jacketed as Collins Classics.