Vanguard Series

John Hamilton Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1927-1931
Size: 4.25″ x 6.5″

John Hamilton, Ltd. of London is a relatively obscure, inter-war publisher upon which I can find little information. An entry in the British and Colonial Printer and Stationer (vols. 96-97, 1925) reports the incorporation of the firm:

John Hamilton, Ltd. – Capital £2,000 in £1 shares; proprietors and publishers of newspapers, magazines, books and other literary works and undertakings, printers, stationers, bookbinders, etc. Private company. Directors: C.H. Daniels and Mrs. Mary F. Daniels. Solicitors: Eland Nettleship and Butt, 4, Trafalgar Square, W.C. 2.

The same year, The Times Literary Supplement (September 17, 1925, p. 595) indicates that

Under the name of John Hamilton (1 Princes-court, Whitcomb-street, W.C.2), a new publishing house announces a first autumn list. The managing director is Major C.H. Daniels. The publications of John Hamilton, Limited, will be issued under the title of Sundial Editions.

An early advertisement in the Times Literary Supplement (November 25, 1926; p. 866):

The last advertisement I can find dates to March of 1940, suggesting the firm closed in the midst of WW2.

Peter Fishback’s research has added many more details to the Firm’s history: see Charles Daniels and John Hamilton, Ltd.

The John Hamilton Ltd. colophon features a sundial, which decorated their books and was included in the name of some of their series. Hamilton publications are largely popular fiction, miscellaneous non-fiction with a military emphasis, and detective and adventure stories. They issued at least four series: the Sundial Popular Library (1927-1931), Sundial Mystery Library (1925-1936) and the Sundial Mystery and Adventure Library (1925-1936). The last two may have been one series expanded (“Adventure” added). The Vanguard Series was one of numerous publisher’s series issued at the time that offered succinct overviews of sundry topics in the social and natural sciences.

The Vanguard Series debuted in 1927 with seven titles (below left), all of which shared “The ABC of” in their title, and included Geology, Chemistry, Physiology, Physics, and so on. Below see advertisements for John Hamilton Ltd. books including the Vanguard Series, published in the Times Literary Supplement, November 24, 1927, p. 888 (left) and March 22, 1928 p. 217 (right). The initial advertisement does not number the series titles (left) but they are numbered in the 1928 advertisement (right). Three new titles are included in the 1928 advertisement.

Dust jackets are common to the series, on tan paper. The price is included on the spine, along with the title, author, sundial colophon and, (torn) probably the publisher’s name. The jacket front includes a description of the book along with the publisher. The series is blurbed on the front jacket flap. This copy of John Haldane Blackie’s The ABC of Art is undated, but one of the titles issued in 1927. A sticker on the jacket front indicates a significant price reduction.

Eight titles, not including the ABC of Art are listed on the back of the jacket. The price is once again included (2/6 net), as is the publisher’s address (90 Newman Street, London, W.1). This address is the same used around 1930 by the Richards Press, Ltd., publisher of the Omar Series.

The Vanguard Series titles are numbered up to 15, the last title issued in 1930. The first 10 numbered titles are straightforward, but in 1928 things get complicated when several titles are announced, but probably not published, and the series numbers announced also change.

For example, #11, The ABC of Philosophy is announced, but not published. I can’t find that a replacement title used that number. The ABC of Electricity is announced as #13, but not published. The ABC of Flying uses the #13 series number when it’s issued. The ABC of Economics is also probably not issued, and I can find no evidence that another title used that number. Thus, with series numbers going up to #15, I can document only #13 actual titles.

The title preface “The ABC of…” grew to be a bit absurd with #8 (The ABC of the History of Civilization in England) and did not appear on #9, The Romance of the Atom (The ABC of The Romance of the Atom?). The preface reappears for the rest of the titles in the series.

*#1: The ABC of Geology, by Allison Hardy
#2: The ABC of Physiology, by Vance Randolph
#3: The ABC of Biology, by Vance Randolph
#4: The ABC of Physics, by Jay Laird Burgess Taylor
*#5: The ABC of Astronomy, by Jay L.B. Taylor
#6: The ABC of Chemistry by Newell R. Tripp
*#7: The ABC of Evolution, by Vance Randolph

#8: The ABC of The History of Civilization in England, by Henry Thomas Buckle
#9: The Romance of the Atom, by Benjamin Harrow
#10: The ABC of Art, John Ernest Haldane Blackie
**#11: The ABC of Philosophy, by Harold A. Larrabee
#11: no replacement title published?
#12: The ABC of Flying, by W Lockwood Marsh
**#13: The ABC of Electricity, by W.E. Clotworthy
#13: The ABC of Vitamins, by John Pryde
**#14: The ABC of Economics, by B.C.L. James
#14: no replacement title published?

#15: The ABC of Climate, by K C Edwards

*WorldCat indicates “A Sundial Edition”
**Title announced but not published (ghost title)

The bindings are of a cheap, plasticised linen, in this case in red with black typography and decorations. The series name is included on the front cover of the book.

The half-title page:

A series list, numbered, through #10, is included facing the title page. The title page, framed, includes the sundial colophon.

“Printed in Great Britain by the Dunedin Press Ltd, Edinburgh.”