Vintage Books

Methuen & Co., Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1941
Size: 4.25″ x 7″

Methuen’s paperbound and dust-jacketed series Vintage Books consisted of a dozen books from the Methuen back-catalog all published in 1941. Issued early in WW2, the series mimicked Penguin paperbacks, with reprint titles and a common jacket and book design. The series may have been limited to one year and 12 titles due to paper shortages or poor sales. As far as I can find, the series was not advertised and the series name not used by Methuen after 1941. The Vintage Books name was resurrected as a trade paperback publishing imprint of Knopf in 1954.

The 12 titles in the series were most likely drawn from Methuen’s back catalog and consisted of miscellaneous fiction and essays and literary what-not, all initially published in the previous few decades. Titles include:

1. A.P. Herbert, Holy Deadlock
2. Throne Smith, The Jovial Ghosts
3. Daniele Vare, The Maker Of Heavenly Trousers
4. Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
5. Vivienne De Watteville, Out in the Blue
6. Hilaire Belloc, Hills and the Sea
7. Pearl Buck, The Exile
8. P.G. Wodehouse, Bill the Conqueror
9. Noel Langley, Cage Me a Peacock
10. A.A. Milne, The Pocket
11. A.P. Herbert, Mild and Bitter
12. G. Lowes Dickinson, The Greek View of Life

Jackets and book design was common to the series, and a bit more conservative than Penguin’s spare, geometric design. In this case, the series name is paired with grapes and grape leaves suggesting, well, I don’t know. The bunch of grapes series colophon is used at the top of the jacket spine in tandem with the series name. The price (1/ net) is at the base of the jacket spine. The series number, 6 in the case of Belloc’s Hills and the Sea (below), is also included on the jacket spine. The front jacket flap includes the book’s series number and a brief summary of the book. The reader is, from the front flap, directed to the rear of the “wrapper” for additional books issued in the series.

The back of the jacket lists the 12 titles in the series, prefaced by the series name and the bunch of grapes, and followed by the price and publisher. Additional non-series Belloc titles are advertised on the rear jacket flap.

The book covers replicate the jacket design and is printed on a pale pink heavy paper. The price is also included on the book cover.

The half-title page is the initial page in the book.

The verso of the title page includes another list of series titles. The title page includes the series name and grapes, again.

“Originally published in October 1906. Reprinted nineteen times. This edition first published in 1941.”

“Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner, Ltd., Frome, and London.”