PUBLISHER: W. B. Conkey Company, Chicago, 1877-1949

ABOUT: 143 Monroe, Chicago in 1877; absorbed Illinois Printing and Binding Company 1890; 1897 built plant at 617 Conkey Street, Hammond, Indiana; office at 332 South Michigan; sold to Rand McNally in 1949. (DLB 49). The Newberry Library (Chicago) holds the archival records of the Rand McNally Company, including some historical records of the Conkey Company. Conkey submitted catalogs to PTLA in some years: Lucile is not mentioned in 1894-1895 or 1897-1898. From 1890 to past 1900 Conkey also had a close relationship -- precisely what is undetermined -- with an apparently much smaller publishing firm based in Chicago, Homewood Publishing Company. There is evidence that Conkey accumulated a vast collection of electroplates for "classic" reprint titles, using these to occupy printers and binders in slack periods between massive projects: since its major printing jobs required that it maintain a large, highly skilled, workforce, it certainly makes considerable economic sense for Conkey to have scheduled modest print runs of books that had perpetual sale in the reprint market in down time.

Perhaps as a result, however, it appears Conkey may have had labor problems as a “non-union” employer. This 1901 posting from the Typographers Union mentions its “specialty of holiday books.” While not explicit, it seems probable the Union’s complaint sprang from tact that reprinting was typically done from electroplates which would be pulled from storage and placed on presses with little or no further typesetting, thus cutting typographers from the work. Presumably union contracts specified that union shops provided typographers with some compensation when making use of plates.

The Typographical Journal, Official Paper of the International Typographical Union of North America. Volume 17 (1901), p488: “CHICAGO TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION has issued a circular to all printing trade unions calling attention to the products of two notoriously un fair printing establishments—the W. B. Conkey Company, of Hammond, Ind., and Donohue & Henneberry, of Chicago. The firms mentioned make a specialty of holiday books of all descriptions. In making purchases of that character unionists and friends of organized labor should remember that the W. B. Conkey Company and Donohue & Henneberry have repeatedly refused to recognize the printing trades unions, and that their product is non union in every respect.”

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LUCILE’s ISSUED BY: W. B. Conkey Company 1900-1905 American Catalogue. '04 (N5) por[trait]. D.[size designation=12mo, 20cm] (Ajax padded poets). French seal, $1.50.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE TO BUYERS

Tear out this slip, whe you have read it, and preserve it for future reference. It contains valuable information relative to the cost of W. B. CONKEY COMPANY’S various publications, and will enable you to make sales from our catalog without your customers knowing what such goods actually cost. / In quoting trade prices, we have adopted a code of letters in order that you may have the manufacturer’s net prices always before you. The key to the code is as follows:
C - O - N - K - E - Y --- L - I - S - T --- V --- W --- X
1 -- 2 - 3 -- 4 - 5 -- 6 --- 7 - 8 - 9 - 0 ---1/4 - 1/2 - 3/4
For instance, if the net trade price is $2.25, it is given as follows: (OOE): if 75c, (LE), etc. etc.

NOTE OUR TERMS, AND CASH DISCOUNTS, AS FOLLOWS.
3 Per Cent., 10 days, 30 days Net.

Special notice. Parties having no account with us will please send references with orders, so there may be no delay in mailing prompt shipments. Chicago References are always preferred. / Very respectfully, W. B. CONKEY COMPANY

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[Found tipped to front page of 1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue; courtesy of Cary Sternick].

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1903. The New Abbey Series: This binding style is idented by Cary Sternick's Conkey page for its editions of George W. Peck's books to this binding style.

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1903 PTLA: NEW ABBEY SERIES. 12mos. Nearly 400 Volumes. All Complete and Unabridged Editions. / Our Abbey Series has received an unrivaled share of popular favor. Undeniably the very best set of popular 12mos ever published -- the intention being to bring this series within the reach of people of the most moderate means. / The books are clearly printed from large type, on a good quality of book paper, and are hansoely and sustantially bound in cloth, embossed with an artistic design in two colors of inks on front and back covers, with side titles and lettering in gilt on back. / In this series we bring to the hearth of the most modest home the opportunity to buy the most famous books by the great authors of the world at a cost that can be comforatably met. They are good, clean, attractive, well-made books, hansomely bound and well-printed, and fit to make a worthy foundation for a meritorious home library. The list includes most of the treasured materworks, many of which have long stood in the highest rank of modern fiction. There is no equivalent series on the market -- none that begins to compare wit the Abbey Series for Intrinsic literary merite, for beauty of external form, and for moderate price. Price 25 cents.

"The books in the ABBEY SERIES are in every sense a marvel of cheapness: paper, printing and binding alike being excellent. Even the present age of beautiful reprints has seen nothing at once so cheap and so thoroughly good." --- Bookseller.

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1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue. PADDED EDITION OF THE POETS. Series P. Illustrated. 12mos. AN ENTIRELY NEW LINE. This series contains the best productions of the world’s greatest poets. In making up the list of titles, great care was taken to include only individual poems that have struck the cord of popular fancy, together with carefully compiled collections of the great masters of son. These volumes will supply the demand for presentation editions of standard poets: first, because they represent the cream of English and American poetry; second, because their make-up is the most decided novelty in colored stamping ever turned out. The print is clear and handsome, the paper is white and of a very fine quality, and the binding is marvelously rich and beautiful. Each volume is bound in specially tanned French seal grain leather, handsomely embossed with a spray of oak leaves, extending cross both side and back of the cover. The design is exceedingly harmonious in treatment, the colors used being the shades of brown seen on oak leaves in the Autumn, which blend with the dark colors of the leather. The title of the book is stamped in gold upon the back and side in plain letters. These superb volumes have round corners, red-under-gold edges, engraved end-sheets, illuminated title pages, and frontispiece portraits of the authors. Each book is delivered encased in a handsome box. These are the handsomest gift editions issued for many years, and book lovers have pronounced them to be by far the most luxurious and strikingly handsome volumes ever put upon the market. Price (YE)[=$.65 wholesale] $1.50. [Lucile is one of 50 titles; informtion courtesy Cary Sternick].

1903 PTLA: Acorn Padded Edition: 12mos., 35 volumes. Illustrated. 12mos. Bound in tanned French seal leather embossed with a spray of oak leaves extending across both sides and back of the cover, the design is exceedingly harmonious in treatment, the colors used being the different shades of brown seen on oak leaves in the Autumn, which blend with the colors of the leather. Titles stamped in gold upon the back and the side. Round corners, red-under-gold edges, engraved end sheets, illuminated title pages, and frontispiece portraits of the authors. Price $1.50. The binding is the perfection of beauty and durability and is beautifully soft to the touch. [Cut of Lucile].

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1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue. Ajax Padded Edition of the Poets. Series Q. Illustrated. 12mos. The Best Creations of the World’s Greatest Poets in Exceedingly Attractive Gift Editions. THE BINDINGS IS THE PERFETION OF BEAUTY AND DURABILITY AND IS BEAUTIFULLY SOFT TO THE TOUCH. IN MECHANICAL EXECUTION THESE SUBERB VOLUMES SURPASS ARY PADDED EDITIONS ON THE MARKET. Price (ET)[= $.50 wholesale]: $1.50. A choice selection of the greatest creations of the American and the English poets. Bound in elegant specially tanned French seal grain leather, embossed with a chaste gold cornerpiece ornament, with side and back titles stamped in gold. Round corners, red-under-gold edges. Admirably printed on a superior quality of paper, with illuminated title pages, engraved end sheets, and frontispiece portraits of the authors. There is nothing more admirably suited for a dainty yet inexpensive gift book to a person of taste and cultivation. [Lucile is Q27 of 50 titles; cut is same as 1903 PTLA; information courtesy of Cary Sternick].

1903 PTLA: Ajax Padded Edition: 12mos., 35 volumes. Illustrated. 12mos. The same as the Acorn Padded Edition, except that the Ajax Edition has been prepared to meet the requirements of those preferring a book without colored ornamentations. / This edition has beautiful gold cornerpiece, side and back titles, making it a very attractive volume. In mechanical excellence it far surpasses any of the present padded editions on the market. Price $1.50. / The binding is the perfection of beauty and durability and is beautifully soft to the touch. / Round corners, red-under-gold edges, engraved end sheets, illuminated title pages, and frontispiece portrait of the authors. [Cut].

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1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue: Amaranth Series: This series is described with a cut of the binding style which matches these two Luciles. Inforamtion courtesy of Cary Sternick.

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1903 PTLA: Amaranth Series: Unabridged Editions in Handy shape. In this list of nearly 100 volumes only such books are included as have attained a permanent standing in the world's literature. Mechanically, they are the best books for the price that can be made; artistically, they are worthy of a place in any library. They are clearly printed on a good quality of book paper and bound in strong cloth, stamped with chaste design in colors. Price 20 Cents. [Cut.]

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1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue. Avalon Edition of the Poets. Series E. In Uniform Library Bindings. 12mos. This magnificent series contains a happy mingling of the most successful narrative poems and carefully selected collections of the renowned English and American poets. The volumes themselves are in modern library bindings, and are a credit to the publishers. Here is an opportunity to possess a library of the world’s best poetry at a moderate expense. Any person might well be pound to own these books, tor they will not only furnish entertainment and instruction, but will direct the thoughts into the broadest channels, and away from the evil currents of trashy literature. The list of authors includes the names of those high on the roll of fame, but celebrated , not so much for their scholarly attainments, as for their ability to write poetry that any one can read with pleasure and profit. The books are printed from new electrotype plates in large, clear type, on an extra quality of white laid paper, with title page in colors. They are bound in fine silk cloth, with back and side titles in gold, with gold tops. A dainty rose design stamped upon the back in gold preserves the uniform library appearance of these volumes, and the effect of a group of thee lovely books is very to the eye. Price (OT)[= $.20 wholesale] 50 cents. [Lucile is one of 29 titles; information courtesy Cary Sternick].

”Whatever your occupation may be, and however crowded your hours with affairs, do not fail to secure at least a few minutes every day for refreshment of your inner life with a bit of poetry.”
“This collection will appeal to all who are lovers of charming poetry, or who care for the support derived from the companionship of beautiful verse.”

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1903 PTLA: CLASSIC GIFT EDITIONS. 12mos. 100 Volumes. Illustrated. Boxed. / The most sumptous line of gift books ever published. Thse beautiful volumes are bound in art buckram with vellum backs, richly ornamented with gold stamping and titles, with side embellished with twenty-five different designs lithographedin fourteen colors. They include portraits of the poets, lovely landscapes, exquisite figures in costume, beautiful art studies, and sprays of flowers rproducted with great delicacy and fidelity. Each book is handsomely printed and illustrated, and carries an illuminated title page. / The books are admirably adapted for bithday souvenirs, or as presentation volumes to persons of taste and cultivation. Nothing can be surer of appreciation. A volume from this exquisite series will cause the recipient to remember the donor with genuine pleasure. Every volume reflects on the possessor's knowledge of eminent genius. Price $1.00. [The first two bindings shown below after "Other Twelvemo Designs" may be examples of this series: they do exhibit some details mentioned in the description -- but not others. Text and scan here are duplicatged in the 1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue, inforamtion courtesy of Cary Sternick].

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1903 Homewood Series. Pictured here in binding shown in a catalog of the George W. Peck books at GeorgeWPeck.com. Appended to an undated Conkey edition of Marryat's Peter Simple in digital format at HathiTrust.org is a description of the Oxford and Homewood Series: Extra cloth, gold titles, ornamental side and back stamp, gilt tops 12mos in size. / Price, 36 cents each. / Comprising titles of standard works, embracing Fiction, Essays, History, Travel, Poetry, etc. Selected from the world’s best literature and written by authors of world-wide reputation. Printed from new plates and large type on extra fine white laid paper. All complete editions, and bound in extra cloth for library use.

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1903 PTLA: New Ivory Series: Handy Shape, white art vellum. An Ideal Series of Classics. Illustrated. Handy Shape Volumes. These dainty books are beautifully printed from open-faced type, on fine, especially made paper. Bound in white art vellum, ornamented with designs lithographed in fourteen colors, with attractive gilt back stamp, and gilt side ornamentation and titles. Illustrated with half-tone engravings; title pages colors and printed end sheets. In glazed wrappers and boxed. Price 50 Cents. [Cut and series description here is duplicated in the 1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue (inforamtion courtesy of Cary Strnick) -- but see also Two Volumes Set 1902-1903 Catalog description and image below].

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1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue. THE NEW LIBRARY EDITION. Series L. Complete and Unabridged. 12mos. The Most Beautiful Line of Library Books Published. THIS SPLENDID COLLECTION of 12mos is without doubt the finest on the market. The titles represent the cream of English and American literature, and were selected with the greatest care. They are not only chosen books from a literary standpoint, but are the best made books before the trade to-day. Nothing but the very finest materials enter into their construction. They are printed from plates made from type set up in our own establishment. The paper is the very best that money can buy; sewed with great care, with back reinforced with cloth, head-bands, bound in high grade of cloth, with extra boards, they are MECHANICALLY PERFECT. Each volume is a complete edition in itself, and the series embraces the very best works in fiction, science, history, philosophy, humor and biography. It has been often stated that the binding has considerable to do with the sale of a book, but in this case the books would sell upon their literary merit alone. While the covers of this splendid series are anything but gaudy, they possess a quiet elegance that delights every one who appreciates a beautiful book. Each book contains a frontispiece, printed from a half-tone plate. Price (NT)[= #.30 wholesale} 75 cents. [Lucile is one of about 155 titles; inforamtion courtesy Cary Sternick].

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1903 PTLA: New Oxford Series. 12mos. Every Volume Complete and Unabridged, and unquestionably the handsomest popular-priced library editions on the market. / The titles in the New Oxford Series are on the best in literature, embracing History, Biography, Science, Travel, Adventure, Fiction of the choicest characters, Poetry, and Belles-lettres, and Books of Humor. / In every community there are persons of moderate means who desire to possess a library. The New Oxford Editions are made with the view to satisfy this laudable ambition. Here is the opportunity to possess a fine collection of cloth-bound books in popular library binding. They are exquisite in material, design, and finish. The paper is of a superior quality and without gloss; flexible and soft, and comforting to read. / Nearly 400 Volumes. Extra Cloth, Gold Titles, Ornamental Side and Back Stamp, Gold Top. / Price 50 Cents. [This description and image duplicates that in the 1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue (inforamtion courtesy of Cary Sternick) but note also description and cut in "Five Volumes Sets" below where spine staming seems to differ. See also Homewood edition above].

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1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue. TWO VOLUME SETS IN IVORY AND UNIVERSITY BINDINGS. Series J and V. Illustrated. 16mos. HANDY VOLUME CLASSICS FOR PRESENTATION PURPOSES. in selecting titles for our two volume sets we have chosen not only the best companion books by the bet authors but have endeavored to suit every taste. At the present time there is an insistent demand for dainty volumes, in beautiful bindings, suitable for birthdays, weddings, holidays and other occasions. In the following list will be found books appropriate for father, mother, sister and brother, old people and young people, the student and the average reader. THE IVORY SETS. When Ordering, Mention Series J. Each book is printed on antique laid paper, handsomely illustrated with half-tone engravings, with colored title page, printed end-sheets and bound in white art vellum ornamented with twenty-five different designs, lithographed in fourteen colors, with exquisite gilt back stamp, and gilt side ornamentation and titles. Each Set is Put Up in a Dainty White Box. Price (NE)[=$.35 wholesale] $1.00. Series V. THE UNIVERSITY SETS. When Ordering, Mention Series V. Each volume is elegantly printed on a very high grade of fine antique paper, and bound in silk cloth, with handsome designs in two colors of ink stamping and gilt. They are handsomely illustrated with exquisite half-tone pictures, with title page in colors, and printed end-sheets. Each Set is Put UP in a Dainty Box. Price (NT)[= $.30 wholesale] 75 cents. [Lucile and [Tennyson’s] Princess are paired as Set 55, NARRATIVE POEMS: “These two immortal stories in verse are clamored for as much today as ever.” Informtion courtesy Cary Sternick].

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Copies in Ivory Edition binding, Two Volume Sets Series. See University Edition binding below.

1902-1903 Conkey Catalogue. FIVE VOLUME SETS IN ABBEY AND OXFORD BINDINGS. In selecting the books which make up these sets we have chosen those titles that have achieved the distinction of being masterpieces of literature, and that occupy a hollowed place in the hearts of readers. Until recently these books were very expensive, and for the first time in the history of book making are put upon the market at a popular price. Every set is made up from complete editions, printed from new plates. Series B. FIVE VOLUME ABBEY SETS. When ordering, mention Series B. Each set in this series carries five volumes which for years have been most acceptable to the reading public/ The volumes themselves are handsomely printed on good book paper, and bound in cloth, with embossed cover design in gold and ink. These editions make a set one-forth larger than any on the market. Each set is put up in a handsome box. Price per set (ET)[=$.50 wholesale] $1.25. Series Y. FIVE VOLUME OXFORD SERIES. When ordering, mention Series Y. These books are printed from new type on a superior quality of laid paper, and bound in silk cloth, with gold titles, embossed side and back stamps, and gold tops. From a mechanical standpoint, these volumes are in every respect equal to $1.50 copyright books, which sell from $7.00 to $8.00 per set. Price per set (ST)= $.90 wholesale] $2.00. [Lucile is in Set 55 POETRY, No. 2, with Lowell’s Poems, Holmes’ Poems, Light of Asia, and Hiawatha; information courtesy Cary Sternick].

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1904 Abbey Series.. This binding from GeorgePeck.com corresponds to this copy of Lucile. [Information courtesy of Cary Sternick].

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1904 PW Sep 24: The Ajax Padded Edition of the Poets. 12mos. Bound in embossed padded leather stamped in gold, red-under-gold edges, round corners, and boxed. The binding is the perfection of beauty and durability and is beautifully soft to the touch. / Printed on excellent paper from New Plates, title pages in illuminated artistic colors. Illustrated frontispieces. Artistic end sheets. 40 volumes. Price (ET) $1.50.
[Also paragraph for "Dainty Books in Padded Leather Bindings" (50 volumes, 75 cents), the "New Cameo Series" (600 volumes, 35 cents), and "The Abbey Series" (200 volumes, 25 cents)].
[The Publishers' Weekly 1704 (24 Sept 1904): "Dainty Books in Padded Leather Bindings. Handy Volume Size. Illustrated. Boxed. Interesting books in contemporary literature that have reached distinction. Handsome books for gifts or library use. / Beautifully printed and bound in embossed leather with rich gold side ornament and gold title, round corners and red-under-gold edges, and artistic end paper linings. With illuminated title page and frontispiece and other half-tone illustratons. Each book in a box. 50 volumes, Priced (NE) 75 cents.]

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1904. The New Cameo Series: Series M. Complete and Unabridged Editions. 12mos. An Entirely New Issue of an Unrivaled Series of Standard and Popular Books. Price (CC) 35 cents. / These judiciously selected titles are the cream of the world's litratue. Nearly 600 hundred volumes of distinctly enjoyable books that charm the heart and please the fancy, by the master minds of the century -- most of them admitted classics. / The books in this charming series are beautifully printed from large type and bound in excelent taste in vellum cloth, with a particularly artistic cover design printed in two colors of inks on front and back, with side titles, and back letterings in genuine gold. Will certainly be the most popular selling Series of the year. Many of the books are copyrighted and can be obtained only in this unrivaled Series. [Cut].

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1903 PTLA: University Series: Handy Shape Editions. 80 volumes. Illustrated. Unabridged editions of popular favorites, conspicuous for exquisite beauty and artistic makeup. Books that are always in demand. Seasons do not affect them. Every book in the series is an all-the-year-round seller. Printed on fine non-fading paper and bound in silk cloth, beautifully embellished with an extremely effective design in gilt and two colors of ink. The books are illustrated with half-tone illustrations, and carry a title page in colors and printed end sheets. Printed wrappers. Price 35 cents [Cut].

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PW 4 September 1904. THE WORLD'S BEST BOOKS IN FICTION / In Handsome Half Leather Bindings. A series of great works of fiction, designed for inexpensive and useful gift volumes. Every book beautiful in its production, every book a literary treasure, and every book a marvel of cheapness. Beautifully printed and handsomely bound in half leather,with gold-veined marble paper sides and end sheets. / 100 volumes. Price (NE) 75 Cents.

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Not Dated: De Luxe Library. This copy of a Rubaiyat contains a verso title page list of other titles "in similar style," among them Lucile. Image and information courtesy of Roger Paas.

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Other Twelvemo Designs

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Sixteenmo Leather Formats

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Sixteenmo Limp Ooze

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Decorative Cloth Sixteenmos

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Last revised: 14 June 2020