PUBLISHER: The Prudential Company, New York, 1894? - 1914?

ABOUT: In his 1931 bibliography of the works of James M. Barrie, Bradley Duane Cutler wrote, pages 34-37:

"Concerning the Prudential Book Company, it was organized by Frank F. Lovell probably in 1894 or 1895. As to the exact date Mr. [John W.] Lovell was unable to remember when questioned about it. Mr. Lovell in running his business cooperated with several national advertisers. For instance, a slip containing the titles of a number of books was placed in a package of tea. The consumer was informed that any of the books would be sent free of charge upon receipt of sufficient postage -- six cents. The address on the slip was 142 Worth St. which was the location of Frank F. Lovell's Prudential Book Company. Here Mr. Lovell attended to orders, sending books all over the country. The books -- he had plates for all of them and used the cheapest material -- cost less than a cent apiece to manufacture. He made a profït of about one and a quarter cents on each single book sent out and more if the consumer ordered in quantity -- for the directions were to submit six cents in postage for each book.

In about two years Mr. Lovell wanted to give up the business in order to follow other plans, but matters had got beyond his control. Orders continued to roll in long after he had ceased to put his book lists in packages of tea, cocoa or coffee. Obviously some of the packages could remain on the shelves of country stores for a period approaching a year. After that, the purchaser might even hold the slip a few months before placing an order. In accordance with the postal laws Mr. Lovell was obliged to fill all orders or return the postage. One was as simple as the other. The trouble was that he wanted to stop altogether. He had begun in the first place only because he wanted something to do, something to take up his mind.

He at last managed to sell out to a person named Charles Clark, a man who found some mysterious delight in being the unknown partner or backer of several New York fïrms. Mr. Clark continued to run the Prudential Book Company -- openly -- until about the early part of 1900. He added considerably to the list of books acquiring plates from F. M. Lupton, who had published [Barrie's] When A Man's Single in the Bijou Series, number 86, in 1893. Mr. Clark printed from these plates, splitting the book into two volumes and charging six cents in postage for each."

Apparently, however, Clark continued the company well past 1900. Entries in the annual Trow's Copartnership and Corporation Diectory from 1901 to 1914 record the firm's address as 38 Park Row and the owner Charles S. Clark. In 1915 the Directory's questionaire was not returned. Advertisements in The Bookseller (and likely elewhere) suggest that Clark had considerable success with Harriat H. Ayer (Mrs.), Woman's Guide to Health and Beauty, a title in the Wakefield Series first published in 1904 and kept in print for some time.

Attempts to find more information about the Clark with "mysterious delight" have not to date been successful, but anyone inclined to idenify him might want to be aware that he is NOT the "Charles S. Clark" (1874-1932) who emigrated as a child from Australia and in 1902 established a highly successful company in his name in New York City manufacturing greeting cards, talley cards for bridge and other card games, and materials for children, and whose presence is easily accessible on the internet. If Lovell's said mystery man Clark is indentified, PLEASE do let me know!

LUCILE’s ISSUED BY The Prudential Company :
Prudential seems to have published all titles in one (or more) of serveral sub-series of the Wakefield Series, lists of which are difficult to locate. Lucile is at this point known only from notice as item #158 in the "Wakefield Specials" Series list appended to Mary J. Holmes, The Gable-Roofed House at Snowdon (#88), undated but thought to date about 1889-1900. The Holmes piece is more a long story than novelette (just sixty pages) and the volume (digitized on HathiTrust) is accompanied by Edgar Allen Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue and a considerable number of advertisements for other books in the Series. That list is reproduced below.

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Last revised: 15 November 2020