PUBLISHER: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., New York, 1876-1979

ABOUT: Crowell occupied 744 Broadway in 1876; moved in 1881 to Clinton Hall (13 Astor Place?); to 46 East 14th in 1893; and when the Boston bindery and 46 East 14th leases expired together in 1900, moved to 426-428 Broadway [where it remained until 1926 when it removed to 27th Street and 4th Avenue]. The Boston bindery was located first at 57 Washington, then 93 Federal, then 65 Kingston, and "finally" at 100 Purchase Street. (Tebbel; Tebbel BC, 154-155). Red Line Poets had 45 titles in 1882... T. Y. died 1915 and son supervised firms move to 393 Fourth Avenue. (DLB 49). T.Y. Crowell of New York was not primarily a publisher of cheap books, but did issue a number of books at low prices. Concerning the Crowell series of British poets at a dollar a volume, the Publishers' Weekly noted that, "The 'dollar stores' themselves can scacrely get below these prices, even by the assistance of frequent compromises.'" [12:119, 1877] (Shove). The name is pronounced "Crow-ell".

THOMAS YOUNG CROWELL was born the 29th of May, 1836, in West Dennis, Massachusetts; he died at his home in Montclair, N. J., July 29th, 1915.  He attended Yarmouth Academy briefly, but starting at age 14 worked for a commission house in Boston which soon went bankrupt, then went to sea until at age 20 (1856) he took a menial position in Benjamin Bradley's Boston bookbindery. Bradley had founded his bindery in 1834 and "was in a sense the pioneer in cloth binding in this country." During a difficult business period, he kept books for Bradley and Bradley's son-in-law. He married a second cousin in 1860, and rose in rank to general manager at Bradley's. Bradley died in 1862, and Crowell was invited by the executors to operate the business for the benefit of the estate. He did this for three years, then entered into a five-year partnership with Bradley's widow, buying her share in 1870 and placing the firm in his own name.

During the panic of 1873, he acquired the plates, bound books, and sheet stock of a religious publisher, Warren & Wyman of New York, which "marked the start of the gradual evolution of Mr. Crowell's business from the binding of books to the publishing of them--also of his entrance into New York." In 1876 he began publishing books, with Warren Wyman as manager, a nephew, L. Howes Crowell, in charge of sales, and  responsibility for day-to-day operations of the bindery in the hands of his brother-in-law, E. Osborne Crowell. His son, T. Irving Crowell, joined the business in 1882. Another son, Jeremiah Osborne Crowell, was later sales manager. [Preceding paragraph as well as this one variously taken from T. Irving Crowell, Thomas Young Crowell 1836-1915 (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1926, reprinted 1954)]. The family issued a profitable line of reference works: Roget's International Thesaurus; Dictionary of Business and Finance; Social Science Series. They also published a variety of fiction titles: Frank Heller detective/mystery series; children's books; gift volumes.

Tebbel (vol. 3, page 527) notes that T. Y. Crowell was succeeded by T. Irving Crowell (1866-1942) until he retired to chairman of the board in 1937, being in turn succeeded by Robert L. Crowell, a grandson of T.Y., with two other grandsons in the firm at that time. In 1938, Elizabeth Riley joined Crowell to develop a children's book division, "becoming one of the industry's leaders." In 1968 Crowell was acquired by Dun & Bradstreet but remained an independent sub-division of that company, and in 1974 it itself acquired Abelard-Schuman, Chandler Publishing, Criterion Books, The John Day Company, and Intext Educational Publishers. In 1979 this entire assemblage was taken over by Harper & Row. A portion of the firm's archive, 1926-1963, including 11 feet of correspondence, is in the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Library.

LUCILE’s ISSUED BY Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.: Between 1876 and 1931, the Crowell company issued Lucile and Meredith's Works (containing Lucile) in a great variety of printings and bindings -- on the order of 200 identifiably different issues. After 1884, most of the series bindings in which Lucile and/or the Works appeared were illustrated in the catalogs that Crowell submitted annually to Publishers' Trade List Annual. Those illustrations are inserted here next to the PTLA series descriptions. For a summary of the PTLA descriptions of Luciles, see Crowell editions; and Poetical Works for a summary of those editions.

"Crowell's Poets" were larger formats -- 4to, 8vo, 12mo (about 5x7" or larger) -- and typically (but not always) offered both Lucile and Meredith's Works in similar bindings. Occasionally only the Works were offered; more typically, if only one title was offered, it was Lucile. Sometimes Lucile would be brought out in a series with the Works added to the series a year or two later.

In 1892, Crowell introduced several series in a smaller format -- pocket-size 16mo or 18mo (about 4x6") -- the Handy Volume Classics. Many of these series included Lucile -- the Works were never offered in Handy Volume size. New series, with new binding designs, were added every year, and older series retired; the number of variations is quite large.

It may now be noted (2022-2023) that Crowell used only one of two sets of electroplates to print ALL of its series and editons of Lucile. The setting in a larger typeface had 269 pages and the first words at the top of (last text) page, 269, were "The moon was ...". The smaller typeface required 260 pages and the first words of page 260 were "Are these ...". All the "Handy Size" series are based on the 260 page version BUT so are some of the larger format "Poets" series -- particularly those which feature decorated page margins "in tints." To be clear, Crowell cared about the print quality of its plates (as other printers and reprinters did not consistently care) and consequently may have manufactured multiple electroplate sets from one original typesetting or -- more likely -- to have "cloned" plates at the first sign of wear, this is turn to permit printing of hundreds of thousands of copies at high print quality, which a single set of plates in each typeface, durable though they were, could not have done.

To reduce page size, PTLA descriptions and scanned illustrations have been organized in two files, each in turn organized alphabetically by series title. Each contains nearly one hundred black and white scans taken from Pubishers' Trade List Annual. The first page includes the larger "Crowell's Poets" editions, the second the smaller Handy Volume Classics. Scans from and other information about recorded copies are in turn linked from the PTLA description -- click on high-lighted series names to move to these more detailed reports. Clicking on images in these reports will bring up an enlarged image with a caption that records information specific to that copy.  


Crowell's Poets.......or.......Handy Volume Classics


Last revised: 1 October 2023