Welcome to Old Children's Books, selling children's literature and picture books online since 1994. We stock more than 10,000 scarce, collectible and out-of-print books, for readers, teachers and collectors.
Photos of sets, of each volume, how to date your Book House, some background information... we have put these together in one place on the net, along with Book Houses we have for sale. People have fond memories of hours spent with this remarkable set of books, the creation of one woman, Olive Beaupre Miller, who drew from her reading and travels to design a treasure trove of literature that grew from nursery tales to epic poetry as the series of books progressed. Everything from the writing, to the illustrations, to the bindings, to the publishing, marketing, and sales by a team of women, resulted from the evolving vision of one person. That is what makes these books unique.
We offer the earlier sets from the 20s, 30s and early 40s, the six volume Black and Green Sets, the Rainbow edition, and the bright blue sets. Please read the About Our Book House Sets, the Contents of Book House Volumes, and Shipping before you look at an individual set.
IMPORTANT: Printing and edition were used by the company interchangeably. Printings of early volumes are displayed on the lower corner of the title page.See more information and table below.
Original sets for sale: These were purchased by us as complete sets with identical printings and owner names ( if any), comparable wear, and matching top edge colour.
NOTE!! Assembled sets for sale: We purchased these as partial sets and replaced the missing volumes with ones from the same printing and with comparable wear. There are no names or bookplates, if any, other than the originals of the core set.The top edge colour may vary slightly from ivory to pale peach, due to different light conditions on the shelf. Most people buy Book Houses to read and cherish, however if you are a collector, purchase an original set instead of an assembled set. We have discounted the assembled sets 20% from our price for a comparable original set. Due to the expense of replacing individual volumes, we are selling most below cost. Once they are gone, we will not replace them.
Individual volumes:We no longer stock individual volumes of the Book House.
"Comparable wear" With most 6 volume sets Volume One is looser and more faded, and may have a flaw or two (G to VG-), Volumes Two and Three show that they have been read frequently (VG- to VG). Volumes Four, Five, and Six are in nice shape, perhaps with some spine fading, (VG-VG+). If a set does not follow this pattern, we will note the fact. "Comparable wear" is our term, not a bookseller's term. When we quote the condition on this page, (for example, G to VG) it refers to the lowest grade book and the highest grade book. I look at each page and page number of Volume One, look slowly through Volume Two and flip through the others. We don't want any surprises!
Wooden Book Houses: According to Dorothy Loring Taylor, these charming sets were created for the Chicago Century of Progress exhibition of 1933-34 as promotional items. They are not uncommon, but usually have condition flaws. Look for the original paint, original chimneys, and the original books within. Any repairs should be noted.
We try to keep 6 volume black editions in stock, the "A" first printing in a formal Deco Blackstone binding and the later printings with the black Castle spine binding. We usually have a 6 volume green Fabrikoid edition, a 12 volume Rainbow edition, and a 12 volume brilliant blue edition in stock. Rarer items, like the wooden house and the red edition and the two part 12 volume editions come and go. We have never seen the original cardboard bookhouse or the miniature metal one, but they do come on the market from time to time.
Because Miller wanted to keep the book close to the child, Book House Volumes were all issued without jackets. All the volumes we carry were issued with pasted-on plates.
The information below comes from Olive Beaupre Miller and the Book House by Dorothy Loring Taylor, a book we highly recommend. Look on the lower corner of the title page to see the edition (printing) number or letter: the sequence runs A-H, then 9, 10, 11, ....... Edition and Printing were used interchangeably by the company. Below are the title pages for an "A" Blackstone first printing, a "G" 7th Castle printing, and a 22th Rainbow printing. Click on a jpg to enlarge it..
Blackstone binding (black cloth) A through E "A" printing or First Edition 1920 and 1921. "A" and "B" were not marked. C-E are marked and were also issued in different bindings.
Black Castle Spine binding or whitewashed Green Fabrikoid binding F - 16
12 volume sets began in 1935, issued in both red sets and green sets, but bibliographical information for editions (printings) 17 to 20 is complex. (Read the book!)
Rainbow edition 1937 Twentieth Edition This first printing of the Rainbow edition was not marked. Rainbow Editions continued through the 25th printing and 21 through 25 were marked.
Brilliant Blue editions 26 though 31. The parent guide "In Your Hands" first appeared at least in 1943 and accompanied Brilliant Blue editions subsequently.
There's more, including a reissued Rainbow with parent guide, and a white Book House with printed cover illustrations, but we don't handle later Book Houses.
We've provided minimal information on early editions (printings), but Taylor's book contains much more detail on these printings and on later ones: 20 pages of detailed bibliography.
The titles envision a child growing up in a Book House, from the sunshine of the Nursery, climbing up one pair of stairs to Folk Tales and though the hall of Fairy Tales, pausing to explore a Treasure Chest of legends and ascending to the Tower Window, where the whole of literature lies spread out "Far streches all the world away / and naught shuts out the sky;/ And knights, and maids and all of life/ Go marching, marching by." In the final Latch-Key volume, the children take the key and enter in, "for me are all its glories."
People remember the pictures for the Book House vividly. However, aside from the cover plates and the early volumes of the 12 volume sets, the pictures have been reenvisioned as line drawings in a harmonious Deco palette of acqua, cream, peach, orange, and brown. On the 6 volume sets these colors blend with the cream coloured paper. Above are an illustrations from Volume One used in printings A through 19, followed by an illustrations by Maginel Wright Barney and Milo Winter. To me, this reworking of the pictures contributes to the unity of the six volumes that takes them beyond a scattered anthology.
Vol. 1 In the Nursery - Milo Winter plate: 432 pages of nursery rhymes, short poems like Who Has Seen the Wind, and simple Nursery Stories from many cultures, Indian, Native American, Dutch, Japanese, France, Scotland, England, along with simple written tales. Numerous pictures in text.
Vol. 2 Up One Pair of Stairs - a Chester H. Lawrence Little Red Riding Hood plate on A printing, followed by a Snow White and Rose Red plate on B printing. 448 pages of longer and more complex folk and written stories, as well as poetry: Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Brownies in the Toy Shop... Longfellow, Wordsworth, a little Shakespeare, and much more.
Vol. 3 Through Fairy Halls - Alice Beard plate. 448 pages Longer fairy tales and variants (like Rhodopis, the Egyptian Cinderella). Short stories from around the world, some excerpts from longer works, and a little poetry.
Vol. 4 The Treasure Chest - N. C. Wyeth plate. More longer stories, like the Nuremberg (sic) Stove, and Tolstoy's Where Love Is, There is God Also, retold excerpts from Dickens and George Elliot, Theodore Roosevelt on George Rogers Clark, Greek Myths, some poetry, some biography. 448 pp.
Vol. 5 From the Tower Window - M. D. Charleson plate. Stories, epics, and legends from history: The Exile of Rama, Cuchulain, Beowulf, the Homecoming of Ulysses, King Alfred, Don Quixote, Joan of Arc (my favorite volume as a child). 448 pp.
Vol. 6 The Latch Key - Chenoweth plate - A volume for parents, teachers, librarieans, and older children, a long section on the Lives of Authors, and short articles on Mother Goose, Folk Tales, Myth, Epic Poetry. An address by Miller on How to Judge Stories for Children, discusses the value of imaginative literature (not unsound, though!), truthful realistic fiction, and good writing; in closing she discusses her process in selecting material for the Book House. The last 100 pages comprise various indexes Author/Title/Important Characters Index, then a Geographical Index, then a Historical Index, then a Special Subjects Index, then a thoroughly explained Index According to Ethical Theme. 320 to 448 pp. pp.
Twelve volume sets
Aside from some rearranging within volumes in Vol 1 and Vol 2, little was changed in the six volumes for the first 16 years. However, Mrs. Miller was always concerned about the durability of the sets, hoping that they would last though several childhoods. The 17th, 18th, and 19th printings divided the material into shorter books with less stress on the spine. The Rainbow Edition, the 20th printing (1937) was published on stronger white paper which eliminated the usual margin tears.
In the process, My Book House definitely lost that 20's look, and the metaphor of the child's climb up through the Tower of literature along with the frontis poem faded. However, Mrs. Miller always adapted her material to her current child readers, and the Rainbow edition evolved into a more modern set with many fresh selections, which format continued with gradual changes until the 50's.
Vol. 1 In the Nursery. Endpapers: green and white pictorial in squares. All the nursery poetry from the original Volume One was placed here, sorted into countries, for the benefit of the adult reader, I suppose.
Vol. 2 Story Time. Endpapers same. All the stories from the original Volume One, along with the Milo Winter cover, were placed here.
Vol. 3 Up One Pair of Stairs. Pictorial endpapers by Mariel Wilhoite. Material from or similar to that in the Original Volume Two, appeared in the new Vol. 3 & 4
Vol. 4 Through the Gate. Endpapers same.
Vol. 5 Over the Hills. Endpapers same. Material from or similar to that in the original Volume Three (called Through Fairy Halls) appeared in volumes 5, 6, and 7. That is, more material was added for the middle-aged child.
Vol. 6 Through Fairy Halls. Endpapers same.
Vol. 7 The Magic Garden. Endpapers same.
Vol. 8 Flying Sails. Endpapers: Knights on Horseback and a Phoenician Ship. Material similar to of reprinted from the original Book Four, The Treasure Chest appleared in Volumes 8 & 9.
Vol. 9 The Treasure Chest. Endpapers same.
Vol. 10 From the Tower Window. Endpapers same.Material similar to or reprinted from the original Book Five, From the Tower Window appeared in Volumes 10 & 11.
Vol. 11 In Shining Armour. Endpapers same.
Vol. 12 Halls of Fame. Endpapers same. The same as the original Volume 6, with some articles omitted, still larger than the others of the 12 volumes.
What's the best Book House to own? The best Book House is the one with personal meaning for you. However, if you are new to the Book House, a six volume Book House might be better for a homeschooling family with strong readers, and a 12 volume Rainbow Book House might be better as gift to a young family.
Olive Beaupre Miller and the Book House for Children by Dorothy Loring Taylor. Chicago Review Press, 1986.
An interesting history of Miller and her publishing company in which publishing, marketing, and distribution were handled almost exclusively by a loyal corps of women over many years. Miller's papers are contained in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith, her alma mater, and include a biography by her daughter, quoted at length. Dorothy Loring Taylor's collection of Book Houses is extensive and she provides a thorough bibliography of Book House editions and others of Miller's publications. Indespensible for a collector of My Book House.
Book House Blog at http://www.mybookhouse.com/2006/09/my-book-house-backstory.html
PLEASE, PLEASE read the publication data information above and post the PRINTING, not the copyright date on your listings. If you also post the date as well, post the most recent copyright date in any volume, not just the earliest date. Note the COLOUR of the set. Check to see that you have an original set, not an assembled set, see above.
I thought completing a few sets of Book Houses would be a quick process. Actually, six weeks dragged on, and I am publishing this page with half of my sets still unfinished. Why? Because in every case, it took a long exchange of several emails to inquire about the printing, which would usually be the wrong one. Thanks to Elaine Woodford and Eileen Serxner, children's book specialists, who got the point right away, being old hands at this. They pack beautifully, too!
We use this pricing table and adjust for condition and any unusual variants.. what if we found a Fine to Fine "A" printing in its cardboard box some day! An adjustment would be called for.
Aside from the regular $3.50 charge, the cost of Domestic shipping, in a box of course, is included in the price.
Foreign shipping is expensive. As an example, for 6 volume sets, Canadian shipping would be about $33, Europe about $46, Asia and Australia about $76. Contact us for foreign shipping and we will set up an individual line for you on our Shopping Cart.
Pricing. We use this table as we price, adjusting for condition. We will not attempt assembled sets again once these are sold.
Original first printing A set in VG to VG+ condition 280
Assembled first printing A set in VG to VG+ condition 220
Original first printing A set in G to VG condition 200
Assembled first printing A set in G to VG condition 160
Adjust for B printing.
C through 16th printing original set in VG to VG+ condition 220
C through 16th printing assembled set in VG to VG+ condition 175
C through 16th printing original set in G to VG condition 145
C through 16th printing Assembled set in G to VG condition 115
Original 20th in VG to VG+ condition 250
Assembled 20th in VG to VG+ condition 200
Original 20th in G to VG condition 180
Assembled 20th in G to VG condition 140
Original later Rainbow in VG to VG+ condition 210
Assembled later Rainbow in VG to VG+ condition 160
Original later Rainbow in G to VG condition 150
Assembled later Rainbow in G to VG condition 120
"Later" meaning of the first run, not the Rainbows subsequent to Bright Blue..
Any original bright blue in VG to VG+ condition 160
Any assembled bright blue in VG to VG+ condition 120
Any original bright blue in G to VG condition 110
Assembled bright blue in G to VG condition 85
And speaking of condition and prices:
We offer sets in nice condition, either ranging from Very Good to Very Good Plus or Good to Very Good. They are nothing like the first printings I inherited from my mother's family of five brothers and sisters and read over and over again (pictured below). Read-to-pieces Bookhouses like these abound, and so it is certainly possible to find less expensive copies elsewhere.
We have titled this page both as My Book House and the Bookhouse for Children so it can be easily searched.