Jonathan Cape (London, UK)
Series dates: 1932-1938
Size: 5″ x 7.25″
Along with the Travellers’ Library, Cape’s Florin Books series encompassed contemporary fiction drawn largely from Cape’s back catalog in a nicely designed book at a low-cost. The series reached at least 103 titles by 1938. In 1940, 30 titles were recycled as the Cape Pocket Books paperback series. A few hardcover reprints occurred through 1945 before the series disappeared in the WW2 era.
The first mention of the new Florin Books series in the Times Literary Supplement was on Thursday, May 5, 1932:
Messrs. Jonothan Cape are adding another notable series of reprints – the “Florin Books,” designed to include a wide range of fiction and belles-lettres by past and present authors. The first installment includes Butler’s “Erewhon”; E.J. O’Brien’s selection of “Modern English Short Stories”; J. Ramsay MacDonald’s “Wanderings and Excursions”; Beverley Nichols’s “Crazy Pavements” and H.E. Bates “Catherine Foster.”
Interestingly, these first five titles were actually #4, #11, #8, #10, and #3 in the series. It’s likely that the series titles were not issued in a strict order – that the five titles noted in the TLS were indeed the first five titles available in 1932.
The design of the Florin Books dust jackets and books varied little over its decade in print. Jackets used a geometric design, common to the series, in varying colors. A series logo is included on the front of the jacket. The spine and jacket front include the series number. The price is printed on the jacket spine. A summary or quote from a review of the title is found on the front jacket flap. The price, in this case, 2s., is also printed on the bottom of the front jacket flap.
This copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms is a first printing in the series in 1932, the first year of the series. This title is an example of a reprint series book that might have some value: it is a first reprint edition (in a jacket) of a collectible author. Such titles are an affordable alternative to actual first editions.
The rear jacket includes the initial titles in the series; the catalog in the back of the book goes up to #48 (Whitechurch’s The Canon in Residence).
Bindings remain the same throughout the series life: a coarse tan cloth binding with simple, modern type stamped on the spine and front of the book. The series name is not included on the cover of the book.
A typical half-title page includes the series name.
A brief advertisement for the series faces the title page.
The copyright page includes the original printings of the title and history of printing in the Florin Books series. Subsequent printings are noted. This copy, however, is a first printing in the series.
A jacket for Alfred Aloysius Horn’s Trader Horn is a 4th printing in the series, the first from 1932. The title had previously appeared in Cape’s Life and Letters Series. 56 titles have been published at this time, with the newest titles (49 to 56) listed on the back of the jacket.
Also printed in green, this 1935 first printing in the series of Liam O’Flaherty’s The Assassin indicates 77 titles in the series, with new additions from 70-77 on the back of the jacket.
Another first printing for 1935 is Hugh de Selincourt’s The Game of the Season. This jacket includes series titles up to #83, and the rear of the jacket lists titles #78 to #83.
Leo Walmsley’s Three Fevers is a 1935 first printing in the Florin Books series. Like de Selincourt, the jacket lists 83 titles in the series.
Mary Webb’s Gone To Earth is a 1937 first printing in the series. The back of the jacket lists new titles from #88 to #95, another Webb title, Seven for a Secret. On this title, black paper circles have been glued over the price on the jacket spine and the series logo (which also indicates the book price).
A 1937 third printing in the series (first series printing, 1932) of Andre Maurois’ Colonel Bramble lists the same 95 titles as the 1936 copy of Webb’s book above.
E. Arnot Robertson’s Ordinary Families is one of the last titles added to the series, in 1937. The back of the jacket lists 99 titles, this being the 99th in the series.
There are 103 numbered titles in the Florin Books series, issued between 1932 and 1938. A subset of 30 series titles was issued as the Cape Pocket Books series in 1940. This was an attempt to salvage already printed sheets of books that were left unsold in the Cape warehouses. These were either poorly selling titles or titles that were reprinted with a significant number of copies still in stock in 1940. Marked with * below.
**1. Anonymous (Ursula Parrott), Ex-Wife (1932)
*2. Dennis Barr, A Dock Brief (1932)
*3. H.E. Bates, Catherine Foster (1932)
4. Samuel Butler, Erewhon, Or, Over The Range (1932)
5. W.H. Davies, The Adventures Of Johnny Walker, Tramp (1932)
6. Alfred Aloysius Horn, Trader Horn (1932)
7. Fannie Hurst, Lummox (1932)
8. James Ramsay Macdonald, Wanderings and Excursions (1932)
**9. Naomi Mitchison, The Conquered (1932)
10. Beverley Nichols, Crazy Pavements (1932)
11. E.J. O’Brien, Modern English Short Stories (1932)
12. Mary Webb, Precious Bane (1932)
*13. Emile Bronte, Wuthering Heights (1932)
14. W.R. Burnett, Little Caesar (1932)
15. Dorothy Canfield, Her Son’s Wife (1932)
16. Hugh De Selincourt, The Cricket Match (1932)
17. Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1932)
18. Eric Linklater, Poet’s Pub (1932)
19. Katherine Mayo, Mother India (1932)
**20. Blair Niles, Condemned to Devil’s Island (1932)
21. Ursula Parrott, Strangers May Kiss (1932)
22. E. Arnot Robertson, Cullum (1932)
*23. Mary Webb, Gone To Earth (1932)
24. E.H. Young, The Vicar’s Daughter (1932)
*25. Richard Blaker, The Voice In The Wilderness (1932)
26. Louis Bromfield, Early Autumn (1932)
*27. Alec Brown, Green Lane Or Murder At Moat Farm (1932)
*28. Samuel Butler, The Way Of All Flesh (1932)
*29. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1932)
30. Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms (1932)
31. Alfred Aloysius Horn, Trader Horn In Madagascar (1932)
32. Andre Maurois, Colonel Bramble (1932)
**33. Liam O’Flaherty, The Informer (1932)
34. Katharine Susannah Prichard, Haxby’s Circus (1932)
35. H. Russell Wakefield, Ghost Stories (1932)
*36. E.H. Young, William (1932)
37. H.C. Bailey, The Lonely Queen (1933)
**38. James Tucker, The Adventures of Ralph Rashleigh: A Penal Exile in Australia (1933)
39. Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (1933)
**40. L.C. Dunsterville, Stalky’s Adventures (1933)
**41. Susan Ertz, Madame Claire (1933)
42. Radclyffe Hall, Adam’s Breed (1933)
**43. Sinclair Lewis, Free Air (1933)
*44. Beverley Nichols, Are They The Same At Home? (1933)
45. E. Arnot Robertson, Three Came Unarmed (1933)
46. Russell Thorndike, Dr. Syn (1933)
47. Dorothy Whipple, Young Anne (1933)
48. Victor L. Whitechurch, The Canon In Residence (1933)
49. H.C. Bailey, The God Of Clay (1933)
50. Louis Bromfield, The Strange Case Of Miss Annie Spragg (1933)
51. Radclyffe Hall, The Unlit Lamp (1933)
52. Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1933)
53. Katherine Mayo, Slaves Of The Gods (1933)
54. E. Arnot Robertson, Four Frightened People (1933)
55. Russell Thorndike, The Slype (1933)
*56. Margaret Wilson, The Able McLaughlins (1933)
57. Mary Webb, The Golden Arrow (1934)
58. E.H. Young, Miss Mole (1934)
*59. J.B. Morton, The Adventures Of Mr. Thake (1934)
60. Robert Graves, Lawrence and The Arabs (1934)
61. E.J. O’Brien, English Short Stories Of To-Day (1934)
62. Beverley Nichols, Evensong (1934)
*63. Sinclair Lewis, The Job (1934)
64. Beverley Nichols, For Adults Only (1934)
65. Prince Youssoupoff, Rasputin: His Malignant Influence and Assassination (1934)
66. Fannie Hurst, Back Street (1934)
67. J. Meade Falkner, Moonfleet (1934)
68. Barbara Starke, Touch and Go (1934)
69. Beverley Nichols, Women and Children Last (1934)
70. Sir George Arthur, Bart, King George V (1935)
71. Walter Greenwood, Love On The Dole (1935)
72. Winifred Holtby, Poor Caroline (1935)
73. Sinclair Lewis, Dodsworth (1935)
74. Thomas Moult, Mary Webb: Her Life and Work (1935)
75. E.J. O’Brien, New English Short Stories (1935)
*76. Liam O’Flaherty, The Assassin (1935)
*77. H. Russell Wakefield, A Ghostly Company (1935)
*78. Dorothy Canfield, The Brimming Cup (1935)
*79. Hugh De Selincourt, The Game Of The Season (1935)
80. Susan Ertz, Now East, Now West (1935)
*81. Ronald Fraser, Rose Anstey (1935)
82. Beverley Nichols, Cry Havoc! (1935)
83. Leo Walmsley, The Three Fevers (1935)
*84. H.E. Bates, The Fallow Land (1936)
*85. Sinclair Lewis, Our Mr. Wren (1936)
*86. H. Leon Wilson, Ruggles Of Red Gap (1936)
*87. E.H. Young, The Misses Mallett (1936)
*88. Elizabeth Cambridge, Hostages To Fortune (1936)
*89. Fannie Hurst, Appassionata (1936)
90. H. Leon Wilson, Merton Of The Movies (1936)
91. ‘Saki’ (H.H. Munro), The Unbearable Bassington (1936)
92. A.J. Evans, The Escaping Club (1936)
*93. Liam O’Flaherty, The Black Soul (1936)
94. E.W. Hornung, Raffles (1936)
95. Mary Webb, Seven For A Secret (1936)
* ***96. Brigadier General F.P. Crozier, A Brass Hat In No Man’s Land (1937)
* ***97. Walter Greenwood, His Worship The Mayor (1937)
***98. Beverley Nichols, The Star-Spangled Manner (1937)
* ***99. E.A Robertson. Ordinary Families (1937)
* ****100. Mary Borden, Three Pilgrims and a Tinker (1937)
* ****101. Linklater, White Maa’s Saga (1937)
****102. Kastner, Three Men In The Snow (1938)
****103. Nichols, Down The Garden Path (1938)
*Left-over sheets bound in paperback and sold as Cape Pocket Library in 1940
** Not in list in back of #99 Ordinary Families (out of print at that time)
*** Not in list in back of #99 Ordinary Families but listed on dust jacket
**** Not in list in back of #99 Ordinary Families nor listed on dust jacket
A catalog from the back of the Robertson title is similar to catalogs in most copies of the Florin Books, with descriptions of all the books in the series. This catalog does not include summaries of titles with two, three, or four asterisks in the list above.
A sticker from Gardner’s Books in Stratford covers the price on the spine on this particular copy:
Gardner’s also glued a bookmark on the back of the book; this can be folded over and into the book to keep one’s place.