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Cheap Thrill: Junior Deluxe Editions

For years I’ve seen these colorful ’50s hardbacks known as Junior Deluxe Editions in antique and thrift stores, but I’ve never given them much thought before coming across the beautiful Flickr group devoted to them. Though the books are not particularly rare or collectible, the covers have a charming, folk-meets-modern sensibility — and they look dynamite sitting on a shelf. From what I’ve gathered, the Junior Deluxe Editions were a mail-order based program from Doubleday in which customers signed on to receive new volumes on a monthly basis. In a plan similar to the Columbia House record club, the highlighted book of the month was automatically shipped to customers unless they specifically asked to opt out. There were about 90 titles in all, issued from the mid ’40s up to 1962 or thereabouts.

My official quest began a year ago at our local VNSA used book saleorama. Surely they would have a few Junior Deluxe Editions. I didn’t find any, however, until this year’s sale on February 12th. For fifty cents to a dollar apiece, I managed to snag nice copies of National Velvet, Sherlock Holmes, Tales from Shakespeare, Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe. Even the volunteer lady who helped me check out was impressed. Coincidentally I also got a rather beat-up library copy of Bible Stories for Young Readers this week at a Wickenberg, Arizona thrift for two quarters. Score!

I set up a little Flickr set for my collection, adding to it as it grows. I suppose they’ve been an inspiration for LitKids as well (and, who knows, might serve as the background for future prints). Enjoy!

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