Everyman's Library: The Shield Era, 1928-1934

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The typical Everyman's Library book bound and jacketed during the "Shield Era" from 1928 to 1934 is characterized by a colored paper dust jacket over a book with a shield-like gilt spine design. Binding colors, jacket icons, and interior details vary among the thirteen sections of the library: Biography, Classical, Essays and Belles Lettres, Fiction, History, Oratory, Poetry & Drama, Reference, Romance, Science, Theology & Philosophy, Travel & Topography, and Young People.

New collectors of Everyman's Library are often confused by books that have mismatched dates, bindings, and jackets. Such mismatches are common and are due to the way Dent manufactured Everyman's titles. Books were printed in batches of about 10,000 and stored, unbound, until orders were received. Jackets were also printed and stored. Because of this, slower-selling titles often have mismatched dates, bindings, and jackets: a slow selling title printed in the Flatback Era could be bound late in the Shield Era, but not jacketed until the Ravilious Era.

In order to give a basic overview of the series in the Shield Era, two typical Everyman's titles from this era are illustrated first in detail below, followed by examples from each of the thirteen sections. Unless otherwise noted, all images on this page are from the collection of John B. Krygier.

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Dust Jackets

In 1928 Everyman's dust jackets were redesigned and printed on colored paper, a significant change from earlier jackets. From 1928-1932 the jackets resemble Ainsworth's Rookwood, No. 870 (1931) (left, top). The jacket spine includes a lighthouse, indication of binding style (in this case, cloth), and series number. The jacket front includes border graphics and a new cover icon designed by Reginald L. Knowles for each of the thirteen sections.

In 1932 this jacket design was modified, and resembles Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent & The Absentee, No. 410 (1934). The lighthouse and binding style were removed from the jacket spine, and on the jacket front the border graphics were simplified and the series number added. Dent and Dutton were indicated on all jackets throughout this era. Advertisements on the jackets were restricted to The Everyman's Encyclopedia and titles in the series.


In the Shield Era, Everyman's books continued to be bound in a glossy cloth material, but with a redesigned spine, technically a "cartouche" but often referred to as a shield. The embossed Dent floral icon was retained on the cover. Early in this era, the bindings are flatbacked, but later were replaced with a more common curved binding. The color of the binding continued to indicate which of the thirteen categories the title is from, examples of which are shown below.


Reginald L. Knowles designed the endpapers used on Everyman's Library books until 1935. The pale yellow endpapers illustrate the figure of Good Deeds from the medieval play Everyman, facing her sister Knowledge's pledge, which is the series motto:  "Everyman, I will go with thee and be thy guide, in thy most need to go by thy side."

Half-title Page

Preceding a blank page (or flyleaf), each Everman's book has a half-title page that indicates which section of Everyman's Library the book belongs to, as well as the title and author of the book.

Advertisement Page

The reverse side (verso) of the half-title page contains the series number of the book, and an advertisement for the series.

Title Pages

An ornate frontispiece and title-page reflects the style of William Morris and is one of the most distinctive elements of early Everyman's titles. Thirteen different corresponding designs and quotes were created for the thirteen sections in the series. Ainsworth's Rookwood is in the Fiction section.

Copyright Page

The copyright page is on the verso of the title page. No date indicates a first printing. A single date also indicates a first printing, as on Ainsworth's Rookwood. As with the previous era of Everyman books, printings subsequent to the first are indicated. Titles with numerous reprints sometimes omit all but the date of first and last printing.

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Biography: Dust Jacket

Sir Walter Scott
The Lives of the Novelists

Number 331
No Date (1928) (2nd pr., 1st 1910)

Biography: Grey Binding

Biography: Quote

A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured upon purpose to a life beyond life.
- Milton

Classical: Dust Jacket

The Education of Cyrus

Number 672
No date (1914) (1st pr., later binding & jacket)

Classical: Pale Green Binding

Classical: Quote

The sages of old live again in us.
- Glanvill

Essays & Belles-Lettres: Dust Jacket

Ernest Rhys, ed.
A New Book of Sense and Nonsense

Number 813
No date (1928) (1st pr.)

Essays & Belles-Lettres: Orange Binding

Essays & Belles-Lettres: Quote

Most current for that they come home to men's business and bosoms.
- Bacon

Fiction: Dust Jacket

Decio Pettoello, ed.
Italian Short Stories

Number 876
1932 (1st pr.)

Fiction: Carmine Binding

Fiction: Quote

A tale which holdeth children from play and old men from the chimney corner.
- Sir Philip Sidney

History: Dust Jacket

Villehardouin & De Joinville
Memoirs of the Crusades

Number 333
1933 (6th pr., 1st 1908)

History: Scarlet Binding

History: Quote

Consider history with the beginnings of it stretching dimly into the remote time; emerging darkly out of the mysterious eternity: the true epic poem and universal divine scripture.
- Carlyle

Oratory: Dust Jacket

Charles James Fox

Number 759
1924 (1st ed. in later binding)
Source: Mike Greenleaf

Oratory: Brown Binding

Source: Mike Greenleaf

Oratory: Quote

When he sent his great voice forth out of his breast and his words fell like the winter snows, nor then would mortal contend with Ulysses.
- Homer

Poetry & Drama: Dust Jacket

Edmund Spenser
The Shepherd's Calendar

Number 879
1932 (1st pr.)

Poetry & Drama: Olive Binding

Poetry & Drama: Quote

Poets are the trumpets that sing to battle. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
- Shelley

Reference: Dust Jacket

Walter P. Wright (compiler)
Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Gardening
Number 555
1929 (5th pr., 1st 1911)

Reference: Maroon Binding

Reference: Quote

I will make a prief of it in my note-book.
- Shakespeare

Romance: Dust Jacket

Margaret Armour (translator)

Number 880
1932 (1st pr.)

Romance: Blue Binding

Romance: Quote

A romance, and it me took to read and drive the night away.
- Chaucer

Science: Dust Jacket

John Howard
The State of the Prisons

Number 835
1929 (1st pr.)
Source: Jeffrey S. Anderson

Science: Fawn Binding

Science: Quote

Hoc solum scio quod nihil scio. (I only know that I know nothing.)

Theology & Philosophy: Dust Jacket

Rev. R. Bruce Taylor, ed.
Ancient Hebrew Literature, Vol. 4

Number 256
1930 (3rd pr., 1st 1907)

Theology & Philosophy: Purple Binding

Theology & Philosophy: Quote

How charming is divine philosophy.
- Milton

Travel & Topography: Dust Jacket

Edward Gibbon Wakefield
A Letter from Sydney

Number 828
1929 (1st pr.)

Travel & Topography: Dark Green Binding

Travel & Topography: Quote

To the wise man all the world's a soil.
- Ben Jonson

Young People: Dust Jacket

Jules Verne
Dropped from the Clouds

Number 367
1923 (5th pr., 1st 1909 later binding & jacket)

Young People: Light Blue Binding

Young People: Title Page Icon

Young People: Quote

This is fairy gold, boy; and 'twill prove so.
- Shakespeare

Copyright © 2007, John B. Krygier
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