There are events, sometimes small, that reverberate down through the years, sometimes with unexpectedly momentous consequences (“For want of a nail …”).
This is not one of those.
Rather, it’s the story of a misprint composed by an unknown hand in a book published by the L.C. Page Company in 1901. The misprint reappeared 111 years later in a personal name authority record created by the Library of Congress in 2012, and briefly puzzled me, then sent me down a "Little Puritan" rabbit hole when I stumbled on it in the Library of Congress authority file 120 years after the misprint was first made. Uncharacteristically, this post is not primarily about binding design; although to offset any disappointment it does involve one of our favorite designers here at UNCG, Amy M. Sacker. Instead, it’s about a binding designer in the role of illustrator--or is it?
Here’s a visual statement of the puzzle:
Before we get into a discussion of the book, let’s step back for a moment and consider cataloging and authority control. In our work cataloging Special Collections materials we use the bibliographic utility OCLC. Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC describes itself as “a global library cooperative that provides shared technology services, original research, and community programs to libraries, including our 18,000 members in 120+ countries.” As of December 2021, OCLC includes a database, WorldCat, of over 520 million catalog records and over 3 billion holdings.
As part of our work we frequently contribute to the database of authority records maintained by OCLC, either by creating new authority records or editing and improving existing records. Authority records exist to provide an “authorized” form of name by establishing it in a unique form to unambiguously identify persons, corporations, families, geographic names, subjects, titles, genres, etc. The purpose, with personal names for example, is twofold: to ensure that all works by a person are gathered under a unique authorized form, and to differentiate each name so that works by other persons are not attributed incorrectly. These authorized headings are then used in cataloging and ideally make searching and identifying more effective for everyone by gathering everything by a given person under one form of name while excluding materials by other persons.
For myself, one of the benefits of the authority file is that it allows me to quickly find an authorized form of name (if one exists) and cut and paste the coded form of the heading into the catalog record on which I’m working. A short time ago I was cataloging a book with a binding by Amy Sacker and wanted to add her name to the catalog record as the binding designer. Browsing the authority file gave me this hit list:
For whatever reason (though I like to think that it was deep concentration on the task at hand), what I had not noticed before was that there was another entry, one for an “Amy F. Sacker” with the same dates, in addition to “Amy M. Sacker” in the browse search results. As far as I knew, as with the Highlander, “there can be only one” Amy Sacker and I was intrigued by this second Sacker. 
When I selected the record for Amy F. Sacker I encountered the following:
From OCLC, I found 2 records for A Little Puritan Pioneer, the first for an electronic book with Amy F. Sacker given as illustrator. The second was for the 1901 print copy, which we held. Then came another surprise; the print version gave the illustrator on the title page as “A.F. Schmidt”!
|Illustration on page 19|
|Illustration on page 63|
|Sacker illustration--A Little Puritan Rebel|
|Sacker illustration--A Little Daughter of Liberty|
These headpieces were frequently used in other books. Mark Schumacher, our former colleague and Amy Sacker expert, lists 69 titles on his Amy Sacker Site where one or both designs were used, including many in L.C. Page’s Cosy Corner Series (more on this series below).  So in a sense, Sacker did make a contribution to illustrating the book!
I went to Publishers’ Weekly searching for more information on this title since I was curious whether Amy Sacker was given as the illustrator in advertisements for the book. The first mention I located was in the July 13, 1901 issue, where it appeared in a “Record of Series” and was listed with nine other titles in the Cosy Corner Series published by the Boston firm of L.C. Page & Co. The Sept. 28, 1901 issue includes a full page advertisement on p. 676 for “[t]en new volumes in the Cosy Corner Series of Charming Juveniles … [T]his series shall contain only the very highest and purest literature—stories that shall not only appeal to the children themselves, but be appreciated by all those who feel with them in their joys and sorrows---stories that shall be most particularly adapted for reading aloud in the family circle. The numerous illustrations in each book are by well-known artists, and each volume has a separate attractive cover design.” Unfortunately, there is no mention for any of the volumes of whom the well-known artists might be. As for the cover designs, attractiveness lies in the eye of the beholder, with designs ranging from A Bad Penny, quite attractive and designed by Alfred Brennan, with his monogram, to A Little Puritan Pioneer, for me the least attractive of the lot. 
|"AB" monogram of Alfred Brennan|
As I noted above, there was not a record for a print version of A Little Puritan Pioneer with Amy F. Sacker as illustrator in OCLC. This is not particularly surprising, since cataloging rules and interpretations have changed many times over the years, and in older cataloging illustrators, for example, were often not transcribed as part of the catalog record. I did wonder at what time the illustrator error had been noticed and corrected. Although the error made it through the entire publishing process, from copy editing through proofing and printing, I suspected that not many copies with the error had made their way into circulation before it was corrected. Some of the eight institutions holding copies on the “Schmidt” catalog record might actually have Sacker on the title page, but I only knew of three copies that were definitely extant, two of which are held by the Library of Congress. The copy from which the digitized version was made is held by the Boston Public Library, as shown by their ownership stamps.
It also made sense that the Boston Public Library held a copy of the earlier issue or state since L.C. Page was a Boston publisher and they probably acquired their copy shortly after publication. In fact, one copy (their catalog lists two) was a gift from the publisher, noted on their bookplate on the front pastedown, with an additional handwritten date, Oct. 3, 1901, on the verso of the title page.
It is possible to speculate from this admittedly slim evidence that only a few copies survive with the Sacker misprint.
Through a strange coincidence, while I was looking into this title a second copy of the book was donated to the UNCG Library by Mark Schumacher with an “Amy F. Sacker” title page. Did I need to revise my original supposition about the prevalence of the Amy F. Sacker issue? Perhaps the misprint existed for a longer time, and more copies of the book were sold with the misprint after all.
The Publishers’ Weekly advertisement of September 28, 1901 describes the ten Cosy Corner Series volumes as large 16mos (sextodecimos). Our well-loved copies of both the Sacker and Schmidt issues make an examination of the books’ structures quite easy. Each consists of six gatherings of eight leaves (16mo in 8s), with the Sacker issue made up of , 74,  pages, and the Schmidt issue , 74, 10,  pages. The Sacker issue has an advertisement on the half title page verso (p. ) for “Works of Edith Robinson” listing five titles including A Little Puritan Pioneer, and  pages of advertisements at the end. The Schmidt issue half title page is blank with 10,  pages of advertisements at the end. In both issues the advertisements are not inserted but are printed as part of the final gathering of 16 pages. The advertisements at the end of the volumes vary considerably. The Sacker issue contains: full page advertisements for “new juveniles” (p. [1-7]), including three of the ten Cosy Corner titles listed in Publishers' Weekly, the first four volumes in the Little Cousin Series, and seven others; “Cosy Corner Series of Charming Juveniles” (p. [8-11]) with 39 titles listed, not including the three volumes in the full page ad; and four titles in the “Gift Book Series for Boys and Girls” (p. ).
The Schmidt issue contains ten pages of advertisements for the Cosy Corner Series, listing 56 titles including all of the Cosy Corner cohort listed in the Publishers' Weekly advertisement and eight additional titles. The layout of the series ads is completely different; they are in a different and larger font, with most of the ads arranged under author headings, and with much lengthier descriptions.
|Cosy Corner ads--Schmidt version|
|Cosy Corner ads--Sacker version|
All this helps to establish the date when the Schmidt version was issued, in this case 1902. All of the new Cosy Corner titles that I can find in OCLC are copyright 1902, although some apparently have title page dates of 1903. Some of them represent digitized versions that confirm the 1902 date, and three titles are digitized from the Library of Congress and are stamped as received in May, June, or July 1902. Similarly, while the first four volumes of the Little Cousin Series--the only titles in the Sacker issue--are all copyright 1901, with one stamped as received by the Library of Congress July 26, 1901, the next six volumes, the “second series,” are all copyright 1902, with digital versions of four of them stamped as received by the Library of Congress on June 30, 1902.
To answer the question posed above, unless some intermediate copy with different ads is found, it appears that the Sacker issue persisted until it was partially reset with the title page corrected to “A.F. Schmidt,” the list of Edith Robinson titles omitted on the half title verso, and a new set of advertisements replacing the ads on the final 12 pages of the last gathering of 16 pages, dating to sometime in mid-1902. Presumably, if there were any errors in the text of the work these would also have been corrected in the Schmidt issue, though I haven’t gone so far as to check this! With some confidence, we can therefore state that the A.F. Sacker issue was published in 1901 and the A.F. Schmidt issue was published in 1902. We can also speculate that numerous copies of the misprinted issue might have circulated in 1901 and early 1902, and only when further copies surface can this be proved or disproved. The fact that only eight libraries have added holdings to the OCLC record for this title makes the possibility of numerous other copies appearing seem unlikely. Of course, there may be copies of the Sacker issue extant but with a cancel title page with Schmidt as illustrator, but that situation remains speculation until such a copy is discovered.
Much has been said here about the A.F. Sacker vs. A.F. Schmidt title pages, but that begs the question: who was A.F. Schmidt? To answer this, I first searched OCLC with no results, then turned to an old standby, Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975. Though no A.F. Schmidt was listed, I did find a cross reference from Albert Felix Schmidt to Albert F(elix) Schmitt. Schmitt was a painter, born in Boston in 1873, who studied at the Massachusetts Normal Art School, the Cowles Art School in Boston, and the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where he was considered a top student and was “regarded as one of the finer proponents of the Boston School style of painting” . He was one of the creators of what became the early Boston Modernist Style. He was offered the post of the court painter for the Vatican, which he accepted. He spent the rest of his life in Biarritz, France, where he died in 1953 . Although interesting, this doesn’t definitively answer if A.F. Schmidt is the same person as Albert Felix Schmitt.
Schmitt was a painter who worked in oils and watercolors, whereas the illustrations in The Little Puritan Pioneer are drawings. We do have some examples of Schmitt’s work in two other titles we hold: Louisa May Alcott’s May Flowers (Boston: Little Brown, 1899) and Clara Louise Burnham’s Jewel’s Story Book (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1904), but these seem to be reproductions of paintings.
|A.F. Schmitt--May Flowers|
|The White Vase--signature|
|On the Piazza--signature|
I was able to find almost no information about Edith Robinson, other than she was born in Boston, Mass. on February 17, 1858, the daughter of George and Sarah Louise Robinson, and was educated at the Girls’ High School in Boston.  She was the author of 11 books, 10 of them for children. In addition to the Little Puritan books she also wrote Forced Acquaintances: a Book for Girls (Boston: Ticknor and Company, 1887) ; Penhallow Tales (Boston: Copeland and Day, 1896), the lone non-juvenile title; and, The Captain of the School, illustrated by Alice Barber Stephens (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1901).
A final question that remains is why did “A.F. Sacker” get onto the title page of The Little Puritan Pioneer in the first place? While this can probably never be answered definitively, I do think that there’s a clue in the publication history of Edith Robinson’s Little Puritan books. Edith Robinson wrote eight Little Puritan books between 1896 and 1905, with a compilation of four of these titles reissued in 1931. All of them were published by L.C. Page and Company in their Cosy Corner Series. The University of North Carolina Greensboro Special Collections has an extensive Girls Books in Series Collection and holds all of these titles, though not all are first editions. These titles in chronological order are: 1) A Loyal Little Maid (1897, c1896), with binding design and illustrations by Amy Sacker ; 2) A Little Puritan Rebel (1898), with an unsigned binding design attributed to Sacker in a contemporary advertisement and illustrations by Sacker; 3) A Little Daughter of Liberty (1899), with binding design by Alfred Brennan and illustrations by Sacker; 4) A Little Puritan’s First Christmas (1900), with unsigned but attributed binding design and illustrations by Sacker; 5) A Little Puritan Pioneer (1901), with illustrations by A.F. Schmidt; 6) A Puritan Knight Errant (1903), with a binding design by “MH” (unidentified) and illustrations by Lewis Jesse Bridgman; 7) A Little Puritan Bound Girl (1904) and 8) A Little Puritan Cavalier (1905), both with illustrations by Etheldred Breeze Barry.
|Amy Sacker cover 1898|
|Amy Sacker cover 1897|
|Alfred Brennan cover 1899|
|Alfred Brennan monogram|
|Amy Sacker cover 1900|
|Sacker as illustrator version 1901|
The series ran from 1897 through 1905, with a new volume appearing annually except in 1902. I find it significant that the first four titles were illustrated by Amy Sacker, and she is so credited on the title pages.
Oops … again!We can speculate that Page, wishing to publish the Knight Errant in the new format and reduced size, reused the cover of the last book published in the series, A Little Puritan Cavalier, first published in June, 1905 (our copy is a second impression, April 1910), rather than having to reduce the size of the die by at least 1.3 cm. or commission a new image. Close counts, right? We can hope that the title page error for the illustrator is simply because they forgot, and not that they just didn’t care. Whatever the explanation is, the Puritan Knight Errant is "errant" by either of its definitions.
|1901 issue with Sacker title page|
|1902 issue with Schmidt title page|
Since the Boston Public Library copy with the misprint is bound in olive gray cloth, we probably should not make much of the color difference. Perhaps the yellow cloth issue came first and the Boston Public copy came from a later binding run that continued into 1902, but this is only speculation. Both issues are stamped in reddish-brown, green, blue, yellow and black, and the background sky appears to have once been stamped in another color, perhaps white, cream or gray, but time and use have made it impossible to tell on any of the three copies.
|Boston Public Library 1901 issue with Sacker title page|
There is one difference in our two copies that shows that some work was done on the binding stamps between the first and second issues. When put side by side it is very clear that a larger size font was used for the author's name on the spine. Was this change made as part of the reissue of the book with a corrected title page? Or was it made as a separate correction of the binding only?
2). Frances Margaret Fox, Betty of Old Mackinaw; 3). John T. Wheelwright, A Bad Penny, with the monogram of the designer, Alfred Brennan;
4). Louise de la Rame (Ouida), Findelkind;
6). Frances E. Crompton, Gatty and I;
7). A. Comyns Carr, The Fairy of the Rhone;
8). E. Livingston Prescott, A Small, Small Child;
9). Mary Knight Potter, Peggy’s Trial;
10). Frances Hodges White, Aunt Nabby’s Children.