Sunday, July 24, 2016

IMPRESSIVE IMPRINTS: Holt Mystery, 1939-1941

Henry Holt & Company had an unofficial mystery imprint throughout the 1930s. Around 1939 and for about three years afterward they created Holt Mystery imprint adapting their usual wise old owl colophon to a more sinister looking owl. For two years during wartime they decided to forgo paper dust jackets, presumably to save on paper as all publishers were doing, in favor of pictorial boards with a textured surface.

Sometime in the 1950s the owl logo transformed into an owl wearing a deerstalker and smoking a pipe. Did some Cockney punning artist decide to come up with Sherlock Owlmes? Unfortunately, I found only one example of this logo in 1952 and nothing afterward. I'm guessing it was just as short-lived as the first owl logo.

Below are examples of dust jacket art and illustrated boards from 1932 to 1952, the only years I can verify when a Holt Mystery imprint existed.

1939 - "A Holt Mystery" appears on spine
1939 - Owl logo not yet created

DJ with the Holt Mystery Logo
1940-first year with no DJs
and use of pictorial boards instead

Pictorial boards continue in 1940
Pictorial boards - 1940

Pictorial boards and for some odd reason the author name is absent
The book is by Donald Clough Cameron in case you're wondering

Brief return to using a DJ in 1941
Author is actually Frank Gruber using a pseudonym
Pictorial boards - 1941

1952 -  new "Sherlock Owlmes" logo
Appears on a few books in 1952 and 1953, then discarded


  1. Wonderful. I'd not seen those Mike Shayne covers, knowing only the ones on the paperbacks, so they are a real treat. Thanks you, John.

  2. Shakedown is excellent! I love those orange tables.

  3. This was like walking through a cover art exhibition at an art gallery. Thanks, John.