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Wild Birds of New York

Book title: Wild Birds of New York 1912
Author: Chester A. Reed
Editor: Mohon Salesrooms
Publication year: 1912
Copyright: 30 May 1912, Chas. K. Reed, Worcester, Mass.
Format: 5 x 7 inches
Type of cover: Artisanal type cardboard cover
Number of pages: 56 pages, 37 color drawings
Retail price in 1912:??
Mailing cost:??

The book was Chester A. Reed’s first incursion in the market of souvenir gifts. The book cover seemed to use the paper marbling technique, which resulted in a unique cover. The book was bound by staples in the middle, but a decorative string on the side of the cover made it look like an artisanal binding.

Although the ads mentioned 40 color drawings, there were only 37. It was printed on glossy paper, included over 100 descriptions of birds, and gave an overview of the region’s most common species.
At the end of the book was a comprehensive list of the region’s species in a table. It indicated if the birds were residents or migratory and if they nested in the region.

The book was sold in a decorative box, which added a special touch to the content to encourage buying it as a gift or to keep it as a souvenir of a trip to the region. (1)

The book was the first part of a pair. A few months later, in July 1912, a second book completed the collection. Using the same format, this new edition featured a wide range of flowers found in the region, “Wild Flowers of New York.”

The Mohonk Salesrooms (2) owned the copyrights for the collection in the State of New York. The information was included in a letter of partnership terms between Charles K. Reed and “Doubleday, Page & Company” on November 19, 1912.

At the same time as the publication of “Wild Birds of New York,” in May 1912, Charles K. Reed, Chester A. Reed’s father, published “Wild Birds of New England” using the same content, except for the introduction and the table at the end of the book, which showed the list “Birds of New England.”

It leads us to thinking that the original idea to publish a gift book came from the Mohonk Salesrooms. That could explain why Charles granted the retail rights in the State of New York to the organization, while keeping the right to use the same content in an identical book aiming at another tourist region.

Charles K. Reed was a businessman. If he owned the idea, he would probably not have granted the retail rights to satisfy an organization without gaining a strategic advantage. No documentation mentioned a negotiation between both parties, as was the case with Doubleday, Page & Company.

You can consult the slideshow of the presentation.

  1. (1) Consult the slideshow for the book “Wild Flowers of New England” to see an example of a gift box.
  2. (2) For more information Mohonk Mountain House