Theosophical Book Concern

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The Theosophical Book Concern was a publishing house that operated at 426 Athenaeum Building, 26 E. Van Buren Street, Chicago, operated by the Chicago Lodge in the 1890s. Many of its publishing projects were coordinated with the Theosophical Publishing Society based in London. A later company called the Chicago Theosophical Book Concern is described below.

History

In 1912, The Theosophic Messenger reported: "the Chicago Lodge has generously donated to The American Section its Book Concern, and the gift has been accepted by the Board of Trustees, subject to confirmation by the Convention."[1] A company of the same name was formed that year by combining the original Theosophical Book Concern with the Theosophic Book Corporation and L. W. Rogers' Theosophic Book Company, to create a major book distributor and publisher for the American Theosophical Society. A. P. Warrington was President of the corporation, with Irving S. Cooper as Vice President and General Manager. In 1916, Eleanor Broenniman, then manager of the company, traveled to Adyar to establish:

such a relation with Adyar as will enable the American Section to procure,or produce and distribute with the highest degree of efficiency and general effectiveness the entire literature that goes as Theosophy.[2]

Consequently, the Section's book business became an agency of the Theosophical Publishing House in Adyar, India, and in 1918 the Book Concern's assets were transferred to the agency. American Theosophical Society President A. P. Warrington reported,

"Mrs. Broenniman, the Manager of the American Theosophical Publishing House, has purchased an improved site adjoining Besant Gardens and has established the business of the Publishing House there. The buildings are adequate to accommodate all the activities of the House, including book binding, publishing, and the wholesale and retailing of Theosophical books."[3]

In 1921, however, the book business was returned to the American Section. Annie Besant summarized her ideas about book publishing in her Presidential Address of December, 1921:

I have adopted the ... plan of leaving Theosophical Publishing in each Section to the Sectional Officers ... I am therefore transferring the business of the American Branch of T.P.H. to the American Section, and while in this and in another similar transfer the royalties will continue to be paid to the authors, the publishing profit will go the National Section. The National Society is taking all the stock at cost price.[4]

L. W. Rogers acted quickly to issue bonds in order to purchase the stock and establish the new book business. He sought a new name, and one was suggested in April 1922 by Miss Gail Wilson:

She suggested The Theosophical Press. That meets all the requirements. It is new, it is simple, it is dignified, it fully describes the character of the business and yet it is within the vocabulary of the commercial world.[5]

The former Theosophical Book Concern became the Theosophical Press.

Publications

Published before merger

These are some of the titles published before 1912:

  • The Lotus Song Book: a Collection of Songs for the Use of Lotus Circles. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1907.
  • Blavatsky, H. P. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. III. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1897.
  • Fullerton, Alexander. The Proofs of Theosophy: a Lecture. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1900. 11 p.
  • Leadbeater, C. W. The Other Side of Death, Scientifically Examined and Carefully Described. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1903. Available at Hathitrust.
  • Leadbeater, C. W. Some Glimpses of Occultism, Ancient and Modern. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1903. Available at Hathitrust.

Published after merger

These are some of the titles published after 1912:

  • Leadbeater, C. W. An Outline of Theosophy. 1916. 3rd edition. Los Angeles: Theosophical Book Concern, 1916. Available at Hathitrust.
  • Rogers, L. W. Elementary Theosophy. Los Angeles: Theosophical Book Concern, 1917.
  • Rogers, L. W. The Occultism in the Shakespearean Plays. Los Angeles: Theosophical Book Concern, 1917. 2nd edition.
Letterhead from a 1953 letter

Chicago Theosophical Book Concern

A group in Chicago distributed Theosophical books in the 1930s under the name Chicago Theosophical Book Concern.[6]

Notes

  1. "Offical Changes" The Theosophic Messenger 13.12 (September, 1912), 691.
  2. Joy Mills, 100 Years of Theosophy in America: 1875-1975. (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 56-57.
  3. A. P. Warrington, "Report of the T.S. in America: The Book Business," General Report of the T. S., 1918 (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1919), 39.
  4. Joy Mills, 100 Years of Theosophy in America: 1875-1975. (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 82-83.
  5. Joy Mills, 100 Years of Theosophy in America: 1875-1975. (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 83.
  6. Diane Brinkerhoff letter to Caroline Tess [National Secretary]. January 6, 1953. James S. Perkins Papers. Records Series 08.06. Theosophical Society in America Archives.