Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Limited
Hardback editions with dust-jackets.

Despite the connection to Sampson Low, we consider the MacDonald editions to be worthy of a separate heading.

Who Were They?

T
MacDonald reprint of Sinister Signpost.

he MacDonald group of companies was a major publishing group that handled a variety of imprints and subjects. In the early 1960s MacDonald & Co (Publishers) Limited was located at 2 Portman Street, London. In 1968 they co-located with Sampson Low at St Giles House, 49-50 Poland Street. When Sampson Low ceased publishing in 1969, MacDonald & Co took over. MacDonald and Sampson Low are in effect the same publisher, just under a different name. Indeed, some of the MacDonald reprinted editions bear the text "(A Sampson Low Book)" on the title page. The MacDonald books also adopted the same numbering system as the Sampson Low editions.

MacDonald became MacDonald & Jane‘s Publishers Ltd in 1974, and several years later the group was bought by Time Warner Books UK Ltd, part of the Time Warner empire, which also acquired Minstrel Books, the company that had published the American Hardy Boys paperbacks from 1987.

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About the Books

Book Dimensions:
12.7cm x 19.5cm (5" x 7 5/8")
Average Page Count: 160p – 190p

The MacDonald editions were printed and bound by Purnell & Sons Ltd, Paulton (Somerset) and London.

In 1968 and 1969 MacDonald reprinted six of the Sampson Low titles. It also published two first edition titles: The Secret Agent on Flight 101 and the revised text edition of The Secret of the Lost Tunnel. This latter book names Mystery of the Whale Tattoo as the next book, but this was never published.

The red boards of Secret Agent on Flight 101.

Red Boards

The plain red boards for the six reprints of the Sampson Low titles were identical to the original editions. However, for the two new titles released by MacDonald, the title and author information was omitted, leaving only the famous silhouette logo on the covers.

MacDonald and Sampson Low SBN Puzzle

The MacDonald editions were the first to feature a SBN on their copyright pages, with 356 being their unique number. At some point after they began publishing the Hardy Boys series, it appears that MacDonald decided to assign SBNs to 12 previously published Sampson Low editions. Although these books are listed on Amazon.co.uk as having been published by MacDonald; this is unquestionably incorrect, as it is almost certain that those particular titles were never reprinted by MacDonald (they certainly don't fit into the pattern of reprints that the publishers were following in 1969 anyway).

More information on this intriguing discovery can be found on the Sampson Low page.

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About the Dust Jackets

The MacDonald editions were released in the same blue spine dust jacket and binding format used by Sampson Low. The Sinister Sign Post was reprinted in 1969 with a number 1 on the spine; but most oddly, although the MacDonald edition is the original text, the dust jacket bears the Rudy Nappi artwork from the 1968 revised text edition! And since The Sinister Sign Post was the "first" book published by Sampson Low, it is named as the boys‘ first adventure in some of the later novels.

The Secret Agent On Flight 101 & The Twisted Claw

The titles published in 1968 bore a price of 9/6 on their jackets (9 shillings & sixpence). However, the four titles released the following year were the first British Hardy Boys editions to feature the price in both old and new money: 50 NP (50 new pence) and 10s (10 shillings). With decimalisation looming in 1971, this was a way of introducing the new coinage, while the old system was still in use.

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Table of MacDonald editions

The following table lists all of the MacDonald editions in chronological order and includes the numbering system that is unique to the Sampson Low and MacDonald releases. Numbers are absent from the spines of three of the MacDonald reprints:

  • A Figure In Hiding – (SL #2 or US #16).
  • The Secret Warning – (SL #3 or US #17).
  • The Twisted Claw – (SL #4 or US #18).

All SBNs are preceded by "356–".

SL Spine No. / Title Spine SBN Cover Artist
1968 A Figure In Hiding (revised) B 02403-2 John Leone
  The Secret Warning B 02404-0 Rudy Nappi
  The Twisted Claw B 02405-9 John Leone
  #21 The Clue of The Broken Blade B 01336-7 Rudy Nappi
1969 #44 The Secret Agent On Flight 101 B 02751-1 Rudy Nappi
  #45 The Secret of The Lost Tunnel (revised) B 02750-3 Rudy Nappi
  #1 The Sinister Sign Post B 01330-8 Rudy Nappi
  #26 The Clue of The Screeching Owl B 02921-2 Rudy Nappi

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