The Famous Horse series


Grosset and Dunlap’s Famous Horse Series is one of the few American equivalents to the Collins Pony Library. Grosset and Dunlap was started in 1898 by Alexander Grosset and George T Dunlap as a pirate publishing enterprise, selling cheaply produced books without the expense of royalties. Their formula was a success, and opened up books to the mass market. Grosset & Dunlap moved into the legitimate market, and it became common for publishers to overrun their first printings, secure in the knowledge that they could cover their costs by selling the surplus to Grosset & Dunlap.

In combination with the Stratemeyer Syndicate, responsible for such lengthy ghost written series as Nancy Drew, Grosset & Dunlap moved into the children’s book market. Their Famous Horse and Famous Dog series were part of this push, continuing their aim of making books widely available, drawing on titles they already knew sold. The rear panel of Mountain Pony and the Rodeo Mystery states: “Here are some of the finest horse books ever written, now available in low priced editions for the first time. Hundreds of thousands have been sold at higher prices.”

The Famous Horse series included entire series, thus making even more sure of sales by catering to a reader’s desire to read more books about characters they already knew. Six of George Rutherford Montgomery’s Golden Stallion seven book series and all of Henry V Larom’s Mountain Pony series were included. The vast majority of the stories in the series are from the Western ranch genre, though there are also horses about five-gaited horses, Lipizzaners in a circus, and harness racers, to name a few.

Unlike the English Collins Pony Library, there were no new titles in this series. A few, like Amigo, Laurie and Spook were given new cover art, and Dorothy Lyons’ Harlequin Hullabaloo was re-titled as Bluegrass Champion, but those were the sole alterations.

Although some early titles were published as hardbacks with dustjackets, the majority appeared with pictorial boards. When they actually appeared is hard to pin down: although the original copyright of the titles is on the book (Bluegrass Champion, for example, appeared in 1949), the date Grosset and Dunlap actually published it is not.

I’ve tracked down 39 titles so far, but it’s entirely possible I have missed some. I am lacking a few examples of this series, so if you can help with photographs, or additional titles, I’d be very grateful. The covers I don’t have are marked with an asterisk on the title listing.

There is also a Famous Dogs series, which I couldn’t resist including.

Finding the books
This is generally an easy series to find in the US. The slightly more expensive volumes are Hinkle’s Buckskin, Dapple Gray, Hurricane Pinto, Tornado Boy, Rutherford Montgomery’s The Golden Stallion and the Wolf Dog and The Golden Stallion’s Adventure at Redstone and Col Meek’s Frog, the Horse Who Knew No Master.

Links and sources
Terri Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, 1987
A history of Grosset & Dunlap (Grosset & Dunlap: from Pirates to Publishing Kings – no longer extant)
Wikipedia on Grosset & Dunlap
More on Grosset & Dunlap

Thank you to Augustine Funnell Books for the scan of Lost Horse
Thank you to Déjà Vu books for Hoofbeats

The series

Glenn Balch: Indian Paint
Glenn Balch: Lost Horse
Estelle Barnes Clapp: Laurie
Page Cooper: Amigo’s Circus Horse
Dana Faralla: The Magnificent Barb
John Taintor Foote: Hoofbeats
David Grew: The Sorrel Stallion
David Grew: Beyond Rope and Fence
David Grew: The Buckskin Colt *
Marguerite Henry: Justin Morgan Had a Horse *
Thomas C Hinkle: Cinchfoot *
Thomas C Hinkle: Mustang
Thomas C Hinkle:  Black Tiger
Thomas C Hinkle: Buckskin
Thomas C Hinkle: Dapple Gray
Thomas C Hinkle: Tornado Boy
Thomas C Hinkle: Hurricane Pinto
Stephen Holt: Wild Palomino
Stephen Holt: Prairie Colt
Stephen Holt The Phantom Roan *
Stephen Holt: The Whistling Stallion
Don Lang: Strawberry Roan
Henry V Larom: Mountain Pony and the Pinto Colt
Henry V Larom: Mountain Pony
Henry V Larom: Mountain Pony and the Rodeo Mystery
Henry V Larom: Mountain Pony and the Elkhorn Mystery
Dorothy Lyons: Bluegrass Champion
Isabel McLennan McMeekin: Kentucky Derby Winner
Col. S P Meek: Frog:  The Horse that Knew No Master
Rutherford Montgomery: The Golden Stallion *
Rutherford Montgomery: The Golden Stallion’s Adventure at Redstone *
Rutherford Montgomery: The Capture of the Golden Stallion
Rutherford Montgomery: The Golden Stallion’s Revenge
Rutherford Montgomery:  The Golden Stallion’s Victory *
Rutherford Montgomery: The Golden Stallion and the Wolf Dog
Rutherford Montgomery: The Golden Stallion to the Rescue
Rutherford Montgomery: Midnight
Keith Robertson: Ticktock and Jim
Harlan Thompson:  Spook, the Mustang

Titles with asterisks: I have no photographs of these editions

The books