“Rosebud.” The classic symbol of nostalgic longing from Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (though I won’t mention what Rosebud is exactly, as I myself had the mystery spoiled by finding out the answer before I had seen the film). Just as William Randolph Hea–oh, I mean, Charles Foster Kane, yearned for the symbol of his lost childhood in his dying moments, many people today become fixated on preserving some memento from their younger, more care-free days when they become adults: sports trading cards, doll collections, Star Wars action figures, etc.
For me, the emblem of my childhood is a set of mini-books called “Moby Books Illustrated Classic Editions.” These were a series of small (5 1/2 x 4″) editions of classic novels published in the 1970’s and 80’s which had been abridged and simplified so that a young reader could grasp the story and encounter key sections of the original dialogue and narration of a classic work of literature. One of the most notable features for me, as a young reader, was the comic-style illustrations that accompanied each page of the narrative, as well as the vividly-depicted covers, which had a simple, Van Gogh-like beauty in their coloring and style.
I have discovered in my wanderings on the sea of human information that is the Google Search Engine that there are others who share in my fascination with these books; however, there has yet to be a definitive site dedicated to these volumes (as was pointed out here–this post was part of my motivation to finally write this!).
While this will not be the final word on Moby Books, I would like to share as much information as I have with my fellow devotees and the world at large; however, there are many more questions that require researchers far better than myself to answer.
My first memory of Moby Books came from opening a McDonald’s “Happy Meal” sometime in the late 1970’s (back when only millions had been served) and discovering a copy of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” inside (smelling of french fries I’m sure). McDonald’s apparently worked with Moby Books on a special promotion tied into a TV series the fast-food company was sponsoring on PBS called “Once Upon a Classic.” After years of searching, I found a copy of this version in quite good condition, which is the crown of my Moby Books collection.
After reading that first book, I pressed my parents to buy more and more of these books (which could be found at grocery stores!) and began to fancy myself quite the literary type. At my elementary school library, I checked out a copy of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers (the unabridged original), believing that I had already taken on his The Last of the Mohicans (in Moby Book form)–I was in for a sharp awakening, as I couldn’t get past the first few pages!! Even though it took me a while to wean myself from the Moby Books versions of classic novels, they were my “gateway drug” to the realms of classic and contemporary fiction which have been a passion ever since.
Around 5 years ago, my mom brought over some of my old Moby Books to give to MY kids and it reawakened so many memories of being lost in other lands and people’s lives in these books that I decided that I needed to obtain the full collection. At this point, I believe I have all of the books that are available to be had (41 total), but I would love to complete the collection if I find any more. Here are some facts about the Moby Books collection I have discovered, as well as some questions that I have, followed by a categorized list (by volume number) of all the Moby Books of which I am aware.
MOBY BOOKS FACTS & FAQS
- There were 36 Moby Books Illustrated Classic Editions published in 3 batches of 12 each in 1977, 1979, and 1983. “Moby Books” was the brand name, published by Playmore Inc. out of New York City in arrangement with I. Waldman & Son, Inc.
- Playmore later released (sometime between 2001-2002) a number of “Illustrated Classic Editions” without the Moby Books imprint and featuring a different style of cover art & illustrations. I do not consider these to be part of the “canonical collection,” however, these later editions were given catalog numbers in sequence with the earlier editions, so there seems to be some sense of intended continuity by the publisher.
- The McDonald’s editions are an interesting puzzle. There seem to have been two sets released of “4 volumes” each in 1977 and 1979; whereas the original series catalog numbers are from 4501-4536, the McDonald’s editions are given catalog numbers from 1001-1004/95. The books I own from the 1977 set include The Wizard of Oz (1001/95, vol. 1), Black Beauty (1003/95, vol. 3), and The Three Musketeers (1004/95, vol. 4). I have never found the 2nd volume of this set. Of the 1979 set, I have Tom Sawyer (1002/95, vol. 2) and A Christmas Carol (1004/95, vol. 4); I have also never come across any other books from this set. Since two books share the same catalog number (1004/95), I am assuming these were completely different sets with no shared titles. I would love to find out about these missing editions if anyone has any information…
- In the back of the 1977 and 1983 books, there are two catalogs of the editions in the series. While the 1983 listing contains the full 36 books from the official Moby Books canon and no more, the 1977 listing includes 5 books that apparently were intended to be part of the series, but were never actually published: Frankenstein (which was later released in a 2002 “non-canonical” edition), Aesop’s Fables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Kim (by Kipling), and “Stories from the Bible.”
This is the information I have. For those wishing to begin their own collection of Moby Books, I would recommend a frequent search of eBay listings, as you can find people selling 15-20 books for 5 dollars total. There is also a site called Series Books which sell the books, but they are much more expensive. The McDonald’s editions are quite hard to come by and sell for $25-30 a piece (I found mine for around $3-5 a while back!). Below I have listed the books with catalog numbers…any corrections or new information would be greatly appreciated!
Moby Books Illustrated Classics editions
Catalog No./Title/Author/Publishing Date
|4501||Wizard of Oz, The||Baum, L. Frank||1977|
|4502||Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Hound of the Baskervilles||Doyle, A. Conan||1977|
|4503||Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, The||Defoe, Daniel||1977|
|4504||Black Beauty||Sewell, Anna||1977|
|4505||Kidnapped||Stevenson, Robert Louis||1977|
|4506||Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, A||Twain, Mark||1977|
|4507||20,000 Leagues Under the Sea||Verne, Jules||1977|
|4509||Three Musketeers, The||Dumas, Alexandre||1977|
|4510||Treasure Island||Stevenson, Robert Louis||1977|
|4511||Little Women||Alcott, Louisa May||1977|
|4512||Around the World in 80 Days||Verne, Jules||1977|
|4513||Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, The||Pyle, Howard||1979|
|4514||Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The||Twain, Mark||1979|
|4515||Call of the Wild, The||London, Jack||1979|
|4516||Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The||Twain, Mark||1979|
|4517||Oliver Twist||Dickens, Charles||1979|
|4518||David Copperfield||Dickens, Charles||1979|
|4519||Count of Monte Cristo, The||Dumas, Alexandre||1979|
|4520||Moby Dick||Melville, Herman||1979|
|4521||Last of the Mohicans, The||Cooper, James Fenimore||1979|
|4522||Mutiny on Board H.M.S. Bounty||Bligh, William||1979|
|4523||Oregon Trail, The||Parkman, Francis||1979|
|4524||Tales of Mystery and Terror||Poe, Edgar Allan||1979|
|4526||Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The||Doyle, A. Conan||1983|
|4527||Swiss Family Robinson, The||Wyss, Johann||1983|
|4528||Journey to the Center of the Earth, A||Verne, Jules||1983|
|4529||War of the Worlds||Wells, H.G.||1983|
|4530||Time Machine, The||Wells, H.G.||1983|
|4531||Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The||Stevenson, Robert Louis||1983|
|4532||Tale of Two Cities, A||Dickens, Charles||1983|
|4533||Man in the Iron Mask, The||Dumas, Alexandre||1983|
|4534||Great Expectations||Dickens, Charles||1983|
|4535||Prince and the Pauper, The||Twain, Mark||1983|
|4536||Captain Courageous||Kipling, Rudyard||1983|
|4537||Red Badge of Courage||Crane, Stephen||2002|
|4539||King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table||Pyle, Howard||2002|
|4540||Jungle Book, The||Kipling, Rudyard||2002|
|4541||Hunchback of Notre Dame, The||Hugo, Victor||2002|
|4542||Wind in the Willows, The||Grahame, Kenneth||2002|
|4543||Gulliver’s Travels||Swift, Jonathan||2002|
|4544||Invisible Man, The||Wells, H.G.||2002|
|4545||Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The||Irving, Washington||2002|
|4546||Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm||Wiggin, Kate Douglas||2002|
|4547||Alice in Wonderland||Carroll, Lewis||2002|
|4548||Pride and Prejudice||Austen, Jane||2002|
121 thoughts on “Moby Books Illustrated Classic Editions”
I can’t believe you finally posted this. Thank you.
I know. I think I started this post like a week after we began Lost in the Cloud.
I’m kind of geeking out the blog, eh? Do you have any weird obsessions you could write about? NASA memorabilia, Bob Dylan minutiae, Babylonian erotica….
There’s the Stump cataloging blood in you. I can just see you now, “Natty, you can look but not touch. These are not for reading by little kids!”
I remember those in the house quite well, but obviously without the same connection. How would you describe the editing down reading them now as an adult…still a good intro for kids into literature?
I have two sets of 12 I bought at Walgreen’s a few years ago. I’m in the process of locating the other two sets. Here is my list of the books I have, the books I’m bidding on, and the ones I want to find.
Illustrated Classic Editions (Moby)
1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
2. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
3. The Red badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
4. The Wind in the Willows by Keneth Grahame
5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
6. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
7. Tales of Mystery and Terror by Edger Allen Poe
8. King Arthur & the Nights of the Round Table by Howard Pyle
9. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
10. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggins
11. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
12. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
13. Sherlock Holmes and the case of the Hound of the Baskervilles by A. Conan Doyle
14. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
15. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne – stained pages
16. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
17. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
18. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
19. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
20. Captain Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
21. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
22. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
23. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
24. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
25. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain*
26. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss*
27. The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas*
28. The War of the World by H.G. Wells*
29. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas*
30. A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne*
31. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell*
32. Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace*
33. The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain*
34. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens*
35. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens*
36. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens*
37. Heidi by Johanna Spyri*
38. The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas*
39. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson*
40. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
41. The Mutiny on Board H.M.S. Bounty by William Bligh
42. The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
43. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
44. The Oregon Trail by Francis Parkman
45. Stories from the Bible
46. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
47. Christmas Bedtime Stories
48. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Have 1-24, I’m bidding on 25-39, Looking for 40-48
For these 3, do you have catalog numbers (should be between 4539-4546)?
5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
8. King Arthur & the Nights of the Round Table by Howard Pyle
24. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Is this one the 1977 or 2002 version?
22. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I don’t know if these actually exist…have you seen copies before?
45. Stories from the Bible
47. Christmas Bedtime Stories
I’m pretty sure I have some doubles of the ones you need (40-48) so just shoot me an email with your address and I’d happily send you any I have (greg[dot]stump22[at]gmail[dot]com)!
Thanks for posting…
I have #4400 – A Child’s Book of the Bible. I was searching for the publication date and stumbled to this site. I had no idea there was so many books. My father read this book to my sister and I in the late 70’s.
WOW, that’s quite a find! It’s a “Moby Book”? I’d love to post a picture of it if you’d be willing to send one to me. My email is email@example.com. Thanks for letting us know!
I have ” Stories from the Bible”, or “A Child’s Book of the Bible”. Bad condition with book covers and pages missing.
Wow, that’s cool! I’d love to see a photo if you have one! Can I send you a message with my email address?
I have 2 Robin Hood, The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, Tom Sawyer, The Man in the Iron Mask, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. All are original, not McDonald’s editions. All are in excellent to good condition. Most are in excellent condition. I am looking to sell them so if you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi.. I was searching on the net on whether Moby Books are still sold and if yes where could these be found and in the process found out your blog. Thanks for writing this and rekindling old memories. I have read and owned quite a few of them including David Copperfield, Wizard of Oz, Three Musketeers and I am talking about buying these books in the 1980’s in India. I would love to collect more of the Moby books classics for my son who is 4 yrs now. Thanks for the listing on where these books can be found!
I have original great copies of your numbers 40, 41, 42, 44, and 46 if interested in any 🙂
How much can I pay you for everything?
Can you tell me what would be the cost of these books I have several of them which I got on my childhood days. Now I want to get some more so that I would hand them to my grand children.
Thanks in anticipation
If you go onto eBay and type in “Moby Books” and search through the items up for bid, you can usually find someone putting 5-15 of them in a batch for a reasonable starting bid ($5-10).
As I said, you can also find them at the following website, but they are crazy expensive!
Here is an example of a lot of 30 for sale:
Thanks for posting this. Brings back childhood memories.
You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane!!
how to download those books?
Hmm, I don’t know if there is a way to download them at this point.
you are my hero! I could not remember the name of the publisher of these books and I too had a ton of these as a kid. But once I bought the unabridged verisons, I donated them. I am in a bookmaking and print-culture studies program and I mentioned this series, now I can direct them all to this site. thanks!
Thank you for your wonderful comment…I’m so happy to do a little bit of good in the world!
I cant believe someone finally wrote about these…Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde was my favorite…and i can never forget how dark and beautiful the illustrations were…Thank you for writing about these wonderful books…!!
Aww, you’re welcome! It is amazing how this takes one back to discovering something wonderful and beautiful…
Thanks for commenting!
I found the following website.
Scrolling down a little and following some of the links, I believe the following is correct (new info in square brackets):
4537 Red Badge of Courage Crane, Stephen 
4538 Frankenstein (2002) Shelley, Mary 2002
4539 [King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Pyle, Howard, 2002]
4540 [The Jungle Book, Kipling, Rudyard]
4541 [The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hugo, Victor]
4542 [The Wind in the Willows, Grahame, Kenneth]
4543 Gulliver’s Travels Swift, Jonathan 2002
4544 Invisible Man, The Wells, H.G. 2002
4545 Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Irving, Washington 2002
4546 Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Wiggin, Kate Douglas 2002
4547 Alice in Wonderland Carroll, Lewis 2002
4548 Pride and Prejudice Austen, Jane 2002
Some additional links:
This post wanted me to offer you a quote from the film, Jerry McGuire:
“You complete me.”
Thank you SO MUCH for posting this information! It’s quite a relief to my borderline OCD to have the complete set of books listed out here. You’re quite the internet investigator…think you could find out anything about those missing McDonald’s editions?
Now I can finally sleep at night.
Bravo to you,
I found a picture on ebay with a series of FIVE McDonalds editions, with all known books, and a different numbering system, with Christmas Carol being #5. I can send you the picture if you are still interested. Basically, I think this confirms there are only 5 total books.
I can confirm that catalog number 4539 is “King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Pyle, Howard, 2002”. I was looking through my son’s books shelves later after posting my previous message. He actually owns that edition, and the spine has the 4539 number on the spine.
An interesting note – The copyright pages states the following:
“Cover Copyright MMII” (2002)
“Interior Art and Text Copyright MCMXCIII” (1993)
I’m not sure what that means exactly…it may generate more questitons than answers.
Detailed info on the King Arthur book can be found at the following link (I have confirmed that the data matches the book in my hand):
I ordered the Hunchback of Notre Dame edition from Amazon (even though I feel my “purist” instinct kick in just looking at it) as I am curious why it gives a publishing date of 1994.
We’ll see when I get it!
Thank you Greg for this great site. I have been looking for a complete list for a while! I have some extras if anyone would like to trade.
Here is what I need:
4516 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
4517 Oliver Twist
4523 Oregon Trail
4534 Great Expectations
4535 Prince and the Pauper
4537 Red Badge of Courage
4546 Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Here is what I have to trade:
4503 Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
4504 Black Beauty
4506 Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
4510 Treasure Island
4511 Little Women (2 copies)
4513 Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
4514 Adventures of Tom Sawyer
4521 Last of the Mohicans (2 copies)
4524 Tales of Mystery and Terror
4528 Journey to the Center of the Earth
4531 Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
4533 Man in the Iron Mask
4543 Gulliver’s Travels
I have extras of 4508, 4516, 4517, 4523, & 4546 that I can send to you! Just email your mailing address to greg.stump22 @ gmail.com and I will mail them to you! Good luck on finding the others!!
I also have a few extra copies of the McDonald’s printings that I would be willing to sell for much lower than you’d find online ($15-25) if you’re interested…
I don’t want to trade, but if you want to buy I have Oliver Twist. email@example.com
I have “Moby Dick” which should be #0001 since it is what the books are named after! Anyway, other than some unnneed additions (Ishmael is a school teacher!) it is a fairly in-depth introduction to the novel. Much more in-depth than Classics Illustrated! Good books for kids 10-12 who are into reading but not quite ready for the unabridged versions yet.
Are you still looking for the McDonalds Illustrated Classics The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 1977 Volume 2 #1002/95? I have 2 copies. Email me if your still looking to complete your rare collection.
I have almost all of the first sets thru 1983 in various conditions. I would trade any 2 of yours for 1 of mine.
I have a single copy of Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1979, fair condition, a bit dog-eared but intact. Anyone interested?
Thanks for this post! I just unpacked my childhood collection of these books & was looking for a list of the full set to see if I could find the ‘missing’ ones. We’re expecting our first child soon & I hope he/she will someday love these as much as I did!
I bought a set of 12 of these today not really knowing people collected them anymore, just thought they looked like an interesting little set of books!
On the back page it says titles avaliable in this series and we have all 12 of them. There are no numbers on the spines though. Maybe because we are in the UK???
It says in the books they are printed in Israel. We just have ISBN’s above the barcode on the back cover. They also come in a red cardboard box which seems to fit the books perfectly, maybe a coincidence or this is how they came?
Anyway, thought I would give you the heads up because they will be going on Ebay.
Paula 🙂 x
i have war of the worlds and swiss family robinson 1983 that i am looking for the value of if any of you know pleaase clue me in
The value of these books is pretty relative–they sell for pretty cheap on eBay, but then a website like “Serial Books” sells them for $10 a pop.
I would follow some sales on eBay to see what they’re going for…
thank you i will check into it
I think I have the 2nd set. I have all 12 which are dated 1979. Could you put me in touch with someone who may be interested in buying them?
I don’t really have any contacts who are interested in purchasing, but if someone does get in touch, I will send them your way!
Hi 🙂 so I just recently came across a collection of 19 of the moby books series. Just wondering if you have any info about particular ones or if any are “special” list includes:
4502 – sherlock holmes
4503 – the add is Robinson crusoe
4504 – black beauty
4505 – kidnapped
4506 – a Connecticut Yankee in king Arthur’s court
4507 – 20,000 leagues under the sea
4508 – Heidi
4509 – the three muskateers
4510 – treasure island
4512 – Around the world in eighty days
4513 – the merry adv of robin hood
4514 – the adv of tom sawyer
4516 – the adv of huckleberry Finn
4518 – David copperfield
4520 – moby dick
4521 – the last of the Mohicans
4522 – the mutiny on board h.m.s bounty
4523 – the Oregon trail
4524 – tales of mystery and terror
Ok 🙂 so thats the list any info is appreciated! Thanks!
I am presently a middle aged person (apparently) believed to be involved in more serious affairs!!! As a child, I had a full set of moby books and I cherished every inch of material on them. What struck me the most is the extraordinary art of Brendan Lynch who was the artist of several of the 1983 series. His art in ‘The Prince and the Pauper’, ‘A tale of two cities’, ‘A journey to the centre of the earth’, ‘Great Expectations’, ‘The adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ and so on enthralled me like a magnet and I wish to know more about this man. Anyone who can provide me a link is most welcome
I wish I knew something about this artist, but I don’t. Hopefully someone will read and provide a link!
Thanks for sharing your experience with Moby Books…
Thank you for doing such great research on this series. I was so excited to find this post after trying to find information about these books. I would like to reference this post in a blog post I am writing about childhood books if that’s OK. I wondered if I could also use your image of the Moby Dick cover, with attribution to you and your blog?
You are welcome to reference, use the image, and any other info you need for your piece.
The reason I wrote this post originally was because I, like you, was looking for information and couldn’t find anything!
I look forward to reading your post when you put it up.
Memories – Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe, Count of Monte Cristo – time to start hunting these down again!
I found your post about these books in a Google search, and I also found that Waldman is currently publishing a “new” series of these: http://www.greatillustratedclassics.com/
Thank you so much for posting about this! I just got the Moby Dick and found your article while looking it up. I wonder what would happen if McDonald’s gave out books today.
I know! I wish they would!!
Wow! And there was me thinking these books were long forgotten!
I have 12 that range from ’77 to ’83 and have been in my family for years.
I’m confused about the numbering system listed. To echo Paula’s post from May 2011. I’m from the UK and the only numbers on mine are the ISBNs. Plus my Black Beauty does not resemble the pic above.
My husband just brought a few of these home for my daighter (Oliver Twist, Kidnapped, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Tales of Mystery and Terror, The Last of the Mohicans, The Count of Monty Cristo, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Mutiny on Board M.S. Bounty, and Sherlock Holmes.)
Does anyone know which AR Reading Level the books are? My daughter’s teacher is super picky about not letting her read outside her reading level. 😦
That is utterly insane! What kind of school does not encourage students to educate themsleves better. Let her read what she likes and stuff what the school says!
You know, I thought it was really weird at first too, and if my daughter gets her heart set on reading something, I’m going to let her. But really- she DID have a super bad habit of reading only the first 1-2 chapters of a book and then moving on to the next one. It was always really frustrating to me. “Why won’t you ever FINISH a book??!?!!”
But since she’s started school here with this AR reading level system 2 months ago, she’s finished 4 chapter books. Maybe she was just reading beyond her reading level before, and getting frustrated, and then giving up.
Ah I see your point. Well if she doesn’t finish it she doesn’t finish it. Its better to try and fail then never try at all surely?
Coming from the teacher’s point of view: With the huge amount of books available today, many hesitant readers become overwhelmed at the choices and simply pick a book because library time is almost over. They start reading the book and find it’s boring or too difficult. When teachers take the time to help students find books on their “reading level,” those students enjoy reading more. It’s not a prison sentence, but a tool to promote reading for pleasure. As the student becomes more proficient, he/she moves to more difficult books. (BUT, no teacher has the right to tell students they can’t read other books on their own time. Make it a “family time” and read these books together on the weekends. What a fun memory to have together. ENJOY!)
Thanks Rhonda! I’m not worried about her. She absolutely loves to read. Instead of me having to tell her to read a little bit, I have to tell her to stop reading and get outside for play/exercise time! Not because we discourage reading, but because we want to see our girls have balanced lives, and if she had her way, ALL she’d do was sit and read! 🙂
We also sit as a family and read in the evenings. Lately, I’ve been reading The Egypt Game while the family sits and listens and knits, crochets, beads, etc. We love it.
Thank you for this. I have been collecting these books for a long time. It frustrates me because some of the titles were never published. On the other hand, it excites me too since I only need to find FOUR from the 1977 – 1983 edition.
4511 Little Women
4530 The Time Machine
4535 The Prince and the Pauper
My 2002 collection isn’t complete either. I bought all but one title a few years back. I missed:
4547 Alice in Wonderland
My very first book was Black Beauty from my cousin. I fell in love with it and asked my mom to buy more. I later realized the books had been phased out. They were really old! I am sure my friends have copies. Then of course we have the Internet. I am from the Philippines and I really don’t prefer buying online since shipping is expensive. I’ll try local bookstores and book shops that sell second hand books. If all fails, I’ll buy online. I have the feeling I could complete the series this year. Really excited. 🙂
I stumbled upon these books while searching. They are from Playmore / Baronet Books. They look different. The publication dates are different. Was there a different series?
I’ve seen those covers before, but I actually have no idea what they look like.
I’m kind of a purist 🙂 so I only look for the ones that match the original Moby Books.
I was just searching the web to find out if there was any information on the 1977 McDonald’s Moby Books. So excited to find this site. I have 2 full sets of the 4. I bought them for collectible purposes when they came out and put them away for that purpose so they are in perfect condition. Can anyone tell me what they are worth?
That is amazing. I’ve seen good to very good copies of the McDonalds books online for $25 a piece, though I’ve yet to see a mint copy. Did you happen to save the Happy Meal box they came in? I bet that would add a lot to the value too! Great job thinking ahead here & hope you find out what they are worth!
Thanks for your response. Unfortunately I did not keep the boxes.
It was great to find your website so that I at least
have an idea of what I have.
I’m glad to have found this site. The Illustrated Classics Editions were my first into to these books and it took several internet searches to find the right series! Does anyone know if the content of the new publication (http://www.greatillustratedclassics.com/) is the same as the older books?
How do I buy these I want to replace my 1983 set
Just go on eBay and type in Moby Books. They usually have many books for sale…
Great info! I’ve included a link to this page on my blog’s “Jules Verne” page.
i also want those books
Hi Greg, I’m working on a piece on the McDonald’s books and am wondering if we can correspond quickly by email?
I’ll send you a message!
I’m so happy you posted about these books, and I’m so happy we’re still talking about them 3 years later.
I came across a set in a flea market a few weeks ago. The man selling them didn’t seem to know much about them, except that one of the books from the set was missing (Last of the Mohicans). He gave me all 11 for $2, and I was really pleased that they were all in very good condition.
I’m wondering if anyone knows about these books being issued in boxes? My set came in a box and it says “Series 1″ on it, but the books seem to be random sampling. They all have the correct publishing dates, but the box has a 1992 date. The books also say “printed in Canada.” Any ideas as to what all this means?
The books in the box are:
4501 -The Wizard of Oz, 1977
4502 -Sherlock Holmes, 1977
4506 -A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, 1977
4507 -20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1977
4511 -Little Women, 1977
4512 -Around the World in 80 Days, 1977
4515 -The Call of the Wild, 1979
4517 -Oliver Twist, 1979
4521 -The Last of the Mohicans, 1979
4524 -Tales of Mystery and Terror, 1979
4536 -Captain Courageous, 1983
You can see a picture of the box here: http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b222/jp624/books/mobybooks_zpsdc5f64c5.jpg
Thank you so much for posting these! What an amazingly lucky find on the box set!! I’m not familiar with Canadian vs. US printing of these books, but I am SO SUPER jealous of you for having that cool box! Could I possibly use your photo as an update to this blog post? I will also add a photo of the box set of later books that I got (which I consider a bit “non-canonical” due to the cover illustration style).
You may certainly use the photo. I also noticed the price on the spine of my books is $2.50 instead of $1.25 like the books in your photo. Guess I’m going to start trying to collect the Canadian printings.
Has anyone noticed that some of the books listed here as 1983 are actually 1987 (MCMLXXXVIII) ? I’ve double checked my copies & of the ones I have anyway #’s 4527, 4528, 4530, & 4536 are marked this way. ????? What’s up with that? Something different here, or just an oversight on this site 🙂 ?
Sorry, just noticed I put an extra ‘I’ at the end. It should be MCMLXXXVII
I expect it is a copyright renewal. There were several printings. The first printing (priced at $1.25) has a copyright of 1983, while a later printing (priced $1.95 or $2.50) has the roman numerals – MCMLXXXVII. For some books, I have as many as three different prices.
When I moved into our home 20 years ago these books were left behind. Hope they are something you are looking for.
1. Black Beauty 1003
2. The Three Musketeers 4509
3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 4516
4. Tom Sawyer 1002
5. Tales of Mystery and Terror 4524
After coming across a copy of Moby’s “War of the Worlds” in an old box in the attic, I googled and found this post. You inspired me to collect these for my kids. Several eBay lots later I have a full (I believe) set. Duplicates are going to nieces and nephews :-). Anyway, my question: The McDonald’s editions were all published as regular Moby editions too… except “A Christmas Carol” which appears to have been a McDonald’s exclusive. Right? I got “Carol” in a special auction to cap off my kids’ collection. I don’t see a need to buy McDonald’s editions of the others since we already have the Moby’s of those. Cheers on this post and thanks for reminding me of all the hours I enjoyed these as a kid.
This comment is the best! Thanks for letting me know about the inspiration to collect the set for your kids (I let mine have the doubles, but my near mint collection is on a high shelf!).
Yeah, you’re right about the Christmas Carol one being the only one that had no regular version. The others are the same except for covers, down to the same pagination inside.
Thanks again for the great comment–best wishes! Greg
I grew up in India in the 1990s and Moby Classics were a huge part of my childhood reading. They were my first introduction to Dickens, Moby Dick and the other classics, that I actually enjoyed. Between used copies selling on the pavement in Avenue Road (in Bangalore city) and the government library, I managed to buy/borrow and read most of the original Moby classics. There was definitely a huge difference in the cover art, interior art and text between the original and the later Illustrated Classics. While I loved and reread multiple times the originals, I tried and didn’t bother with the Illustrated Classics. Some of the pictures from these books are forever etched in my memory for those characters and scenes.
Thanks for this comment Ash! I can relate to having those images etched into my memory too!
We are having our first child in May, this morning I was trying to explain to my fiancè the excitement I had reading these book Ma when I was a kid. Givin to me by my aunt when I was really young, I wanted to find them for our son but had no idea how to find them. This blog couldn’t have been more what I was looking for!! Thanks so much for posting this! I can’t wait for my boy to have this set too, thanks again from Canada!
Wonderful! I hope you are able to find many of the books & that your son enjoys them as much as we did!!
Thank for for this post!!!
Was inducting my bf into reading, heh. Was watching Black Sails. And I told him that this imagining of RL Stevenson’s pre-Treasure Island world would be much better grasped and ‘lived’ vicariously through if he had read TI. Then for ‘shits and giggles’ I told him that if he really did not want to read the nonabridged version, he could read my ‘kiddie edition’ for starters, which was somewhere in the storage room in dusty boxes with other classic titles….(I might have thrown some titles away from the series though or lost them, due to the time that has passed, accidental lapse in judgement or moving house :<)
One thing lead to another…and I *HAD* to show him pictures of them books you see? Some Googling later, I reached here. Pictures-checked. Nice clear information about the books-CHECKED. I linked him this post!
I think I have all of the "canonical collection" (CAD2.50 printed on the covers iirc). And some of the "non canonical" ones from early 2000s. I got my parents to purchase these in the early-mid90s, then I saved up for later ones myself. I am born mid80s 🙂
I didnt even know there were McD ones?! WHUT. Thank goodness I *didnt* know about them, well not until now, heh, They werent avail in my country I guess. I dont see these little gems around anymore these days. Come to think of it, I did not even realise that they were gone from bookshelves in bookstores here. When did thaaat happen? Huh!
They were truly a great idea for introducing young children to reading the classics. Such nostalgia. Thank you once again for this post. Time to dig out mah box of them books. This time round I'll display them on my bookshelf proper.
Great comment–thanks for sharing!
WOW – It is so funny you opened with “Rosebud” – that is what I was thinking as I searched for these again!
I read so many of them all day up in the old treehouse as a boy. Adventure and Sci-Fi especially. I don’t want any of the paralell “geat Illustrated Classics” larger hardbacks because the smaller size, format and amazing cover art and inner illustrations are an important part of the infatuation and memories. I’ll work on collecting them for my kids to enjoy.
Thanks for the post!
Totally feel the same way about those larger editions!!
For whatever its worth, I’m pretty sure those larger editions are substantively identical, just printed on larger cheap paper, and with better bindings. Comparing what I have, the illustrations and text and even page numbering is the same. There are larger format ones that never made it Moby books.
I also think, after all these years, it is same to assume that there are only FIVE McDonalds books, not eight in total. The Christmas Carol one was, I expect, reprinted in the large format, but I’ve never had my hands on both at once to check.
Just found this site! I also had quite a few from my childhood from 1977, I was 14, and had given them to my daughter. She is turning 25 soon and has just left home for the first time. I have the books back, and go well with my other Miniature Books I am collecting (Little Leather Library and other antique Mini’s. Love the list you have provided as I have been finding them at thrift book stores and Ebay. I found 4 today for 25 cents each, two were duplicates but finer shape, two were new I didnt have. Now I have a list of missing volumes!! Thanks again!
My daughter was reading an old book she got at a yard sale (in great condition), and it’s the 4501 The Wizard of Oz, and when she got to page 192, it skipped back to page 147 and ends at page 192. There are four chapters missing..which is what led me to my google search….hoping to find the rest of the book. Clearly it is a misprint, so I was wondering if any of you collector’s have come across this before?
I can report I looked at mine, and fortunately, this error does not occur. These books were cheapie kind of add-on purchases, so the fact there are mistakes doesn’t surprise me.
Have lots of my children’s books one of few things I could never throw out
Have some old ones 4501 The Wizard of Oz
4531 Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Others I’m just not sure who to go to if I want to sell
Could you help on advising me
I’ve seen a lot on eBay!
I LOVED these as a kid and I wanted to collect them again. Your info was VERY helpful, thank you!
I’m glad we could be a help. Hope you can find all that you want to collect!!
Thank you for sharing these tidbits about the Moby books! I saw a set of four in a used bookshop last week and stopped cold. I remember these! I don’t know where my copies went but I remember them. I snapped a photo of the stack with my phone and decided to google about Moby books this morning. Kudos to you Greg for posting and then CONTINUING to respond to comments seven years later!
Question: When will you update the post with all the extra photos that you’ve been promising?
P.S. I curate and occasionally update an old website that is directed to the niche of collecting old china buttons so I sincerely applaud your patience and dedication. You deserve a medal.
I have the count of monte cristo – 4519
I don’t know it’s price can anyone please tell me??
I can sell it if anyone buys it at a good price.
Thank you so much for posting this! I am trying to fill in my husband’s childhood collection and this is so helpful.
I have found at least 8 variations in pricing / printing from $0.95 (US) to $2.50 C-A$3.00 (US and Canada). My most recent acquisition was a new one to me – $1.50, C$2.00 (US) Treasure Island.
Wow…someone else obsessed with these books! This looks like a 10 year-old blog. With the new “Little Women” movie released it had me thinking back on the amazing graphic version I had as a child. Upon many fruitless searches I found your post. Nice work!!! 👏
Wow. You posted this 10 years ago and I’m just finding it.
Have you ever written to the address listed inside the books for moby books?
2nd I wonder what it would take to get them to re-release all of the classics in the original format/version?
I’m here after reading this blog a decade back, just to say thank you!
I still cherish those beautiful books, have a small collection of few first editions on that list.
Oh no! I’m late to the party. I was really searching for Moby’s Illustrated Classics, finest nostalgia and memories. Has this been replaced by the “Great Illustrated Classics”? Are they the same thing?
Thanks for this blog. I enjoyed these books as a kid. I probably had around 20 of these books. I took them in the car to read on long trips or under my bed covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping. I read them over and over until the covers fell off of my favorites, then the first few pages, would disappear. Eventually, my copy of Mutiny on the Bounty started at chapeter 2! Even almost 40 years later, I remember certain illustrations and the taglines (The sinister Mr Hyde, the Breadfruit plants being thrown off the Bounty as the ship sails away). My favorites were Captains Courageous, The Mutiny on Board the HMS Bounty, Swiss Family Robinson, The Three Musketeers, The Last of the Mohicans, Huckleberry Finn….ok…almost all of them. I begged my mom to get these for me when I saved a buck and a quarter. I think she got them at a grocery store at the time. The books are small and can fit in your back pocket and go anywhere with you.
These books most definitely helped develop my love of reading that I still enjoy to this day. I have thought a lot about these books over the years. Recently, my parents were re-doing the inside of their whole house and gave me a bunch of my old stuff. In one box was “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and it had my name and phone number written by second grade me inside. (I really did not want to lose these!) This wasn’t my favorite, so I searched their house for some of the others, but could not find them. It may have only survived because it was not one of my favorites and stayed in good enough condition to not be thrown out. My 8 year old son, got hold of Jekyll and Hyde and read it cover to cover in a couple of days. I told him how much I enjoyed the series and he asked for more. I went on Ebay and got a lot of 16 books for around $30. He grabbed Tom Sawyer and read it in a couple of days, then on to Robin Hood….he is asking for more. I just finished buying a couple of lots of these books to complete the collection for my boys…waiting for them in the mail as I type this.
These books are especially awesome for young boys as the majority of them are adventure and sci-fi. My 8 year old prefers to read these than watch kid shows and I have a hard time getting him to go to sleep, “Just let me finish this page, Dad!”. He was reading things like “Dog Man” and “Captain Underpants” before which will not stand the test of time or benefit his future as these classic novels will. He even brings them in the car, something he never did with other books. I hope he takes care of them better than I did, so his 4 year old brother can enjoy them when he is old enough.
The illustrations on most every turn of the page help the imagination synthesize what is read. The text is easy to digest yet still challenging in a good way for younger kids. My son, discusses these books with me unprovoked, which is worth every penny I spent to get these books. I hope these books make as big of an impact on my boys lives as these books did on mine. Absolute treasures! Before I saw this blog, I thought I was the only one who felt this way about these books. It makes me happy to see these books have brought so much joy to others from my generation, and even happier that we have the opportunity to pass these gems on to our kids.
Dear Mr. Christian (shout out to Mutiny on the HMS Bounty?),
We are definitely on the same page! I need to update this post with a photo of the THREE mint condition box sets that I found on Ebay. It was the Holy Grail of Moby Books fandom! Glad this was able to take you on a trip down memory lane. I tried to get my kids to read them to no avail, so now I’m just one of those creepy “adult collectors” who keeps them in pristine condition, exactly the OPPOSITE of how we treated them as kids!
Thanks for dropping us this note!
Yes, and glad you got the reference, Greg! My favorite Moby Book’s anti-hero. Those Moby books work! Real name is Scott. Glad to hear you found the Holy Grail! I don’t know if I will be a crazy collector, but give me twenty years when the kids are out of the house and I need to fill my days with hobbies. Too bad your kids didn’t take to them as we have. They have too many other distractions these days I guess. Luckily, my oldest is loving them…he’s into his fourth one in the past week and a half…and asked me to get others. He liked Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn didn’t come in the first Lot I bought, so he specifically asked for that one. I was like a mad scientist building spreadsheets to figure out how to get as many books in the fewest ebay orders for the best price and bought two additional lots. Between the three lots I was able to pick up 36 “canonical” copies with a few duplicates and a triplicate. I will most likely store those extras to make sure my four year old has something to start with when he comes of age.
I had to do a preventative tape job on the cover of Tom Sawyer, seems the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. Luckily, it is also one of my duplicates. Thanks for your reply. I really enjoyed your blog and the stories from others in the comments section.
Scott, I don’t know if you tracked down the special McDonald’s editions, but I have duplicates of some & would be happy to send them to you. If interested, just email at greg.stump22 at gmail.com!!