Boston: Roberts Brothers, n.d.. [Twenty posters, each 7-3/4" x 5-5/8", plus a slightly larger title panel (probably the front panel of what was originally an envelope).]
Beginning with "George Egerton's" 1893 novel KEYNOTES, for which the series would be named, John Lane of London published, over the course of five years, a series of 33 first editions of fiction; the Keynotes books came to epitomize the 1890s, not only for their content, but also for the design of the volumes -- elegant in format, each volume a different color stamped in another complementary color. And to top off the series' appeal, Lane (with fellow-publisher Elkin Mathews at the outset) engaged THE illustrator of the 'Nineties, Aubrey Beardsley, to provide each volume's front cover / title page design. (One of them is his notorious artistic impression of female reproductive organs.) As it happened, Beardsley provided only 21 of the designs for the (earlier) volumes in the series; Patten Wilson was then engaged to design the remaining twelve. (Beardsley would live only until 1898, when he would die of tuberculosis at age 25.) Perhaps fearing a slackening of public appeal with Beardsley's imminent departure from the series, in 1896 John Lane issued a "Prospectus" of the Keynotes Series -- a small booklet containing all 21 of Beardsley's designs, together with press notices of each book. This Prospectus is today very scarce.
The authorized American publisher for these books was Roberts Brothers, of Boston -- who published each book in a slightly smaller format (in one or more of three colors only), but with the same Beardsley title page design (and front cover design) as appeared in the London edition. This Roberts Brothers collection of "20 Miniature Posters" was issued for the same purpose, and at about the same time, as John Lane's Keynotes Series Prospectus -- possibly even a bit earlier, since there is one less design. The stamping on each poster is in one color, except for two which also have the book's title in red; the colors range from blue-grey to green to brown to pale greenish-yellow to orange.
The posters are in fine condition, with scarcely any wear or soil; the four stamped in pale greenish-yellow do not stand out like the others, but that is due to the unusual color chosen. The additional "title panel" of this assemblage is worn at its edges (though not affecting print); this wear, and the slightly larger size compared to the posters, cause us to believe that this is the front panel of an envelope that once enclosed the posters. Extremely uncommon -- especially as a complete set. See Stetz & Lasner 57 and Plate 11 (Lane's Prospectus). Item #13886