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Bill Howard Baker established Howard Baker press in 1968. It was his ambition to reprint all 1683 issues of the Magnet. He managed over 1500 mainly from the Amalgamated Press archives but was unable to complete the task as the original copies were not available. He knew a number of collectors had the issues he was looking for but was frustrated by the fact they wouldn't allow them to be used. In the final issue of the Greyfriars Gazette Howard wrote "For it is unthinkable that the great endeavour should end incomplete, at the heel of the hunt, because of the selfish, dog-in-the-manger attitude of a few collectors who have copies to lend but are unwilling to lend them, despite every safeguard and assurance - and generous payment, in cash or in kind. So the pleasure of many is sacrificed. But on what a sad and shameful altar."
Howard Baker died suddenly at the age of 65 on February 13th 1991 at his home /office in Wimbledon. The other shareholders were unwilling to continue the business so HB press was put up for sale. The only interest shown by potential buyers was in the substantial stock of books. Unfortunately nobody was interested in buying the business as a going concern so the dream of eventually reprinting all the Magnets died with Bill. After Bill's death his business partner sent out a letter to people who had previously bought books from HB advising them of this, you can read it here.
An obituary was published in The Times on 16th Feb 1991, You can read it here.
Howard Baker Greyfriars Press volumes were on general sale in shops and could also be bought direct from the publisher. These were the 'mainstream' papers mainly from the Golden era.
Howard Baker Club volumes were available only by mail order direct from the publisher. Buyers were encouraged to sign a bond which would commit them to buying a set number of volumes, payable in advance. If they signed the bond and paid up they were entitled to free P&P and regular copies of the Greyfriars Gazette. Baker described these volumes as "Strictly limited de luxe numbered editions of the rarest publications of pre-war AP papers, mainly Magnet, Gem &c. These are directed solely to the arcane minority of dedicated collectors"
The Greyfriars Gazette provided up to date information on Howard Baker's publishing plans. The Gazettes were supplied free to bond holders. A selection can be downloaded from the links below
Howard Baker published a catalogue twice a year. A number are available for download from the links below.
|Spring 1972||Autumn 1972|
|Spring 1973||Autumn 1973|
|Spring 1974||Autumn 1974|
|Spring 1975||Autumn 1975|
|Spring 1976||Autumn 1976|
|Spring 1977||Autumn 1977|
|Spring 1978||Autumn 1978|
|Spring 1979||Autumn 1979|
|Spring 1980||Autumn 1980|
|Spring 1981||Autumn 1981|
|Spring 1982||Autumn 1982|
|Spring 1983||Autumn 1983|
|Spring 1984||Autumn 1984|
|Spring 1985||Autumn 1985|
|Spring 1986||Autumn 1986|
Four Greyfriars Book Club catalogues are available for viewing. Issue five is of particular interest as shows the proposed titles of the volumes for the 1912 and 1913 issues of the Magnet that weren't published due to copy not being available.
To increase sales HB also produced some of the story papers in single unbound format. You can see two of the 'specials' singles catalogues below.
Anyone familiar with Howard Baker press will recognise the Wimbledon address of 27A Arterberry Road as it appeared on most of his publications. This wasn't a warehouse address as you may expect but Baker's own home. You can see a photo of the building here.