Though I have complete collections of the two Hardbound United Kingdom Collins Editions, I am in no way an authority on them - there simply aren't that many examples of them here in the U.S. to examine. However, due to the number of e-mails received asking about them combined with the current lack of on-line information, I have decided to create a brief overview of the two hardbound Collins editions. My thanks to Ian Regan, one of the most knowledgable collectors of the U.K. editions, for his invaluable input to this page, his finished UK T3I site is currently in the works.
William Collins Sons and Co. Ltd. of London and Glasgow published two distinctly different hardbound editions (a large-sized, or "tall", edition and a small-sized, or "short", edition) for sale in Great Britain and the British Commonwealth (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Australia, Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand). Random House had the rights to distribute the U.S. books in Canada.
The Collins Tall Edition (1st Edition)
The Tall Edition, measuring approximately 5-1/4"W x 8-1/2"L (approx. 21.5cm x 13.5cm), consists of U.S. titles #1 Terror Castle" through #28 "Deadly Double". These books, on the outside, look almost exactly like their U.S. counterparts. However, with but a few exceptions, the cover artwork is that of Roger Hall who duplicated quite closely the original cover art of the U.S. artists, the type faces differ and there is no list of titles to be found on the back covers. Interestingly, the cover art for all 28 titles in this Collins edition is "wrap-around", it extends from the front cover around the spine to the full back cover. This is one feature that makes this edition extremely attractive to U.S. collectors - it's neat to see what Roger Hall adds to the scene on the back covers of titles #15 - 28! In the U.S. only the first 14 titles had complete wrap-around cover art. Another attractive feature is that U.K. titles #19 - 28 were originally issued with a paper dust jacket. The front inside flap of the dust jacket has a short synopsis of the story and the back inside flap lists the titles in the series.
There are a couple of differences inside the books as well. The first 22 titles of the U.S. hardbound edition were originally published with the blue graveyard endpapers (later printings had plain white eps) but all 28 titles in the U.K. Large-Size Edition had them. Oddly, many titles printed by Collins in 1973 can be found with either the blue graveyard eps or plain white eps. The blue graveyard eps found in the Collins books are the Harry Kane originals used in the U.S. books.
The text of the U.K. editions was spaced so that each title consisted of about 160 pages with only a few exceptions. I'm not aware of any major changes to the texts, only some minor spelling differences (i.e. "colour" instead of "color"). Internal illustrations were only included in titles #1 - 14, 20, 21, 22, 25, and 28 of the Large-Size Edition. They are simple line drawings usually based on the original U.S. internal illustrations. The U.K. editions contain four or five internal illustrations whereas the U.S. books have seven.
In my experience, none of the Collins Tall Edition books are common. The first 16 titles had multiple print runs while titles #17 - 28 appear to have had only one print run. "Terror Castle", for example, was first released in 1967 and then was subsequently reprinted in 1969 and 1971. At the top of the copyright page in each book is the statement:
First published in this edition, (year)
To restate the obvious, this indicates the year in which the title was first printed in this edition. Any subsequent printing or "impression" and the year in which it occurred is stated underneath that first line.
The Collins Short Edition (2nd Edition)
The Short Edition, measuring approximately 4-7/8"W x 7-3/8"L (18.8cm x 12/5cm), consists of U.S. titles #1 "Terror Castle" through #24 "Death Trap Mine". The same Roger Hall cover art that was used on the Tall Edition is used on this small-size edition except that it does not wrap around to the spine and back cover as seen in the images below. Instead, the spine and back cover have a solid background color. The spine features a unique little scene from each book which really makes these books stand out when collected together on a shelf. The back cover lists the titles available in the series. None of the titles in the Short Edition was issued with a dust jacket.
Each title in the Short Edition has plain white endpapers and the text was laid out so that each title numbers approximately 150 -160 pages in length. The Roger Hall internal illustrations can be found in titles #1 - 14 and #20, but the 1979 impression of #1 "Terror Castle" does NOT contain illustrations. The thick, heavy paper used in this edition tends to turn yellow or brown over time and foxing to the pages is common.
In my experience, the books from the Short Edition are somewhat easier to find than those from the Tall Edition and prices tend to be more reasonable. The 24 titles which appeared in this edition were first published in the following order:
Titles 1 - 6 in 1972.
Titles 7 - 12 in 1973.
Titles 15 & 16 in 1974.
Titles 13, 14, 17, & 18 in 1975.
Titles 19 - 24 in 1979.
At the top of the copyright page in each book is the statement:
First published in this new edition (year)
Most of the titles in this edition had multiple printings or "impressions". If a book in this edition is not a first printing, there will be a second statement under the first which reads:
This impression (year)
Unfortunately, there is no way to tell exactly which impression this is without examining large numbers of books, it could be a second, third, or fourth printing. All we know for certain is that it is not a first printing. A book without the second statement at the top of the copyright page can be assumed to be a first printing until research indicates otherwise. It is possible that the six titles first printed in this edition in 1979 (titles #19 - 24) may have had only one impression. These titles appear much less frequently than the first 18 titles and I have not encountered any which indicate a later impression.