From 1914 through 1941, the Gregg Publishing Company used a printers code on the verso (reverse side) of a Gregg book title page. Sometimes the printers code appeared at the end of a Gregg book. If you know how to read the printers code, in most cases, you will be able to determine the month and year of the press run for your copy of a Gregg book. These code indicated the print month and year, NOT the date that the book was first published. Many Gregg Shorthand books with identical text and Shorthand plates have many different print runs with different printers codes.
Here is an example of the printers code for the 1931 Anniversary “Alice in Wonderland” in Gregg Shorthand that has the printers code “E-78-NP-5”:
–The first part (E) is the print run month (May). Months start with A=Jan thru L=Dec.
–The second part (78) is the print run year (1931).
–The 3rd part (NP) is the initials of the printer (forgot what this one was)
–The 4th part (5) is a code for the number of books (5,000?) printed in the press run.
–Many printers codes in books printed before 1920 only have the first 2 parts of the printers code run together (e.g. D83) and are missing parts 3 and 4.
–For a few books, Gregg used the same printers code year after year.
–The date on the cover of a picture of the Gregg Writer in the back of a Gregg book does NOT always indicate the print year. I have found books with a Gregg Writer cover photo dated 2 years prior to the actual print year of the book.
I have looked at several books and figured out the years for the printers codes for many of these years. I found that Gregg was fairly consistent with the 2nd segment of the printers code for the print year. There is one big exception. The 1919 “Alice in Wonderland” was D83. It should have been D82. The code 83 was used for 1915, except for the original “Alice in Wonderland” from 1919.
The following list will help you match up the 2nd part of the printers code to the press run year of the book. For most of the 30’s, I do not know the exact years. For years that I am not 100% certain, I put a question mark following the year:
Here is what I could identify for the 2nd segment of the printers code (print year) for Gregg Books:
1888 through 1913 – No printers code used. Sometimes the print year is on the title page.
1914 thru 1919 – the following codes were used for the print year (2nd) segment of the printers code:
–86 – 1914
–83 – 1915 (Except for 1919 Alice in Wonderland)
–89 – 1916
–81 – 1917
–84 – 1918
–82 – 1919
1920 thru 1929 used the following for the year section of printers code. The ones with question marks I am not completely certain of.
–5a – 1920
–58 – 1921 (?)
–55 – 1922 (?)
–57 – 1923 (?)
–56 – 1924 (?)
–53 – 1925 (?)
–59 – 1926
–51 – 1927
–54 – 1928
–52 – 1929
1930 through 1939 used the following for the year section of printers code. Many of these were difficult to determine. Many of these were guessed based on a pattern for the 10’s, 20’s, and 40’s. It seems that the second digit of the year printers code matched the second digit for the print year for the 10’s, 20’s, and 40’s.:
–7a – 1930
–78 – 1931
–75 – 1932 (?)
–77 – 1933 (?)
–76 – 1934 (?)
–73 – 1935 (?)
–79 – 1936 (?)
–71 – 1937 (?)
–74 – 1938 (?)
–72 – 1939 (?)
1940 and 1941 used the following printers code for press year:
–6a – 1940
–68 – 1941
From 1942 until McGraw Hill bought the Gregg Publishing Company, the actual Month and Year (e.g. June 1942) were used for the first 2 parts of the printers code.
If anyone sees anything inconsistent with the above, please let me know. There will be books that fell outside of that pattern. But most seem to fit.