Lattimer & Co. was established in 1870 by Jonas Lattimer. Known as 'The Colonel,' Jonas Lattimer was a major in the 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Militia Regiment. Born in an obscure corner of the western part of the commonwealth, Jonas Lattimer setled in Philadelphia after the Civil War. A young man, he knew little except of war, but was keen to succeed.
He got himself a job in a bookshop handling ordering and accounts on the strength of his personal presence and experience of leadership. Within a matter of months, he was familiar with other booksellers, printers and the city's few publishers.
The westward exapnsion that followed the Civil War created a demand for books beyond the Mississippi, and Jonas Lattimer organized a mail order and distribution network based on the railroads and the developing US Postal Service.
In 1870, he was approached by a young man in the bookstore who asked if he knew how one might set about publishing a book. James Fairweather had written a volume called Regimental Campfires, a collection of tales from the Civil War.
Jonas Lattimer had no authority to do so, but replied to the young man that he would publish his book, and made the necessary arrangments with the printers and binders, and then shipped copies off to the west, as well as placing a few copies with each of the Philadelphia book dealers he knew.
Three generations later, Lattimer & Co. was Philadelphia's most respected publishing house with strong fiction and non-fiction lists.
In Fourscore & Upward we meet Sarah Lattimer, an intelligent, well educated young lady, who, after running Lattimer & Co. for a while, sold it to a Japanese conglomerate which furthered her wealth by publishing mass-market paperbacks.
The collapse of the Japanese economy in the late 1990s forced the conglomerate to divest itself of non-core businesses and focus on seaweed farming. Following 9/11 when the offices of the conglomerate were destroyed, Sarah Lattimer re-acquired Lattimer & Co. Since then, the mass market paperback business has been run down, and the company continues to rebuild a quality list.
Lattimer & Co. is one of the few publishers of literary fiction to employ editors who actually edit copy of well-known authors as part of its contracts with them.