A query comes my way via the comments from Crow who asks "Any chance of an article about Commandos poorer cousin, Sabre Library?"
Well... um... yes, but I don't know a lot. I don't have any copies of the various Sabre libraries and, as far as I'm aware, there's no checklist of titles. Over the years I've jotted down any information I've stumbled across but that isn't much and some of the info. is a bit confusing.
There were four Sabre Library titles, each with a Sabre Library sabre logo. The original publisher was Sabre Publishing who were an offshoot of Brown Watson Ltd., a paperback publisher which had been running since the 1940s. Brown Watson published a lot of books under the imprint Digit Books between 1956 and 1967. Their big moneyspinner was a Western author called J. T. Edson whose books were recycled constantly. When Digit came to an end as an imprint, Brown Watson launched Sabre Western and reprinted many of Edson's titles again. Edson's contract was then bought by Corgi Books and, in 1968, Sabre Western became Sabre Books, although still an imprint of Brown Watson Ltd.
I suspect that the Sabre Library titles were also produced by Brown Watson in 1971 (they were shortly to relaunch as paperback publishers under the Flamingo Books imprint), although it may be that the line was sold to New English Library who, I believe, distributed the books.
The four titles were Sabre Library: Romantic Stories in Pictures, Sabre Library: Thriller Stories in Pictures, Sabre Library: War Stories in Pictures and Sabre Library: Western Stories in Pictures. All four titles were launched in 1971 at 6p but I've no idea how many titles appeared each month. All the stories were reprints of Spanish strips.
I don't think this series lasted very long, perhaps only a matter of months if more than one title was published in each series per month. If not, I'm guessing they lasted perhaps eighteen months.
However, they then seem to have been picked up by another company (or maybe the same company under a different name), Librus Ltd. Now, I'm not sure when this occurred, but there seems to be a gap in the numbering that I know of and the libraries may have started numbering again from 50 rather than going back to number 1 or even picking up where the previous series had ended. I say this cautiously as the lists I have are only a smattering of titles and not all them dated.
I'm not even sure if the Romance series was continued. I've not heard of any later titles.
The Thriller, War and Western series definitely continued, relaunched in either 1973 or 1974. Both War and Western continued until at least 1977: the last issue numbers I know of are: Thriller - 98 (1975); War 151 (1977) and Western 185 (1977).
The other interesting thing with these later issues as I've not seen a number duplicated and there's a chance that the books were intermingled as part of a single line of titles. However, it could be a simple case of lack of information that makes it appear that they're all one line.
And that, I'm afraid, is all I know. If anyone has a stack of these rather obscure libraries to hand, perhaps they would like to jot down a list of titles and publications dates and drop me a line.
Update: 2 September
More info rolls in care of Jeremy Briggs who sent along a scan of the above issue. It's later than the last issue I had listed -- no. 157. This was published by Euredit of Barcelona, printed in Spain and distributed by Independent Magazines Ltd., 181 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4DD. Copyright is 1978 and the war issues were being published at the rate of three a month. Could be that by this time they were only publishing the war title.
(* The pic at the top comes from this New Zealand trading site.)