Beadle's Boy's Library
of Sport, Story and Adventure (Quarto Edition)
A COMPLETE RUN of the series generally called the Boy's Library, quarto
edition, is perhaps the most difficult of all the Beadle publications to obtain.
It was begun December 14, 1881, and appeared weekly on Wednesdays for 121 numbers
until April 2, 1884. Thereafter, it was continued in octavo form, the new series
again beginning with No. 1.
The quarto edition (Fig. 84) is 11½ by 8¼
inches in size, without wrappers but with a black woodcut illustration on the
front page. It was issued weekly and sold for five cents. Most of the numbers
have sixteen pages, although No. 2 has twenty. The early numbers are biographies,
more or less true, of famous western characters or of Beadle authors.
It has been stated1 that only one printing was ever made of the
novels of this edition. This, however, is not correct, for I have at least three
numbers that are later impressions. Regardless of the edition, the novels are
valuable. At the O'Brien sale in New York, May 10, 1920, fifteen items brought
$301, or an average of over $20 each. The highest price paid for a single item
was for No. 11, Powell's "Old Grizzly Adams," which brought $62. Nos.
3 and 5 brought $31 each. Ingraham's "California Joe" of the quarto
edition was not among the items sold, but it is probably worth at least twice
the $35 which the octavo reprint brought. A complete set of the quarto Boy's
Library in fresh, unbrowned condition should be worth at least $1,000, for there
are probably not more than one or two complete sets in existence.
The design for the title of the series, printed at the top of the first page,
carries the words "Boy's Library" in large black letters on a white
scroll lying above a background of serpentine lines. The name "Beadle's,"
slightly curved, is above, and the words "of Sport, Story and Adventure"
below the main title. At the upper right within a circle to represent a coin
are the words "Half-Dime" and the figure "5," as well as
"United States of America." This heading remained unchanged throughout
the entire run of the quarto and octavo series, although reduced in size in
the latter as well as somewhat darker and less clear. Beneath the heading are
given the dates of issue, the volume and series numbers, the price ($2.50 a
year or five cents a copy) and the publishers' name and address, Beadle and
Adams, 8 William Street.
The Boy's Library, being intended primarily for boys, caused Beadle
to make changes in a few of the reprinted titles; for example, the word "love"
was apparently considered unsuitable for boysbeing something about which presumably
they knew nothingand was omitted. Beadle's Boy's Library (quarto edition),
no. 69 and Beadle's Boy's Library (octavo edition), no. 128, for example,
bear the title "The Deer-Hunters; or, Life in the Ottawa Country,"
while originally, in No. 4, Dime Fiction, the title read, "The Deer-Hunters;
or, Life and Love in the Ottawa Country." "Boone, the Hunter; or,
The Backwoods Belle," Dime Novels, no. 278, became "Boone,
the Hunter; or, The Backwoods Brothers" in Beadle's Boy's Library (octavo
edition), no. 79; and "Old Bear-Paw, the Trapper King; or, The Love
of a Blackfoot Queen," Dime Novels, no. 285, became "The Trapper
King; or, Old Bear-Paw, the Yankee Scout" in Beadle's Boy's Library
(octavo edition), no. 162. Several other titles were similarly emasculated.
Fig 85. The quarto Beadle's Boy's Library
There were 121 numbers between 1881 and 1884. Size of original, 11½
x 8½ inches
The sale record of No. 11 is $62
W. M. Burns, "Beadle's Boy's Library," The Collector's Journal, 1934, 493.