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Beadle's Dime Songbooks

BETWEEN April, 1859, and June, 1876, the Beadles issued 34 Dime Song Books, as well as a series of Patriotic (and Campaign) Songsters, a few Pocket Songsters, ten One Cent Song Books, a Melodist, and a School Melodist. At the same time, under the imprint of Frank Starr & Co., five more songsters appeared. The Dime Song Books, sensu stricto, include the early reprints of Irwin P. Beadle's Song Books, Nos. 1 to 4, as published by Irwin P. Beadle & Co. when that name was first used by the original firm. As mentioned above, these songbooks are of exactly the same size as the original issues, 5 7/8 by 3 ¾ inches, and have buff wrappers, but the title of the series was made prominent and a cut of the reverse of a dime was added (Fig. 114). The same style of wrapper was used for nine numbers, seven of them with Irwin P. Beadle & Co. as publishers, the others with Beadle & Co. Books published by Irwin P. Beadle & Co., therefore, from 137 and later from 141 William Street during the years 1859 and 1860, belong here, for at this time Irwin was one of the partners of the original firm.

With the issue of No. 10, the regular size of the Dime Novel was adopted (Fig. 115). Buff wrappers were continued in use at least to include No. 17, and probably also No. 18. After this, the orange cover (Fig. 116), so characteristic of the Beadle booklets, was used, and subsequent numbers were encased in wrappers of this color.

The thirty-four Dime Song Books appear with various addresses and combinations of addresses of the publishers on title page and wrappers. As the older numbers became exhausted, they were reprinted with the publishers' then location, unless it happened that a supply of the booklets was on hand without wrappers. In the latter case, the title page may show an older address while the wrapper shows the new. Perhaps the old covers were removed and new ones put on. In some cases there seems to have been an extra supply of covers on hand, for the title page may show the new address and the cover the old. Copies with the name of the firm and the address as they were when the book was first issued, and the same on both cover and title page, and with no advertisements of later Beadle publications, are, of course, the most desirable.

When, with No. 10, there was a change in format, there was also a change in the design on the wrapper. Up to and including No. 20, the word "Beadle's," in rather small Old Style Extended capital letters, occurs at the top of the page between the number of the song book in the upper corners (Fig. 115). In large letters below this is the word "Dime" curved around the picture of the reverse of a dime, and on the two sides are the words "Song" and "Book." Occupying the greater part of the cover is a cut, illustrating one of the songs, whose title is lettered across it. "Popular, Comic and Sentimental Songs" follows below, and at the bottom of the page is the publisher's imprint. The three remaining pages of the wrappers contain advertisements of various Beadle publications.

With No. 21, the words Beadle's Dime Song Book Series appear in inconspicuous type across the top, and the name of the title song, which so far had been only a name, became the name of the songster (Fig. 117). No. 21 thus became "The Grecian Bend Songster." This change, incidentally, occurred just after Beadle & Co. removed from 118 to 98 William Street.

Nos. 1 to 9, which originally had no pictorial covers and were of smaller size, in later reprints were made of the standard size and had an illustration added beneath the heading of the series.

While the songbooks were usually sold as separate booklets, the first eighteen, at least, were also bound in muslin, nine numbers to a volume, and sold at one dollar each. It is possible that with the change from buff to orange covers on No. 19, no more bound volumes were issued. At least I have seen none.

Fig. 114. Beadle's Dime Songbooks
Type I -SB, Nos. 1 to 9

Fig. 115. Beadle's Dime Songbooks
Type II -SB, Nos. 10 to 18

Fig. 116. Beadle's Dime Songbooks
Type III -SB, Beginning with Nos. 19

Fig. 117. Beadle's Dime Songbooks
Type IV -SB, From No. 21

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