Time's hour-glass should still run gold dust
IN THE YEAR 1867, for some reason or other, Edward H. Spooner,(1) a New York lawyer, appeared as partner in the firm of Beadle & Co. (Fig. 12).(2) He may have come into the firm late in 1866, after Robert Adams' death, but he remained with them less than two years. Being the attorney for the American News Co., he may have come in when Beadle & Co. purchased the American News Co.'s American Tales, if this series was not already a Beadle publication. The last number of these tales (No. 44) with the News Co.'s imprint, appeared April 30, 1867, while the first under Beadle & Co.'s imprint (No. 45) did not appear until over a year and a half later, on November 1, 1869.
In American Tales No. 44 appeared this announcement:
Having assumed the publication of this very popular series, we shall change the issue to large 12mo .... The New Series will be especially characterized by striking originality, power and spirit. No books to be published during the year will possess as many elements of excellence calculated to please those who seek for vigor and force of narrative, decided newness of character, and high dramatic interest of story.
As though Beadle did not have enough competition, several more publishers of cheap books entered the field. Robert M. DeWitt, who heretofore had been publishing more expensive books, came out with DeWitt's Ten Cent Romances in May, 1867. These were little booklets of the same size as the Dime Novels, but had yellow covers with a cut of ten one-cent coins at the top. In November appeared Loring's Tales of the Day, published bv A. K. Loring of Boston. The early numbers sold for ten cents each but had only about fifty pages as against Beadle's one hundred. Several of Louisa M. Alcott's tales appeared here, otherwise the series was of little importance. George Munro's Backwoods Series was also begun in the same year.
June, 1867, saw the discontinuation of Beadle's Monthly at the end of the third volume. It had been started by Robert Adams and had been a pet idea of his for some time, but after his death it languished and finally died. It was not sold, but was "simply withdrawn, to be re-started at any future time when the literary atmosphere seems auspicious for it."(3) The air, apparently, never did become auspicious, and although Beadle started other periodicals, the Monthly remained dead.
The number of booklets published during 1867 was not quite so great as in the preceding year. The list consisted of Dime Novels Nos. 114 to 140, Americm Tales Nos. 42 to 44 (American News Co.), Song Books Nos. 19 and 20, Dime Pocket Songsters No. 5 and 6, Dialogues Nos. 5 and 6, Speaker No. 7, Base Ball Player for 1867, "Hand Book of Yachting," "Riding and Driving, .... Skating and Curling," and "Pedestrianism." There were also issued the fifty-cent books, "Romance of the Green Seal" and "Our New States and Territories.''
Irwin's activity during 1867 was noted under the year 1866. We know that as early as July, 1866,(4) the title of Irwin Beadle's American Novels had been changed to Irwin's American Novels, and the publisher's name changed from Irwin P. Beadle to Irwin & Co. The change may even have come somewhat earlier. At the same time, however, the Mercantile Agency Directory(5) gave the same street address to Irwin P. Beadle, showing clearly that Irwin & Co. was actually Irwin Beadle. Irwin & Co. remained the firm name at least as late as July, 1867(6)
During the year, Irwin's American Novels Nos. 23 to 37 were published, but no complete set of this series has been seen, consequently the exact date at which the publisher's name was changed is unknown.
There were but three events in the history of the Beadles in 1868 that need be recorded. The first, while of relatively little significance, seemed important at the time. Captain Mayne Reid, well-known Irish novelist and writer of stories for boys, entered into an agreement with Beadle and Company to write for them a series of original dime novels.(7) The first of these was "The Helpless Hand," published January 14 as Dime Novel No.141. The second was "The Scalp Hunter," Dime NovelNo. 150, published May 19. The third was "The Planter Pirate," Dime Novel No. 152, published June 9, and the fourth was "The White Squaw," Dime Novel No. 155, published July 24. For the latter novel, Reid received $700,(8) at that time and for a long time afterwards a record price for the manuscript of a dime novel. These novels of Reid's are really much more readable than his so-called stories for boys--Sunday school books filled with a padding of un-natural history that is almost, but not quite, as bad as that of Jules Verne. But how, as boys, we did eat it up!
The second event of the year was the removal of Beadle & Co., on the first day of May,(9) from 118 to 98 William Street, where they remained for twenty-eight years. Whether as a vantage point in advertising, or because the new offices were better, George Munro very promptly moved from 137 William Street to 118, the second time he had immediately occupied offices abandoned by Beadle.
The third event of the year was the appearance of the last of Irwin's American Novels, No. 48, sometime in November or December. Nos. 38 to 48 were published during the year, and it is probabIe that Irwin Beadle was out of the firm before any of these appeared. At whatever time he left, it marked his disappearance, forever, as a publisher.(10) His business address, until July, 1867, was still 102 Nassau Street, but where he was the next year is unknown. Lain's Brooklyn City Directories for 1868-69 and 1869-70 list him as a publisher, but with a business address at 21 Ann Street. He had apparently broken all connection with the American Novels, but what he published at the new address is unknown. The New York Directories show, in those years, the following firms at 21 Ann Street: National News Co.; James Young, printer; Seth C. Douglass, printer; Thomas A. Glover, printer; Henry L. Penfield, engraver; Spangehl & Cordes, bookbinders; and Thomas R. Dawley & Co., publishers. He may possibly have been connected with Thomas R. Dawley & Co., who also were publishing cheap novels, but since Dawley is not listed in the Copartnership Directories, the make-up of the firm could not be determined. Irwin may have returned to bookbinding, for from 1870 on he was listed as a bookbinder. His star was in the descendent though he deserved a better fate. Not only was his subsequent lot a hard one, but in all articles heretofore published about the House, his part has been minimized. Poor Irwin! May this book serve a bit, at least, to bring back lustre to your name!
The year 1868 in the midst of a post-war depression must have been a bad one for book publishers in general, for we find that the number of novels and handbooks issued by all firms was much less than usual, and new series are missing. Beadle & Co. published Nos. 141 to 167 Dime Novels, Song Books Nos. 21 and 22, One Cent Song Books Nos. 1 to 10, "Songs of the Hour," "Grant and Colfax Songster," Dialogues No. 7, Speakers Nos. 8 and 9, "Dime Fortune Teller," "Ladies' Letter Writer," Base-Ball Player for 1868, and a new edition of the "Ball Room Companion."
The American Tales had ended its first series under the American News Co. imprint with No. 44, and Beadle & Co. had announced--having acquired all rights--that No. 45 would appear June 1, 1867. As a matter of fact, it was not issued until November 1, 1868, when it appeared with the new imprint of the publishers. Nos. 46 and 47 also appeared during this year.
Spooner apparently retired from the firm in 1868; a certain event, to be mentioned in a moment, makes it almost absolutely certain that he left them late in the year. Unfortunately, none of the firms is listed in Wilson's Copartnership Directory for 1868-69.(11)
In the last preceding paragraph it was mentioned that Spooner almost certainly left the firm of Beadle & Co. late in 1868. Bradstreet(12) reported the firm as "dissolved" January 6, 1869. This can only mean that the firm was reorganized at that date, with Spooner dropping out and the remaining partners, Erastus F. Beadle and William and David Adams again in complete control.(13) Beadle & Co. did not fail, as often reported, but continued to do business, and always had a good credit rating at the Commercial Agencies. The word "dissolved," consequently, can only refer to the existing partnership.
Sometime late in 1868 or early in 1869, Beadle & Co. established a subsidiary company--Frank Starr & Co., 41 Platt Street † (14)--apparently to have a competitor whose profits would go into the till of Beadle & Co. Frank Starr was Beadle's foreman, so it is said,(15) and 41 Platt Street was the side entrance to 98 William Street. Frank Starr is not mentioned in the New York City directories, and in the Brooklyn directories only in 1879 when he is listed as a publisher. That Frank Starr & Co. was only a branch of Beadle & Co. is confirmed by a letter(16) written to Oll Coomes by the former firm, June 16, 1870, explaining why a check for a novel is signed by the latter. The date of the beginning of the new firm is approximately fixed by the appearance of their first publication. This, curiously enough, was No. 18 of Frank Starr's American Novels, and not No. 1, which one would naturally expect.
In a copy of No. 18, Starr's American Novels, issued in February, 1869, and now in my possession, is the statement that
Frank Starr having purchased the entire stock, stereotype plates, copyrights, good-will, etc. of the American Novel Series, has reconstructed the business--
1st. By canceling from the list two-thirds of those hitherto published in the series, as not being up to the standard to which he will bring each and every succeeding issue.
2d. By calling into requisition the best authors in the field of Border and Indian Romance, and Life in the West.
3d. By adopting the title American Star Novels, and using the Star as a trade-mark.
The list of books now identified with this series comprises works of rare interest and novelty. The new volumes forthcoming will be of the same sterling character, delineating, in graphic and original style, Adventures and Incidents of the Trapping-grounds, the Frontier Settlements, the Forest Camp, the Trail, the Woods, the Waters and the Prairies of the Far West. The design will be to produce the best books of their kind in the world, far surpassing any of the other ten cent books now on the market.
Frank Starr & Co., Publishers, 41 Platt St., N. Y.
Number 18 is the first Starr's American Novel which is not a reprint of one of Irwin's American Novels (the American Novel Series mentioned in the blurb), and, containing the above announcement, seems clearly to indicate that it was the first one issued under the new firm name. That they chose to begin with No. 18 was possibly owing to the fact that they had received by purchase a good stock of seventeen of the Irwin novels rather than that these were better than the remainder, and these were encased in new wrappers and renamed Starr's American Novels, Nos. 1 to 17. They were probably thrown on the market at about the time that No. 18 was issued; certainly not later, for No. 18 carries a list of the preceding numbers. After No. 18, the novels were issued at approximately four week intervals.
The year 1869 showed fair activity in the firm. New publications were Dime Novels Nos. 168 to 193, American Tales Nos. 47 to 60, Starr's American Novels Nos. 18 to 30, Twenty-five Cent Novels (a new series begun in November) Nos. 1 and 2, Dime Song Books Nos. 23 and 24, Starr's Ten Cent Song Book No. 1, Dialogues No. 8, Speaker No. 10, Ball Player for 1869, "Debater and Chairman's Guide," "The Figure Eight," and Starr's Fifteen Cent Illustrated Novels Nos. 1 and 2. To these should be added the reprinted or recased early numbers of Starr's American Novels Nos. 1 to 17.
|1||Edward H. Spooner was born in Wampsville, near Syracuse, N. Y., about 1838, and died in Plainfield, New Jersey, March 29, 1888. His father, Dr. Spooner, was one of the original abolitionists. Edward taught school for a year or so before coming to New York to practice law, just before the Civil War. He soon married Miss Bush, the heiress of Dr. Bush, making him independently rich. He was counsel for the American News Co. when it was formed. In the New York City Directory for 1860-61 he is given as a lawyer with offices at 4 New Street. His name appears continuously in the directories until 1882, with the exception of 1864-65 to 1866-67, inclusive, and 1868-69, although his address is not always the same. From 1863 to 1881 he lived in Brooklyn, after which he went to New Jersey, and in 1887-88 lived in Plainfield. From the Registry of Voters in Brooklyn he appears to have been born in 1838, consequently was only twenty-two when he was first listed as a lawyer in New York City, and twenty-nine when he was part of the firm of Beadle & Co. He left a wife and one son. Obituary notices in the New York Tribune, March 30, 1888 and the Plainfield Daily Press, March 29, 1888.|
|2||Trow's New York City Directory, 1867-68.|
|Edward H. Spooner, books. 118 William. h. Oneida.|
|Erastus F. Beadle. 118 William. h. 35 Pineapple, Brooklyn.|
|Irwin P. Beadle, books. 102 Nassau. h. Hunter n. Fulton, Brooklyn.|
|David Adams, books. 118 William. h. Gates Av. n. Tompkins, Brooklyn.|
|William Adams, books. 118 William. h. Gaes Av. n. Tompkins, Brooklyn.|
|Irwin & Co., books. 102 Nassau.|
|Wilson's Copartnership Directory, 1867-68.|
|Beadle & Co. (Erastus F. Beadle, Edward H. Spooner, and William and David Adams).|
|Irwin & Co. (Moved, no information). 102 Nassau.|
|George Munro & Co. (No. Co.). 137 William.|
|Lain's Brooklyn City Directory, 1867-68.|
|Erastus F. Beadle, publisher. h. 35 Pineapple.|
|Irwin P. Beadle, publisher. 102 Nassau, N. Y. h. 23 Hunter.|
|William Adams, publisher. h. Gates Av., c. Tompkins Av.|
|Hamilton [sic] H. Adams, butcher, 2002 Fulton Av., h. Gates Av. c. Tompkins.|
|Mercantile Agency, U. S. Business Directory, 1867 (dated March 1, 1867).|
|Irwin P. Beadle, 102 Nassau. [Listed under booksellers.]|
|3||Anon, "An Interesting History," The Saturday Star Journal, III, No. 123, July 20, 1872.|
|4||Irwin's American Novels, No. 15, first edition.|
|5||Mercantile Agency, U. S. Business Directory, March 1, 1867|
|6||Irwin's American Novels, No. 32. Also New York Tribune advertisements of January 10 and 30, 1867|
|7||New York Daily Tribune, January 11, 1868|
|8||Editorial, "An Interesting History," Banner Weekly, VIII, No. 369, December 7, 1889|
|9||March 28, 1868, Beadle & Co., 118 William Street.|
|April 28, 1868, George Munro & Co., 137 William Street.|
|May 7, 1868, George Munro, 118 William Street.|
|May 30, 1868, Beadle & Co., 98 William Street|
|These addresses are from advertisements in the New York Tribune of corresponding dates. While the addresses at the intermediate dates were not found, the combination of moves of the two firms makes the date definitely determinable as between April 28 and May 7. As two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time, the removals probably came on the traditional First of May Moving Day--preserved until quite recently in New York and Chicago, where school children had a vacation of a week, including May 1, so that they could assist their parents.|
|10||A brief note in a reprint of No. 37, Irwin's American Novels, which was issued about December, 1867, said that Irwin & Co. have no longer any interest in the American Novels. However, the date is not definitely fixed because the novel seen may have been a late printing, and the notice, consequently, may be of a later date than that at which the novel first appeared.|
|11||Trow's New York City Directory for 1868-69|
|Erastus F. Beadle, books. 98 William st. h. 35 Pineapple, B'klyn.|
|(Irwin P. Beadle is not listed.)|
|David Adams, books. 98 William st. h. Gates Av., Brooklyn.|
|William Adams, books. 98 William st. h. Gates Av., Brooklyn.|
|(Beadle & Co., Beadle & Adams, and Spooner are not listed.)|
|Wilson's Copartnership Directory, 1868-69.|
|(None of the firms mentioned is listed.)|
|Lain's Brooklyn City Directory, 1868-69|
|Irwin P. Beadle, publisher. 21 Ann. h. 1299 Fulton Av.|
|Erastus F. Beadle, publisher. h. 35 Pineapple.|
|Henry H. Adams, butcher. Fulton Av. n. Troy Av.|
|Martha Adams, widow. h. Gates c. Tompkins.|
|(Neither David nor William Adams is mentioned.)|
|12||Bradstreets Commercial Reports, Vol. 24, January 6, 1869.|
|13||Trow's New York City Directory, 1869-70.|
|Erastus F. Beadle, books. 98 William. h. 35 Pineapple, Brooklyn.|
|David Adams, books. 98 William. h. Gates Av., Brooklyn.|
|William Adams, books. 98 William. h. Gates Av., Brooklyn.|
|Edward H. Spooner, lawyer. 49 Wall street.|
|Wilson's Copartnership Directory, 1869-70.|
|Beadle & Co. (Erastus F. Beadle, William Adams and David Adams.) 98 William St.|
|Lain's Brooklyn Directory, 1869-70.|
|Erastus F. Beadle, publisher. h. 35 Pineapple.|
|Erwin [sic] Beadle, publisher. 21 Ann. N. Y. h. 1272 Atlanta Av.|
|Martin [sic] Adams, widow. Gates Av. n. Tompkins Av.|
|Henry H. Adams, butcher. h. 431 Hudson Av.|
|(Neither David nor William Adams is listed.)|
|14†||See Fig. 37, page 139, both addresses are given.|
|15||Edmund Pearson, Dime Novels, Boston, 1929, 53.|
|16||Now in the possession of his son, Arthur R. Coomes. "Beadle & Co. and F. Starr & Co. are interested in each other to a certain extent--hence check." The letter head reads: Frank Starr & Co.'s American Publishing House, 41 Platt St., N. Y.|
† Correction made as per Volume 3.