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Omnia mutantur.
OVIDIUS Naso, Metamorphoses, 15, 165

Chapter XI

The Decade 1870 to 1879

The old name of Beadle and Adams resumed in 1872. Frank Starr & Co. drop out. Adams,
Victor & Co. Adams & Co. Dime Novels end in 1874 and New Dime Novels begin.
Period of "Illuminated Covers." Saturday Journal begins, 1870. Belles
and Beaux
. Girls of Today. Young New Yorker. A baker's
dozen or so of new novel series begin.

THERE WERE SEVERAL CHANGES in the make-up of the firm during the 1870's. Spooner, connected with the firm for only a couple of years, had already left, and Irwin P. Beadle had permanently retired from the publishing business. At the beginning of the decade 1870 to 1879, the firm was still called Beadle & Co., and under that name continued to do business until July 1, 1872, when they resumed the long-abandoned name of Beadle and Adams,(1) previously used when publishing The Home from 1856 to 1859. They remained, however, at their old address, 98 William Street, for many more years. George Munro, who until this time had been occupying former quarters of Beadle & Co., moved in 1870 to 84 Beekman Street. He had become well established, and thereafter made no attempt to follow Beadle's moves.

Erastus Beadle, now forty-nine years of age, apparently was leaving more of the business of the firm to his partners, for beginning this year the directories give his home address as Cooperstown(2) and there he spent his summers.

William Adams also began to take longer vacations, and from the middle 1870's on, "crossed the Atlantic every summer" and wrote descriptive letters to the Brooklyn Eagle until his death.(3)

Irwin P. Beadle, whose activity as a publisher ceased with the demise of Irwin & Co. in 1868, reappeared in the Brooklyn directories for 1870 and 1871 as a bookbinder, living at 181 Willoughby Avenue. In none of the directories from 1870 on is any place of business given, and it may be that he worked where work was to be had, or he may have operated a bindery in his own home. He was still at the same address in 1874, but was not listed in 1875. In 1876 he was given as a bookbinder, living at 293 Bedford Avenue, in 1877 missing from the directory, in 1878 bookbinder at 535 Kent Avenue, in 1879 at 57 Kosciusko Street, in 1880 at 654 DeKalb Avenue, in 1881 at 624 DeKalb Avenue, and finally, in 1882, the year of his death, at 444 DeKalb Avenue. His widow, Margaret Beadle, 691 Gates Avenue, is listed thereafter only in 1884. She died in 1886.

Frank Starr & Co. continued to operate from 41 Platt Street until 1878.(4) Apparently the name was dropped when Starr's New York Dime Library became Beadle's Dime Library. The names of the members of the firm were never published, and in the Copartnership Directory of New York City for 1874 is the laconic statement, after the firm's name, "Refused," referring, of course, to information for the directory. Whether the mysterious Frank Starr had a financial interest in the firm is still unknown.

Another branch of the firm operated from 1872 until 1898 (when Beadle and Adams themselves closed shop and were bought out by Ivers) under the name Adams, Victor & Co., and gave as their address 98 William Street until 1897, when 92 William was given, both addresses being those of the parent house. The Copartnership Directories during this decade give the names of the partners of this firm as David and William Adams and Orville J. Victor, except that in 1873 and 1889 Erastus F. Beadle also is mentioned as partner. Presumably he was the "Co." of the firm, at least until his retirement in 1889. From 1890 to 1898 Orville J. Victor only is mentioned in the directories as a member of the firm. This branch brought out a number of cloth-bound books which sold for $1.25 to $1.50.

During this decade the name Adams & Co. also was used, but, so far as I know, only as publishers of The Young New Yorker, which appeared from 1878 to 1879. This firm name never appeared in the Copartnership Directories.

In spite of much competition in the latter half of the decade and in the 1880's, these must have been prosperous years, for many booklets were published and several new series were started, some of them to have long continued runs, others to be dropped after a few months. The original yellow-backs-the Dime Novels--continued to appear biweekly until November 17, 1874, when the series closed with No. 321. Two weeks later No. 322 (old series) or No. 1, new series, appeared, and the regular issues continued. Instead of orange covers, however, the new covers were "illuminated,'' that is, printed in crude, raw colors. They are often spoken of as "hand-colored," but, while Godey's and other magazines of the period used hand-colored plates, the colors on the Beadle wrappers were either printed from rough wood blocks, or, more probably, produced by "color stencils," after a method similar to that by which many modern picture postcards are colored by air brush. The format and the number of pages per issue remained the same, but the title of the series became New Dime Novels. In the old series, with one or two exceptions, each issue contained the first Beadle printing of a story: in the new series, with perhaps a dozen exceptions, the novels were reprints of old Dime Novels, Starr's American Novels, or other Beadle publications. By the end of 1879 the number 454 (old series) had been reached.

The "illuminated" covers were an innovation begun a few months before the New Dime Novels appeared, although colored covers of a different type had previously been used on the wrappers of the first series of American Tales. The first of the "chromo" covers to appear were on Starr's American Novels, No. 138, which came out on March 3, 1874. The second series was the Boys' Books of Romance and Adventure, of which No. 1 appeared March 20, 1874. The third series was the Pocket Novels, begun July 7, 1874. Apparently the brilliant colors were well received, for the New Dime Novels, as mentioned, followed suit, beginning December 1, 1874, and thereafter all of the booklet novels were so issued. With the disappearance of the booklets at the end of 1886, the illuminated covers disappeared also, and the broad-leaves issued thereafter were all black and white. They never, with one exception, degenerated into colored-cover quartos! The Half-Dime Singers Library, issued between May 18, 1878, and March 29, 1879, had a colored print on the first page, but when the second edition appeared, they came out in black and white. But after all, these were songbooks and not novels.

Before 1874, there were only a few cases where Beadle reprinted novels that he himself had previously published; but on March 3, 1874, with Frank Starr's American Novels No. 138 (the first of the novels with "illuminated" covers), reprinting became a regular thing. All of Starr's American Novels after this date are reprints. So are the Pocket Novels, and there are practically no first printings among the New Dime Novels. It would thus seem that the colored covers were disguises concealing old matter under brave new dress. On the other hand, the thin quartos and octavos, which began about this time, are mostly first printings except that some of the tales in the Dime Library and Half-Dime Library are reprints from serials that had appeared in the Saturday Journal. Most of the Boy's Library in the quarto edition are first printings, but most of the octavo Boy's Library and all of the Pocket Library are reprints. All of the issues of the quarto Waverley Library are either originals or reprints from novels originally issued by other publishers, but the octavo editions, with very few exceptions, are made up of Beadle reprints.

During this decade, Beadle's American Tales, beginning with No. 61 in 1870, ran into 1872, when the final number, 82, appeared on April 13. Also during the 1870's, Frank Starr's American Novels, Nos. 31 to 221, appeared, the latter number on May 8, 1877, closing the series; and Frank Starr's Fifteen Cent Novels, Nos. 3 to 22, ended with the latter number July 7, 1871. The Twenty-Five Cent Novels had a still shorter run, ending in 1870 with No. 4. No new series of novels was started during these years until January 25, 1873, when No. 1 of New and Old Friends appeared. This was a departure from all previously published novels, for instead of being a sextodecimo or small duodecimo, it was 11 ½x 8 inches in size, without covers but with a cut on the front page, and very similar in format to that which was later to become so familiar in the five- and ten-cent libraries of various publishers. With two exceptions, the stories in the New and Old Friends were reprints of previously printed Beadle novels of pioneer life. Only fifteen numbers were published, the last appearing December 12, 1873. It was then enlarged to folio size (16 5/8 by 11 ¼ inches), each number containing one complete long story and a short story or a part of a serial. This innovation apparently did not take, for only three numbers were issued, the last on February 21, 1874. The twenty-one Boys' Books of Romance and Adventure all appeared in 1874. Twelve of the numbers contained short historical sketches of pioneer days, the others were reprints of tales from Dime Fiction and American Tales. Apparently the type of stories in this series was not what boys wanted, and so it was dropped. In 1874, also, Beadle's Pocket Novels with their "illuminated" covers and closely resembling the New Dime Novels, were begun. The Pocket Novels were still being issued at the close of 1879, No. 144 having appeared December 30. In 1875 two new series were started: the Twenty Cent Novels, ending with No. 32 in 1877, and the Cheap Editions of Popular Authors, ending with No. 29, in 1877. The former contained some of the longer Beadle novels in attractive covers with a colored illustration on the front; the latter contained love stories written by women and the Rev. Joseph Holt Ingraham.

The year 1877 saw the introduction of five new Beadle series, four of them quartos without outside wrappers and with a black line drawing on the front page. With the exception of New and Old Friends, which had had but a short run, these were the first of the broadleaves and marked a new departure in novels, for hereafter all new issues were of this type. While not so handy to carry around, unless folded into fours, in which shape they could be carried in the inside- or hip-pocket without showing, they were much handier to place inside a geography for intensive study, or to read beneath the † projecting edge of a school desk. This, of course, was important, because one of the five new issues, the Half-Dime Library, was written for boys. With the introduction of the broad-leaves, the type of story gradually changed and deteriorated, for instead of Indian and pioneer tales, news boy, boot black, bad men, Western, and detective stories became the rule.

The first of the five new issues started in this decade was the Fireside Library, consisting mostly of love stories, many of them reprints of English or other foreign novels. It was begun April 10, 1877, and ran until June 29, 1882. Fifty-three were issued during the 1870's.

The second new series was begun about May 10, 1877, and was known at first as Frank Starr's New York Library. It was a large quarto, 12 7/8 by 9 inches in size. It contained 32 pages, had a black line illustration on the front page, and was published by Frank Starr & Co., 41 Platt Street. The first number carried the announcement that it was "published every two weeks." As a matter of fact, the issues at first were rather irregular. After seven numbers had appeared, the name Frank Starr was dropped from the title and it became simply The New York Library although Frank Starr and Co. were still given as the publishers. The new masthead remained to and including No. 26, February 7, 1878, but with No. 27 the "library" was given the imprint of Beadle and Adams, and the name was changed (without explanation that Frank Starr & Co. was simply another name for Beadle & Co.) to Beadle's New York Dime Library. Frank Starr & Co. seem to have dropped out of existence with this change. When the earlier numbers of this "library" were reprinted, they were given the Beadle heading. A few copies are found with the Beadle heading neatly pasted over the older one. These are apparently copies which were on hand and sold shortly after the name was changed, and before reprints with the new heading were made.

On May 15, 1877, just a week after the last number of Frank Starr's American Novels had appeared, and apparently taking its place, came the first number of Frank Starr's Ten Cent Pocket Library. Only five numbers were issued. The type of story was the same as in the newly started Dime Library, and so the Ten Cent Pocket Library was probably considered superfluous. Or perhaps, since the two series were started at about the same time, they were experiments, and the more successful one was retained.

Next came the Sunnyside Library with the imprint of Adams, Victor & Co. It was begun in July or August, 1877, and ended in November of the same year. Like all of the Adams, Victor & Co.'s publications, these were of a different class from other Beadle publications. Except the last number, they consisted of reprints of famous long poems. Apparently the public was not ready for cheap high-brow poetry--those desiring such bought it in padded leather-and the series ended with No. 6.

On the †15th of October, 1877, the first number of the Half-Dime Library appeared† (5). It was the first of the Beadle publications intended primarily for boys. It was a quarto with three columns of very fine type on each of the 16 pages. It had no wrappers but had a black woodcut on the first page. This series ran continuously for 1168 numbers, the final one hundred or so being printed by J. M. Ivers & Co. after purchasing the firm's assets from the Adams' heirs. During the years 1877-1879, 127 numbers were issued. The first number contained Edward L. Wheeler's story "Deadwood Dick, the Prince of the Road," a very lucky choice for the new series. The character of Deadwood Dick was so popular that thirty-three issues of the library were built on his adventures, and ninety-seven more on those of Deadwood Dick, Jr.

The Waverley Library (quarto) was begun in November, 1879, and seven issues appeared before the end of the year. Most of these were love stories.

During the 1870's, four story papers were started by the firm. The first and most important had a life of twenty-seven years under various names. It began as the Saturday Star Journal on March 29, 1870, was the Star Journal in 1879, the Saturday Journal in 1880, Beadle's Weekly in 1882, and Banner Weekly from 1885 to 1897 (See Figs. 152-162). In Dime Novel No. 198 issued March 1, 1870, the new paper was announced, and a baker's dozen (alas! baker's dozen days are gone forever! ) reasons were given why The Saturday Star Journal "will become the first choice of readers of popular literature." One of these was that "it is a well-known fact that they (Beadle & Co.) do not allow anything that is impure or immoral in their pages, and, therefore, that even boys and girls may read what they publish, with pleasure and profit." The paper was a large folio, 21 1/4 by 14 1/4 inches in size, had five columns of fine type to the page, and several illustrations each week. The price was five cents a copy. Each number contained installments of several serials besides numerous short stories and sketches, informative articles, and poems. Most of the serials were afterwards reprinted in the various "libraries" in spite of a statement in an early number that the serial stories would not be issued in booklet form and could only be obtained in the Journal. In the re-prints, however, there was usually only a single illustration to a story instead of the two to four in the weekly paper, and in some cases the stories were abridged. Each year there were from nineteen to twenty-eight serials, so that by the end of 1879, two hundred and thirty serials had been printed. There were also poems by such writers as Uncle Remus, T. C. Harbaugh, Prentiss Ingraham, Margaret E. Sangster, J. C. Cowdrick, Edward L. Wheeler, Buckskin Sam, and many others, and sketches by Wheeler, Frank L. Converse, Will Lisenbee, Ed Mott, C. M. Harger, etc.

The Saturday Journal, begun in 1870, was well established and very successful when, in 1874, Beadle decided to publish also a weekly journal for young men and young women. On January 31, the first number appeared under the name Belles and Beaux. It was a four-column, sixteen-page weekly, 16 by 11 1/4 inches in size, well printed and illustrated--a really well-produced periodical. The price was ten cents a copy or four dollars a year. The general make-up was similar to the Saturday Journal, with poems, short sketches, and serials, although the serials were all love stories. It was too ladylike an affair to appeal to young men, and only thirteen numbers were published, the paper ending April 25, 1874. While the name of Beadle and Adams did not appear as the publishers, and only "Belles and Beaux" was given in the paper, they were actually responsible for it. The address was 98 William Street.

Fig. 13.  David Adams

David Adams
(1846 - 1886)

Not discouraged by the failure of Belles and Beaux as a paying proposition, Beadle decided in1875 to publish a weekly for girls. On the fourth of December, the first number appeared under the name Girls of Today; A Mirror of Romance. Frank Starr & Co., 41 Platt Street, were given as the publishers. The price was five cents a copy or $2.50 a year. No. 14, March 10, 1876, carried the words The New York Mirror above the former title, and with No. 15, March 17, the title had, in small type, the words "Girls of Today," above the new title, The New York Mirror; A journal of Romance. In No. 16, and thereafter, the words "Girls of Today" were dropped. In No. 25, May 20, 1876, there was a statement that "This number is the last issue of the New York Mirror. Success of the paper is not ample enough to warrant its continuance, etc" and so it, too, passed into oblivion.

Fig. 14.  William Adams

William Adams
(1838 - 1896)

Beadle certainly could take punishment. In spite of the want of success of Belles and Beaux and Girls of Today, he attempted still another journal; this time for young men, entitled The Young New Yorker. No. 1 appeared November 25, 1878, with the imprint of a new variation of the firm name--Adams & Co., 98 William Street. David Adams was given as general manager, and Captain Frederick Whittaker as in charge of a special department. The paper was issued weekly at five cents a copy or $2.50 a year. There were five columns to the page, 20 by 14 inches in size, and eight pages to the number, usually with six illustrations. In spite of the good writers contributing to its columns, namely Mayne Reid, Frederick Whittaker, Bracebridge Hemyng, Joseph E. Badger, and Oliver Optic, it also was unsuccessful and stopped with No. 26, May 17, 1879, the unfinished stories being continued in No. 483 of the Star JournaI.

The Young New Yorker was the last of Beadle's attempts to establish another weekly--the Saturday Journal and its continuation, Beadle's WeekIy and The Banner Weekly, remaining his only paper. It continued to be published until death took away the last of the original firm.

The miscellaneous booklets published by Beadle and Adams during the 1870's include Dime Song Books Nos. 25 to 34, the latter, published in 1876, being the last of the series; Starr's Song Books Nos. 2 to 5 (last); Dialogues Nos. 9 to 25; Speakers Nos. 11 to 23; Base-Ball Player 9th to 18th; Joke Books Nos. 1 to 3; Half-Dime Singers Library Nos. 1 to 43 (last); and the handbooks "Lovers' Casket," "Book of Games," "Book of Beauty," Readings and Dramas," and "Winter Sports." Besides these, there were the cloth-bound books "Art of Teaching,'' "Abominations of Modern Society," "Get Thee Behind Me Satan," "Livingstone and His African Explorations," "A Reed Shaken with the Wind," "They Met by Chance," "Brides and Widows of the Bible," and "Vital Magnetism," all with the imprint of Adams, Victor & Co.

While story papers had flourished to some extent since 1838, the great majority were begun between 1865 and 1875, and Beadle's Saturday Journal was modeled on somewhat similar lines. One of the earliest of those issued by publishers other than Beadle was The New York Mercury, which appeared from the house of Cauldwell, Southworth & Whitney from 1838 to 1870, and which contained many novels written bv Dr. J. H. Robinson and E. Z. C. Judson ("Ned Buntline"). Robert Bonner's New York Ledger was begun in 1844 and lasted until 1898. Ned Buntline's Own ran a few months in 1844, was revived in 1848, and finalIy ended April 15, 1854, when it was merged with The True American. The year 1865 saw the beginning of many papers: Frank Leslie's Chimney Corner, Street & Smith's New York Weekly, and Elverson's Saturday Night being the more important. Our Young Folks (1865-1873), published by Ticknor & Fields (later James R. Osgood & Co.) of Boston, and Oliver Optic's Magazine--Our Boys and Girls (1867-1875), published by Lee & Shepard, of Boston, were very, innocuous and differed from the early weeklies in being intended for the younger readers. In 1867 appeared Frank Leslie's Boys' and Girls' Weekly (1867-1884) and George Munro's Fireside Companion (1867-1903). In 1869 the Illuminated Western World, a newspaper sized sheet edited by Orville J. Victor and having colored illustrations on the first and last pages saw the light of day. After fifty-two numbers had been issued, the color was omitted and the paper ran sixteen issues more. It was then sold to Wide World, of Boston, taking the name Western World but continuing the volume numbers of Wide World. Three of Mrs. Victor's longer novels appeared here: "The Dead Letter," "The Figure Eight," and "The Red Room." Norman Munro's New York Family Story Paper (1873-1921) and his brother George's Girls and Boys of America(1873-1877) were started in 1873. Norman Munro began his Boys of New York in 1875, taking from his brother George his editor George Small, and starting the bitter feud between the brothers. After the fire which destroyed Norman's plant, February 3, 1876, he sold the paper to Frank Tousey, who merged it with his New York Boys' Weekly and continued it until 1894. In 1875, also, Street & Smith's Boys of the World (1875-1877) was begun, and in 1877, Frank Tousey's The Young Men of America (1877-1889). The National Police Gazette, begun in 1845 by Enoch Camp and George Wilkes but changed to a a "pink 'un" by Richard K. Fox in 1876, was a popular barber shop journal of sports and theatrical affairs, but cannot be classed with the story papers.

Rival "libraries" also were numerous. In 1870 appeared the first number of the Advance Ten Cent Novels, in 1871, Ornum's Ten Cent Indian Novels and Richmond's Novels; in 1872, Ten Cent Claude Duval Novels, Ornum's Ten Cent Popular Novels, Highway Novels, and Champion Novels; in 1873, The Black Highwayman Novels and the New York Tribune Novels; in 1874, the New Sensation Ten Cent Novels; and in 1875, The Lakeside Library. In 1877 appeared the marvelous Seaside Library, the Riverside Library, and the Hillside Library. "Side" seemed to be contagious, for Beadle had the Sunnyside and Fireside Libraries in the same year. George Munro's pirated reprints of foreign novels in the Seaside Library must have cut into Beadle's profits, for after September, 1877, Munro was putting out an issue a day. In 1877 there were begun also the Nickel Library, the New York Boy's Library, and the People's Library. In 1878 came the first numbers of the Wide Awake Library, the Vatican Library, the Parlor Library, Union Square Library, Franklin Square Library, and Fitch's Popular Library.


1 Anon., "An Interesting History," Saturday Star Journal, III, No. 123, July 20, 1872.
2 Trow's New York City Directory, 1870-71, and thereafter.
3 Brooklyn Eagle, December 20, 1896
4 It is interesting to note that the New York City Directory for 1874-75, lists James L. Comstock, a brother of Augustus Comstock ("Roger Starbuck") as a printer at 41 Platt Street.
5 Six weeks after Frank Starr's New York Library began, a Chicago firm, the Pictorial Printing Co.....went Beadle one better wiith a startling innovation. On June 29, 1877, they began publishing and selling for five cents, a 32-page octavo series entitled The Nickel Library, the first of the popular five-cent novels which afterwards flooded the country. Beadle met this competition by beginning on October 15, 1877, a new 16-page quarto, The Half-Dime Library. — Albert Johnnsen, The Nickel Library, A Bibliography, Fall River, Mass., 1959, 4.

† Correction made as per Volume 3.

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