Beadle's Fifteen Cent Novels comprised but twenty-two numbers. With the exception of the title of the series, the wrappers and contents are identical with the corresponding numbers of the original Dime Novels before the latter took on pictorial covers (Fig. 25). No advertisement of these novels has been found in any other Beadle publication or in any newspaper. They are undated, but they are enclosed in the type of wrappers that was discontinued by Beadle August 24, 1861, when No. 28 of the Dime Novels appeared. We may be absolutely certain, therefore, even without other evidence, that they were issued before that date.
We can also say definitely that No. 14, which appeared January 1, 1861, and all numbers thereafter, were issued at the same time as the corresponding number of the Dime Novels, for on the back of one of the Fifteen Cent Novels there is a list of thirteen of them and they are marked "Ready," while Nos. 14 and 15 are marked "In Press." Such an announcement would not have been made had these numbers been reissues. They were not trial attempts, afterwards issued for a dime, as one might at first suppose—for example as was Frank Starr's New York Library, which later was discontinued and reprinted with the heading Beadle's New York Dime Library when it was found to be a success. This is proved by the fact that the copyright dates of the later numbers of the Fifteen Cent Novels are later than the dates of the earlier Dime Novels, in fact, are identical with the dates of the corresponding numbers of the Dime Novel series, and also because the latter were always advertised as Dime Novels even from their beginning in June, 1860.
No copies of the low numbers have been found, but all copies seen from No. 17 on, carry at the bottom of the front cover, below the name of the publishers, the imprint of R. †Coburn, New Orleans.(1) This suggests that these booklets were issued for the Southern trade, where the cost of shipment made the ten cent price prohibitive.
We know that the first thirteen numbers were issued late in 1860, for No. 14 appeared January 1, 1861. It is not at all likely that the very early numbers were issued simultaneously with the Dime Novels while the latter were still in the experimental stage or they would have been advertised. Since the later issues came out at the same time as the corresponding Dime Novels, we may be sure that some of the first thirteen (how many we cannot at present say), were put out by the simple expedient of enclosing unbound signatures of the original Dime Novels in specially printed wrappers. The first of these rejacketed novels probably did not appear until the Dime Novels were well established, but Beadle, having Southern orders, by request printed the 15 cent wrappers to cover, for the dealer, the extra cost of shipment to the south. Later, but before No. 14 appeared, the Fifteen Cent Novels appeared simultaneously with the Dime Novels until No. 22 was issued on May 1, 1861.
The titles of the novels, from No. 1 on, as listed on the wrappers of the later issues, are identical with the corresponding numbers of the Dime Novels. Whether the early numbers were actually issued cannot be determined until copies show up, but since the early numbers are listed, it is to be presumed that they also appeared. At present we can only say definitely that Nos. 17 to 22 were issued.
Fifteen Cent Novel No. 22 is the one that is most common. It was issued on May 1, 1861, a month after the Civil War began, and had probably been printed before that time but had not been shipped. The early numbers must be looked for in the south.Notes:
|1.||This was the name of a bookseller and publisher. Beadle printed on all advance orders, if desired, the dealer's name at the bottom of the front wrapper. No advertisement of any Fifteen Cent Novel has been found in any copy of the New Orleans Picayune to which I have had access. Strangely enough, the Colburn imprint is found on some Dime Novels issued immediately after the close of the Civil War. Thus I have Nos. 83 (August, 1865), 86, 87, and 90 (January 30, 3866), showing that the novels were sold for a dime in New Orleans at that time. Furthermore, I have one Dime Novel, No. 36, issued March 1, 1862, with the imprint of Halle, bookseller, New Orleans! So in 1862 it must have been possible to sell the novels there for a dime in spite of the war!|