THE FIRST NUMBER of the Fireside Library appeared April 10, 1877, and the last one June 29, 1882, a total of 145 numbers. It was, with the exception of New and Old Friends, the first of the quarto broadleaves published by Beadle and Adams. It is also the largest, being 13 1/4 by 9 inches, untrimmed as issued. It has no wrappers, and usually contains 32 three-column pages. In each issue there is a woodcut on the first page, but some of the early numbers contain also three or four or more other cuts. The original heading of the series (Type I-FL, Fig. 57) was The Fireside Library of Popular Reading, and these words were shown in slender letters on a panel and a ribbon without a background. This form continued up to and including No. 6. Numbers 7 to 40 (Type II-FL, Fig. 58) have a new heading. The title is now simply The Fireside Library, printed in heavy black letters on a shaded background. With No. 41 (Type III-FL, Fig. 59), and continuing to the end of the series, the title was changed to The New York Fireside Library, but the principal part of the woodcut of the heading was unchanged. In late reprints of the early numbers, the New York heading was also used. Many of the numbers are reprints of English novels, and most of them are love stories. In the backs of Nos. 1 to 4 and Nos. 4 to 11, there are a couple of continued stories, to tie the issues together, but after No. 11 this plan was abandoned. Occasionally, but rarely, the stories were too short to fill an entire issue, in which case there are two. When the reprinted story was too long, a double number was issued.
Said Beadle's blurb: In this publication the publishers propose a succession of brilliant and highly attractive Novels, Romances, and Narratives from the very best sources, and by the most Popular Writers in America and England.
To place in the hands of our great reading public at the nominal price of ten cents per number, a line of literature hitherto only accessible in the rather expensive shape of bound books, or in serial form in the magazines and papers, is the purpose of our "Library." . . .
And to render it a "Welcome Guest" at Fireside and Social Circles, in Homes and Libraries, in the Office and the Shop, each and every issue will contain a complete Novel and installments of a Serial by some celebrity in the literary world—thus presenting a double attraction. . . .
There will, therefore, be twenty-six numbers per year, embracing twenty-six entire novels or narratives, a considerable number of first-class serials by eminent authors, numerous sketches, &c., &c., all for the remarkably low price of ten cents per number or one dollar and twenty-five cents per six months, or two dollars and fifty cents per year!
Which sounds remarkably like the cry of the ballyhoo man at the lemonade stand of a circus: "Rumble up, tumble up, any way to get up! Only a nickel, a half-a-dime, the twentieth part of a dollar!"
The library was originally announced to issue biweekly, but it appeared rather irregularly. The actual intervals in days between the early numbers were 14, 21, 17, 14, 15, 5, 5, 19, and 8; then there were 7 day intervals to No. 43, which appeared February 5, 1878. Only five numbers were issued in the next two months, and four numbers in the following six weeks. Then came a period of six months with no issue at all. Following No. 52 there were two week intervals, except a gap late in 1881, but after January 26, 1882, weekly intervals continued until the end.
A curious change was made in No. 16. Originally this number appeared as Miss Braddon's "The Octoroon," and all lists in early editions up to and including No. 42, give it thus. There was no list in No. 43, but in No. 44 and thereafter, the title is given as "The Quadroon," by Mrs. Warfield, and late printings were actually that novel, elsewhere called "The Romance of the Green Seal." Apparently the substitution was made about February, 1878.