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Beadle's Dime Book of Fun



Irwin P. Beadle & Co., 137 William Street, were the publishers of the first Book of Fun. The title was filed for copyright(1) March 30, 1860, and the book was advertised on March 29, 1860,(2) apparently as a booklet just issued. I have seen no copy of the first edition of this number, but presume it was of the smaller size and had a buff wrapper. The copy in the New York Public Library is a reprint in the larger size and has orange wrappers. The title page of that copy bears the imprint of Beadle & Co., 118 William Street, but the copyright notice on the verso of the title page carries the name of Irwin P. Beadle & Co., and the date of 1860. There are 77 pages and 2 unnumbered leaves.


Irwin P. Beadle & Co., 137 William Street, also published this number. It was deposited for copyright September 27, 1860,(3) and must originally have been of the smaller size and enclosed in buff wrappers. No copy of the original edition has been seen by me. My own copy has the typical orange wrappers, is of the usual size of the Dime Novels, has on the front cover the usual Beadle heading with the cut of the reverse of a dime, and has a small woodcut illustration. The booklet has 80 pages, and is illustrated with a number of small woodcuts. The title page and cover bear the imprint of Beadle & Co., 118 William Street, and it is therefore a later edition. It was probably printed early in 1868, for it carries the announcement of the forthcoming Dime Novel No. 151, ready June 2, 1868; but since Beadle & Co. removed to 98 William Street the first of May, 1868, this edition of Book of Fun, No. 2, must have been issued just previous to their removal.


The third Book of Fun may possibly occur in an edition published by Irwin P. Beadle & Co. as well as in the well-known one published by Beadle & Co. The former is known to me only by a title page, deposited for copyright October 17, 1863, and now in the Rare Book Room of the Library of Congress. It carries the imprint of a ten cent fractional currency, which was Irwin's substitute for the cut of a dime used by the original firm, and was placed on the various books issued by Irwin P. Beadle & Co. when that firm was revived. I have never seen nor heard of Books of Fun, Nos. 1 and 2, with the piece of fractional currency on the title page, and it may be that Irwin, who was in the older firm when the first two numbers were issued by Irwin P. Beadle & Co. in its first period of existence, considered them his property, and therefore numbered the new issue No. 3. It is quite possible that this issue of No. 3 was never published, and only the copyrighted title page was printed. From the fact that three years later Erastus got out his No. 3, this would seem to be the case.

The well-known Beadle & Co., 118 William Street, edition (Fig. 134), was deposited for copyright April 19, 1866, and was issued April 21. (4) It appeared at a time when all the Beadle publications were encased in orange wrappers, consequently it differs from Nos. 1 and 2 in having no early editions in the small size or in huff covers.

On pages 29 to 32 of this number appeared for the first time in book form an abbreviated version of what was later known as "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain. It is here given the title "Jim Smiley's Frog." A copy, rebacked, and with a piece torn from the lower corner of the front wrapper, was sold at the Anderson Galleries in New York, April 22, 1936, for $475, the record price for a Beadle booklet. Another copy, with slightly defective back strip and a few minor defects at the edges of the wrappers, brought $100 at the same galleries. November 11, 1937. Both copies were dated 1866.

The story of Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog was originally written for a book that was to be published by George W. Carleton, (5) but it reached the publishers too late. Carleton then handed the manuscript over to Henry Clapp, the editor of the New York Saturday Press, and it appeared November 18, 1865, under the title "Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog." Later it was reprinted in The Californian, December 16, 1865, and was then brought out in book form by Charles Henry Webb, of The Californian. This edition is generally regarded as the first edition in book form, and is entitled "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches," edited by John Paul. It is a small 24mo bound in cloth, and published in New York, May 1, 1867. At the Zimbalist sale, November 15, 1939, a copy of this edition in the original blue cloth brought $610.


Beadle's Dime Book of Fun


1 In litteris, V. Valta Parma, Curator Rare Book Collection, Library of Congress, July 7, 1939.
2 New York Tribune.
3 In litteris, V. Valta Parma, July 7, 1939.
4 New York Tribune, April 21, 1866. "Ready this morning." same galleries, November 11, 1937. Both copies were dated 1866.
5 A. B. Paine. Mark Twain. A Biography. New York, 1912, 1,313, 318-21.

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