Of the four series of novels with "illuminated covers," all appearing in 1874 for the first time, Beadle's Pocket Novels (Fig. 54) was the third. The first novel with colored covers (excluding the American Tales of 1863-1868, which had a different style of coloring) was No. 138, Frank Starr's American Novels which was issued March 3, 1874. The second was No. 1, Boys' Books of Romance and Adventure, issued March 20, 1874; the third was No. 1. Beadle's Pocket Novels, issued July 7, 1874; and the fourth was No. 1 (No. 322, old series) of the New Dime Novels, issued December 1, 1874. The Pocket Novels were announced as follows:
A Marvel of Beauty!
A New Series by the New Art!
The Illuminated Dime
Comprising the best works only of the most popular living writers in the field of American Romance. Each issue a complete novel, with illuminated cover, rivaling in effect the popular chromo.
Incomparably the most beautiful and attractive series of books, and the most delightful reading, ever presented to the popular reading public.
Distancing all rivalry, equally in the beauty of the books and their intrinsic excellence as romances, this new series will quickly take the lead in public favor, and be regarded as the Paragon Novels!
The contents, however, were not new. All of the books are reprints of Dime Novels, Starr's American Novels, or other Beadle publications. Two hundred and seventy-two numbers were issued, the final one appearing November 25, 1884. The booklets are of the same size as the Dime Novels, 6 1/2 by 4 1/4 inches, and there are about 100 single-column pages in each. The pagination usually begins on page 9, regardless of whether there are 8 preliminary pages or not. The books were printed from the same stereotype plates as their predecessors.
The wrappers were printed on white paper, blank inside, and with a Beadle advertisement on the back. The front wrapper carries a 4 by 3 3/8 inch colored illustration in the center and the title of the series, in a ribbon streamer, at the top. The title of the novel is below the title of the series, and there is a cut of a dime, smaller than the coin itself, in the enclosed triangular space. At the extreme upper left, in black, are the words "Pocket Series, No. —," and at the right, "Illuminated, Ten Cents." In the center above the words "Pocket Novels," is the word "Beadle's." Series name, title of novel, and colored illustration are surrounded by a plain tinted background, either blue, green, orange, or gray. The colors of the background and even of the cuts may be different in different copies of the same number. No publisher's name appears on the wrapper, although a few carry the name of a news-dealer, but "Beadle and Adams, 98 William Street," appears on the title page. Throughout the whole series there was no change in the design of the wrapper except for the different illustration.
Some of the novels are found dated, and when this is the case, the dates are usually four days later than the newspaper announcements of the novel as "Out today," reminding one forcibly of newspapers which appear on the streets four or five hours before the time given under the masthead.