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Frank Starr's American Novels

Frank Starr's American Novels is the name of another series which had a curious beginning. This is mentioned in Part II, under the "History of the Firm" for 1869, and need not be repeated here in detail. Briefly, Beadle & Co. had purchased the stereotype plates, stock, etc., of Irwin P. Beadle's American Novels (Irwin's American Novels), and had decided to reissue seventeen of them in new covers, beginning their own series with No. 18 (February, 1869) under the imprint of Frank Starr & Co., 41 Platt Street, New York. The lower numbers of the new run (Fig. 47) are very similar in size and appearance to Irwin's American Novels, which they supplanted. They are 6 1/2 by 4 1/4 inches in size and have about 100 pages, but the wrappers, instead of being of various colors as are Irwin's, are all yellowish or yellowish-buff. The heading of the series is very similar to its predecessor, but a five-pointed star replaces Cooper's picture. There is a black woodcut on the front wrapper but no frontispiece or other illustration. At the upper right corner is the price. Ten Cents. Inside the front wrapper the forthcoming number was announced, and both back pages were devoted to advertisements of other publications of Frank Starr & Co. The type of story is the same as that of the original Dime Novels, being almost exclusively of Indian and frontier life.

Fig 47.  Frank Starr's American Novels.

Fig 47. Frank Starr's American Novels
These were of standard dime novel size from No.1 to
No. 137, 1869 to 1874.

The novels continued of small size to and including No. 137. Whether they all appeared in the yellow covers mentioned I am not certain. I have seen Nos. 1 to 92 and Nos. 124 to 137 in this style. Nos. 93 to 123 I have seen only with the front illustration crudely colored, apparently by color stencil, but I am under the impression that these are all later issues for the reason that Beadle's other publications, except the first series of American Tales, did not come out in color until 1874, while this later issue of No. 93 of Starr's American Novels appeared June 11, 1872. Perhaps it may be thought that these were trial attempts, but this is doubtful because the "illumination" was announced as a new process when the Pocket Novels first appeared on June 7, 1874. Later it was used on the New Dime Novels beginning with No. 322, December 1, 1874. Actually it was not quite new even at that time, for it had been used March 3, 1874, on the enlarged Starr's American Novels, No. 138, and on No. 1 of the Boy's Books of Romance and Adventure, March 20, 1874.

In No. 137, Starr's American Novels, appeared this announcement:

A Twenty-five cent book for Ten Cents!
Frank Starr's Ten-Cent Novels Enlarged!

It gives us great pleasure to announce to the large audience who are now regular readers of our popular and admirable issues,

A New Series
Frank Starr's American Novels

Enlarged to double their present size—
    With beautifully illuminated covers—
        Comprising the most celebrated romances of
Dr. J. H. Robinson,
    Ned Buntline,
        Gustav Aimard, etc., etc., etc.

A Twenty-five cent novel for ten cents.

To present a series of the masterpieces of these noted story-tellers is the purpose of this New Series. It will embrace a considerable number of novels hitherto not accessible to readers, or only to be had in more expensive shape. Having secured their copyrights, it will be our pleasure to issue them in most attractive form, and at the unprecedented cheap price which has hitherto characterized our publications, viz. ten cents each!

More for the money never before was offered, in mere quantity, and when we say the series will contain the very best productions of the noted authors named, we make an announcement that we are sure will be received with enthusiasm by all lovers of American Life-Romance.

From No. 138 to the end of the series, the novels (Fig. 48) are approximately 9 by 5 3/4 inches in size, varying slightly in trimming, with buff, sometimes yellowish wrappers, and containing from 36 to 100 pages of reading matter, usually reprinted stories, and in general having two columns to the page. The insides of both front and back wrappers are blank, but the outside back cover contains advertisements of Frank Starr's American Novels only. On the front cover is a heading almost exactly like that on the small novels except for the addition of the words "Ten Cents" above the star, but the illustration below is in colors. Reprints of the second series are found occasionally of an intermediate size, 7 3/4 by 5 3/4 inches, with both front cut and text reduced to fit. These are apparently later reprints, but since the advertisements were reprinted in exact facsimile, it is not possible to say when they were issued. The only difference noticed is that in place of "Ten Cents" at the top of the front cover, the smaller copies have "Published Semi-Monthly," just as do the regular issues among the higher numbers. There is also the addition of a volume number to the serial number.

Fig 48.  Frank Starr's American Novels.

Fig 48. Frank Starr's American Novels with "illuminated" covers
ran from Nos. 138 to 221, 1874 to 1877.

The actual dates when the novels appeared on the market, as shown by newspaper advertisements, were, in some cases, as many as four or five days before the announced dates. In the following list, the announced dates are given.

The last number of Starr's American Novels was 221, issued May 8, 1877.

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