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Alta sedent civilis vulnera dextrae.
Lucanus, 1, 32

Chapter VII

1861 - 1862

The London branch. Erastus in Europe. The Civil War begins. Effect upon the Dime
. Orville J. Victor engaged as editor. "Maum Guinea." Many handbooks
issued. Irwin P. Beadle bought out by his parners in 1862.
Removal of the firm to 118 William Street.


WHILE the Buffalo Directory for 1861(1) shows Irwin Beadle still in that city, we know that he was actually in New York. The News Depot was listed in his name in 1861, but in his divorced wife's name in 1862. Erastus Beadle, Irwin P. Beadle, and Robert Adams, according to the New York City Directory for 1860-61, had all been living at 286 Fulton Avenue, Brooklyn; perhaps boarding with Erastus. The next year's Brooklyn Directory(2) (1861-62), however, shows Robert Adams in Bedford Avenue, at the home of his mother who had come to Brooklyn at this time. The New York City Directory for the same years(3) shows Erastus in Europe. Irwin was still at 286 Fulton Avenue, at the house at which he was listed the previous year. He was married for the second time, shortly after coming to New York to Margaret Rice, and had apparently taken over the house occupied the previous year by the three partners. The exact date of his marriage is unknown, but late in 1859 or early in 1860 Mrs. Irwin Beadle's son William J. Beadle(4) was born.

An important innovation came in the early part of 1861. On the fifteenth of February there appeared in London No. 1 of Beadle's American Library. This was a reprint of Dime Novel No. 8, and was the first of a long series of English reprints (Fig. 27). While other Beadle items were reprinted in England by other publishers, this series was issued by Beadle & Co., and for a number of years thereafter the Beadle books carried the addresses of both the parent and the branch house (Fig. 10). Evidently Erastus was looking after this branch, for Trow's New York Directory shows that in May, 1861, when the directory was printed, he was in London. It is unknown exactly when he went abroad, but it was undoubtedly early in the year, or even late the preceding year, to look after the opening of the new establishment. Some of the books may have been printed from stereotype plates shipped from America, but most if not all of them show slight differences in type, indicating new typesetting. Beadle may have found it cheaper to have new plates made in England than to send the plates from America. The books were printed in England, for some of the numbers bear the imprint of "Clayton & Co., Printers, 17 Bouverie Street. The serial numbers of the American Dime Novels were not followed, nor was the order the same as in the American editions. A total of sixty numbers was published by Beadle, the last appearing February 1, 1866, after which the rights were sold to Routledge, who reprinted the early numbers as they became exhausted with title pages bearing his own name, and who continued the series until a total of eighty-four numbers had been issued. Erastus was back in America by the middle of 1863, for he is listed in the New York Directory as living at 35 Pineapple Street, Brooklyn. He was possibly back in 1862, being listed in the Brooklyn Directory for that year, although without a home address.

Fig. 10. Business card of the London House
1861 to 1866

With regard to the Adamses: Sometime in the latter part of 1860,(5) Margaret Adams and her younger sons, William, Henry, and David, aged respectively 22, 18, and 14, came to Brooklyn to join her son Robert. Her name disappears from the Buffalo directory after 1860 and appears, for the first time, in the Brooklyn Directory for 1861 -62 (issued May, 1861), where she is shown at Bedford Avenue, near Jefferson, the same address as that of her son Robert. William does not appear until 1864-65, when he is listed as "Superintendent" for Beadle & Co., 118 William Street, and as living in Brooklyn at the same address as his brother Robert.(6)

On the twelfth of April, 1861, Fort Sumter was fired upon and the Civil War was on. The depressing effect upon the sales of the Dime Novels was almost immediate. Up to this time the novels had appeared on the first and fifteenth of the month, but the interval between Nos. 26 and 27 (July 1 and 27) was twenty-six days, and the following numbers until No. 34 appeared at slightly irregular intervals, but approximately three weeks apart. On January 1, 1862, No. 34 appeared, and the intervals were one month until the first of June, after which they appeared at irregular intervals of three or four weeks until August 1, 1863, when monthly intervals became the rule. Beginning in January, 1866, they were usually semimonthly or biweekly until December 2, 1884, when, with the ending of the Pocket Novel series, they became weekly until they ended November 3, 1885. During the Civil War, however, American Tales and Tales, Traditions and Romances were started, and there were many songbooks, baseball players, handbooks, speakers, soldiers' manuals, and tax-law books. While the intervals between issues of the Dime Novels became longer, after the first few months of the war the size of each edition was increased, so that it is said that they were shipped out in bales, many of them going to the soldiers. Said the Banner Weekly,(7) "The Dime Novels became not only household words in all sections of the country, but were the soldier's solace and comfort in camp and campaign, and contributed, in a wonderful degree, to ameliorate the trials and sufferings of army life—as every yet living member of the Grand Army will attest." It has been said that the firm of Beadle & Co. presented thousands of copies of their publications to the soldiers, and their advertisements read: "For sale by all Booksellers, News Dealers, Country Merchants and Army Sutlers." I have in my possession a novel upon whose blank front page is written: "John Bagley, Crompton, R. I. Co. F. 4th Regt. R. I. Vollenteers, Ith Brigade, 2end Dive. 9th Corps. Washington." What a story the novel could tell since it left the publishers' hands!

One more event took place early in 1861 which was of great importance to the Beadle firm. This was the engagement of Orville J. Victor as editor for the various publications. Here again we have an example of the inaccuracy of the usual published data. In various articles(8) dealing with the appearance of "Seth Jones," it is stated that Editor Victor received the manuscript and immediately engaged Mr. Ellis to write for the Dime Novels. As a matter of fact, Victor did not become editor until six months or so after Ellis turned in his manuscript. According to his own statement,(9) he did not become editor for Beadle until 1862, but his recollection of the matter is here at fault, for there exists a manuscript sheet of instructions to Orville Victor from Erastus Beadle,(10) who at that time was in London, telling him how to advertise certain of the English Beadles American Library, and listing the novels already out. From his advice about "talking strong" about No. 3, "The Frontier Angel," we may assume that that was to be the forthcoming number or was the number just out. The date of issue of No. 3, was May 1, 1861, so we may be certain that Victor was editor at that time, and probably, also, that he had not held that position for any length of time. He was, according to his own statement in "Who's Who," editing the Cosmopolitan Art Journal during the early part of 1861, and it is hardly likely that he would also be devoting his time to Beadle. It is true that he had written the "Life of Garibaldi" for Beadle before that time, and possibly had edited some of the handbooks, but he was not yet his editor. We may definitely say, therefore, that the invention of the Dime Novel was not one of Victor's ideas, but was due either to Irwin Beadle or to Robert Adams. Both of these men were so modest and self-effacing that there is very little data on their lives, and we can only pick up stray crumbs of information here and there in out-of-the-way places, and reconstruct the story.

A statement by Robinson(11) needs correcting. He said that when Beadle went to 141 Williams [sic] Street, he gathered around his "whirring presses" the ablest group of feuilletonistes that ever ground out copy.

Beadle's presses had not begun to "whir" at 141 William Street, for he did not begin to do his own printing until ten or fifteen years later, and his "school of feuilletonistes" —who were not feuilletonistes—had not at that time been gathered.

During the year 1861 there were no events of special importance happening to the firm. The sales of the novels and handbooks were apparently satisfactory, and many booklets were published, but advertisements of all publishers for books of all kinds were reduced greatly in number and length by the end of the year. Dime Novels Nos. 14 to 33 were published, and among these the one that was probably of most importance was No. 33, Mrs. Metta V. Victor's "Maum Guinea and Her Plantation 'Children'; or, Holiday-Week on a Louisiana Estate. A Slave Romance." It also appeared as a special publication from the London office. Said Charles M. Harvey:(12)

Maum Guinea was a tale of slave life, and appeared in the early part of the Civil War. It was spirited and pathetic, and had a good deal of "local color"; its sales exceeded 100,000 copies, and it was translated into several languages. "It is as absorbing as Uncle Tom's Cabin" was the judgment which Lincoln was said to have passed on it. The New York Tribune, the New York Evening Post, and other prominent papers in that day of large deeds, when newspaper space was valuable, gave some space to Mrs. Victor's story. . . . [It] circulated by the tens of thousands in England, had a powerful influence in aid of the Union cause at a time when a large part of the people of that country favored the recognition of the independence of the Southern Confederacy. Mr. Victor's own "Address to the English People," issued at the same time, and in connection with the London edition of the novels, was widely distributed in England, and helped to overcome the sentiment which was clamoring for the breaking of the blockade and the purchase of Southern cotton for Lancashire's idle mills.

"My dear fellow," said Henry Ward Beecher, to Mr. Victor afterward, "your little book and Mrs. Victor's novel were a telling series of shots in the right spot." This is testimony which counts. Beecher was a special commissioner from Lincoln to England in 1863, to counteract the hostility to the Union cause in the Palmerston cabinet and among the aristocracy.

I have been unable to trace the source of Mr. Harvey's information about Lincoln, but give it here because it has often been repeated.

During the year there also appeared Nos. 2 to 11 of the Dime Biographical Library, Nos. 1 to 10 of the London edition of Beadle^s American Library, six numbers of the American Sixpenny Biographies, nine numbers of the Sixpenny Tales, Union Song-Books Nos. 1 and 2, the "Military Handbook and Soldiers' Manual of Instruction," "Drill Book," "Military Songs," "Family Physician," "Sixpenny Cookery Book," and O. J. Victor's "American Rebellion."


Sometime during the year 1862, and from the evidence of the Directories(13) after the first of June, the remaining partners in the firm bought the interest of Irwin P. Beadle,(14) and thereafter the sole proprietors were Erastus F. Beadle and Robert Adams.(15) The exact date of this transfer is unknown, nor is it definitely known what Irwin did during the next half year. Ellis(16) said that he resumed work at his trade of bookbinding. This may be true, but there is no evidence to support it, and since Irwin was in partnership with George Munro before January 1, 1863, it is hardly likely. Ellis was rather hazy in his reminiscences, and it may be that he was thinking of Irwin's return to bookbinding after his final retirement from publishing in 1868.

The firm moved from 141 to 118 William Street sometime between September 19, 1862,(17) and October 17, 1862,(18) probably October 1. Erastus was back from Europe, and was again supervising the production of the booklets.

During 1862 there were produced fifteen Dime Novels, twelve American Libraries, nine Sixpenny Tale, four volumes of the American Library Tales at least three Standard Library of Romance, three Men of the Times, two Dime Biographical Libraries, one Sixpenny Biography, three Dime Song Books, the "Knapsack Songster," a Union Song Book, Baseball Player for 1862, three New National Tax Laws, a Speaker, "Suggestions towards a Navy," an American Battles, and a "Soldier's Guide to Pensions." None of these requires special mention. The high percentage of English productions shows that the American book trade was in the doldrums. Twenty-six of the above were published by the English branch, the remaining thirty-five by the New York house.


1 Commercial Advertiser Directory, Buffalo, 1861.
  Irwin P. Beadle, 227 Main. h. 5 Franklin. News dealer.
  Charles E. Felton. (Listed under stereotypers. 7 E. Seneca.)
  Mrs. Irwin P. Beadle. (Listed under News and Periodical Dealers.)
2 Brooklyn Directory, 1861-62.
  Robert Adams, publisher. 141 William St., N. Y. h. Bedford Av. n. Jefferson.
  Irwin P. Beadle, publisher. 286 Fulton Ave.
  Martha M. Adams, h. Bedford Av., n. Jefferson.
  (Erastus F. Beadle is not listed.)
3 Trow's New York City Directory, 1861-62.
  Erastus F. Beadle, books, 141 William, h. Europe.
  Irwin P. Beadle, publisher, 141 William. Beadle & Co., 141 William.
  Robert Adams, books. 141 William, h. Brooklyn.
  Wilson's Copartnership Directory, New York, 1861-62 (May, 1861).
  Beadle & Co. (Irwin P. Beadle and Robert Adams). 141 William.
  (Erastus Beadle is not listed.)
4 The Brooklyn Registries of Voters for 1885 and 1887 to 1890 give the age of William J. Beadle in those years as 25, 27, 28, 29, and 30, indicating that he was born in 1859 after the Registry was made out, or in 1860 before the next one was begun.
5 Banner Weekly, IV, No. 207, Oct. 30, 1886. The date is proved by the Brooklyn Voters' Register, which shows that all the brothers except Robert and Harry came to Brooklyn in 1860. Robert and Harry came earlier.
6 Robert, when he first came to Brooklyn, lived with Erastus and Irwin Beadle. We know that Erastus was married. Later, Robert lived with his mother when she came to Brooklyn. We may, therefore, assume that he was never married. Neither was William, but David married in 1877.
7 Banner Weekly, VIII, No. 368, November 30, 1889.
8 Charles M. Harvey, "The Dime Novel in American Life," The Atlantic Monthly, C, July, 1907, 39.
  Henry Morton Robinson, "The Dime Novel is Dead, but the Same Old Hungers are Still Fed," Century, CXVI, 1928, 63.
9 Who's Who, II, and following years.
10 10 New York Public Library, manuscript room.
11 There are many errors in Robinson's article (Op. cit., 62), as there are in most magazine and newspaper articles on the Dime Novel. He is mistaken when he says that no search will uncover one of the Beadle books first published in 1860; that Beadle published Almanacs and Game-books in Buffalo; that Erastus published the first Dime Novel; that there was a Seattle Dime Pocket Library; that all Beadle books were republished in London until 1866; that Ellis entered Beadle's office timidly and laid a longhand manuscript on Victor's desk (Ellis mailed it and Victor wasn't there); etc.
12 Charles M. Harvey, "The Dime Novel in American Life," The Atlantic Monthly, C, July, 1907, 39, 43.
13 Thomas' Buffalo City Directory, 1862.
  Mrs. Irwin P. Beadle, 227 Main. (Not listed in the alphabetical list but only in the classified.)
  Charles E. Felton, printer and stereotyper. Over 150 Main. Brooklyn Directory, 1862-63.
  Erastus Beadle, publisher, 141 William st. h. 186 1/2 Adams, Bklyn.
  Robert Adams, publisher. 141 William. New York.
  (Martha Adams is not listed.)
  Trow's New York City Directory, 1862-63.
  Erastus F. Beadle, books, 141 William, h. Brooklyn.
  Irwin P. Beadle, books. 141 William, h. 38 Hunter, Brooklyn.
  Wilson's Copartnership Directory, New York, 1862—63.
  Beadle & Co. (Irwin P. Beadle and Robert Adams), 141 William.
14 Anon., "Erastus F. Beadle," Banner Weekly, VIII, No. 368, November 30, 1889.
15 Wilson's Copartnership Directory, New York, 1863—64.
  Beadle & Co. (Erastus F. Beadle and Robert Adams). 118 William.
16 Introduction to the Dillingham edition of Seth Jones, 1907, 16.
17 An advertisement from the 141 William Street address is given in the New York. Tribune, September 19, 1862.
18 "Men of the Time," No. 2, was on the market October 17, 1862, and carried the 118 William Street address.

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