Thursday, June 11, 2009

OLiver Optic Inscription

William Taylor Adams (1822-1897) had a prolific output under the nom de plume of Oliver Optic. As the scion of American presidents , he grew up in a reasonably privileged home. He was an editor of juvenile magazines ( Student and Schoolmate, Oliver Optic's Magazine and Our Little One's Magazine) as well as an author of more than 120 books.

The books , being more adventurous than moralistic, were the object of derision by fellow authors as well as pundits of the day. Despite that fact, his books were huge sellers -from the first adventure story-The Boat Club in 1855- until his last book in 1898 An Undivided Union (which was completed by Edward Stratemeyer).

Mainly his books were published within series, The Blue and Gray Series, The Yacht Club Series, The Boat Club Series, etc.. The title of the series pretty much defined the type of adventure that the books described.

Pictured here is a book from the Blue and Gray Army Series. This book is special because of the inscription. Of course, Oliver Optic signed many books but this particular inscription is quite unique. Here the written inscription is signed to the dedicatee of the book, George White. Beyond that , Optic notes in his inscription "first copy".

Thus a first copy inscribed to the dedicatee of the book. A fascinating piece.


  1. Cary-
    I have a copy of Optic's "Snug Harbor" (1883 copyright with 1884 on the title page) that is also signed to George W. White. The book's dedication page reads "To My Young Friend / Harry Clinton White / This Book / Is Affectionately Dedicated". The inscription reads "Geo W White / With regards of / William T. Adams". It is not clear what Harry's relationship was with either George or Adams, but since he is not addressed as "nephew" or "grandson" my first guess might be George's younger brother. I have sent an email to Peter Walther that may provide the answer, or you might already know it. Interesting thing is that your book and mine (which I bought 21 years ago) once kept company on the same shelves! I will update this as I learn more. Bart Nyberg

  2. Hello Cary,
    I have a response from Peter. George Warner White was married to Taylor's daughter Emma Louise. He had a brother named Clinton, and Harry Clinton White was Clinton's son, making him George's nephew.
    Makes me wonder if there are other other Optic titles out there signed to George W. White.


  3. Cary-
    That should read Adams' daughter, not Taylor's daughter.