Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Frank Merriwell-Earliest Cloth Editions
Gilbert Patten was the author of a number of juvenile series. This is the first entry about any of his books. In the future I am going to blog about him as well as various aspects of his writing.
The Frank Merriwell stories written by Burt Standish (pseudonym for Gilbert Patten) were released as paperback dime novels and also in hard cover. Initially the stories were placed in Tip Top Weekly (1896). The stories of this great athlete and all around great guy continued in various paper back forms for several decades.
What I wanted to address today are the hard cover Merriwell series books published by Street and Smith. The Street and Smith books and the Federal Publishing Company books are both quite scarce. The later David McKay books are more commonly found.
Street and Smith published the first six books. There were three different formats. All three are
considered quite uncommon. Street and Smith published these books between 1901 and 1904. Thereafter Federal published them until David McKay took over. The books are a compilation from stories that had appeared in Tip Top Weeklies.
1. School Days 1901
2. Chums 1902
3. Foes 1902
4.Trip West 1902
5. Down South 1903
6. Bravery 1903
(From the ads below you can see that School Days was published by itself first in 1901.
It was not part of the Boys' Popular Library at that time. Note the different price of Merriwell compared to the Boys' Popular books. Also School Days is not included in the 88 book list.
The other ad notes how the first three books were a series unto themselves
initially in 1902.)
Here the ad shows how the six books were incorporated into the Boys Popular Library.
There are three green cover Street and Smith editions which I have seen. Two have the same front cover of a boy standing. There is red lettering on the front cover. One format however has gold spine lettering. The other has the red lettered spine.
The first and earliest format is the red lettered cover and spine book. I believe only the first three titles were published in this format. At this time the three Frank Merriwell books formed their own series and were not part of the 88 volume The Boys' Own Library. This was the late 1901 and 1902 format.
The second format with the gold spine lettering included all 6 books. The ads in the back of the book show the six Frank Merriwell books now included in the 135 Boys' Own Library. This was a 1903 format.
A third green cover has a sitting boy reading and is titled "American Boys' Library". The book's name, author and series name are in black lettering on the spine. I believe this is the latest but I am not certain. It was part of the American Boys' Library. I think it was the latest of the three formats because several books with 1903 copyrights have been seen with the same cover. This series may have run in parallel with the Boys' Own Library Series. Other books seen with this cover are Clif, the Naval Cadet by Ensign Clarke Fitch (Upton Sinclair)1903 copyright and Cruise of the Training Ship also copyrighted in 1903. The latter two books were also part of the Boys' Own Library beginning in 1903. Whether this was a small Street and Smith publisher's series that ran from 1901-1903ish or was just a 1903 series is the question. I have not seen any Merriwell titles beside School Days in this format. Probably it is the rarest Merriwell hard cover.
(If anyone has any other information on the American Boys Library, I would really appreciate hearing from you.)