Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman

Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.

Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.

Chris loves books.

Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Detective Tales

Midway in the Golden Age of Pulp Magazines, Detective Tales put out 12 tiny book supplements to the magazine.  These books were only 2¾ x 4¼ inches, printed on poor paper, and bound with double staples.  

So flimsy, they were as ephemeral as butterfly wings.  How could a full dozen have lasted through more than 90 years and found their way to riverrrun?  Perhaps it was the tough guy writing that kept them intact.

Each little book has a dramatically illustrated cover and contains a hot-action novelette or condensed novel.  Each is 64 thin pages of text with slightly heavier covers.  Just holding one of these gems brings you back in time.  They were published 1922 - 1924.  Prohibition.  Rampant crime.  Women gone mad with suffrage, smoking on street corners and whatnot.  Corruption.  Betrayal.  Homicide.  Irresistible reading pleasure!

The tiny book supplements to Detective Tales were published by Rural Publishing Company, founded by Jacob Clark Henneberg and J.M. Lansinger.  Rural published other pulp magazines as well, including the more enduring Weird Tales.  When the publishing company hit difficulties, the founding partners divided assets.  Lansinger kept Detective Tales and retained Edwin Baird as editor.  The magazine went through several name changes, but didn’t print little book supplements after 1924.

It is not only the action packed covers and swiftly moving stories that bring you right into the pulp world.  The advertisements do too.  Each little book has the same three ads.  On the inside front cover, you are invited - urged - to attend the University of Applied Sciences in Chicago to learn the skills for the fast-expanding field of the fingerprint expert.  As the ad says, it’s an uncrowded field and a wonderful opportunity.

On the back cover a 21 jewel Burlington watch beckons.  You can get this watch, plus a free book about watches, for only $1 down and an unspecified monthly payment for an unspecified number of months.

Sure.  Anyone would like a great fingerprinting career and who wouldn’t want a  classy 21 jewel watch?  My favorite advertisement, though, is on the inside back cover.  This ad explains that science has uncovered the secrets of Enrico Caruso’s beautiful singing voice.  For a fee, and no matter what your natural voice sounds like now, Prof. Feuchtinger of the Perfect Voice Institute can train you to sing like Caruso.

I’m sold.  These little books pack lots and lots of fast action, new career possibilities, a splendid watch, and a velvet Caruso-like singing voice. 


related links:
Interesting article featuring Vincent Starret, Edwin Baird, & Sherlock Holmes - brief mention of Detective Tales and subsequent iterations of the magazine

pulp magazine notes - includes an entry for Detective Tales

fascinating history of the long-lived and much sought after magazine, Weird Tales, which was also a Rural Publications magazine and also first edited by Edwin Baird

Pulp Magazine Project: “The Project is dedicated to fostering ties between communities of collectors, fans, and academics devoted to pulp magazines, and will offer opportunities for research and collaboration to both scholars and enthusiasts alike. “

google books: Caruso

1 comment:

  1. So glad you are up and running again. I love your posts and I learn so much I never knew I needed to know.