Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday Boy's Life

One of the greatest enjoyments about this blog for me is continuously acquiring new insights about the history of America's marvelous history of periodical publishing.

Two day's ago I received an email from Carrie Christofferson, the curator of collections of the Newseum (with whom I have had a long and pleasant relationship as a a consultant) in Washington, forwarding me an email from the executive director of the Boy Scout's of America inquiring if they knew of anyone who owned the first issue of Boy's Life Magazine that, since 1912 has been their official publication.

I immediately wrote and phoned Mr Goldstein and soon received a call from their curator of collections, John Ingram. Mr. Ingram asked me whether I was willing to sell my copy and informed me that mine was one only two known to exist. He also told me something that I had not previously been aware of.

The present numbering of the magazine dates back to Volume One Number One, issued March 1, 1911. A quarto sized publication of forty-eight pages.

Until now I had believed that this issue (identified as the first March issue since it was intended to be published as a bi-monthly), was the genesis of the magazine. In fact it is not. On January 1, 1911, George Barton of Somerville Massachusetts published 5000 copies of Boy's Life. It was eight pages and 10 1/2 x 14 inches in size. For whatever reason, this format lasted for only one issue and Mr. Barton restarted the project, essentially a new series, in March with a new Volume 1 Number 1, the one I own. Here is the second issue, that featured a reprinted Jack London Story, that first appeared in another magazine, Youth's Companion, on November 30, 1899.

Mr. Ingram also told me that no actual copies of the January 1 issue are known to exist, but he did have a photocopy of the entire issue. He could not tell me how it was acquired. He kindly provided me with a digital copy and I hereby reproduce the first page your edification. I have lightly retouched it to remove a few generations of photocopy artifact and restored it to what is as close to its original condition as I can surmise.

Mr. Ingram also informed me that the BSA did not have any copies of two issues in their original or digital files, October 1911 and January 1912. I recalled that I had collected a few random early issues over the years and when I checked by files, I found that I indeed owned a copy of the October 1911 issue, which, at least for now, is the world's only copy! Here is the cover and title page. Is this the first use of the motto "Be Prepared" and it's accompanying logo?

I will be supplying the BSA with my copy to add to their digital files. That leaves one, January 1912, to complete the collection. By 1912, circulation was over 50,000, such is the rarity of these magazines.

Should anyone know the location of one, you can contact Mr. Ingram at

A lot more information about the early history of Boy's Life can be found here:

I hereby make a standing offer of $1000 to the first person who will sell me an original copy of Boy's Life January 1, 1911!

On the subject of the Boy Scouts, I believe I can add a little to the knowledge about one of its founders, Daniel Carter Beard. After I acquired this completely unknown and beautiful magazine. I found that the editor was none other than D.C Beard who I assume to be one and the same as the man who went on to become an icon of scouting.
I love magazines!!!!!!

Thanks for sharing my most recent adventure! It was fun to bring it to you.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Yet another: Saucy Stories Digest

Ok folks! You did such a good job with the last, here's another. This one is listed in Cottrill but this issue was never seen by him since he lists no info on contents or cover illustrator.

More about Love Nest Stories

I have received two very nice comments from my posting of the cover image of Love Nest Stories. It turns out that my prized acquisition is an amalgam of various other prior publications, nonetheless unique in its own right. First of all, there is no table of contents but internal advertising confirms it is a D.M. publication. The Bellem story is entitled "Double Dare". I'm sure my following of fellow pulp sleuths, a small but dedicated band, will tell me if it is original to this magazine or, more probably, reprinted.

The most comprehensive response was from Beau of Darwination. His website is He has given me permission to post portions of the text of his message and some additional images that he supplied:

"I saw your post of Love Nest Stories today. I haven't seen it for sale
before. I think I can clear up a little bit of the mystery for you on
the date and the nature of the pulp. I recognized the cover image
instantly, as it comes from an issue I just recently acquired, Pep
Stories 1935-12. The cover on your Love Nest Stories also reminded me
of an issue I'd seen recently on Ebay because of the font on the issue
number and pricing, an issue which Bookery's lists as issue #1 of the
second series of French Frolics from c. 1936. I'll attach the little
auction image of the issue. I knew something was odd about it because
I'm certain that the image had been used previously on a Donenfeld pulp
of approximately the same era (which looking through my files now armed
with a bit of knowledge was on the cover of Pep Stories 1935-08, I'll
attach it too as well as the original cover and contents page for Pep
Stories 1935-12). I looked at my copy of the issue of Pep Stories just
to double check that I remembered no Bellem story within and to confirm
that your contents must be different. My first thought was that these
reprints were pirated UK editions (I've long held and still do hold the
unconfirmed suspicion that there were periods in 1936 and 1937 where
Donenfeld sent returned/coverless pulps over to the UK where they
received new covers), but looking in Doug Ellis' Uncovered just now, he
clears up nicely the mystery surrounding these Love Nest and French
Frolics issues:

on page 54

"In addition to their regular titles, however, there were sporadic other
titles, such as Paris Frolics and French Frolics, both of which saw at
least a couple of issues in 1934. These were reprint publications,
binding returned, (easily printed by The Donny Press), with the contents
page stripped out so that the reader didn't realize he was buying the
same material twice. The cover paintings on both of these publications
were also reprints. This practice continued for at least a few years;
as late as 1936 a Donenfeld pulp, Love Nest Stories, was the same sort
of reprint magazine."

So I think this Love Nest Stories is pretty close in vintage to this
"2nd series French Frolics Issue 1". I don't think that Ellis is
completely on track, though, with the statement that the cover paintings
on all of the French Frolics were reprints. I'm attaching a couple of
the covers that, if they were reprinted, I at least recognize from no
other American pulp or even the style as that of any of the American
artists. I'd pegged the second of these as a likely UK pirate cover.
Hrm. One mystery is solved and another rises up. Ah well, such is the
nature of digging around in these things. Hopefully I'll get my greedy
hands on some of these issues at one time or another for a bit more
insight. One of these days (on my long long list of projects), I'll do
a post on the covers to some of the UK girlie pulp pirate editions.
I've learned the hard way from buying a few of them that they aren't the
real article and that some have close (and not so close) copies of
American covers done by the British!"



P.S. The wiliness of Harry Donnenfeld never ceases to amaze me.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A New Pulp Acquisition: Love Nest Stories.

I just received this exceedingly rare pulp in the mail today. I got it from my good friend Richard Clear for $250. It is the 867th (yes 8-6-7)first issue pulp in my collection. The first new addition of 2011 (I added a grand total of 8 in 2010). It is undated but by the ads ca. 1935. A typical girly sleaze magazine printed on pulp paper interspersed with glossy photos of semi-nude women. Cleary a first issue as seen on the cover. This one is a bit special since it contains a story by the noted writer Robert Leslie Bellem.

It is not listed in the Adventure House Guide nor the first printing of Tim Cottrill's great book but is listed in the second edition.

Guaranteed you won't find this image anywhere else.