University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


Charles Humberd
Dime Novel Collection

1938 - 1946

Manuscript Collection Number: 391
Accessioned: Purchase, August 1991.
Extent: .1 linear ft (70 items).
Content: Correspondence, advertising, bibliography, periodicals.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: September 1999 by Devin Harner.

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Table of Contents


Introductory Note

Dr. Charles Humberd of Barnard, Missouri, was a collector of dime novels active in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a mail-order customer of dime novel dealers including Brooklyn-based Charles Bragin. Bragin wrote and published Dime Novels Bibliography, 1860-1928, and he also published facsimile reprints of Morrison's Sensational Series and Beadle Half-Dime Novels in the late 1940s. Throughout the 1940s, Bragin maintained a mailing list of current and potential customers, and he regularly sent out assorted promotional materials and direct mail advertisements.

This small collection includes promotional material and correspondence relating to Dr. Humberd's purchase and collection of dime novels. The majority of the material concerns Dr. Humberd's business with Charles Bragin. In addition to the Bragin material, there are nine items documenting Humberd's transactions with other dime novel dealers and collectors.

The collection includes a typescript "first edition" as well as a printed copy of Charles Bragin's Dime Novels Bibliography, 1860-1928 (1938). Correspondence between Bragin and Humberd, 1939-1945, includes letters and postcards regarding book orders, Bragin's "jam with the government" about banned books, and the coming war.

Bragin appealed to the nostalgia of the "Old Boys of America" to build collections of their boyhood favorites -- dime novels featuring Buffalo Bill, Frank Merriwell, Nick Carter, and Deadwood Dick. Bragin's promotional material includes "have lists," price lists illustrated with dime novel cover reproductions, the "Dime Novel News" (an oversized newsprint flyer), and even a dime novel Christmas card. Later efforts included newsletters from "The Dime Novel Club," for which Bragin served as Secretary.

Folder F5 contains Rise and Fall of the Dime Novel by Floyd Beagle. Acknowledging Charles Bragin as a source for some of the material, the sixteen-page booklet is subtitled "Blood and Thunders or Dime Novels of the 80's and 90's." Charles Bragin's stamp and address on the inside cover suggests that he distributed the booklet to his regular customers.

In 1945, Bragin's "Dime Novel Club" issued facsimile reprints of early dime novels as they appeared in serial publications. Deadwood Dick, the Prince of the Road, or, the Black Rider of the Black Hills was originally published in the Beadle Half-Dime Library by Beadle and Adams in 1887. Frank James on the trail was originally published in 1882 by John W. Morrison in Morrison's Sensational Series.

A final group of correspondence in the collection concerns Dr. Humberd's business with other dime novel dealers and collectors. Between 1940-1943, the correspondents included St. Leon in Oklahoma City; Reckless Ralph's Dime Novel Round-Up in Fisherville, Massachusetts; and Lillian Lustig of the Alliance Book Corporation in New York City

Related collections

MSS 354 Beadle and Adams archives

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

F1   Bragin, Charles. Bibliography of Dime Novels, 1860 - 1928.
     Brooklyn: Charles Bragin, 1938.
     TS (copy) 34 pp.  "First edition, 250 copies, Feb. 15, 1938"
     Includes order card with Humberd's notation "$1.00 sent 2/23/38"

F2   Bragin, Charles.  Dime Novels Bibliography, 1860-1928.
     Brooklyn: Charles Bragin, 1938.
     33 pp.  "March 15, 1938"; illustrated with dime novel covers.

F3   Correspondence with Charles Bragin, 1939-1945
     Letters, postcards.  23 items  

F4   Charles Bragin promotional material, 1939-1946 
     Price lists, newsletters, postcards.  25 items

F5   Beagle, Floyd L.  Rise and Fall of the Dime Novel.
     16 pp.  "Blood and Thunders, or Dime Novels of the 80s and 90s"
     Stamped "Dime Novels / Bought & Sold / Charles Bragin / 1525 W. 12th St. /
     Brooklyn 4, N.Y."; holograph date on cover "1-22-44"

F6   Deadwood Dick, the Prince of the Road; or, the Black Rider of the Black Hills.
     Beadle's Half Dime Library, Vol. I.  No. I.  New York: Beadle and Adams, 1877.
     Dime Novel Club, 1945 facsimile reprint.

F7   Frank James on the trail.  Morrison's Sensational Series, Vol. 1 No. 46.  New
     York: John W. Morrison, 1882.
     Dime Novel Club, 1945 facsimile reprint.

F8   Correspondence with other dealers, 1940-1943

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