Saturday, January 2, 2010

William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) 1846-1917.

“It is now some generations since Josh Billings, Ned Buntline, and Colonel Prentiss Ingraham, intimate friends of Colonel William F. Cody, used to foregather in the office of Francis S. Smith, then proprietor of the New York Weekly. It was a dingy little office on Rose Street, in New York, but the breath of the great outdoors stirred there when these old-timers got together. As a result of these conversations, Colonel Ingraham and Ned Buntline began to write of the adventures of Buffalo Bill for Street & Smith.” - Foreward to Buffalo Bill Border Stories No. 44, copyright 1907.

Ned Buntline wrote the first Buffalo Bill serial, Buffalo Bill, the King of the Border Men, for Street & Smith’s New York Weekly story paper beginning December 23, 1869. He followed up with two more serials, Buffalo Bill’s Best Shot; or, the Heart of Spotted Tail, and Buffalo Bill’s Last Victory; or, Dove Eye, the Lodge Queen. Street & Smith’s Log Cabin Library reprinted the last two titles. Buntline also wrote Texas Jack; or, Buffalo Bill’s Brother for De Witt’s Ten Cent Romances.

Colonel Prentiss Ingraham’s father was Joseph Holt Ingraham, author of the 1836 romance Lafitte, or The Pirate of the Gulf. Ingraham the younger, who also wrote as Major Dangerfield Burr, began writing Buffalo Bill serials for the story papers of Beadle & Adams. In 1882 Beadle's Boy's Library of Sport, Story and Adventure Volume 1 # 1 published Adventures of Buffalo Bill, From Boyhood to Manhood. Beadle story paper serials were then reprinted in Beadle’s New York Dime Library and Beadle’s Half-Dime Library

Contrary to the reminiscence above Ingraham did not join Street & Smith until 1901, and then quite reluctantly, it took the urging of Gilbert Patten and a meeting with Ormond G. Smith to convince him to write for the firm. His first story for Smith was Buffalo Bill, the Border King: A Story of Daring Deeds, which appeared in Buffalo Bill Stories No. 1 on May 18, 1901. To add some confusion Smith reprinted Beadle & Adams serials in the Log Cabin Library as well as new Ingraham stories. The Colonel passed away in 1904 and the Buffalo Bill Stories were taken over by St. George Rathborne and lady novelist Laurana W. Sheldon (Nos. 160 through 170). Other authors included William Wallace Cook, W. Bert Foster, and John H. Whitson.

Buffalo Bill Stories ceased publication on September 4, 1912 and New Buffalo Bill Weekly began publishing reprints with number 1 of that issue. Following these were a series of paperback reprints in Far West Library, Buffalo Bill Border Stories, and Great Western Library. In 1919 Buffalo Bill Weekly became Western Story.

Five issues of Beadle’s Half-Dime Library were given as “by Buffalo Bill (William F. Cody),” No. 8, Kansas King; or, the Red Right Hand, No. 19, The Phantom Spy; or, the Pilot of the Prairie, No. 55, Deadly-Eye, the Unknown Scout, No. 68, Border Robin Hood; or, the Prairie Rover, and no. 158, Fancy Frank of Colorado; or, the Trapper’s Trust and four Buffalo Bill titles were published in Frank Tousey’s Wide Awake Library. In 1894 appeared a sixth Buffalo Bill authored work, Wild Bill, the Wild West Duelist : or, The Girl Mascot of Moonlight Mine. 

In England in 1886 Ralph Rollington published Buffalo Bill, by Captain M. Hunter, in The New Boys’ Paper. Reprints of Ned Buntline’s Buffalo Bill’s Best Shot and Buffalo Bill’s Last Victory appeared in William Emmett Laurence’s Young Briton about 1871.

In 1887 Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show opened at Earls Court Exhibition in London and George Purkess Jr. issued 74 penny numbers of Buffalo Bill to capitalize on his popularity. General Publishing Company issued a Buffalo Bill Wild West Series at the same time. Also that year James Henderson’s Weekly Budget published Buffalo Bill’s Secret Service Trail, by Major Dangerfield Burr, (Colonel Ingraham) 5th Regt. Cavalry, U.S. Army, Red Renard, the Indian Detective; or the Gold Buzzards of Colorado, by Buffalo Bill (Hon. W. F. Cody), The Personal Recollections of Buffalo Bill, by Col. Paul B. Sutcliffe, late U. S. Army, and The White King of the Pawnees, by Ned Buntline. Buffalo Bill’s First Trail; or, Will Cody the Pony Express Rider, was adapted for James Henderson’s Young Folks by Captain W. D. L’Estrange.

In 1907 James Henderson and Sons Nugget Library featured Buffalo Bill’s Chum; or, Little Grit the Wild Rider. Amalgamated published a Nugget Library in 1920. Aldine’s Buffalo Bill Library began in 1916 and in 1926  Buffalo Bill and Janver’s Treasure appeared in no. 27 of George Newnes New Redskin Library


  1. Hi John, congratulations for your fantastic job at "Yesterday Papers". We share the same passion for these delightful and fascinating minor works of art. I have just published in my blog Acotaciones a post devoted to one of the Buffalo Bill's Spanish editions (I apologize, but only the Spanish version is available). While texts are likely translations from the US original Buffalo Bill Stories magazine, cover art differ from that of Street & Smith's. To my knowledge, German, French and Italian licensed publications of Buffalo Bill Stories limit themselves to reproduce the American covers. Some of the abovementioned Spanish couloured plates are undersigned "AK". There is no evidence of the American origins of the illustrator, however, as both an expert and a passionate collector, I wonder if you could help me identifying the American illustrator who could fit into these initials. Thanks in advance and best regards. Enrique.

  2. Hi Enrique,
    It looks like the work of Albert Berghaus, from Buffalo Bill Stories, which appeared from 1906 to about 1910. I can't be absolutely sure but I think its him. His Wikipedia page doesn't mention the prolific paintings he did for dime novels. You can check out some of his illustrative work on Frank Tousey's 'Young Klondike' on the Stanford Dime Novel site. Acotaciones looks like a wonderful resource -- I will add a link from my page.

  3. Hi John,

    Thanks for your prompt reply. Maybe Berghaus used to sign as AK but still we need to know why Spanish covers differ from the American issues while the German (BBS license owner for Europe according to the information available) adopted the same cover art. Looks like no other BBS magazine reproduced the covers shown in Spain. Thanks anyway. I am proud to know that Acotaciones is linked to your page. Few weeks ago, I quoted your site when posting a biographical note on Mark Channing. A permanent link to Yesterday Papers will appear shortly in my blog.