Thursday, May 29, 2014

The illustrated Cory Binder, 1906-25

[1] Chicago, 1915 – Look Out For Motorcycle Mike! original color sketch by Frank King.

by John Adcock

WHO’S WHO?… This utterly fascinating Who’s Who, bursting with original art and autographs of early cartoonists and illustrators, recently turned up in the Midwestern United States. Early this year I was asked: Could I shed any light on who exactly might have collected these sketches and signatures in pen and ink?

RING BINDER. The material has been collected in a ring binder – I now call the Cory Binder – that has a number of puzzling aspects; most baffling is its provenance. The book obviously was compiled by someone named Cory, but was the compilation the work of the famous cartoonist J. Campbell Cory or some other Cory?

[2] The Chicago binder page signed by J. Campbell Cory. The ‘(15)’ in the top right-hand corner suggests the year 1915.
FRIEND CORY. J. Campbell Cory’s own full signature appears only once in the binder, on a page titled ‘CHICAGO’ which appears to have been signed in 1915. Even though the monogram on the binder is not ‘J.C.C.’ but ‘J.W.C.’ this binder might have belonged to the well-known cartoonist J. Campbell Cory, because there are many notations that refer to ‘Cory,’ ‘Mr. Cory,’ ‘friend Cory,’ etc. 

[3] The ‘J.W.C.’ embossed cover initials.
CURLY C. The object is in the form of a leather-bound loose-leaf binder, embossed with the initials ‘J.W.C.,’ in which are 42 unpaged leaves; some pages are blank or near blank, others show signatures and sketches, spot color is used. The curly C was a trademark of J. Campbell Cory’s – but the middle initial doesn’t match. 

69 ON A PAGE. Many (but not all) of the pages are artistically titled with names of US cities. The signatures – one page from New York City holds 69 of them – are of persons affiliated with commercial art, of advertisers, newspapers, magazine publishers and printing companies between 1906 and 1925. The binder measures 20 x 28 cm – or for us metric-deficient types, 8 in. x 10 3/8 in. Pages measure about 15.5 x 25.5 cm (6 x 10 in.)

[4] A 1912 newspaper advertisement with Cory’s curly C signature compared with the binder’s cover initials.
CITIES AND DATES. The pages are not in any particular order. Chicago has the dates 1923 and 1925 on page 7B, New York City is dated 1909 on 16A, and Washington DC is dated 1913 on 27A. There are pages from Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Twin Cities, Grand Rapids, Omaha, Des Moines, St. Louis, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Columbus, Dayton, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Wisconsin, New York and Toronto. Most signatures are of people who can be matched to the cities each page represents. The dates may represent the date of that person’s signature only – other signatures could have been added in different years and times.
[5] Chicago, 1915.
CORY’S BOOKS. At first glance it would seem to be a simple autograph book but then Cory and “his books” are mentioned. There are also many references to Burton Holmes (of the Burton Holmes travelogue fame) and his books. On the ‘DETROIT – NOW’ page (1922) a cartoon by Thomas of the Detroit News shows the cartoonist reading a volume of ‘Cory’s Books’ and exclaiming “OH BOY!! ME FOR THE SOUTH SEA ISLANDS!” This suggests to me that ‘Cory’s books’ refers to Burton Holmes Travelogues rather than J. Campbell Cory’s Art of Cartooning which was reprinted in 1922.

[6] Detroit – Now, 1922.
COUSIN J.W.C. The earliest pages date back to 1906. In 1903 John Campbell Cory had taken up residence at Helena, Montana where he lived with his father (his mother Jessie had died much earlier at Waukegan, in 1888), brother Robert, uncle David, and cousin James Warren Cory. After some time he moved into the Monticello Hotel. This James Warren Cory is the only person we could find in J. Campbell Cory’s circle whose initials matched the J.W.C. embossed on the Cory Binder cover. The Helena, Montana City, Directory for 1902 and 1903 lists James W. Cory as a bookkeeper. The 1904 Directory lists him as a cashier for Gans and Klein. He lived with his parents in Helena, Montana until his death in 1939.

[7] Denver.
GOLF BALL MARKER. John Campbell Cory moved back to New York in 1905. Spring of that year found him working for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World newspaper as a cartoonist. He filed a patent for his golf ball marker on March 31, 1906. Our deduction is the following. Possibly J.C.C. invented the marker while he was in Montana, used his invention to emboss the binder for his cousin J.W.C., and when he left town, took his cousin’s binder with him.

[8] Chicago, 1919.
FATHER CORY. I have also considered Benjamin Sayre Cory, the father of J. Campbell, as the compiler. He too was in Helena from 1903 until 1910, a boarder at various hotels and rooming houses. During his lifetime he had been a newspaper editor and a traveling salesman. He died in 1913 at Chicago. If it were his binder he could have passed it on to his son J. Campbell Cory who resided in Chicago that year on W. Madison Street. In the 1880 census enumerated at Waukegan, Illinois, both Benjamin Sayre Cory and his brother David Abner Cory are listed as traveling salesmen. David A. Cory was the father of  James Warren Cory. The two brothers lived together in Helena, Montana, until David’s death in 1913.

[9] Detroit Overflow, 1921.
CARICATURED? The drawing on the lower left-hand corner represents Cory, the binders compiler and apparent travelling salesman, selling the British Isles volume of Burton Holmes’ Travelogues to the unidentified cartoonist in 1921. The drawing is vague but doesn’t seem to bear much resemblance to the real-life J. Campbell Cory. In The History of Colorado a section on John Campbell Cory quotes an unidentified source describing him as a little man with a big sense of humor and an inexhaustable fund of talent.” The above caricature is not a caricature of a small round-faced man.

[10] The original R.F. Heinrich drawing from Annual of Advertising, 1921.
[11] Detroit Then, 1907.
DETROIT. The page for Detroit Then carries the date 1907 (page 2A in the binder), Detroit – Now has 1922 (page 2B), Detroit Overflow (page 3A) has the year 1921.

[12] Dayton, Ohio.
GOLF AFICIONADO. There are two references to Burton Holmes’ Travelogues and one reference to golf. John Campbell Cory was a lifelong aficionado of the sport.

[13] The Twin-Cities Again, 1924.
MINING. The image middle right looks to represent a mining concern – possibly a smelter – though it could be a sawmill. Mining was a major preoccupation of J. Campbell Cory and his father Benjamin Sayre Cory.

[14] Canada.
CANADA. The Canada page is autographed by cartoonist Newton McConnell. The Cory family had deep family ties with Canada. John Campbell Cory’s mother was born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, his father Benjamin Sayre Cory Jr and his grandfather Benjamin Sayre Cory were born at Wellington, Ontario.

[15] Omaha, Des Moines, St. Joe, Cedar Rapids, 1912.
MR. CORY. Once again we have a caricature of “Mr. Cory in action selling his book,” this time in 1912. Again I see little resemblance to the cartoonist J. Campbell Cory with his round face and pug-nose. And he is pictured with a moustache. Mr. Cory – whoever he was? – spent many years selling the Burton Holmes books which may have been used as reference works for artists in commercial art studios. Could the Mr.Cory’ have been Helena, Montana cousin James Warren Cory?

[16] Washington, 1913.
MYSTERIES. So, who was the mysterious Cory who compiled this baffling autographic record from the golden age of newspaper illustration? It would be nice if I could give a definitive answer, unfortunately I can’t do this with certainty – yet. The only reason to suspect that this was J. Campbell Cory’s binder is his signature on page 11A and the curious curly C embossed on its front cover. The caricatures bear no resemblance to the many portraits and caricatures of Cory that do exist. And, any pages for Montana – where Cory spent a great period of his life both in 1903 and from 1918 until his death – are missing.

[17] Business Screen Magazine, 1938.
BLANKS. Cousin James Warren Cory is a bit of a blank, he doesn't seem to have traveled much outside Montana. Father Benjamin Sayres Cory died in 1913 but entries continue into 1924 – so does the connection with Burton Holmes Travelogues. It’s just still possible that the Cory of the binder was not related to the cartoonist at all. First name or last name, this Cory may have simply been a traveling salesman working directly for Burton Holmes company and the binder may have been a record of his various connections. More illustrators than cartoonists are recorded in the binder and any artist would have found the Travelogues the most helpful reference for world costumes and backgrounds for their drawings and paintings.

[18] Embossed front cover of the illustrated Cory Binder.
Look Out For Motorcycle Mike! strips HERE.

A Rambling Life – J. Campbell Cory (1867-1925) HERE.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Alley Oop Sundays, Vol. 1

Caveman Alley Oop and Dinnie.

“…I shudder to think that without the efforts of Bill Blackbeard and other collectors we wouldn’t have this book…”

by John Adcock

IN THE YEAR 1958 it was said Vincent T. Hamlin’s comic strip Alley Oop appeared in 881 daily and newspapers in the United States and Canada alone. It’s one of the few comic strips from that period which is still running — you can read today’s cartoon HERE. Hamlin wrote and drew it from December 5, 1932, until 1971. From 1950 his assistant was Dave Graue. Hamlin’s wife Dorothy and children helped with the gags.

BEFORE TIME TRAVEL. This attractive Dark Horse reprint was produced from printed Sundays collected at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Columbus, Ohio. The frontal material is short, two pages of Introduction by Russ Cochran and a reproduction of the black and white dailies picturing the first meeting of Alley Oop and Dinnie. These Alley Oop Sundays all take place in the jungle Kingdom of Moo — the time-traveling tales, which gave the strip more scope for storytelling, were in the future.

Alley Oop & Foozy Co. – Traders.

HEADBASHING. When the story begins, the Kingdom of Moo is in the grips of a depression which leads Oop and his speaking-in-rhyme buddy Foozy to no end of schemes aimed at filling their pocketbooks. Cash in Moo takes the form of axes, not surprising since male, female and dinosaur heads are bashed on almost every page of this collection. Even the children of Moo participate in the mayhem.

BULGING KNOBS. Hamlin’s frequent use of the trope involving the bulging knob on the head spurting a constellation of angry stars must have pleased his world-weary depression audience. Hamlin created wonderful characters and dialogue and filled his panels with sound effects. He was a great admirer of Lt. Dick Calkins’ Buck Rogers. His drawings of women — except for Queen Umpateedle — seemed borrowed from Roy Crane’s Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy strips.

The Tribe of Wild Women.

REPRO. The restoration on this volume is not as good as its Dark Horse companion volume Gasoline Alley. Mostly because this time the available material was clipped from original comic supplements from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library. Quality reproduction varied from State to State depending on the workmanship of a variety of presses and their operators. A few of these strips have unsightly smears running throughout the pages.

DOROTHY. The colorist was not the best either. Hamlin’s wife Dorothy helped with coloring proofs. Some of the colors were too dark, particularly a deeply saturated red ochre used mostly on rocks. It stands out like a sore thumb against the milder colors and often draws the eye away from the main focus points of the drawings.

BACK NUMBERS. Those quibbles aside we are lucky to have the complete Sundays in print. The daily strip, appearing in my small town (pop. 13,000) newspaper, the Trail Daily Times, was one of the first strips to grab my adolescent attention. Sometime in the early 60s I visited the newspaper office and happily spent much of the summer reading Alley Oop in back numbers in huge bound volumes. The first day the editor of the newspaper himself answered all my questions and personally lugged each volume out, one by one, to my eager hands. A tenderfoot when it came to comics, my samples drawn with a ballpoint pen, I wondered how they drew those sharp black lines. That generous man introduced me to Indian ink and told me that I could purchase it at the corner camera shop. He showed me his paper’s press room and printing mattes and warned me I would have to move to New York or Chicago if I wanted to pursue a career as a comic strip artist. The thrill that comes once in a lifetime!

BOUND VOLUMES. I assume those bound volumes of the Daily Times were eventually trashed and their contents transferred poorly to microfilm. I shudder to think that without the efforts of Bill Blackbeard and other collectors we wouldn’t have this book, we would not even have a complete history of the comic strip. This volume, with comics as fresh and funny as the day they were created, should please adventurous readers old and new. Volume Two is already in print.

See a preview HERE.

    Alley Oop; By V.T. Hamlin;  
    The Complete Sundays; Volume One; 1934-1936,
    hardbound, 128 pages. 
Russ Cochran/Dark Horse Book.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Rambling Life – J. Campbell Cory (1867-1925)

1 [1898] The Bee, Vol. 1, No. 1, May 16

“He is much given to exploration and adventure. Has prospected and operated mines throughout the northwest; broken the world’s records in a gas balloon; constructed and operated aeroplanes, and killed all manner of big and small game in North and Central America. He is an expert horseman, and an expert rifle, pistol and shotgun man.” – Cartoons Magazine, 1915

2 [1906] John Campbell Cory portrait
JOHN Campbell Cory was born September 11, 1867, in Waukegan, Illinois to Benjamin Sayre Cory, Jr. and Jessie S. (MacDougal) Cory. There were six children. The first child, Benjamin Sayre III (1865-75), died of scarlet fever at the age of 10. Next was John Campbell Cory, two years younger than Benjamin. Robert MacDougal Cory was born on August 24, 1870, married , and was working at the East Helena Smelter in Montana by 1897.

Agnes L. Cory was born September 1, 1872, and died in New Jersey in November 1900. John Campbell Cory's sister Fanny Young Cory was born at Waukegan in October 1877. She was married to Frederick Cooney at Helena, Montana on April 12, 1904. She had 4 children, one of whom died in infancy. Fanny Young Cory’s famous King Features comic strip Little Miss Muffet ran from 1935 to 1956. She died July 28, 1972.
3 [1930] Fanny Young Cory
“My early interest in art began with intense admiration for my brother Jack. It was he who made possible the instruction I received in the Metropolitan School of Art in New York and also at the Art Students’ League. By the time I was 19 years old I was earning my own way with an occasional lift from him.” – ‘My Own Story by Fanny Y. Cory,’ Indianapolis Star, 1930
The sixth child was son McKenzie Cory who was 2 months old in June 1880.

4 [1906] Us Fellers, written by Izola L. Forrester
There was one other cartoonist in the family. He was a cousin, Benjamin Cory Kilvert (1879-1946), from the Canadian branch of the Cory’s. He was close in age to Fanny Young Cory and may have drawn inspiration from his uncle’s career. He was an illustrator of children’s books, newspaper supplements and magazine articles. In 1908 he drew a full-page comic strip called Muffy Shuffles about a poor city girl trying and failing to hold a variety of jobs. Other comic strips were Buddy Spilliken’s Diary (1908), and Dorothy and the Killies (1914-15). As B. Cory Kilvert his cartoons appeared in the New York Herald, the New York Journal, Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator, and Life magazine.

5 [1908] Muffy Shuffles, June 14
The fine artist and photographer Kate Cory (1861-1958) was also related to the Cory’s.

John Campbell Cory’s first known employment was as an architect’s assistant in Chicago in 1881. In 1882 he was employed as same, this time in New York City. Cory was residing in Indiana in 1884 where he worked on a farm for two years. Then he began working as an animal illustrator, specializing in horses. He worked for some time on the Western Horseman, a periodical published in Indianapolis and contributed to livestock and turf periodicals.

By 1889 he was in Chicago working as a newspaperman. John Campbell Cory married Bertha Pollock of Milburn, Illinois, February 14, 1890, at Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois. They never had any children. In 1897 he was working in the horse-racing department of Hearst’s New York Evening Journal and was soon drawing political cartoons for the publication. Cory claimed to have no political affiliations.

In May 1898 Cory left Hearst for a short-lived New York color comic weekly called The Bee. He was the owner, chief cartoonist and managing editor. His uncle Charles Dickinson Cory was business manager. The Bee ran to twelve issues from May 16 to August 2, 1898. It was discontinued in the fall and Cory joined the staff of Pulitzer’s World as a cartoonist. In 1898 he drew a feature called The Funny Side of Life in Montana. He was the “star man” in the Sunday World’s New Comic Weekly, edited by Geo. W. Peck (Peck’s Bad Boy,) that began in December 1900.

6 [1901] The World, January 15
In 1901 J. Campbell Cory was the Vice President of the New York School of Caricature. Cory drew sequential gags for the New York World from an address in New Jersey, spent some time at Waukegan Lake, Illinois, and then visited relatives in Helena, Montana in 1901.

“I like the (mining) business, and having paid the price for my education in that line, it is my intention some day to resume operations with pick and shovel.” – ‘J. Campbell Cory, Cartoonist,’ by B.O. Flowers, The Arena, No. 194, January 1906
By 1903 he had taken a residence at Helena where he lived with his father (mother Jessie had died at Waukegan in 1888), brother Robert, uncle David, and cousin James Warren Cory. The 1903 Helena City Directory lists J.C. Cory as President of the Knickerbocker Development Company. On June 19, 1903, The Northwestern Exploration Company, with offices in Manhattan, was incorporated with $200,000 capital. J. Campbell Cory of Helena, Montana, was one of the directors.
7 [1903] Columbia Courier, June 12
“Deer Lodge County: Knickerbocker Mining Company. This company, comprising Mr. Cory and associates, is operating mines near Beaver Creek, across the Missouri River from Helena, and is shipping high-grade copper ore.” – Engineering and Mining Journal, August 8, 1903
In 1904 the Engineering & Mining Journal reported that “The Standard Ore Co. is in control with J. Campbell Cory at the head.” The same year the Helena Directory listed J.C. Cory as President and general manager of Sun River Mining. He was residing at the Monticello, presumably a hotel.

8 [1905] The World, April 17
Sometime between 1903 and 1905 J.C. Cory was employed as a “picture drawer” on the Butte Miner. It was probably at Butte that he began his association with the comic writer Berton Braley, at that time a well-known Montana newspaperman. In spring 1905 he left Montana for New York’s World newspaper where he stayed until the following spring of 1907. Earlier, on March 31, 1906, he had been granted US Patent no. 849,600 for a Golf Ball Marker.

9 [1908] The Golfer’s Magazine
In the spring of 1907 he organized an expedition to explore territory 800 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia. He was leading a group of “prominent financiers” through the wilderness in search of land, mineral, water and power rights. The Panic of ’07 left him busted and he returned to New York. Cory was member of New York’s Rocky Mountain Club, formed for residents and former residents of the Rocky Mountain States in 1907.
10 [1908] The Golfer’s Magazine
“His next venture was in publishing The Great West, a monthly publication which he started in 1908. In June of that year he became cartoonist with the Cincinnati Times-Star, and it was during the period of his work with this paper that he began making amateur balloon ascensions. In June, 1910, (residing in Hamilton, Ohio) he made a flight of six hundred and thirty-five miles in ten hours in a gas bag which, unofficially, broke balloon flight records of that day.
He remained with the Times-Star for eighteen months and then became identified with the Scripps organization. His cartoons appeared in the Scripps publications from 1912 to 1914.”History of Colorado, Denver: Linderman Co., Inc., 1927, Vol. 4, p.502
11 [1912] cover of The Cartoonist’s Art
J. Campbell Cory’s 1912 book The Cartoonist’s Art (Chicago: The Trumbo Co.) was reprinted in 1920 (New York: The Prang Co.). 

12 [1912] advertisement for The Cartoonist’s ArtNovember 23
In February 22, 1913, Cory departed for Colon, Panama. His cartoons appeared with text by “Uncle Dud,” a nom de plume assumed for his well-known baseball columns. The Tacoma Times described Panama as “America’s ditch” and “the place where the American nation is CUTTING THE THROAT OF A HEMISPHERE.” His acquaintance Berton Braley also made the trip to Panama and on their return the two men teamed up for an illustrated poetry newspaper feature. On March 29, 1913, Cory was in Washington studying the wildlife for a feature entitled Who’s Who in Wilson’s Cabinet.

13 [1913] Tacoma Times, February 3
The September 1913 issue of Printer’s Ink had this announcement:

“Cartoons and advertising are to be combined by the Cory Cartoon Advertising Service Company of Chicago. The incorporators are William B. Fitzgerald, Melanie Malzen and J.F. O’Donnell.”
14 [1915] March 22
The death of Cory’s father, Benjamin Sayre Cory, was reported on October 19, 1913, in Chicago. In 1914 J.C. Cory was residing at Chicago, Illinois. A notice posted in Fourth Estate: A Weekly Newspaper for Publishers, Advertisers, Advertising on February 6, 1915, stated “Jack Cory, for years on the New York World, is now illuminating the Chicago Herald’s front page by his cartoons.”

“During his nomadic career, Mr. Cory has succeeded in breaking his nose six times in as many different ways, with the cumulative result that it is not much of a nose to look at any more, but as he complacently observes, ‘there’s enough nose left to break at least once more.’” – Cartoonists Magazine, 1915
15 [1915] Cory’s Kids
By March 1915 Cory was drawing a comic strip titled Cory’s Kids for the McClure Newspaper Syndicate and was staff cartoonist on the Chicago Herald. A 1917 advertisement in Cartoons magazine advised “In writing to J. Campbell Cory address in care of The Publisher’s Feature Bureau, 417 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois.”

16 [1918] The Shenanigan Kids 
Starting on September 10, 1918, Cory ghosted Rudolph Dirks’ daily The Shenanigan Kids comic strip. From November 1918 until his death Cory was cartooning for the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Times. He was a member of the Denver Press Club and with Perce Pearce of Chicago founded the Denver Academy of Applied Art (1920) which taught commercial and fine arts.

17 [1920] The Denver Academy of Applied Art
Cory died November 25, 1925, in Denver, Colorado, and was buried in Milburn Cemetery at Milburn Illinois. He was 58 years old. A Memoriam from an unnamed source was quoted in the History of Colorado, Denver: Linderman Co. Inc., 1927 –

18 [1920] The World, January 29
“Like all great workers in this field of art his becoming a cartoonist was a gradation from the artist, the humanist in him stirring for expression. He became a cartoonist because of his sense of humor and because he could use the cartoon so effectively in attacking wrong things – and Cory at the bottom of his heart was a crusader. He hated wrongdoing and his sympathies were with the weak and undefended. In his day, a full generation ago, Cory stood at the very head of American cartoonists and his cartoons became part of national political history.”
19 [1906] The World, January 11

The Bee cover image courtesy Richard Samuel West at Periodyssey.

Cory’s Kids page courtesy Alfredo Castelli.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Strange Story – William Strange of Paternoster Row

by Robert J. Kirkpatrick

In the 1840s and 1850s the name of William Strange was associated with two publishing scandals. In 1849, Strange was the subject of legal action by Prince Albert to prevent the publication of a catalogue of privately-owned etchings, in a case with had profound implications for the law on privacy. In 1857, Strange was imprisoned for publishing two obscene libels, the periodicals Women of London and Paul Pry. Prior to this, Strange had been a close associate of fellow-publishers George Cowie and George Purkess, and he had issued a large number of cheap periodicals and penny-part serials from his premises at 21 Paternoster Row. He was also in and out of the bankruptcy courts. But so, too, was his son, also named William Strange, who followed his father into the bookselling and publishing business, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the two. This is an attempt to unravel the William Strange story.

William Strange the Elder was born in Southwark, London in 1801. On 4 May 1823, at Christ Church, Greyfriars, Newgate, he married Ann Allen (born in Kensington around 1803), with whom he went on to have at least eight children: William (born 26 August 1824), Charles Frederick (4 September 1828), Edward (baptised 1 November 1830), Thomas (born 17 May 1835), Sarah (25 December 1836), Eliza (baptised 28 October 1838), Mary Ann (born 3 December 1840), and John (born 7 December 1842).

The baptism records for these children show that in 1824 and 1828 Strange was a bookseller at 24 Fetter Lane, Fleet Street; after which he moved to 21 Paternoster Row. His profession was given as bookseller up until 1840, when he declared himself to be a bookseller and publisher.

He had started out in business in 1822, entering into partnership with George Cowie and Robert Thomas Weaver, as printers, as 24 Fetter Lane, and as booksellers at 60 Paternoster Row. Weaver resigned from the partnership in November 1826 (London Gazette, 26 December 1826). Strange and Cowie carried on, moving to 55 Paternoster Row, but in November 1829 they were both declared bankrupt (London Gazette, 2 November 1829), Strange eventually paying his creditors 25% of his debts.

Strange’s activities as a publisher began in November 1824, when, in partnership with Cowie, he launched the London Mechanics’ Register, a 16-page weekly covering developments in science, engineering etc. This ran for two years before they sold it to another publisher. In 1827, in partnership with Cowie (as Cowie and Strange, Paternoster Row and Fetter Lane), he published the 4-volume The Histories and Antiquities of London. The following year, in partnership with several other publishers, Strange launched the Olio, or Museum of Entertainment, which ran until 1833. Cowie and Strange also published, in 1828, the first edition of The Bookbinder’s Manual, later editions of which, under the title Cowie’s Bookbinder’s Manual, were published by William Strange the Younger.

In 1830, having acquired premises at 21 Paternoster Row, he published Anecdotes of the French Revolution, written by the political journalist William Carpenter, and in July 1831 he began issuing Carpenter’s Political Magazine, edited by Carpenter from the King’s Bench Prison, where he had been imprisoned for refusing to pay stamp duty on his Political Letters and Pamphlets, a series of weekly tracts.

One of Strange’s most successful ventures was Figaro in London, a weekly satirical paper owned by Thomas Littleton Holt and edited by Gilbert Abbot à Beckett, which ran from December 1831 to August 1839. He had earlier, in collaboration with George Purkess and Henry Hetherington, launched the New Casket, Containing Gems of Amusement and General Instruction, which lasted for two years (1831-33). However, much of his publishing activity in the early 1830s was spectacularly unsuccessful, with several periodicals only lasting for a handful of issues. 

Examples include the Magazine of Useful Knowledge and Co-operative Miscellany (October-November 1830, 4 numbers), the Political Anecdotist and Popular Instructor (June 1831, edited by William Carpenter and published by him after just one number had been issued by Strange), the Patriot (August-September 1831, 3 numbers), the Calendar of Crime and General Advertiser (March 1832, 3 numbers), the Citizen (1832, 1 number), the Idler (May 1832, 1 number), the London Penny Journal (May-July 1832, 9 numbers), the Political Unionist (June-July 1832, 2 numbers), the Fool’s Cap (October 1832, 1 number), the Penny Pirate (November 1832, 1 number), Poor Richard’s Journal for Poor People (November-December 1832, 3 numbers), and the People’s Penny Pictures (December 1832, 1 number). In 1833 he launched the Episcopal Gazette:  A Journal of Priestly Villainy and Clerical Rapacity, and the Girls’ and Boys’ Penny Magazine, the latter in conjunction with George Cowie, George Purkess and several others.

Much of Strange’s output throughout the 1830s was political in nature, with titles such as The People’s Book, Comprising their Chartered Rights and Practical Wrongs (1831), The Elector’s Manual (1832), The Life of William Cobbett (1835), and A Concise View of the Present State of Society in This Country (1839).
But Strange was also noted for his penny bloods and similar material, including Valentine and Orson (1832), The Innkeeper’s Daughter (1832), Richard Turpin, The Highwayman (1833), Tales of All Nations, or Popular Legends and Romance (1836), and Annals of the Age, or The Crimes of London (1838-39). He also issued a series of Popular Dramas in 1834-35.

In September 1834, in partnership with Henry John Miller, he published The Gentleman’s Dressing Room Companion and Toilet Guide. However, a few months later, in March 1835, he was in a debtors’ prison (London Gazette, 3 March 1835), and subsequently appeared in the Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors. He was subsequently released without paying a penny to his creditors.

Five years later, in December 1839, he was back in the debtors’ prison (London Gazette, 20 December 1839), again being discharged from the Insolvent Debtors’ Court, in February 1840, without paying a penny of his debts (which were later revealed to be £1,300). One of his creditors was a company of linen drapers, Sewell and Cross, who had successfully sued him for libel in 1838 after he had published an allegedly scurrilous account of their business career.

At the time of the 1841 census he was living at 21 Paternoster Row with his wife and five of his children.

His publishing activities throughout the 1840s echoed those of the 1830s – a mixture of political works, cheap periodicals and the occasional penny blood.  Examples included Chambers’s London Journal (1841-43, co-published with George Berger and John Clements, and edited by E.L. Blanchard), Bradshaw’s Journal (1841-43), Oliver Cromwell, or Cavaliers and Roundheads: A Tale of the Civil Wars (1841), the Mesmerist:  A Journal of Vital Magnetism (May-September 1843), A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1844), D’Horsay, or The Follies of the Day (a novel by John Mills, 1844), The Female Bluebeard  (by Eugene Sue, 1845), Moll Cutpurse, or Cromwell and the Cavalier (1846), and An Enquiry into the Economy, Exchange, and Distribution of Wealth (1847). 

He issued a bound volume of the 24 numbers of the New Age Concordium Gazette and Temperance Advocate (originally published by R. Buchanan) in 1845, and he also began specialising in publishing songs, music and comic dramas, most notably the Musical Bouquet series of sheet music, issued in collaboration with James Bingley from 192 High Holborn, and which largely comprised material pirated from other publishers.

In January 1844 Strange, as a bookseller, was a party to an injunction obtained by Charles Dickens to prevent publication of a bowdlerised version of A Christmas Carol, which was being serialised in Peter Parley’s Illuminated Library (itself a misappropriation of the original Peter Parley publications). (Dickens sued the magazine’s owners, Richard Egan Lee and Henry Hewitt, but immediately after winning his case Lee and Hewitt declared themselves bankrupt, and Dickens was left with £700 court costs).

Just over four years later, in August 1848, Strange was again in court defending an injunction sought by a music publisher, Robert Cocks, who was seeking to prevent him from publishing a piece of music to which he was claiming copyright; and in October of the same year he was defending another injunction obtained by Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria) preventing him from publishing a catalogue of etchings. These had been created by Albert and Victoria, and copies had been made by a Windsor printer, John Brown, one of whose employees later sold a number of soiled and imperfect plates to Joseph Tomsett Judge, a campaigning journalist. 

Judge subsequently wrote a descriptive catalogue of the etchings, which was printed by Strange. Judge also planned an exhibition of the works. However, when he sent a copy of the catalogue along with his proposal to the royal household he was immediately faced with a writ to hand over all the etchings and to desist from publishing the catalogue. 

An injunction was subsequently granted in October 1848, on the basis that the prints could only have come into Judge’s possession unlawfully. Strange offered to give up all the copies of the catalogue in his possession if the case against him was dropped and his costs were paid. This was refused, so Strange appealed. The ensuing proceedings established new principles of privacy and confidentiality –   the court found in favour of Prince Albert, although on 1 June 1849 it was revealed that Albert had withdrawn his claim for costs against Strange.

Also in 1848 he was the subject of an injunction obtained by Herbert Ingram and Nathaniel Cook, the owners of the Illustrated London News, preventing him from using the cover design of their paper which he had pirated.

On 18 February 1849, Strange sold his publishing business to his son, for 75% of its actual value (as revealed in the Times, 24 February 1851). William Strange junior had been employed by his father since he was a child, and had taken over as manager in September 1848, being paid a salary of £33 a year with board and lodging. The price of the business was £745 – £500 was paid in cash, which his son borrowed against the assignment deed of the business, and the remainder paid by two bills of exchange. Having received the cash, Strange immediately fled to France, where he stayed until October 1850, returning when his money had run out.

A month later, having settled at 3 Navarino Grove, Hackney, he was bankrupt for a third time, described in the London Gazette as “William Strange the elder, formerly of No. 21 Paternoster Row”, and a “Bookseller and Publisher, Dealer and Chapman”. On 24 February 1851 the Times reported at great length on his hearing at the Bankruptcy Court. 

His debts were £1,574, some of his creditors being Ingram and Cook (owed £150 in legal costs), and the Belfast and County Down Railway Company (owed £459 made up of calls on shares and legal costs). It was clear from the hearing that Strange had a rather lax approach to bookkeeping and a casual approach to money, and he was frequently unable to answer questions relating to his finances. Counsel for Ingram and Cook told the court:

“There could not be the slightest excuse for the imperfect accounts laid before the Court.  There might be some sympathy for an inexperienced young trader borne down by misfortune, but for this man there could be no sympathy, for he not only traded in insolvency but on the reputation of others. Strange was a bankrupt in 1829, paying 2s 6d in the pound, an insolvent in 1835 paying nothing, and an insolvent again in 1840 paying the same amount. The schedule of his last insolvency was disgraced by sums to a considerable amount for libels on respectable persons. It was very easy to say that he had not been the writer of these things, but he was the man whose name as publisher gave these scurrilities to the world.  He was too old and crafty not to know the consequences of these slanders; and when the injured persons sought to avenge their reputations Strange protected himself with the shield of insolvency.”
The Bankruptcy Commissioner, in giving judgment, focused on the sale of Strange’s business to his son:

“In February 1849, at a time when it must have been quite clear to him that he was hopelessly insolvent, he says he sold property of the value of £965 to his son, at a reduction of 25 per cent, or £220. It does not appear there was any valuation – it does not appear there was any other person privy to this transaction; but, whether fair or unfair, he says he received £500 in money and £245 in two bills. With that money, or a portion of it, he immediately went abroad, and remained away a long time. This money, it appears to me, he ought to have distributed among his creditors…….”
In April 1851 Strange sued the Times for libel, over two pieces it had published on 11 and 15 January 1851 concerning his bankruptcy. The first incorrectly stated that Strange had been imprisoned for debt following the case involving Prince Albert, and that his wife had subsequently written to Prince Albert asking him to waive his costs. Strange subsequently wrote a letter to the Times, seeking to correct these errors, and after a second letter the Times purported to set the record straight only to confuse the court’s findings concerning Strange with those relating to Joseph Judge. Strange was awarded damages of £80.  (Times, 5 April 1851).
In the meantime, his son William, who became known as William Strange the Younger, had embarked on his own career as a bookseller and publisher, having taken over from his father at 21 Paternoster Row. He was living there, on his own, at the time of the 1851 census, described as a “Master employing 10 men”.  However, not long after this, in August 1851 he was himself declared bankrupt, named as “William Strange the Younger, of No. 21 Paternoster Row, in the City of London, Bookseller, Publisher, Dealer and Chapman.” (London Gazette, 2 September 1851).

The 1850s saw a number of publications issued under the W. Strange imprint, including the Monthly Literary and Scientific Lecturer (1850), The Mysteries of Russia (1854), Holt’s Police Gazette and Holt’s Army and Navy Despatch (both 1854, and both owned by Thomas Littleton Holt, published by “William Strange, Jnr.”), and Memoirs of Andrew Winpenny (1858), along with a handful of songs and dances.

One of the most successful publications was The Unclaimed Dividend Books of the Bank of England (W. Strange, 21 Paternoster Row, although it is not known if this was the father or son), published in 1851. Listing the names of thousands of people who had failed to claim dividends and had stock in public funds, which could be still be claimed by themselves or their next of kin, it sold 30,000 copies. Two similar titles under the W. Strange imprint were The Unclaimed Dividend Books of the South Sea Stock (also 1851), and The Heir-at-Law and Next-of-Kin Almanack (1857).

Strange moved from 21 Paternoster Row to 8 Amen Corner, Paternoster Row in 1852, from where, as William Strange, Jun., he published the seventh edition of Cowie’s Bookbinder’s Manual in 1852, earlier editions of which had been published by his father. In September 1853 he was again in the bankruptcy court, described as

“formerly of No. 8 Amen Corner, Paternoster Row, London, Bookseller and Publisher, having a Booth, and carrying on business as a Retailer of Beer and Tobacco, at the Palace at Sydenham, Surrey, and also residing at Belvedere Cottage, Upper Norwood, and now Salesman to Publishers, and residing at Belvedere Cottage, Upper Norwood aforesaid.” (London Gazette, 9 September 1853)
When he reappeared in the court in late December 1853 he was shown to be living at 115 Lambeth Road, Surrey, and working as a salesman for Messrs. Baynes and Sons, Publishers at 113 Fleet Street.

In May 1857 William Strange, now operating out of 183 Fleet Street, appeared in court accused of selling two obscene libels, namely The Women of London and Paul Pry. But which William Strange was it? The report in the Times (11 May 1857) suggested it was William Strange the Younger:

“It appeared that this defendant, who was a very respectable looking young man, kept the shop in question, where he sold newspapers and periodical papers generally.”
William Strange the Elder would have been 56 at the time, whereas his son was 33.

The Times went on to report that it “appeared that Paul Pry was printed for ‘Richard Martin, 183 Fleet Street’ (the defendant’s shop), but no one could tell who ‘Richard Martin’ was.” Mr H.T. Cole, Strange’s defence counsel, told the court that Strange

“was utterly unconscious, when he sold the papers, that they contained anything obscene, and when he discovered that one number of the Women of London contained something improper, that number was altogether suppressed.”
Several tradesmen gave Strange a good character, including George Vickers, of Holywell Street, but this was not enough to prevent Strange from being found guilty. Before he was sentenced he was allowed to address the court, and said that

“he had been connected with the publication of cheap literature all his life; that he was in the habit of selling thousands of cheap papers every week; that he knew nothing of their contents; but that they all came in and were sold in an hour to the trade. He said he had a wife and family to support, and if he were taken away of course they must suffer. He solemnly declared he did not know the contents of these publications.”
Yet William Strange the Younger was unmarried and did not have a family to support. His father, on the other hand, had a wife and four children still reliant on him: John (aged 15), Mary Ann (17), Eliza (19) and Sarah (21).

As it was his first offence, he was sentenced to three months imprisonment.

In March 1859 William Strange, along with George Maddick, launched Penny Bell’s Life and Sporting News, a rival to Bell’s Life, a sporting newspaper which had been running since 1822. The owners of the latter immediately sought an injunction, which led to the new paper’s name being changed to the Sporting Life

Strange left after only a handful of issues, and launched his own rival, the Penny Sporting Times, from 294 Strand. After just eight numbers, its backers absconded, and Strange was left to pay off the main creditors, the paper’s printers, out of his own pocket. Again, the question remains as to which William Strange this was. As it does in relation to the Journal of Fast Life, a somewhat racy periodical which ran for 18 numbers between November 1859 and March 1860.

On 11 January 1860 the London Gazette reported on the filing of a petition of bankruptcy against William Strange, of No. 294 Strand, Printer and Publisher.  When, in March 1860, Strange tried to obtain release from bankruptcy, his application was opposed by one of the other creditors who, back in October 1859, had tried to recoup his debts by seizing the furniture from Strange’s office.  Strange had him arrested, but he was released when he provided a letter from the owners of the Penny Sporting Times giving him permission.

The Times (2 April 1860) reported that when questioned Strange admitted having been bankrupt in 1831 and insolvent in 1834. He also went on to admit that he had been in prison. He was, despite the creditor’s objections, discharged from bankruptcy.
William Strange the Elder continued in business as, it seems, a bookseller. The 1861 census recorded him living at 6 Downs Cottages, Hackney, described as a bookseller employing four boys. With him were his wife, his son Thomas (then a 25 year-old railway clerk), and his daughters Sarah, Eliza and Mary Ann. 

Ten years later he was living at 190 Lancaster Road, Kensington, described as a retired bookseller, along with Eliza, Mary Ann, and, suggesting a small degree of financial comfort, a servant. He died in Barnsley, Yorkshire, on 6 September 1871 (although his home address was given as 192 Lancaster Road, Kensington), and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery. Rather oddly, perhaps, he left an estate worth under £50. Even more oddly, administration of his estate was granted to his son William, described in the Probate Calendar as a hotel keeper, living at Osborne House, Holland Park.

In fact, William Strange the Younger was still working in the publishing business.  In 1859, in Belper, Derbyshire, he had married Hannah Shaw, born around 1834 in Heanor, Derbyshire. There appears to be no trace of Strange in the 1861 census, but at the time of the 1871 census, he and his wife were living at 2 Bucklands Street, Hoxton, London, with William described as a Bookseller’s Warehouseman.  Also living with them were Percy Mather, his 13 year-old nephew, and his mother, recorded as Mary Ann, aged 67, whose place of birth was given as Epsom, Surrey.

Very little had appeared under the W. Strange imprint during the 1850s, and it seems that William had more or less abandoned publishing in favour of more hands-off work. One of his last publications, The Perils of Policy Holders (a lengthy analysis of the life assurance industry written by William Carpenter) appeared in 1860, from 8 Amen Corner. His last publication may well have been Gospel Salvation, in Prose and Verse, written by Robert E. Turner and published by Strange at 3 Amen Corner in April 1864.

In 1881, he was living at 5 Mercers Road, Islington, described as a “Commercial Clerk (publisher);” in 1891, still at Mercers Road, he was described as a Publisher’s Manager; and in 1901, when he was recorded as a visitor at an address in Camberwell, he was described as a Publisher’s Clerk.

He was comfortably off, able to employ a servant throughout the 1880s and 1890s.  He died at 5 Mercers Road on 11 August 1903, leaving an estate valued at £2,458 (£224,000 in today’s terms). Hannah died a year later, on 11 October 1904, having spent next to nothing of her inheritance and leaving an estate valued at £2,395.

Of William Strange the Elder’s other sons, Charles Frederick, Edward and John briefly followed into the bookselling and publishing business. At the time of the 1851 census Charles and Frederick were living together at an address in Paddington, Charles described as a publisher and Edward as a bookseller. Charles subsequently married Ann Susannah Alexander in 1852, moving to Southwark where, in the 1861 census, he was described as a bookseller. However, ten years later, living in Shoreditch, he was described as a builder’s clerk. He died on 9 January 1878, at 5 St. Petersburgh Terrace, Bayswater, leaving an estate of under £300.

Edward married Catherine Sarah Watson in 1858, and at the time of the 1861 census was living in St. Bride’s, Farringdon, described as a clerk. He appears to have died in 1866.

Thomas Strange, still living with his father in 1861 and working as a railway clerk, married Catherine Frances Fuller in October 1864, the marriage certificate describing him as a commercial clerk. They moved to St. Pancras, where in 1871 Thomas was described as a bookkeeper; ten years later, he was living with his wife and four children in Limehouse, described as a clerk. It is not known when or where he died.

Finally, William’s youngest son, John, born in 1842, married Jane Davis in October 1870, the marriage certificate showing him to be a bookseller and publisher. Jane died in 1877, and John remarried, his second wife being Amelia Wilson, in June 1886, described as a bookseller. However, by the time of the 1891 census he had become a commercial traveller, living in Chelsea; ten years later, living in Paddington, he was still described as a commercial traveller. He died, in Paddington, in 1903.
Read Robert J. Kirkpatrick’s William Cate – Printer on BEAR ALLEY HERE

Read Robert J. Kirkpatrick’s George Vickers – Getting One’s Vickers in a Twist on BEAR ALLEY HERE