No. 512
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
March 02, 2021

Half-dime Novels and Story Papers.

Satan's sure-ruin traps - half-dime novels, five and ten cent story papers, and low-priced pamphlets
November 14, 2015
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Chapter 2
A Prize FightBetween Clow of Colorado,and Hynds of Wyoming.The Butte Weekly MinerAugust 12, 1885(Click image to enlarge)  OAPY SMITH AS TIME-KEEPER IN RAWLINS, WYOMING.     There are numerous boxing matches in which badman "Soapy" Smith officiated. This is one example I found for a fight taking place at the Opera House in Rawlins, Wyoming, a few days previous to the publishing of the article
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 3/2/2021


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Surprising news broke tonight of the listing for sale of the popular bed & breakfast, open as a business for …

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Lizzie Borden : Warps & Wefts - 1/10/2021
On December 10, 1978, the “Atlanta Constitution” carried a story by reporter Charles Salter where he detailed the very strange goings on in an antebellum mansion.  At the request of the current owners of the home, he did not give the family’s real name, and the location was described only as “a little north Georgia town.”  However, he believed that the source for his story--the lady of the house,
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Strange Company - 3/1/2021

Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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ExecutedToday.com - 11/13/2020
 On a road outside of Norristown, Pennsylvania, on October 28, 1896, Frank Mancil and his daughter came upon an agitated man shouting, “Murder! Help!” The man was bleeding from his arm, and, in a buggy nearby, a woman lay prostrate.The man, Charles O. Kaiser, Jr., told Mancil that he and his wife Emma had been attacked by highwaymen who shot them both then left with their watches and her purse
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Most of New York City’s vintage postcards feature beautiful sites of the city itself—not Gotham’s beautiful women. But this turn-of-the-century postcard is a strange exception to the rule. “Pretty girls, pretty girls everywhere, but the New York belles are claimed most fair” reads the caption, with the images of six women, none of whom I […]
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Ephemeral New York - 3/1/2021
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
Fierce Football. | Fighting Marines.

Half-dime Novels and Story Papers.

Modern News Stand

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Half-dime Novels and Story Papers.

Satan stirred up certain of his willing tools on earth by the promise of a few paltry dollars to improve greatly in the death-dealing quality of the weekly death-traps, and forthwith came a new series of new snares of fascinating construction, small and tempting in price, and baited with high sounding names. These sure-ruin traps comprise a new variety of half-dime novels, five and ten cent story papers, and low-priced pamphlets for boys and girls.

This class includes the silly, insipid tale, the coarse, slangy story in the dialect of the barroom, the blood-and-thunder romance of border life, and the exaggerated details of crimes, real and imaginary. Some have highly colored sensational reports of real crimes, while others, and by far the larger number, deal with most improbable creations of fiction. The unreal far outstrips the real. Crimes are gilded, and lawlessness is painted to resemble valor, making a bid for bandits, brigands, murderers, thieves, and criminals in general. Who would go to the State prison, the gambling saloon, or the brothel to find a suitable companion for the child? Yet a more insidious foe is selected when these stories are allowed to become associates of the child’s mind and to shape and direct the thoughts.


From: Comstock, Anthony. Traps for the Young. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1883.