No. 582
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
November 26, 2022

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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 "The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan MandijnThings are a bit hectic around here.  The Strange Company HQ staffers are busy dealing with Thanksgiving leftovers.Wikipedia strikes again!Gustave, serial-killer crocodile.A living room becomes a family history art project.Pro tip: If you want it to look like suicide, don't shoot your victim six times.How you can communicate with your cats.  Not that
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Strange Company - 11/25/2022
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Thanksgiving in early 20th century New York City wasn’t just celebrated in private homes and expensive hotel restaurants. Institutions of all kinds across Gotham also honored the holiday with their own commemorative dinners. Hospitals, facilities for the poor, sick, and aged, and even city prisons served up a special Thanksgiving meal—usually along with speeches by […]
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Ephemeral New York - 11/21/2022
Wishing you a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving Day! Lizzie is thankful for turkey and all the trimmings – and no mutton broth in sight!
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 11/22/2022
On this date in 2002, Pakistani Mir Aimal Kansi, Kasi, or Qazi was executed by lethal injection in Virginia, U.S.A. “Real angry with the policy of the U.S. government in the Middle East, particularly toward the Palestinian people,”* Qazi on January 25, 1993 revenged himself on Central Intelligence Agency commuters queued for a left turn […]
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Executed Today - 11/14/2022
Mary Barrows, of Kittery Maine, told the coroner that her husband, Thomas, had committed suicide. The coroner was faced with two immediate mysteries; if Thomas Barrows had committed suicide, why did he wound himself five times before firing the shot to the head that killed him? And how had he shot himself six times with the five-barrel revolver found near the body? Mary Barrows and her son-in-law
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Murder By Gaslight - 11/19/2022
Shell and Pea Game on the Trail"Sketched from life by M. W. Newberry"San Francisco ChronicleApril 10, 1898(Click image to enlarge)    UNKO MEN AND THEIR TRICKS      A wonderfully detailed description of the modus operandi of Soapy Smith's three shell and pea manipulators along the Chilkoot and White Pass trails. Witnessed and reported by Joseph D. Barry, and published in the San Francisco
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 11/21/2022
An article I recently wrote for the British online magazine, New Politic, is now available online. The article, “The Criminal Origins of the United States of America,” is about British convict transportation to America, which took place between the years 1718 and 1775, and is the subject of my book, Bound with an Iron Chain: […]
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Early American Crime - 12/17/2021
Fierce Football. | Fighting Marines.

Half-dime Novels and Story Papers.

Modern News Stand

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.