Northern Illinois University has reportedly completed its scanning project for much of the output of the Street & Smith publishing company to 1930. At the Nickels and Dimes website one can now find, freely online, 113,342 well-scanned pages from 4,790 ‘dime’ novels and proto-pulp ‘story papers’. The work began as “a local initiative in 2013”, but grew over the years and then landed “a grant of $338,630 from the National Endowment for the Humanities” to ensure completion.
The site doesn’t yet have the new press-release about the project’s completion, but a sort-by-date shows it runs to 1930. Note that their U.S. public domain status only extends to 1928, and that only from 1st January 2024.
And there are enough pictures here, and since I have a snuffling cold, I feel can class this post as one of my weekly ‘Picture Postals’ posts. Especially since some of the serials are known to have been enjoyed by Lovecraft in his youth. Such as the ‘Nick Carter’ adventure-mysteries. For instance, one can imagine him being intrigued enough to at least pick this combo of kitties and Egypt off the news-stands for a thumb-through even at age 19…
Though if he read them that late appears to be unknown. Possibly not. Lovecraft recalled them in a letter for the musical and philosophical Galpin, suggesting they were intended for “small boys”…
“Nick Carter and Old Sleuth, dear to the small boys of other generations, and studied almost invariably without knowledge or consent of the reader’s parents!”
Though that would be small boys of the early 1900s, apparently able to read page after page of small text. Something that would likely be deemed beyond the capabilities of the screen-boggled boys of 2023.
Lovecraft read a lot of them…
“If I had kept all the nickel novels — Pluck & Luck, Brave & Bold, Frank Reade, Jesse James, Nick Carter, Old King Brady, &c. — which I surreptitiously read 35 years ago… I could probably get a young fortune for ’em today”.
As to dates, Joshi has him as reading…
“Street & Smith’s Popular Magazine around 1905–10; read the entirety of the Railroad Man’s Magazine (1906–13); he began reading the Black Cat around 1904.”
We also know he gave up on following Conan Doyle’s new Sherlock Holmes tales in 1908.
For ‘prime dime’ Street & Smith juvenile reading we’re probably more likely talking about Lovecraft at between the ages 9 – 16, the years 1899 – 1905. So those would probably be the years to look at first, on the now-completed Nickels and Dimes website. That said, his interest in occasional issues as late as 1913 can’t be ruled out. And, newly interested in the industry trends and markets for fiction, he would have at least glanced at Street & Smith’s covers on the news-stands during the mid 1920s.
He was likely drawn to Popular Magazine by the sequel to the famous She in February 1905.
Note that at Nickels and Dimes you need to enlarge the view before you go to fullscreen. You can’t enlarge once in fullscreen, it seems. Also note that key S&S magazines such as Popular Magazine appear to be missing. Evidently it’s the complete collection, but not complete in terms of the entire S&S output. If you can offer them a complete run of missing titles, or fill-in issues, I guess they’d be quite interested.