Dawley Printed Envelopes/Potboilers|
February 26, 2013
This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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The U.S. Treasury Department’s plan to circulate small-denomination paper notes called Postage Currency in lieu of hoarded fractional silver and token coinage during the period of suspension of specie payments during the Civil War was a failure on many counts. The notes were much delayed and didn’t circulate properly even when issued for many months causing the public to take matters into its own hands.
Regular, gum-backed U.S. postage stamps were an expedient prolifically employed to fill this void from July 1862 through the end of the year. This currency had grave drawbacks as a circulating medium: its paper was flimsy not conducive to widespread circulation; its size was too small for convenient storage and handling, and, of course, its adhesive back created messy transactions at the least appearance of moisture from rain or human sweat. Even sufficient heat, absent moisture, could cause the gumbacks to stick to one another and anything else in their vicinity.
Printers in the northeast (primarily) supplied both custom and generic small envelopes to holster errant stamps in convenient denominations, typically 25- or 50-cents, for circulation. These small envelopes themselves were not new, only their unique use as money instruments. Apothecaries and notions dealers were employing many of them already to dispense pills, powders, buttons, and the like. This month we’ll highlight one of the most interesting of these Northern printers who supplied this small change medium in summer-fall-winter 1862.
This research is part of my effort to create a book-length catalog, merchant chronicle, and auction summary of this postage stamp envelope emergency money of 1862, titled Civil War Stamp Envelopes, the Issuers and Their Times. The new book, expected to be published later this year, will serve as a companion volume to a second edition of my 1994/1995 award-winning book Civil War Encased Stamps, the Issuers and Their Times, that will also appear shortly thereafter.
The new work is far advanced, as I have been working on it for six years, and have received the cooperation of a broad cross-sections of philatelic and numismatic communities in support of my efforts, including institutions, collectors, dealers, and a significant grant from Central States Numismatic Society. The manuscript is 584 pages, and pictures in detail nearly 500 different varieties of this emergency currency issue. Final corrections to the manuscript and editing of the immense number of illustrations are proceeding apace.
What follows is the draft of a typical chapter from the upcoming book that is pertinent to the flow of these columns at this time.
T.R. Dawley, Publisher to the Million
The series of Civil War postage stamp envelopes printed by T.R. Dawley is very diverse. In addition to his own abundant issues circulated in 1862, Dawley printed stamp envelopes for several customers cataloged in my upcoming work, including Joseph Bryan, American Express Co., Kaiser & Waters, Kinsley & Co., Hy Maillard, L.N. Shear, and certain anonymous issues.
Doubtless Dawley also printed others not yet known or perhaps lost to history completely. Dawley may even have printed some of the ubiquitous J. Leach stamp envelopes.
From the record of issues that we know, Thomas Robinson Dawley was arguably the most prodigious issuer of Civil War postage stamp envelopes circulated as small change during the summer-fall 1862 small change crisis.(1) He was born Sept. 24, 1832, in New London, Conn., the second child of Robinson Dawley (1807-1902), a native of Rhode Island, and Lucy Ann Herrick of South Kingstown, R.I.
In later advertising Dawley’s printing firm traced its roots to 1839, but it is unclear just what he was hanging his hat on. Dawley was only seven years old at the time. The answer appears to be as simple as an OCR (optical character recognition) error in the reference seen (researchers take note), since actual examples of other similar notices found appear to read “1859.”
In his 20s, Dawley found his way west to Chicago, where he became a newspaperman. In September 1856, he founded the Chicago Herald, a penny daily newspaper with a weekly edition that ceased publication in 1857, and The Pen and Pencil, a weekly art and story paper that commenced in 1856 and “died the same year,” according to a study by the University of Illinois.(2)
He established himself as a printer and stationer in New York City in 1859. Located at 13 and 15 Park Row and 28-32 Centre Street, Dawley eventually became a publisher of cheap popular literature and styled himself the “publisher for the million.” He unabashedly called himself “the cheapest printer in the world.” As fellow publisher Chet Krause, who formed a big-time collection of this stamp envelope series since dispersed, points out, “in that day ‘cheap’ meant inexpensive, not poor quality.”(3)
On Feb. 13, 1862, the 29-year-old Dawley embarked on a new sideline at his job printing business.(4) T.R. Dawley published a genuine best seller, Incidents of American Camp Life, subtitled “Being Events Which Have Actually Transpired During The Present Rebellion,” as the first volume in “Dawley’s Camp and Fireside Library.” Interest in the conflict was so intense after 10 months of armed combat that Dawley reportedly sold 50,000 copies of this book in the first week after publication.
This popular series mirrored its heady times. The first volume was re-released as an enlarged edition, and additional titles continued to be best sellers too. An ad in the March 12, 1864, issue of Harper’s Weekly bragged “Dawley’s Camp and Fireside Library. 50,000 copies sold the past week,” too.
Dawley’s marketing campaign included jobbing large quantities of books to booksellers, newsdealers, sutlers and other peddlers. You “can make an immense profit selling these books. Send immediately for a trade circular,” Dawley claimed. He described the volume as “Large 12mo,” a size approximately 5x7.”(5) His 108-page book retailed for only 15 cents mailed, post-paid on receipt of price.
Inside Incidents of American Camp Life readers would find a highly readable narrative. Contents included evocative subject matter with picaresque titles: “The Snake-Hunters of Western Virginia”; “Joking on the Battle-Field”; “An Inquisitive Rebel”; “An Exciting Incident of Picket Life”; “A Picturesque Rebel Army Couldn’t Stand It”; “Extraordinary Telegraph Strategy”; “Hurst, the Tennessee Scout”; “Daring Adventure of a Union Soldier”; “Burnside and the Fisherman”; “Drubbing a Prisoner”; “A Female Secesh”; “Tragic Close of an Eventful Career”; “Gen. McCall’s Escape”; “A New York Heroine”; “An F. F. V. (First Family of Virginia) Outwitted by a Chicago Zouave”; “Take your Choice, Madam”; “An Escape”; “California Joe at his Work”; “The Wrong Way”; “Corson, the Scout”; “Drumming a Coward out of Camp”; “A Demijohn Drilled and Its Contents Spiked”; A Yankee Trick in Missouri”; “These are my Sons”; “Scene at a New York Recruiting Office”; “Death Scene of Capt. John Griswold”; “A Camp of Females”; “Who was She?”; “Miss Taylor at Camp Dick Robinson”; “The Dying Soldier”; “The Drummer-Boy,” etc.
“Buy it — Read it — Then send it to a friend in the Army,” T. R. Dawley, Publisher, 18 Park Row, New York, advised.
Dawley preceded the release of subsequent publications in the series with abundant advertising. “Soon to be out and already in Press, No. 2. Mercedes; or, The Outlaw’s Child. In preparation. No. 3. Norma Danton; or, The Children of the Lighthouse. Also will soon be ready, No. 4, Tried for her Life.” Each book was priced at 15 cents each, or the four obtained post-paid for 50 cents. “Order of any Bookseller or Newsdealer,” Dawley advertised.
When the fourth title was eventually issued it bore the title Justina, the Avenger. A fifth in the series was about Charles II of England, titled The Mad Bard, or the Mystery of Melrose. Eventually eight different titles in this series were published, according to an historian of this genre.(6)
Dawley’s Stamp Envelopes
In summer 1862 Dawley circulated stamp envelopes on his own account, with the Centre Street address at the corner of Reade listed, to facilitate the making of small change in commercial transactions. He also sold generic stamp envelopes to wholesale to commercial customers, as well as printing custom envelopes for other local businessmen, including Joseph Bryan, American Express Co., Kinsley & Co. and Kaiser and Waters and others as mentioned above.
Dawley’s issues are of several basic types: (1) His first issue is believed to be the utilitarian 50-cent envelopes that states “T.R. Dawley, Printer” on face, printed on orange or yellow paper; (2) Dawley also issued 25- and 50-cent envelopes with two flags on face, printed in green on white paper stock, his most artistic design, and “Dawley, Stationer & Printer” on back; (3) his third identifiable series was issued for the wholesale trade, having “For Sale by T.R. Dawley” printed at left end on face in a variety of denominations and several paper stocks.
The most interesting example of this later design type (and one of the most interesting of the entire Civil War postage envelope series) bears this quaint advertising message on face: “Envelopes of all sizes, styles and colors, for enclosing the ‘STICKING PLASTER CURRENCY’ [emphasis in the original] endorsed with all the denominations from 5 cents up, manufactured and for sale, wholesale and retail, by T.R. Dawley, cor. Reade and Centre Streets, N.Y.” Dawley also printed and sold two additional styles of wholesale envelopes for purchase by other merchants in need of small change holders, style (4) has his imprint “Manufact’d by T.R. Dawley” on the bottom of the face in several denomination; while style (5) has his imprint “T.R. Dawley, Manufac’r” or “T.R. Dawley; Manufact’r” on the back flap, also in a variety of denominations/paper stock, with an ornate script on face. In fact, my new book recognizes 25 different varieties of Dawley-issued Civil War postage stamp envelopes. Additionally, he printed custom envelopes for a variety of merchant issuers as noted above.
Diverse Print Runs
The stamp envelopes were a limited sideline. Dawley’s primary workload consisted of job printing. He was in his own words “a stereotyper, steam book, job and newspaper printer and publisher.” Enthused by his book publishing successes, in September 1862 he launched the first of his “10 Penny Novels” to compete with Erastus Beadle’s popular series of dime novels.
Dawley also published and sold “three penny toy-books” and “five penny toy-books.” The former were actually short stories normally contained in self-covered, eight-page pamphlets, while the latter were novelettes intermediately sized between his three-cent stories and his dime novels. Dawley apparently wrote and illustrated many of these smaller works himself. Among the former were Dawley’s own The Swan and Other Stories (eight pages, 1863), his The Gip and Other Stories (eight pages, 1863), and his The Old Sailor and Other Stories (eight pages, 1863), and Timothy Shay Arthur’s Wreaths of Friendship, a Gift for the Young. Among the latter were Harold Lacey’s The Way to Fortune, and Other Stories (12 pages, 1863).
Dawley got into the book-publishing business through his job shop. Dawley was printing books for Beadle.(7) In 1863 Dawley was electrotyping Irwin P. Beadle & Co.’s dime novels. “T.R. Dawley, Electrotyper, 13 Park Row, N.Y.” appears on the verso of the title page of Beadle’s 1863 potboiler Track of Fire, and Beadle’s The Fugitives of the Mountains, which was published in January 1864. Doubtless other instances exist. Dawley not only copied the content of Beadle’s successful potboilers, he even stole Beadle’s catch phrase. Beadle proclaimed himself “Ten Cent Publishing House for the Million,” and Dawley seeing Beadle’s grand success decided to go into that business too.
During the Civil War Dawley manufactured photograph albums that were very popular parlor accessories of the period. His line included pocket albums, medium- and large-sized albums up to and including expensive ones bound in French and Turkish Morocco leather with fancy brass clasps. His pocket albums would hold 6-20 tintypes or cartes de visite, while the larger albums had space for up to 50 photographs.
The New York City Council adopted a resolution on May 13, 1864, allowing Dawley to exhibit a sign of some sort from the third story of his building at 13 Park Row, “said permission to continue during the pleasure of the Common Council.”(8)
Dawley was an astute judge of the public’s mood. In 1864, with the war clouds finally parting due to an increasingly successful Northern strategy to suppress the rebellion, T.R. Dawley rushed into print popular biographies of the leading Northern generals of the day. That year he published F.W. H. Standfield’s The Life of General U.S. Grant, the General in Chief, his own (Thomas Robinson’s Dawley’s) The Life of Wm. T. Sherman, and J.K. Larke’s The Life of Gen. P.H. Sheridan, the Hero of the Shenandoah.
That year Dawley printed a pamphlet for the Ladies’ National Army Relief Association, and also published extensive campaign literature featuring both the National Union (Republican) and Democrat nominees for president. He issued one of the most famous Abraham Lincoln jokesters, titled Old Abe’s Jokes, fresh from Abraham’s bosom, containing all iis [sic] (US) issues, excepting the “greenbacks,” to call in some of which this work is issued.
“Many of these Jokes, Jests and Squibs, contained in this work, never before appeared in print,” Dawley wrote, “being fresh from the National Joker’s [Lincoln’s] Lips, and are entered according to Act of Congress; hence parties publishing them without crediting to this work, will be liable to prosecution,” he warned. However, editors inserting notices for the jokester and sending a marked copy to Dawley were promised “a copy gratis” of the compilation of humorous stories that Lincoln allegedly had told. One such notice for Dawley’s bestselling Old Abe’s Jokes, misspelled “Abes’” in Harper’s Weekly April 9, 1864.
In 1864, during the presidential campaign, he published The President Lincoln Campaign Songster and Abott A. Abott’s campaign biography, The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Leslie’s Illustrated summed up the latter briefly: “A popular life of our President, giving the chief events of his career in a brief and connected way.” Not playing favorites, he also published Alex Delmar’s The Life of George B. McClellan and The Little Mac Campaign Songster for Lincoln’s Democrat opponent in the 1864 race.(9)
In 1864 Dawley published a cookbook, Mrs. T.J. Crowen’s The American System of Cookery: Comprising Every Variety of Information for Ordinary and Holiday Occasions. That book is cited by the Library of Congress as a milestone in food history. In that year, Dawley also printed a pamphlet for the American Colonization Society, “Addresses delivered at its late annual meeting, in Washington, D.C. by John H.B. Latrobe, esq., and Rev. Phineas D. Gurley, D.D.”
Dawley also specialized in printing maps, especially for engraver George Perrine. Two of his most famous print runs were “Perrine’s New Typographical War Map of the Southern States,” a large 30-cent, 30 x 40 inch map “indicating the place of every battle that was ever fought,” and an accompanying 50-cent History of the Rebellion that also included Perrine’s map. “The History contains the substance of larger ones which sell for TEN TIMES the amount, and the map is the best published at any price. Neatly put up in a substantial pocket case,” he claimed.
Dawley’s 25-Cent Best Sellers
In early 1865 embarking on a new venture, the printer came out with Dawley’s War Novel No. 1 titled Mosby, the Guerrilla. The title page was more concrete: “Jack Mosby, the Guerrilla Chief by Lieutenant Colonel – (anonymous).” It was described by a modern cataloger as a “Sensational account of the wartime exploits of the famed Confederate Ranger, who was condemned by the Union for robbery and kidnapping, but gained hero status in both the northern and southern states. In this version General George Armstrong Custer is extensively involved in his pursuit.”(10) An ad in the March 11, 1865, issue of Harper’s Weekly announced Dawley’s new line of pulp literature, a 25-cent series. It screamed: “ASK ANY NEWSDEALER or BOOKSELLER [emphasis in the original] for a copy of DAWLEY’S NEW WAR NOVELS. If he has not got them, he will get them for you. No.1 — Mosby, the Guerrilla. No.2 — Pauline, the Female Spy. No. 3 — Semmes, the Pirate. No. 4 — Killdove the Black Scout. Full of Illustrations. Illuminated cover. Price 25 cents each. Trade, $12.50 per 100, with imprint of dealer.”
This marked a transition in Dawley’s business plan and marketing strategy that broke him out of the box of the other dime novel publishers of his time. It will be recalled, that previously published Dawley’s dime “War Novels” to that time included:
No. 1 — The Two Rivals or Man and Money.
No. 2 — Dare-Devil Dick.
No. 3 — The Freebooter’s Prize.
No. 4 — Speaking Rifle.
No. 5 — Spirit Eye, the Indian Captive.
These works were advertised as being “beautifully illustrated,” with an “illuminated cover,” priced at 10 cents each, or $5.75 per 100, with imprint of dealer. “The cheapest and best-selling novels out.” T. R. DAWLEY, Publisher, 13 & 15 Park Row, N.Y.”
The new pulp novels were more than twice the price of his and other publisher’s standard market fare. Another ad in Harper’s Weekly April 22, 1865, announced a fifth title in Dawley’s “New War Novels” series of two-bit pulp literature. No. 5 was titled Osgood, the Demon Refugee. Illust’d, Illuminated Cover. Price 25c.; trade $12.50 per 100. T.R. DAWLEY, Pub., 13 and 15 Park Row, N. Y.” These books were about 100 pages in length with paper covers.
Dawley’s romances, whether of the dime or 25-cent variety, were cheap pulps with lurid, colorful covers, published at the beginning of the paperback recreational reading revolution for the masses. Shortly thereafter Dawley released Quantrell, the Terror of the West. Eventually Dawley published 12 volumes in this quarter dollar series.(11)
Later in 1865, when events turned dark for the nation and its president Abraham Lincoln, Dawley published J. Wilkes Booth, the Assassinator of President Lincoln by Dion Haco, Dawley’s “New War Novel” No. 9. Dion Haco was a pseudonym for an unknown author, would write a bookshelf full of potboilers for Dawley’s presses and that of F.A. Brady, another New York publisher of cheap imprints.
In 1865 alone, the combo of Dawley and Haco turned out no fewer than 10 66-106 page romances, including Sue Munday, the Guerrilla Spy; Clarissa, the Conscript’s Bride; Osgood, the Demon Refugee; Larry, the Army Dog Robber; Cheatham, or the Swamp Dragons; Perdita, the Demon Refugee’s Daughter; Hawks, the Conscript; Rob. Cobb Kennedy, the Incendiary Spy; Rah-Tah-Bah, the Chihuahua Chief; Vampyre (sic) of the Battlefield; and ultimately J. Wilkes Booth, the Assassinator of President Lincoln.(12)
Dawley’s brand of literature is looked down upon in some quarters today. An exhibition, “Feeding the Public Hysteria,” at the Library of Congress singled out Dawley-Haco’s Booth, the Assassinator pulp in particular: “Dime novel publishers such as T.R. Dawley were better positioned than traditional publishing houses to quickly produce titles related to topical news events,” an exhibit writer opined.
“Dion Hasco’s [sic] J. Wilkes Booth, The Assassinator of President Lincoln was widely sold in Northern cities just a few weeks following Booth’s death at the Garrett Farm in Virginia on April 26, 1865. While presumably a fictionalized account of the assassination (it was issued as part of Dawley’s ‘New War Novels’), it was among the popular works that cultivated public perceptions that the Lincoln assassination was orchestrated at the highest levels of the Confederate government,” she added.(13)
Another Lincoln scholar, Dr. Thomas Turner, who wrote the “Foreword” for my first Lincoln book, described the demon spirit that clergymen of the times attributed as the root cause of Booth’s praesicide. “Those who did not go to church could have reached the same conclusion by reading the dime press,” he charged pointing out the Dawley-Haco Assassinator volume, “Many pamphlets appeared recounting in lurid details Booth’s involvement with traitors and subversive organizations in both the North and South.”(14)
Following the assassination, Dawley also brought out a new edition of his The Life of Abraham Lincoln. A broadside advertising this publication is in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society. According to AAS cataloger Lauren Hewes, “This broadside promotes an inexpensive edition of The Life of Abraham Lincoln published by New York author and book publisher Thomas Robinson Dawley (1832-1904). Starting in 1862, Dawley published titles for children, serial novels, and a variety of cheaply printed pamphlets. [T]his Life of Lincoln was issued shortly after the president was assassinated. It followed the publisher’s successful publication of Old Abe’s jokes: fresh from Abraham’s bosom, which Dawley released in 1864.”(15)
Dawley published two additional series of pulp novels about which little is known, even among specialists. Apparently Dawley’s “Ghost and Vampire Series” published only one number.”(16) His “Excelsior Novels” are even more obscure. According to an expert, “It is uncertain how long a fifth title, Dawley’s Excelsior Novels, lasted.”(17) In 1867 Dawley published Gustave Aimard’s The Trappers of Arkansas; or, the Loyal Heart. During 1867-68, T.R. Dawley attempted to revive his antebellum magazine The Pen and Pencil, a “journal of light, entertaining literature for hours of recreation,” but once again without success.
Dawley’s printing and publishing business sustained a $10,000 loss in a New York City fire Jan. 26, 1867. According to a newspaper account, the building at 21 and 23 Ann St., occupied by Dawley and other lessees sustained extensive damage. Also affected were offices of the Hebrew Leader, the New York News Co., and adjacent saloons and restaurants. The fire probably broke out in Dawley’s print shop, since his loss was by far the most extensive among the building’s commercial occupants. Dawley’s loss was insured.(18)
From all available evidence, it appears that shortly after the Civil War ended Dawley ceased publication of this popular, lurid literature to which he has forever been associated. The last confirmed title known to the present writer was Prince Erick, a Satire written by Dawley and published by the American News Co. in 1872. Although having abandoned his publishing trade, Dawley continued in the printing business, continuing to solicit job printing. In the 1870s (although circumstantial evidence suggests this could have been as early as 1869), he restyled his printing business as the Great American Engraving and Printing Co.
He also became a landlord. In 1882, Dawley became possessor of a large collection of wood carvings and bric-a-brac when a tenant, Michel Baudelot, a celebrated aged French wood carver died and left the collection valued at $5,000 at Science Hall, No. 139 East Eighth St. Dawley hired a Major S.A. Heath to “pack up the costly goods, and to store them in the cellar of the building until the estate was settled.”
In March 1885, the Surrogate court ordered the sale of the goods for the benefit of the heirs, but when the cases in the cellar were opened it was discovered that about one half the goods had disappeared. The remainder was sold by Leavitt the art auctioneer, and the theft reported to the police. Maj. Heath was arrested and arraigned for the theft, but released for lack of evidence. The stolen goods were subsequently found and sold for the benefit of the heirs.
His ad—“Showmen. I have more pictorial stock-cuts than all other printers in the United States or in the world for DRAMAS, MINSTRELS, VARIETIES, MAGIC, CIRCUSES, MENAGERIES, Etc. at prices much less than usual. All kinds of show printing. When orders will warrant, new cuts free of charge. Send stamp for catalogue and price list. T.R. Dawley, Manager, Great American Engraving and Printing Co., Nos. 62 and 64 Gold Street, New York”—appeared in The New York Clipper, an entertainment and sporting publication of the day, in April 1882.
“Showmen,” another of Dawley’s Great American printery advertisements in the New York Clipper, read, “No charge will be made for engraving new blocks when large quantities of printing will be guaranteed. New Uncle Tom, Minstrel Prints and other cuts. Send stamp for Catalogue. T.R. Dawley, Great American Engraving and Printing Co.”
An engraving of Dawley in the 1890 and 1892 New York Clipper Annuals shows him to be a hirsute gentleman with very long full beard and mustache, who operated the “Great American Engraving and Printing Co. 57 Beekman Street, New York” featuring “new presses [and] new type.” Dawley was the proprietor (owner) and Geo. J. Phillips was the superintendent. Recommendations of his work were effusive: “most attractive printing ever put on a wall,” “I have found you the squarest man I ever did business with,” “for fifteen years I have always found your work first class, full count, and at bottom prices,” and “all work done by you was satisfactory.”
Dawley retired to Griswold, Conn. The Great American Engraving and Printing Co. was incorporated in January 1894 to conduct “a general printing and publishing business in New York.” Capital was $50,000, with Dawley as president and R.E. Roylance as secretary. Directors were Dawley, superintendent Phillips, and Grace F. Taylor of Brooklyn, N.Y. The latter was very likely Dawley’s daughter.(19)
The firm was very successful, eventually occupying a six-story building at 26 Beekman St. and 18 Spruce St., “extending 200 ft. through from street to street.”(20) In 1899, the company only reported three male workers, averaging 54-hour work weeks.(21) This return must surely have been partial.
In addition to printing theatrical posters, the firm’s specialty, it also published Victor de Rochas’ book, Cuba Under Spanish Rule. A notice published in Billboard in early 1897 reported: “The Great American Engraving and Printing Co., are at work running through their press an edition of 100,000 mammoth posters for Duke’s Mixture (Tobacco) in four colors, which means 400,000 impressions, 200 reams of 60 pound paper and 1500 pounds of costly colored inks. This shows that poster advertising is still popular and is the second order done by this company for Duke’s Mixture.”(22)
Dawley had married Antionette Allen Hoxsie (b. 1840-d. 1883) on March 2, 1859. The couple had two children, Grace Lilly Dawley Taylor and Thomas Robinson Dawley Jr. (b. April 19, 1862, in New York City). From 1896-1898 during the Spanish American War, the printer’s son T.R. Dawley Jr. was a war correspondent in Cuba for Harper’s Weekly and Leslie’s Illustrated. His reports also appeared in Munsey’s Magazine.
Dawley Jr. was a close friend of fellow Spanish-American war journalist, American author Stephen Crane, who wrote the Civil War tale The Red Badge of Courage. Dawley Jr. was said to have “narrowly avoided firing squads” during the war, but he remained in Cuba after it was over and published the daily newspaper, The Times of Cuba, at Santiago, Cuba from Aug. 1, 1898-March 19, 1899. After this publication of the paper was taken over by the Cuban American Publishing Co. in Havana.(23) In June 1901, he contributed “A Yankee in Granada” to The Outlook, about his trip to Spain after the Spanish American War.
Dawley Jr. went on to become one of the leading journalists of the progressive era. He was hired by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor to investigate Southern cotton mills at the behest of a congressional committee investigating the abuses of child labor. Investigator Dawley observed the circumstances up close and first hand and reported back to the government bureaucrats in Washington.
However, the investigator’s findings were not in line with the politicos who hired him. Dawley applauded the hiring of women and children in the cotton mills as an improvement over impoverished conditions under which they had lived as rural farmers. A pre-teen boy could earn one-and-a-half times as much as his 40-year-old father, Dawley argued. Northern progressives were “parasites,” out to control the South once again, in Dawley’s view.
However, the commissioner of labor and Sen. Albert J. Beveridge, who was campaigning for stricter child labor legislation, disapproved of Dawley’s conclusions. Dawley’s recommendations were eliminated from the government’s 19-volume “findings” in the official report.
Dawley was incensed by the politically correct, biased, and heavy-handed official government conclusions. He thought the mills and their schools were a godsend compared to “mountain homes of squalor,” he had witnessed. He wrote his own book to offer the other side of the controversy to the American public, but it was repeatedly turned down by jittery publishers. Finally, in the Feb. 16, 1913, issue of The Dial, the semi-monthly journal of literary criticism, discussion and information, Gracia Publishing Co., 115 Nassau St., New York, announced “We are publishing The Child that Toileth Not by Thomas R. Dawley Jr. An Immediate Success After Other Publishers Had Turned it Down.”
Dawley’s book The Child That Toileth Not: The Story of a Government Investigation That Was Suppressed, was a “400-page polemic containing more than one hundred photographs” and based on field investigations that Dawley conducted in Southern cotton mills while working for the U.S. Bureau of Labor. In his book, Dawley uses words and images to refute the rhetoric of child-labor reformers.
Dawley argues that children do better working in the mills than staying on the hardscrabble mountain farms of their families. Life on the farm damages children physically and morally; life in the textile mills offers children education, good health, positive moral development, and wages in exchange for what Dawley suggests is only “light” work. Contrary to what child-labor reformers asserted at the time, Dawley claims that the mill saves children rather than dooms them,” according to researcher Cara A. Finnegan.
“In arguing that child labor can benefit children, Dawley was responding to an activist narrative of child-labor reform advanced by the privately-funded National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) and its most potent rhetorical weapons, the compelling photographs of Lewis Hine,” she added.
Predictably, Dawley Jr.’s reportage was shouted down by New England intellectuals. President-emeritus of Harvard Charles W. Eliot lampooned the factory system as “one of the greatest curses of civilization.” Dawley took the criticism head on. He wrote a rebuttal published in Truth, a new weekly magazine published in Boston.
The Gracia publishing company headlined its ads for the third printing of Dawley’s book as “the book that unfair editors refuse to review.” Not every editor ignored the book, however. With pen drawn, a hostile reviewer scribbled in the American Journal of Sociology, published by the prestigious University of Chicago. He called Dawley’s book “an unjustifiable attack upon recent child labor legislation, and upon the National Child Labor Committee.”
The reviewer, Roy William Foley, wrote Dawley off as a disgruntled federal employee and stooge for Southern cotton mills. “It is written by one severely biased because of unpleasant personal relations at Washington, and voices the ideas of the vested cotton interests of the South.… The book is conspicuous for what it omits.” After panning the book, the disingenuous reviewer then offers a limp-wristed compliment. “The greatest value of this volume lies outside the field of labor. It is interesting and readable because of its narrative and descriptive style, and its close touch with human life. It is also a valuable contribution of detailed information upon the social life of the mountaineers.”
The New York Times was much more even-handed in its review, published in its Jan. 26, 1913, Sunday Book Review section. It praised Dawley’s courage to “lift up his voice in protest.… He has gone into actual cases, and has spoken directly of factories and farms that he has visited,” the Times reported. “His conclusions are certainly worthy of close examination, and, if they cannot be refuted, or frank acceptance by those interested in sociology.”
In 1915 T.R. Dawley Jr.’s report “Some Notes on the Social and Economic Conditions of the Indians of Guatemala and Mexico” appeared in the Journal of the National Institute of Social Sciences. He published his reminiscences as Fragments from a Venturesome Career.
The elder Thomas Robinson Dawley, the Civil War-era printer, died Feb. 23, 1904, in (Pachaug, Conn.) New London, Conn., the city of his birth. He was 71. T.R. Dawley Jr. lived in New York City at 255 West Twenty-Second St. He was also a publicist. He died of heart disease at St. Vincent’s Hospital. He was 65. His obituary appeared in the New York Times June 3, 1930.
T.R. Dawley’s ephemeral literature is quite rare in private and institutional collections today. When original Dawley items are found these fragile works often exhibit much wear and tear, frequently with missing covers, or otherwise exhibiting edge chipping, foxing or staining. In recent times, however, Dawley’s “publisher for the million” slogan has taken on a new context. Several of Dawley’s cheap publications have been reprinted in facsimile editions. Especially noteworthy is J. Wilkes Booth, the Assassinator of President Lincoln, reprinted by my new friend Joseph Rainone in 2007 under the rubric Almond Press.(24) Some of Dawley’s publications are today only generally available as downloadable electronic books.
It is ironic then that T.R. Dawley’s Civil War postage stamp envelopes—on the other hand—are quite available to collectors today. Perhaps these normally obscure and rare imprints, then, provide the best and most lasting available tribute to Dawley’s many and varied printing ventures over his long, eventful career.
More on Porkopolis
Cincinnati, the Queen City of the Ohio River valley, used to be known as “Porkopolis” because of the extensive swine trade based in the city. Lexington, Ky. BNR reader Marvin Rigney wrote to say he enjoyed the “Shades of the Blue & Grey” column on the small change riots in Cincinnati during the Civil War small change crisis of November 1862. He also added a bit of information as a follow up to our column on the currency dislocation in Cincinnati during 1862. “At this time the Cincinnati pork producers were sending hogs down the river to the Rebel Army. Lincoln found out about it, and stopped it.” Thanks Marvin for your input.
Anybody Got Any Ideas?
Recent articles on Postage Currency in BNR also prompted McMinnville, Tenn. reader Charles Grove to pick up his pen and write. “I enjoyed your articles on Postage Currency,” he said. “Any ideas on the significance of the initials and date on the copy of the note I am sending you?”(25)
Grove remitted images of a 50-cent Postage Currency note shown. It has “NWC” or possibly alternatively “NWCo” imprinted in upper left corner on back, and “Sept. 3rd. 1862” at upper right. It also has the initials “N.W.C.” four more times at left, right, bottom of the cartouche, and above “FIVE DOLLARS.” as shown.
Readers will be reminded how this columnist waded into something of a brouhaha by correcting the historical record on the order of emission of the various varieties of Postage Currency in late summer and fall 1862. Although some modern writers on this series insist the first issued notes were straight-edged, followed by perforated issues, and finally more straight-edged notes, this column cited the Treasury secretary’s contemporary diary entry, and dozens of newspaper reports to the contrary.
Clearly, the first-issued notes were perforated, and I will have more to say about the order of emission in a coming column here, including additional pertinent facts on the matter. But back to Grove’s note, a Friedberg-1311, one of the very first notes emitted, perforated and entirely printed by the National Bank Note Co.
According to original research compiled by the present writer published here and elsewhere, the first sheets of Postage Currency were delivered by NBNCo to Assistant Treasurer John J. Cisco in New York City on Aug. 19 and received at the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. the following day. In the meantime a small quantity of notes had surreptitiously leaked into circulation on Aug. 18, but the first small official release was conducted on Aug. 21.
However, very little of the Postage Currency appeared in circulation in the first weeks after nominal first date of issue. The date on Grove’s note, Sept. 3, 1862, is very early in the release cycle. The note is indeed perforated as we would expect, since imperforate notes were not issued in the first several months of Postage Currency release. More about this in a forthcoming column.
It seems likely that somebody was impressed by the first Postage Currency note he’d seen and memorialized it in this way.(26) But what these initials mean is conjectural.
They remind me of lightly embossed red numerals imprinted on the back of a Second Issue Fractional Currency Note that SPMC member Scott Claxton asked about a couple of years ago, that we also could not explain.(27) We’ll also show Claxton’s note, which bears the numeral “71089” twice in red at right on the back of a Fr.-1284 25-cent note and the numeral “9” twice at right. Any readers have any ideas about either or both notes?
“Would it have any effect on the value of the Note? Any information would be appreciated,” Grove added. I am the wrong person to ask value questions, but to me the inexplicable graffiti adds interest to a note, either note in these two instances. Perhaps another collector would find the extra post-production imprints offensive and pass by either note, and even I would not pay extra unless the meaning of the errata were better understood.
Collector Provides Correction
“Shades” gets around, and that is good. I got a nice note with a correction to a previous column from active Winnetka, Ill. collector Bob Leonard, whom many readers will know. “I don’t take Bank Note Reporter, but Carl Wolf sent me a copy of your column in the January 2013 issue, ‘Postage Currency was tardy scrip.’ This is a fascinating and well-researched study. . . [I]n footnote 39, you assume that the chapter in Perspectives in Numismatics by Elvira Clain-Stefanelli was based on a program she gave at a Chicago Coin Club meeting.
“While a logical guess, in fact almost all the chapters in this book were written especially for it, and hardly any came out of a coin club program (the only exception that comes to mind in George Lill’s). Dr. Saul Needleman did an extraordinary job in persuading so many numismatic lights to make these contributions.”(28) Indeed. Needleman and the Chicago Coin Club did an excellent job on the book, which is a prized item on my long numismatic bookshelf. Thanks, Bob, for setting the record straight.
A Personal Note
As always, I welcome feedback from BNR readers. We cover a lot of ground in this column, and it’s surprising what sparks the interest of individuals, as evidenced by the comments reported above. Questions, comments, cheers or jeers are welcome. You can contact me through my personal website www.fredwritesright.com or by mail at P.O. Box 118162, Carrollton, TX 75011-8162. If you write and wish a reply, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope, but please be aware that if your subject is of interest generally it may be addressed in a future column instead.
1. It is believed that the ubiquitous J. Leach envelopes are so prevalent among collectors today because caches of unused envelopes have come down to the present time and widely dispersed. More about that will be covered my in book’s chapter on Leach.
3. Chester L. Krause, “Postage Stamp Envelopes 1861-1962 ” from the Collection of…, unpublished manuscript.
4. New York Tribune, Feb. 13, 1862, cited in “House of Beadle & Adams Online,” Chapter 9 1864 to 1866, http://www.ulib.niu.edu/badndp/chap9.html.
5. Observed examples of Dawley’s books measure 4½ x 7¾ inches.
6. J. Randolph Cox, The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book, p. 72.
7. This reminds me of how J. Oliver Amos, my former employer and landlord (1975-1981), got into the numismatic tabloid business after contract printing Linn’s Weekly Stamp News for owner George Linn for a number of years.
8. “The City Government… [Official] Board of Aldermen. Petitions. Resolutions…,” New York Times, May 16, 1864.
9. Dawley published an entire line of 10-cent songbooks. Other titles included Ballads of the War, Ballads of the South, Ballads of Love, The Red, White and Blue Songster, The Uncle Sam’s Army Songster, The American Union Songster, and Songs of Love and Friendship.
10. Pacific Book Co., Fine Western Americana…including…the Collection of John M. Carroll, http://www.pacificbook.com/catalogs/curcat153-16.html.
11. Cox, p. 72.
12. Note: The cover reads “Dawley’s New War Novels Booth The Assassin.” while the title page reads: “J. Wilkes Booth The Assassinator of President Lincoln.” Virtually all catalogers list the more formal title of this work. Author Dion Haco’s identity apparently was a closely guarded secret for publisher Dawley and the author. Extensive study of Civil War-era fiction by the present writer and authorities in this field such as Joseph L. Rainone, owner of an immense collection of Civil War-era fiction and author of a new book on this genre in progress, and J. Randolph Cox, author of The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book, fails to shed light on who this enigmatic figure actually was.
13.“Feeding the Public Hysteria,” Library of Congress, http://myloc.gov/Exhibitions/civil-war-in-america/november-1863-april-1865/ExhibitObjects/Feeding-the-Public-Hysteria.aspx.
14.Dr. Thomas Turner, “What Type of Trial” A Civil Versus a Military Trial for the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators,” Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Vol. 4 Issue 1 (1982), http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jala/2629860.0004.104/--what-type-of-trial-a-civil-versus-a-military-trial-for?rgn=main;view=fulltext.
15. Lauren Hewes, “Lincoln Mourned,” http://www.americanantiquarian.org/adoptabook10.htm.
16. Cox, p. 72; Dawley published Vampyre [sic] on the Battlefield by the aforementioned Dion Haco in 1865, http://classify.oclc.org/classify2/ClassifyDemo?swid=038528255.
17. Cox, p. 73.
18. “By Telegraph from New York…Fires,” Troy Daily Whig, Jan. 28, 1867, p. 1.
19. This writer has a special warmth for the name “Grace Taylor,” since another young lady by that name is his only granddaughter.
20. The New York Clipper, Jan. 10, 1894.
21. Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Vol. 7, 1899, “Thirteenth Annual Report of the Factory Inspector,” p. 267.
22. Billboard, Vol. 11 No. 2 (Jan. 1, 1897); this notice is doubly interesting to this writer as it appears online “scanned from microfilm from the collection of Q. David Bowers coordinated by the Media History Digital Library, www.mediahistoryproject.org, funded by Q. David Bowers and Kathryn Fuller-Seeley devoted to the development of bill posting, sign-painting, poster-printing, distributing and exhibiting, http://archive.org/stream/billboard0809-1897a/billboard0809-1897a_djvu.txt. Those of you who only know Dave Bowers from his considerable numismatic activity may not be aware of his considerable additional interests in mechanical musical instruments, motion picture history, and evidently now also advertising history.
23. An excellent review of Dawley Jr.’s Cuban career appears in “Dawley’s ‘Times of Cuba.’ American Newspaper Man and His Troubles in Running a Sheet in Havana” on the front page of the Kansas City Journal, Jan. 9, 1899.
24. Over the Christmas-New Year’s holidays, this writer spent a nice “down time” visiting kids and grandkids and spending five relaxing days at a Galveston Island resort proofreading the manuscript for his forthcoming book on Civil War postage stamp envelopes. One evening while perusing eBay, I came upon Joe Rainone’s reprint of the Dawley-Haco Assassinator. Extensive correspondence flowed as emails during which I learned Joe had an immense collection of Civil War-era and later popular literature numbering more than 40,000 items, and a website www.popularfiction.us. Rainone shared a number of rare Lincoln items with yours truly, and I shared my Dawley research with him.
25. Charles Grove to the author, undated note with enclosures.
26. Note: Milt Friedberg illustrates a Fr.-1312 imperforate note with American Bank Note Co. monogram with another such inscription in the ample margin of a block of four notes from the Columbus, Ohio postmaster dated Dec. 24, 1862. That may very well indicate they were among the first imperforate “Postal Currency” that he had seen, or – less likely in my view – might just be a Christmas gift remembrance.
27. See “Can anybody suggest a plausible reason for these red numerals?” Paper Money, May/June 2010, p. 228.
28. Bob Leonard to the author, Dec. 30, 2012.
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