SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY, THE.
THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY, an extensive run, with gaps, from 1918 to 1963, comprising 968 of the 1652 issues published in three series between 1915 and 1963.
London: Amalgamated Press, 1918-1963. Octavo, 968 issues, variously paged, most uniformly bound in red cloth with gold stamping on spines. The first story featuring Sexton Blake, "The Missing Millionaire" by Harry Blyth writing as "Hal Meredeth," appeared in THE HALFPENNY MARVEL in December 1893. The first issue of the SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY was published in 1915. The SBL used several numbering sequences, three of which are represented here. This lot consists of 87 bound volumes (containing a total of 928 issues), the publisher's own file copies with relevant paper labels on front covers or rubber stamps to endpapers. Also included are 40 unbound issues, mostly from the early 1960s. The bound issues all have their original covers and are slightly trimmed. Early volumes have four copies per volume; later ones, twelve. The serial began as a 64- or 72-page book (printed in small but readable double-columns), and generally consisted of a single short novel, sometimes with an extra short story or nonfiction filler. The magazine switched to 96 pages in 1932, then reverted to 64 pages from 1947 until its demise in 1963 (it was revised for a short period in the mid-1960s). Except for a period in the 1920s-1930s, the publisher did not date issues. Up until the early years of World War II, four numbers were issued each month. Then it dropped to two, a pattern it maintained for the duration of its existence. Included in this lot are runs from the late 1910s; all issues for 1923; scattered runs from 1924 to 1927; all of 1929-1932; all of 1935 through first half of 1939; most of 1940; all of 1941 through first half of 1942; all of 1943 through first half of 1945; all of 1946 through first half of 1950; all of 1952; six months each of 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957; all of 1958; all of 1959-1961; plus loose issues for all of 1962-1963.Michael Moorcock was closely associated with the SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY from 1958 to 1960, during which time he contributed short stories, short features, and editorial material. Moorcock's first book, CARIBBEAN CRISIS, a collaboration with Jim Cawthorn as "Desmond Reid," was published in 1962 as number 501 of the SBL (a fine copy is present here). Among the other modern Sexton Blake contributors are R. Coutts Armour (anonymously and as Coutts Brisbane, H [Hartley] Tremayne and Reid Whitley or Whitly), W Howard Baker, Lester Bidston, Ladbroke Black (anon and as Black), Sydney J. Bounds (as Peter Saxon), T. C. Bridges (anon and as Bridges), Edwy Searles Brooks (anon and as Brooks), John Lymington (as Desmond Reid), Colin Collins (anon), Cicely Hamilton (as Scott Rae and/or Max Hamilton), Wilfred McNeilly (as W. A. Ballinger, McNeilly and Desmond Reid), Jack Trevor Story (as Story and, once, Richard Williams), Martin Thomas, and E. C. Tubb (as Arthur Maclean)."Full-fledged sf elements are relatively rare in Sexton Blake work, though from time to time villains attempt to kill the detective in exotic ways like firing him off to the moon by rocket. Wilfred McNeilly's Let My People Be" (1965) as by Desmond Reid deals with the Irish 'Little People' as a lost race. Two of Jack Trevor Story's Sexton Blake Library titles are mildly science-fictional: The Frightened People (1958) centers on nuclear radiation leakage, and Danger on the Flip Side (1960) uses the then-futuristic McGuffin of a video disc." - Science Fiction Encyclopedia (online)."Sexton Blake was an enormously popular character in Britain, spanning more than a half-century, attracting over 200 authors to anonymously produce over 4000 stories. He was dismissed by some as a 'poor man's Sherlock Holmes,' but the material never concealed its true lineage: the dime novel and penny dreadfuls of the nineteenth century. The material hid its thrills under a wholesome exterior, but shifting morals allowed it to become more openly spicy as time when on. The covers of 1960s issues are more reminiscent of Mickey Spillane than Deadwood Dick. An additional element of this material is its recurrent use of super-scientific and science-fictional motifs. In its magnitude of popularity and longevity, it thus constitutes a kind of link between the nineteenth century dime novels and the Perry Rhodan serials that began in the 1960s, shortly after Sexton Blake presented his 'personal message of farewell' on the back cover of the June, 1963 issue." - Robert Eldridge.The archive is accompanied by two valuable reference works, the SEXTON BLAKE CATALOGUE and SUPPLEMENT TO THE SEXTON BLAKE CATALOGUE. They are printed on both sides of A4 paper, side-stapled and bound in quarter-cloth, and are undated but look to be the fruit of desktop publishing, well-designed and very readable. The first (91 pp. long) is attributed to the Sexton Blake Circle, with a short foreword by its chairman Leonard Packman. The second (17 pp. long) is attributed to Leonard and Josie Packman. These guides offer extraordinarily detailed information on well over a thousand appearances of the Sexton Blake character in various periodicals, specifying the series, the periodical number, title of story, author and, in many cases, names of other key recurring characters in the story. We're aware of no other reference work on this subject of comparable depth. See Turner, Boys Will Be Boys (1957), pp. -144. See Stephen Holland. The Sexton Blake Library (Dragonby, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire: Dragonby Press, 1988). The bound issues are in very nice condition, with bright covers, supple pages, and only mild tanning and edge wear. Binding these, in effect, saved them from the fate common to most boys digests of this period: spine damage repaired by cello-tape which exacerbated the damage. The cloth bindings themselves are all in very good condition. The four loose issues from the 1940s are in mixed condition; those from 1962-1963 are near fine. Altogether, this represents a unique archive of material important to popular culture, one that would be difficult if not impossible to assemble from scratch today. Complete calendar available upon request. (#142127).