Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crack Detective Stories, May 1949 / Ten Detective Aces, November 1945

And lastly in this series of posts on detective pulp, I offer two of my earliest pulp scans. It's sort of painful for me to look at some of my earlier scans with uneven color and jacked contrast, etc., but it is what it is.

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Get the scan here.

Here's one of those covers I'm embarrassed to admit to liking. There's something more than a little bit unwholesome in the faces of the terrified girls that endured all sorts of rough treatment on pulp covers. They were at the art of the scream long before the modern horror film. What this says about the male attraction to sex and violence, I can't say, but these covers are certainly rich in Freudian subtext and charged imagery.


I particularly enjoyed "Murder in Small Packages" and "Deuces Dealt for Death". A lot of the stories seem to have a sort of gothic inner-workings of terror thing going on.

Splash samples:

A couple of ads within:

The simplicity of that. Send me a dollar please and I'll fill you in on life's big secrets. There are also all sorts of self-help, weight-loss, marital aid, and other types of ads for the insecure. I find it reassuring to know some of this cultural anxiety has been around for a while. But on to tonight's second issue:

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Get the cover to cover scan here.



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Next time on Darwination Scans, a quick sojourn in the land of milk and honey, a look at a selection of vintage girlie magazines from the 50s and 60s and more than likely a few words in adoration of the full-figured female.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Detective Fiction Weekly, March 19, 1938 / Cleve Adams' Punk

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Get a cover to cover scan of the issue here.

Detective Fiction Weekly was one of the longer running pulps, previously titled Flynn's Weekly, a Munsey pulp. Flynn's ran from September of 1924 to August of 1927, a total of 193 issues and then continued on as DFW until May 1942 another 704 issues. The mag then continued for 26 issues as Flynn's Detective until 1944 and would resume 7 years later with the same volume numbering as Detective Fiction for 6 issues. That's a total of 929 issues of this pulp of which this is the first scanned example. Grab a shovel, peeps, lots of pulp to digitize here. Writers on this pulp included Agatha Christie, Carroll John Daly, Gaston Leroux, Day Keene, Dashiell Hammett, Cornell Woolrich, Erle Stanley Gardner, L. Ron Hubbard, Raymond Chandler, Judson Phillips, Frederic Brown, John D. MacDonald, and many, many more.

Besides the fiction and true crime stories, this pulp has a couple other neat features including an Illustrated Crimes spread depicting a historical crime as well as a puzzle section, a confidence scheme investigator, and some nice letters from fans. I particularly enjoy the letter from the reader who writes how a friend of his claims that the pulps are "an opiate" devoid of literary merit and distracting from higher concerns.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed with this ish as the first of this title I've read, but one story in here makes it all worth it. As any pop culture archaeologist knows, you have to dig for the nuggets, and for me the standout story in this issue is "Punk" by Cleve F. Adams. I'm not familiar with this writer, and like many pulp authors, can't find much about him. I did find a bit of a bib here, and the magazine uber-resource philsp.com lists his pulp appearances and also gives a pseudonym of John Spain here. It looks like he was pretty active in the pulps from about 1935-1940.

Also of note is that it looks like he worked alongside William Faulkner on the 1944 film adaptation of Hemingway's To Have and Have Not which I recall as a pretty good Bogey/Bacall film.

Some internet definitions of the word "Punk":


1. Slang.
a. A young person, especially a member of a rebellious counterculture group.
b. An inexperienced young man.
2. Music.
Punk rock.
A punk rocker.
a. Slang. A young man who is the sexual partner of an older man.
b. Archaic. A prostitute.

[Origin unknown.]


Today's first meaning of punk, a small-time hoodlum, developed in the period between the World Wars. And in the late 1970s punk came to designate bizarre clothing and body decorations associated with loud and aggressive rock music. To the general public, it still has an unpleasant taste.

I thought it might have a 19th century street origin, but this small-time hoodlum definition that pops up between the wars seems closest. Of course, if you read the story, you'll come to a fuller sense of who a punk really is.

I just love this story. Alcoholism, rackets, trampy broads, and smash-mouth violence. I've got low tastes, I suppose, but this is the type of Pulp Fiction Tarantino was trying to evoke with his film. The story rotates around a group of three guys that grew up together on the wrong side of the tracks. One's become a weak alky married to a money-grubbing tramp, one has become an honest but run-down cop, and the last is a successful mobster. The dialogue is excellent and the story is gritty and realistic. The pace of the thing gets awkward at the end (I think he had to just finish this one up to get it in the right number of assigned pages - these guys were getting paid peanuts per word after all), but overall this story is a great read that would make a nice hard-boiled noir flick. I also enjoyed the glimpse of the era's prison culture in the true crime piece "Big House Cats."


Contents and samples:

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Detective Tales, October 1944 / Day Keene

There were two pulps under the title of Detective Tales. The first was a bedsheet sized pulp from Rural and ran for 16 issues between 1922 and 1924. The second series was very successful and seems to be a spin-off title from Dime Detective at Popular Publications. This pulp ran for 202 issues between 1935 and 1953. Cover artists like Walter Baumhofer, Rafael De Soto, and Norman Saunders put hard-boiled covers on stories from the likes of Robert Leslie Bellem, Carroll John Daly, Cornell Woolrich, Fredric Brown, Ray Bradbury, Day Keene, John MacDonald, Louis L'Amour and others.

My pal, golden age comic and pulp scanner Cimmerian, told me a while back to check out Day Keene, and I finally took the time with this here pulp,

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I was not disappointed, a very nice pulp. I think the cover is Rafael DeSoto but that's totally unconfirmed. Though Bradbury is listed on the cover, he's not present inside (although he did write for this title during this exact period). No Matter though, because this pulp was a great ride. Excellent throughout with only a couple slight dips in the fun and action with breakneck plots and tough guy dialogue to boot. The contents:

Here's a nice bibliography of Keene's work, starting with the paperbacks and their seedy covers and going on to list all of his pulpwork followed by a little biographical information.

It looks like Day did some writing also for Kitty Keene, a private eye soap opera on CBS from 1937-1941. A bit of info on the program:


And lastly, this page has a snippet of a portrait and little more bio:


His entry in today's issue involves a farmer's daughter, but those farmer's daughters are rarely so simple as one might think. The splash:

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The story opens with detective Tom Doyle confronted by a tough warning him off a case from the old farmer. And Doyle is just the sort of ornery character that won't be told to lay off. The farmer shows up with the story of his imminent death and a long lost granddaughter his daughter shunned for her wild ways. Doyle chases down the leads meeting up with an old actor, novice but weasel-type lawyers and getting wires crossed with a dame in the death house of the state prison for murdering her rich hubby. Nothing and no one is what it seems, a nice read. Second is "Voice of the Dead." Two cops on stakeout duty of notorious gangsters foul up and the subject under surveillance turns up dead. Who could have gotten by these street-wise detectives? Third up, a story that starts fast and doesn't let up until the conclusion, "How Many Cards for the Corpse?". Jake is married now and through with cards. But he can't help but stop by the old table, and trouble is waiting. The bets build, but Jake has an unbeatable hand. Or does he? I like the illustration:

Next up, "Play the Game with Poison" by F. Orlin Tremaine, concerning the exploits of Professor E.Z. Bart a mystical and contemplative detective, always two steps ahead of his opponent and his leggy companion, a bit slow witted but fast on the draw. A strange detective type to say the least in this tale of a series of deaths of affluent men at different times at many points about the city. How is the killer achieving his ghastly purpose? E.Z. is on the case.

The next story is "Once There Was a Wolf" that starts in a very typical way for a detective story:

The damsel in distress needs a favor, and though the dick knows better, she's instantly found her knight in shining armor. A fun take-off on the little red riding hood story, the story is full of fun dialogue and quick action. Granny is just too funny. Another story I found pretty intersting is the next tale, penned by Dane Gregory, "Save a Grave for Me!." About a school teacher whose neighborhood is wiped out by an epidemic. Her children die and the neighborhood is abandoned, but she remains in the Summer of the epidemic, mentally stuck in time, as the world moves on about her. She cashes her support check and spends nothing, over the years her horde becomes too much of a temptation for a would-be killer. What sort of depraved individual would go after the helpless old crazy woman, and can he be redeemed? Though perhaps a bit convoluted, this story might be my favorite of the lot. Also, "A Drink for Aunt Louisa"? A greedy heir can't wait for Aunt Louisa to die, so he acts to move things along. Is there a flaw in his perfect crime? What sort of scumbag kills his aunt who has raised him:

And "Homefront Target", back from the war but at war on the streets, can Joe Jeremy face his captain and tell him he is quitting the force so he can marry his daughter? Is Joe just an adrenaline junkie or do his brothers in blue need his help tracking down domestic agents of the reich? Last up "The Four Merchants of Menace" regarding a bundle of 300,000 gone missing during a murder/robbery. Two years later, all the criminals are dead, but the money is nowhere to be found. But fresh murders put Dave Stone back on the case and under suspicion as the bodies start to pile up and the cops on his trail. Frantic detective work and a fast moving plot makes this a fun detective story. The author does a great job of putting the reader at the center of the action as the walls start to fall in. The splash:

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Enjoy the pulp you louses, hours of entertainment in a little rough magazine:

Get the cover to cover hi-res scan here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Popular Detective, November 1949

So I was talking about crime fiction last post, annd I happen to have completed a scan in the genre last week, so I think I'll go with a little selection of detective pulp scans over the coming days. McCoy did the edits for this issue, so big thanks to him. He makes these covers and spines look like they just hopped off the shelf.

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Get the scan here.

The cover painting is a nice take on the second novelette, the yellow pajamas are unmistakable. I can't identify the artist.


The rundown-

The pulp opens with "Murder Off Honduras," a nice whodunit in exotic locale. The captain of a small fishing boat takes a group of clients on a trip for tarpon, fishing all night (night fishing for tarpon is truly a thrill if you ever get the chance) and playing poker by day. The game's big winner turns up dead, the dough is gone, and the killer must be one of the clients, crew, or captain. Mix in a little romance, a squall, and the island alcade, and you get a unique yarn. Next up, "The Only Way Out." The reform candidate has just swept into city hall, and a police crackdown is coming. Can our mob accountant get out while the getting is good or must he cave to the cops trying to get him to squeal? The hypothetical moves quickly into the brutal, an interesting turn of events. A nice page on the author, Bruno Fischer, here.

Next up, the other novella, "The Dead Don't Die". A bit of eerie fiction here, a ghost story. Set on the windblown cliffs on the family estate of his newlywed friend, our protagonist wades into an argument on whether it's a good idea to go hunting the cursed family jewels. A haunted past echoes into the present, supernatural goings-on? Maybe, maybe not... Next up, "A Heel and his Loot," in which our man Dooley a ship cook ashore discovers his friend The Swede a baker who shares his galley in a bar despondent, having been suckered by a dame. Can she sucker Dooley too? Next up, "An Eye for an Eye," a witness to murder catches a bullet and survives. The bad news? The cops want to use him for bait. Then, "Fists for Mercura," how do you take down a killer without drawing blood? It takes an engineer...and lastly, the piece I might have enjoyed most, Joe Archibald's "Cheesecake and Willie," a comedic caper in which Detective Willie thinks fast, too fast. I laughed my way through this one, maybe Archibald picked up a knack for comedy from his days working on The Funnies at Dell.

Enjoy! More dicks and dames coming your way next time.


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Monday, April 19, 2010

Liberty 1936-04-04 (Canadian Edition) / Walter Baumhofer

Back again tonight with a second issue of Liberty which just happens to be the first slick magazine I had the pleasure to scan. Looking at the scan nearly 3 years later, I'm still pleased with it. The text might be a little blocky from too much contrast, and I make my pages wider these days, but the scan is a beauty - really just a testament to this fantastic magazine. It is truly mind-boggling that all this goodness was delivered to your door for a mere nickel.

After my last post, I discovered the NYT article that seems to point to the coming of a Liberty archive online (there's a slideshow of covers accompanying the article ). The wiki says the magazine is bound for the Google treatment (which would be a very nice injection of actual content into the web) and the official website draws correlations between current events and history out of Liberty. I don't doubt that as these issues become viewable by readers the world over that much of the forgotten fiction and history might be rejuvenated by our modern cinema as film and documentary. For certain, historians will have an excellent resource for understanding the times from within the times, history in context...But on to tonight's issue!

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This issue is very appealing to me because it contains the conclusion of crime classic Double Indemnity but just as much for this fantastic cover and artwork from Walter Baumhofer. Look at this character from the wilds of the Afghan border, a fierce flame burns here. Baumhofer is well-known among pulp fans, he began his career painting covers for Clayton and Hersey for titles like Gangland Stories, Courtroom Stories, Riders of the Range, Speakeasy Stories and Western Trails. His career begins to take off when he catches the editors' eyes at Street & Smith and soon he's pumping out many covers a month. He only painted covers for Doc Savage for 3 years, but there's no doubt that he is the classic Doc Savage artist, capturing the look and the feel of the biggest hero in pulp beside The Shadow. In the mid-30s he would also do some excellent work for Popular Publications on titles like Dime Mystery and Adventure. About this time he breaks into the big leagues, the slicks, and I think it's when he was in top form. You can find a little more biographical information on Baumhofer on David Saunder's excellent Field Guide To Wild American Pulp Artists here and a nice digital gallery including some of Baumhofer's illustration work outside of the pulps at the American Art Archives site here. For more examples of Baumhofer's paintings I'd point you to the John Gunnison's recent Adventure House book on Baumhofer. I feel the book might have done well to include more larger reproductions (beautifully reproduced from Baumhofer's stash of file proofs) instead of going with so many thumbnails (cough - bloggers pay heed, thumbnails do not do justice to cover art). There is also little text to accompany the art, but it's hard to complain too much because the covers are really the thing.

But back to our issue, a couple more Baumhofer pieces. His splash for the cover story

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and the fantastic 2 page spread that follows. Love it!

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Get the scan here. I note that this is the Canadian edition with different ads, an editorial from the Canadian editor instead of MacFadden, and so forth. Another scanner inserted the American pages which can be had here.

Contents, at the back of the issue, oddly convenient that way.

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And some further sampleage. Kicking off the issue - forget O.J., the Lindbergh kidnapping led to the real trial of the century. America could not get enough, and it is still lead material here in 1936. I'll go ahead and post the whole entry because it's so short.

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And I couldn't post this issue without a word on Double Indemnity, the splash for the final installment by James Montgomery Flagg who we discussed back in a post for Leslie's Illustrated Weekly in 1917. And I had better issue a spoiler alert, please if you haven't read this and might have an interest, do not begin reading at the conclusion :)

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Most definitely a classic from James M. Cain and a classic finale. I like Flagg's rendition. I believe this was the first noir/crime book I ever read, included as a lark by an English professor in my final year as an undergraduate. Years of education in American literature, and I'd never encountered one of our richest veins. I remember seeking out The Postman Always Rings Twice and moving on to Chandler and Hammett then to Jim Thompson, Chester Himes, James Ellroy, and so on. I still find myself gravitating to the detective pulps when reading for pleasure. So a big thanks to that teacher for pointing me down the dark alley of crime ;)

A couple of more splashes, Frank Swain illustrates Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr.'s "Rich Man's Son":

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And Edgar McGraw illustrates Betty Wallace's "No Romance in Flying, Eh?"

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I hope you've enjoyed this look at these issues of Liberty, truly a classic American magazine. If you seek some out for your own collection, you will not be disappointed. I've been reading a biography of Bernarr MacFadden and will return to the subject, but regarding some other of his myriad publications...

So I'm ready to attack my next major project here, the birth of the girlie pulp (a series of posts on the magazines and zeitgeist that preceded and birthed the classic girlie pulp as well as an exploration of what defines the girlie pulp and some early examples) but might post a few other things on the way. I've just laid hands on a few examples of a publication that I want to include as a preface to this girlie material (La Vie Parisienne), and while I'm preparing the scans I hope to make more-regular short posts in an attempt to make up for the recent absence...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Liberty 1929-03-02

Chalk it up to Spring fever or March Madness, but I've been noticeably absent a good while here on my blog. I know it's fun when a blog keeps a steady pace, but erratic is as erratic does - let's see if I can't get back into the rhythm - -

As promised, let's take a look at a couple of issues of Liberty, an absolutely classic American magazine. Liberty spans from its beginnings in the roaring twenties in 1924 published by McCormick Patterson, into the depression and the magazine's purchase by the extraordinaire Bernarr MacFadden in 1931 who would publish the magazine until 1942 when a final publisher would take the reins (doubling the sale price from a nickel to a dime) until the magazine's demise in 1950. During the magazines heyday (which I'd guess was the early through mid-30s), the magazine was the second most popular slick in America behind only The Saturday Evening Post. The appeal of the magazine was universal, the variety format had something for all interests. Presidents, sports heroes, religious leaders, and movie stars all wrote in Liberty, there's a sort of intimate air that I can't really think of other magazines matching. And the fiction is truly incredible. No less than 100 films have been made from stories published in Liberty, and the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs, P.G. Wodehouse, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Dashiell Hammett first published stories within. Mix in true crime, Hollywood commentary from Adela Rogers St. Johns, and news coverage from the world over and you have a little something for everybody, a unique reflection of the times. I've witnessed the delight of at least a few historians of the 30s as they've discovered the portal into the past these magazines offer. It's hard to imagine today that a presidents or international dignitaries might write articles in a national magazine, but indeed they did.

Certain issues are highly prized by collectors, but you can find very affordable copies of Liberty if you look for lots of them on ebay. For say $20 you can often get a stack of 5-8 issues chock full of good reading. One well known trademark of the magazine is that it listed a reading time for each article, and I'd say you are doing very well if you can digest them that quickly. The good news is that the wiki for the magazine indicates that the entire magazine's run is slated to be google-fied so many more people will be discovering what a national treasure Liberty is. I've scanned a couple issues of the magazine from my small collection and will go ahead and post them both and point out some items of interest, starting with the earlier issue, to give a snapshot of the magazine before and during MacFadden's ownership.

I found tonight's issue in a local antique mall, and I have to say I particularly love finding magazines the old-fashioned way, by rooting them out in flea markets, antique shops, at estate sales, antique bookshops, and wherever they might be found. I've found a seller in one of my flea markets that has a little stack of Liberty from this exact era, and I find myself going back every once in a while to buy up her remaining issues one at a time. These earlier issues of Liberty are a little bit taller and wider than the issues that would come and have high production values, elegant even. Big thanks to McCoy for his ever excellent editing assistance on this issue.

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Get the scan here.

In my rush to introduce the magazine, I didn't even mention the art which is truly excellent. This piece is from Leslie Thrasher, an under-celebrated artist who did many great covers for Liberty and other slicks. A short bio on Thrasher is here. The editor begins on the contents page of the magazine with a defense of the boisterous couple on the cover, telling the prudes where to go. In today's parlance, keeping it real, yo.

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Towards the back of the issue, the story behind the cover is given, a little exposition. It would be neat to see all these Lil and Sandy covers and stories in sequence, I think it's a pretty cool device.

The mag opens with a story from a frequent contributor, Achmed Abdullah. Abdullah's fantastic life story is quickly told by wiki here and the excellent Pulp Rack has posted a nice bibliography of Abdullah's works here. Abdullah wrote the novel and screenplay for Thief of Baghdad (1924), and his The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935) was also made into a successful film.

His contribution in this issue is "The Breckenridge Necklace" and opens in cosmopolitan hotel in Fulahistan, a "near eastern" sultanate, about to plunge into conflict as the sultanate ignores his vizier's warnings that the people will no longer allow immoral foreigners to flaunt their values. The splash:

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The artist is Fortunino Matania (bio and gallery page here), but I gotta say the style of the art doesn't match the story. Here's his centerpiece on the next pages:

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I say I'm not sure the art matches the story because the art has an old-world feel, and the story is anything but old-world. This is the roaring 20s, Fulahistan or no, and Abdullah does a great job of setting the scene for our heist caper (if the word "necklace" is in the title, you can bet what's coming). These rich and cosmopolitan partiers drink the day away, but sex and flirtation is the real engine. Abdullah's dialogue is popping with innuendo and very fun to read. The story kind of dovetails and doesn't play out very evenly, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Following the Abdullah piece is a bit of Hollywood tell-all. Americans bemoan the centrality of the celebrity in American culture, but really this preoccupation goes way back, dishing the dirt sells copy and here is Elsie Janis (an exhibition put together by Ohio State University Libraries on Ms. Janis is here) playfully writing on the Barrymore clan.

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The second piece of fiction is "Song in the Dark" by Barry Benefield, what you might call a spinster's tale. Annie May has spent her life devoted to her work as the President of the firm's secretary, but what's she to do when he passes and and her eyesight fails? Talk about taking your work home with you... The splash by Ray Sisley:

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Always a sure attraction, Liberty often gave sports heroes a little space to write in their own words, this issue features Jack Dempsey's 10 training rules. I've adopted #2 as a routine in the morning, a little centering first thing in the morn

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Perhaps my favorite article in the issue is "The Mystery of the Puritan Girl" regarding Lizzie Borden, one of a series of ten articles on real life mysteries.. Sure, I've heard the grisly nursery rhyme, but the details of the case are chilling and I did not realize that it had gone to trial. A diagram of the murder scene, a domestic cross-section if you will, cute and twisted all at the same time:

I don't know whether to find the last line ironic or comforting, but I'm sure this episode would make a nice psychological horror film

The third piece of fiction is Nippy and Nell from Cosmo Hamilton, a story of a vaudeville clown in need of an assistant. Cutesy, but it helps wash down the tale of Lizzie Borden, heh heh. Illustrated by Arthur Little, I liked this spot illo.:

Another fun entry is "Love Letters of an Interior Decorator" from author/cartoonist Bert Green (Lambiek page here) in which he describes life on an ocean liner during prohibition, one big drunken party. I'll go ahead and put up both pages

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Also, a piece on aviator Al Williams, Vox Pop, 2 crosswords (one easy, one hard), Figures of Fashion by Bettina Bedwell (Libery was well known for featuring layouts from top fashion designers), cooking tips on freshening stale breads, Part 7 of "The Murders on the Roof" by Edward Doherty with art by Dalton Stevens, Part 8 of M.R. Werner's "Bryan: An American Phenomenon," and more.

I'll close my examination of this issue with some of the advertising art from the issue which is very nice. Back next time with another issue of Liberty, this time from the mid 30s...

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My bro has an International sitting out in the field he's planning on restoring some day, so I gotta include this one:

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