Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books is a popular series of children’s books. You might recognize them from your childhood or maybe you read them to your kids – they have the iconic golden binding and tell many classic children’s stories. The eighth book in the series, The Poky PokylittlepuppyLittle Puppy, is the top-selling children’s book of all time. Many of the Little Golden Books have become bestsellers, including The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, Scuffy the Tugboat, and The Little Red Hen. Several of the illustrators for the Little Golden Books later became staples within the picture book industry, including Corinne Malvern, Tibor Gergely, Gustaf Tenggren, Feodor Rojankovsky, Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkin, and Garth Williams.

Lead of Artists and Writers Guild Inc., a division of Western Publishing, Georges Duplaix, in 1940 was tasked with developing new children’s books: Little Golden Books was the result. Duplaix had the idea to produce a colorful, more durable and affordable children’s book than those being published at that time which sold for $2 to $3.

Meanwhile, a shared printing plant made Western Publishing and Simon & Schuster develop a close relationship. In 1938, the first joint effort between Western and Simon & Schuster, A Children’s History, was published. With the help of Lucile Olge, Duplaix contacted Albert Leventhal, a vice president and sales manager at Simon & Schuster, and Leon Shimkin, also at Simon & Schuster, with his idea for Little Golden Books.

It was decided that twelve titles would be published  for simultaneous release in what was to be called the Little Golden Books Series. Each book would have 42 pages, 28 s-l1600 (45)printed in two-color, and 14 in four-color. The books would be staple-bound. The group originally discussed a 50-cent price for the books, but Western Publishing did not want to compete with other 50-cent books already on the market. The group calculated that if the print run for each title was 50,000 copies instead of 25,000, the books could affordably be sold for 25 cents each. Three editions totaling 1.5 million books sold out within five months of publication in 1942.

The involvement of Lucy Sprague Mitchell, an educator and founder of Bank Street Nursery School in New York’s West Village, gave a big boost to the series. As a strong proponent of realistic children books, Mitchell created the Bank Street Writer’s Laboratory, whose works became the new basis for the Little Golden Book series, with characters and situations that were often inspired by the very neighborhood where the Bank School was located.

As historian Leonard S. Marcus writes,

Mitchell had been in discussions with Georges Duplaix and Lucille Ogle as early as 1943 about the possibility of a special series of Little Golden Books written by members of Bank Street Writer’s Laboratory. Wartime shortages had delayed the launch of the series until 1946. The first two titles appeared that year: Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s The New House in the Forest, illustrated by Eloise Wilkins, and The Taxi That Hurried, coauthored by Irma Simonton Black and Jessie Stanton, with illustrations by Tibor Gergely.

In 1958, Simon & Schuster sold its interest in Little Golden Books to Western Publishing. The price of Little Golden Books rose to 29¢ in 1962.

Golden Melody Books were introduced in the 1980s, thewe were Golden Books that included a long-lasting electronic chip that played music every time the book was opened. Titles included popular children’s songs such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and songs from children’s TV and movies including People in Your Neighborhood from Sesame Street and Heigh Ho from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

In the year 2000, Encore Software produced a series of “Little Golden Books” titles for CD ROM, including The Poky Little Puppy, Mother Goose, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Velveteen Rabbit, Tootle, and The Saggy Baggy Elephant. These six individual titles were some of the first major software releases to be produced entirely in Macromedia Flash.

s-l1600 (46)Random House acquired Little Golden Books in 2001 for about $85 million. At that point, nearly 15 million copies of The Poky Little Puppy had been sold, including copies in various languages. On August 25 2015, Little Golden Books adapted the first six installments of the Star Wars saga and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith became the first ever Little Golden Book in history to be based on a film that was rated PG-13 by the MPAA. Months later, on April 12, 2016, a Little Golden Book adaptation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the next film in the saga, also rated PG-13, was released. This opened the door for further Little Golden Books that drew upon PG-13 rated licensed film properties, such as the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters, characters and storylines from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and even Jurassic Park.

Stop by the Little Golden Books’ website for an even more detailed timeline of the books.


Find a selection of Little Golden Books on our eBay site! 

Summer Reading for Coin Lovers

 

 

We spend most of the year reading things that are “serious,” that are needed for professional development or personal growth. But summer reading is about fun and escapism, and that goes for coin collectors, too. Here are a few of our favorite fun reads that have scenes or themes that may be of interest to the collector (while still being good for the beach or the hammock.)

 

 

download (2)Hild, by Nicola Griffith: This novel of the childhood of the woman who became St. Hilda of Whitby paints a stunning immersive and accurate picture of life in 7th century Britain. Hild is the daughter of a king, who must live in exile after her father is murdered and learn to navigate the intricacies of Anglo-Saxon warlord courts. Of special interest to the collector are scenes in which Hild begins to understand the power of coins over hacksilver, as they are tradeable over long distances and can be sent with messengers. A must-read for anyone interested in Anglo-Saxon culture and currency, or how a society transitions to using coins.

 

 

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The Numismatourist, by Howard M. Berlin: This wonderful guide to coin sites all over the world will let the collector experience the fascination of coin-related travel without leaving their seat. Use this excellent book as a guide to planning future trips, or just enjoy reading about locations that sound interesting.

 

 

 

 

51P1c42DyLLHamilton, by Ron Chernow. Alexander Hamilton was not only the first Secretary of the Treasury, but also one of the founders of the US Mint, though the Mint ended up overseen by Jefferson’s State Department. Our currency and economic system were hugely influenced by Hamilton, and his life is an interesting one; it’s also a good way to put early American coinage into context. (Even if you’re already a fan of the musical, this book contains a lot of stories that never made it into the play.) It’s a large book, but well-written and easy to read.

 

 

Ocean_at_the_End_of_the_Lane_US_CoverThe Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. Known for his odd and otherworldly storytelling, Gaiman (also author of the Sandman graphic novel series, Stardust, and American Gods) puts his powers on full display in this short novel about childhood, the mysteries of the world, and growing up. An ancient spirit comes to the house of the young narrator of the book, and seeking to ingratiate itself with the humans, enables treasure to be found. An older couple pulls a hoard of coins out of their garden, a little girl is given a mouse-skin purse with a silver coin inside, the narrator wins twenty-five pounds in a lottery. Such ill-gotten gains do no good, however, and the young boy’s world is thrown into chaos. (To find out if it has a happy ending, read the book!)

 

 

781737.jpgModern Coin Magic, by J. B. Bobo. Summer is the perfect time to learn and perfect a few classic sleight-of-hand coin tricks. Coins have been used in alchemy, magic, and prestidigitation for as long as coins have been around, so join in the fun! (Magic tricks should, of course, probably not be performed with high value coins, as its best to keep skin contact to a minimum. But there’s no shortage of low-value coins to work with!)

Game of Thrones and the Coin Technology of Westeros

 

 

Game of Thrones, like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, has a world so dense with detail that it feels real. The world of Westeros even has its own coinage, and those coins can speak volumes about that world. (For the purposes of this post, all references to specific coins are to replica coins based on the TV show.)

 

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Copper star of Robert Baratheon

There are 8 denominations of Westerosi currency. The halfpenny, penny, halfgroat, groat, and star are all made of copper, while the stag and moon are silver coins. The only Westerosi gold coin (at the time the story is set) is the dragon. There are 2 halfpennies to the penny, 2 pennies to a halfgroat, 2 halfgroats to a groat, and 2 groats to a star.

 

 

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Reverse of gold dragon of Joffrey Baratheon

The lower denominations are very basic, but the silver and gold coins get more complicated. There are 7 bronze stars to 1 silver stag, and 7 stags to a moon. 30 moons make a gold dragon. (7 is the most significant number in the state religion of Westeros.)

 

 

While most of Westeros uses this system, the “ironborn” under the rule of House Greyjoy, generally do not use currency (though women are sometimes allowed to use coins), preferring instead to “pay the iron price” and take what they need in battle. Their house motto, unsurprisingly, is “We Do Not Sow.” This is somewhat similar to the non-Westerosi Dothraki, who do not use coins or currency of any kind, but instead have an economy based on raiding and gift-giving. (There is a replica Dothraki coin with the imprint of Khal Drogo, but this seems inaccurate with regards to the description of the Dothraki culture in the books.) Also, while the denominations remain consistent, some houses do strike their own versions of these coins, though the vast majority from the ruling House Baratheon in King’s Landing.

 

 

Coins of House Stark

Coins of House Stark

House Stark in the North produces their own currency, including a halfpenny and silver stag, with the imprint of Eddard Stark. It is not surprising that the line of the old King in the North would have a mint, though no information is given as to where the Stark mint might be. It is never mentioned in any of the scenes at Winterfell, and it seems that a mint would be a good place for any of House Stark’s enemies to attack first. An army cannot march far without money for food and supplies. (More interestingly, there are some replica coins with the imprint of Robb Stark, though it is unclear when he would have had time to have new coins minted while building and leading his army.) These coins look more crude in design than other Westerosi coins, though they are contemporaneous with the bronze star of Robert Baratheon; however, House Stark is known for valuing its long history, and it might be expected that they would not keep up with the minting technology in use in King’s Landing.

 

 

Game of Thrones Silver stag coin

Obverse of silver stag of Aerys II Targaryen

Many Westerosi coins are beautifully crafted, but the silver stag of Aerys II Targaryen, known as the Mad King, is simple and somewhat crude, especially compared with the coins of King Robert Baratheon, produced some 20 years later. Aerys II let Westeros fall into chaos, consumed with his own paranoia and greed.

 

 

Game of Thrones silver stag coin

Reverse of silver stag of Aerys II Targaryen

It’s certainly possible that minting technology declined during his reign; given that the Targaryen dynasty had been considered to be in decline for several generations, it could be reflective of a gradual loss of technical skill, which is reinvigorated with the Targaryen’s defeat and the rise of House Baratheon.

 

 

Game of Thrones Daenerys coin

Reverse of mark of Meeren of Daenerys Targaryen

Perhaps most unusual of all are the replica coins for Daenerys Targaryen. Exiled beyond Westeros when the rest of her family was killed during Robert Baratheon’s rebellion, Daenerys hatches dragon eggs and takes control of armies and entire cities as she prepares to retake the Iron Throne of Westeros. Her coins have some real-world counterparts, in that several of them appear to have been struck to commemorate a specific conquest or victory (see this coin of Marc Antony and Cleopatra.) However, the coins do seem a little unusual in that they each celebrate a different title, such as “Queen of Meereen” and “Breaker of Chains.”

 

 

Game of Thrones Daenerys coin

Obverse of mark of Meeren of Daenerys Targaryen

The most used image on her coins is, unsurprisingly, a dragon. The dragons have always been the symbol of House Targaryen, and Daenerys uses it both to establish herself as a ruler in the Targaryen line, and to remind all who see the coin that she controls the power of literal dragons. Coins have always been one of the most effective ways to make a political statement, especially in the days before reliable mail systems and phone lines. Coins can travel great distances in trade; a coin that commemorates a victory can spread the word of a triumphant ruler very quickly indeed.

 

 

Though the world of Game of Thrones is fictional, much of it was based on real world history, especially the Wars of the Roses and other long-standing feuds. It’s no surprise that the fictional currency of this world tells us so much about its history.

 

 

[All photos credit of Shire Post Mint, used under Fair Use.]

The Literature of G. A. Henty

G. A. Henty (1832-1902) wrote a LOT of books: over 100 novels and stories. He exclusively wrote in the historical adventure genre.

Henty’s interest in writing started at an early age. He often got sick as a child and spent his days in bed. With not much else to do, he read constantly and developed a wide number of interests.George_Alfred_Henty

Henty left his university without finishing his degree to volunteer for an army hospital; he was soon sent to Crimea, where he saw the horrible conditions of war. He regularly wrote home with detailed scenes of war. These letters impressed his father, who sent them to The Morning Advertiser newspaper for publishing.

With the war behind him and his letters published, Henty started a steady writing career by becoming a war correspondent.

This was helped along by his strong sense of patriotism toward his home country of Britain that he held for all of his life.

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This stunning copy of Through the Sikh War is available here.

Henty’s first published book was titled Out on the Pampas. The main characters in the story were named after Henty’s children. The book was written in 1868.

Almost all of his stories involved young men (occasionally women) living in hard times, especially during war. His protagonists all contained sparks of courage with strong moral compasses. Through all of his stories, Henty draws on his real-life experiences with war.

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This beautiful copy of Jack Archer is available here.

Despite the kind protagonists of his stories, some of Henty’s views sparked controversy, even in Victorian times, for xenophobia and racism. Perhaps this is why his books have not stood the test of time.

Henty had a brief stint of popularity with readers in the late 19th century, inspiring other writers to write in “the Henty tradition”. However, the period of popularity was brief, and people lost interest in his stories less than 30 years after his death.

Henty’s detailed war stories with spunky heroes sparked the imaginations of Victorian readers, and with the amount of stories he wrote, he certainly guaranteed himself a good stint of popularity. His books can now be looked upon as relics of the times they come from. 

The Cocktail People

Terry Gilliam (born 1940), a popular performer, artist and creator, and once a member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, teamed up in the 1960’s with film critic Joel Siegel to create a book called The Cocktail People.

Only very few copies of this book exist. In fact, it took one commenter on Terry Gilliam’s own daughter’s blog to track down a copy.

We’re lucky enough to have this beautiful book available, and it’s a truly hilarious representation of Terry Gilliam’s unique sense of humor. Pisani Press published this copy in 1966.

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“In fifteen minutes this room will be filled with fascinating, lovely people from the four corners of the earth.” The book begins. “In four hours, when the last guest will have left, there will have been consumed in gin, vodka, scotch, and bourbon enough calories to feed a small Indian village for three full weeks. This quaint custom is called a Cocktail Party. And the people who attend? Of course, they’re the…”

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The book’s illustrations show caricatures of all the kinds of people you’ll meet at a cocktail party.

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After Terry Gilliam’s gig with Monty Python, he went on to direct such popular movies as The Fisher King, 12 Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He won multiple awards and nominations for his involvement in film.

So, we have to ask: What kind of people do YOU see at cocktail parties?


Buy your very own copy of this rare book from our ebay store!

Pioneers of Color Printing: The McLoughlin Bros., Inc.

The McLoughlin Bros., formed in 1828 in New York, made revolutionary moves in regards to color printing technologies. They printed many children’s books with this newer color method.

They specialized in retelling classic stories, often removing any material that they considered improper or offensive.

The company grew as a family business, first run by John McLoughlin, Jr. and soon joined by his younger brother Edmund McLoughlin as a business partner.

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At the start of the business, they continually experimented with methods of illustration and their printing process. They tried hand stenciling to zinc etching to chromolithography, a method for making multi-color prints.

Eventually they opened a color printing factory which employed up to 75 artists. The company had established chromolithographs as their printing method of choice. The company moved their office location in New York a number of times through the years.

Inside pages of illustration from "The Old Woman and Her Pig" by McLoughlin Bros., Inc.

Inside pages of illustration from “The Old Woman and Her Pig

Unfortunately, the company founder John McLoughlin Jr.’s death in 1905 brought hardship to the company. It sorely missed his business and artistic leadership.

In 1920, Milton Bradley bought McLoughlin Bros., Inc. The McLoughlin branch still continued production of books and games (minus a pause in production during the WWII years). Through the years, other companies bought the McLoughlin trademark. The company’s name finally dropped from print in the 1970s.

Today, collectors express plenty of interest towards McLoughlin Bros. books and games as well as the Mcloughlin wood engraving blocks. They’re hot commodities in the collecting world.

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Source: American Antiquarian

Kate Greenaway, Famous Children’s Book Illustrator

Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) illustrated and wrote children’s books in the 19th century. Among Randolph Caldecott and Walter Crane, she’s considered one of the best illustrators of her time.

Greenaway’s parents encouraged her artistic interests and she had won a number of awards by age seventeen, thus cementing her successful future career.

Greenaway illustrated over 30 books. Most of her illustrations include happy boys and girls dressed in Regency and late eighteenth century fashions, out enjoying themselves in nature. Their clothes, though inspired by those eras, were all Greenaway’s own designs. They gained popularity even among fashion circles for their charming nostalgia. The company Liberty of London even used Greenaway’s designs as inspiration for actual clothes.

Polly by Kate Greenaway

“Polly”

During her career, Greenaway’s fan base extended far beyond her home country of England, including a large fan base in America.

She even got a medal named for her. In 1955 the Kate Greenaway Medal was established for exceptional illustrations in children’s books – not to be confused with the Caldecott Medal, which honors children’s picture books as a whole.

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This particular book by Greenaway, titled Ring-Round-A-Rosy, is done in the typical style of Greenaway’s, showing cheerful children playing and enjoying nature. The book’s publisher is The Saalfield Publishing Company, and this edition is a part of their rare muslin books, built to last through the wear and tear of young readers.

Many of the books that Greenaway illustrated were perfect for young readers, but their timelessness appeals to adults as well, and her illustrations still charm today.

The Illustrations of Edmund Dulac

Edmund Dulac changed the art world as we know it.

A select few illustrators make up what we now refer to as the “golden age of illustration”, a time period between 1880s-1920s of superb book, magazine, and newspaper illustrations. Illustrated books became a favorite media at the time, leading to long-living, valued illustrations that are still favorites today. We’ve written about Arthur Rackham, but the other illustrators also deserve recognition.

Another such illustrator from the golden age was Edmund Dulac, a French artist.

Although Dulac started his studies in law, he quickly became bored and switched to studying art full-time. This seems like a good idea in retrospect, considering he was able to get his first commission at the young age of 22, for 60 illustrations in an edition of Jane Eyre. Dulac soon moved to London to continue his career.

The Princess and the Pea (Via super freeparking on Flickr)

The Princess and the Pea (Via super freeparking on Flickr)

The company Hodder & Stoughton purchased the rights to his paintings, which they used in their illustrated books. These books were published once a year.

Dulac’s favorite subjects to illustrate were fantasy and fiction elements from classic stories. He illustrated such stories as Stories from The Arabian Nights, The Tempest by William Shakespeare, The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales, Stories from Hans Christian Anderson, and The Bells and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe.

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Shakespeare’s Comedy of The Tempest, illustrated by Dulac and available here in a rare edition.

Dulac strayed away from the more popular colored ink drawings at the time (a technique used most notably by Arthur Rackham). Instead, he used his preference for painting to let color define the subject. The new printing presses at the time were conveniently ready just in time to accommodate the color separation.

Dulac’s technique changed in the mid-1910s, when his illustrations went from romantic, subdued colors into more oriental styles.

Illustration for Quatrain LXXII of the Rubaiyat (Via super freeparking on Flickr)

Illustration for Quatrain LXXII of the Rubaiyat (Via super freeparking on Flickr)

The golden age of illustration came to an end after the first World War. People were no longer entranced by these illustrated books. Dulac had no choice but to move on to other subjects.

And move on he did, going on to work on such things as newspaper caricatures, portraits, theater design, bookplates, and much more.

He also designed postage stamps for Great Britain, including contributions to the first stamps of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Book editions with Dulac’s work can still be found today, and they have aged well, still acting as timeless examples of illustration’s golden age.

Sources:

Illustrators

Wikipedia

You’ll Never Look at Books the Same Way Again

There’s an art to books that even most book-lovers don’t know about.

Do you know those gold gilded edges found on many old books? In some cases these exist to hide something remarkable: a painting on the edge of the book, only viewable when you fan out the pages.

No one really knows why these exist, which adds to the mystery. Few readers have seen them much less heard of them, despite them being beautiful works of art.

Trojans Arch, Ancona, Tasso in Prison and the Bridge of Sighs, painted on Jerusalem Delivered. (via Wikimedia user Dorieo, CC)

Trojans Arch, Ancona, Tasso in Prison and the Bridge of Sighs, painted on Jerusalem Delivered. (via Wikimedia user Dorieo, CC)

Fore-edge paintings began to appear in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy. But these were painted on the edges of the book, seen directly without fanning them out or hiding them behind a shiny gold paint. The hidden, fore-edge version formed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The Tower of London, painted on an edition of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (via the Boston Public Library)

The Tower of London, painted on an edition of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (via the Boston Public Library)

As if the practice isn’t already impressive enough, there is such a thing as a double fore-edge. Outlines from the Figures and Compositions upon the Greek, Roman and Etruscan Vases of the Late Sir William Hamilton (a rambling title if I ever saw one) has two hidden fore-edge paintings, a difficult task to achieve. In either direction that you fan the pages, you will find a different image.

There’s even such a thing as a triple fore-edge. In this case, two of the paintings are hidden and one is painted directly on the edge for all to see.

Westminster Bridge and the Abbey, painted on an accounting book (via Boston Public Library)

Westminster Bridge and the Abbey, painted on an accounting book (via Boston Public Library)

How are these paintings created? It’s a process for a master watercolor artist with a very steady hand. The edges of the book must first be perfectly smooth. Then the book has to be fanned out and held in the correct position between boards while it’s painted. When it’s dry, the edge must be painted with a special mixture and applied with gold leaf.

Surprisingly, these paintings are still made today, primarily by an artist named Martin Frost. In 1980 Frost got a commission for a number of book paintings, and after that decided to do fore-edge paintings full-time. He has created over 3,000 fore-edge paintings since then, plus portrait miniatures.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to double-check any old books with gold on the edges from now on. Just to be sure.

An American Legacy: The Story of Tarzan

For much of his life, Edgar Rice Burroughs was a drifter between jobs, never quite sure what his next job would bring.

But all that changed when Burroughs brought pen to paper in 1912, soon penning what was to be one of the most popular stories in American literature: Tarzan of the Apes.
Burroughs recalled years later that:

…if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.

After trying and failing in many other attempts at bringing in enough money for his wife and children, soon Burroughs discovered that writing would be his success story. He sent in half of a story to a magazine and after receiving encouragement, sent in the second half in return for $400.

Later he wrote, “No amount of money today could possibly give me the thrill that first $400 check gave me.”

From The New Adventures of Tarzan pop-up book (via S&C ETC.)

From a vintage The New Adventures of Tarzan pop-up book, published 1935 (via S&C ETC.)

He soon quit his job to write full-time.

At the time, pulp magazines (so called because of their cheap, high pulp paper) ran stories in installments, ensuring that readers would buy the next issues to find out what happened next in their favorite stories. But the editors of the All-Story magazine found Burroughs’ first Tarzan story so exciting that they published the full story in one issue.

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Burroughs’ daughter Joan later married James Pierce, who played Tarzan in the film Tarzan and the Golden Lion.

While Burroughs wrote many other successful stories like his Mars exploration series, the Tarzan series was by far his most popular. (Miss the Disney movie? See here for a good summary of the Tarzan story.)

Something about the primitive Tarzan struck a chord with readers – and continued to do so, leading to twenty-five sequels and countless radio, movie, TV, and other pop culture adaptations.

The poster for the 1933 movie Tarzan the Fearless

The poster for the 1933 movie Tarzan the Fearless. 

Tarzan is still a memorable character in literary history, and he’s not going anywhere. While the story may have resonated the most with its early 20th century readers, the amount of modern Tarzan adaptations prove that this is a character ingrained in the American psyche.

What is it about the story of Tarzan that has stuck to this day? Do you have any theories?