Sunday, January 25, 2009

Big Little Books - Adventures in Reading

Howdy Folks, and welcome to Ol’ Whiskey Jack’s weekly blog article on antiques and collectibles. This week I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for the goof old days. Maybe it had a little to do with the Gene Autry film I watched the other day. At any rate, over the past few days my mind has been wandering back over the years to a time when I received my first ticket to big adventure – my first Big Little Book. Being a fan of westerns as I grew up during the golden years of television watching Wyatt Earp, The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, and the Saturday Morning Cliffhangers. So naturally I gravitated toward the western Big Little Books, although I did have several others that were non western.

Big Little Books were just what they sounded like. They were small in the sense that they only measured a little over 4 inches tall and about 3 ½ inches wide, but they were thick, about 1 ½ inches thick, and packed with anywhere from 200 pages to over 400 pages. Full of illustrations and great stories, they were the joy of many kids just like myself.

The Whitman Publishing Company first began publishing Big Little Books in 1932. They were usually based on popular comic strips and radio programs such as Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Buck Rogers, the Lone Ranger, and many, many more. Once these great books began to catch on, other publishing companies jumped on the band wagon and began publishing their own Big Little Books. Publishers such as Saalfield, Goldsmith, World Syndicate Publishing, and others, as well as Whitman, published Big Little Books clear up into the 1960’s. Prices for Big Little Books ranged from 10¢ in the early years, and up to 25¢ - 50¢ in the later years.

Sadly, as with good things from our youth, Big Little Books faded away. Fortunately, however, there are still many of these big little gems still in existence, and collectors abound. Renowned actor, Walter Koenig (Chekov from the original Star Trek TV series, Mr. Bester on Babylon5, and scores of other great roles) is a collector of Big Little Books, and has an extensive collection (he also collects Star Trek figures and Pin Back Buttons).

Big Little Books can be found all over the internet, not only for sale, but also available to read. If you would like to take a look at a couple of these great books, visit the Antique Books Digital Library, where they have two Big Little Books available to read online for free. Tim McCoy on the Tomahawk Trail, and Bronc Peeler, the Lone Cowboy. Take a look, I think you’ll enjoy them.

For further research on Big Little Books, check out The Big Big Little Book Book: An Overstreet Photo-Journal Guide by Arnold T. Blumberg. The Broward County Florida Library has an online exhibit of Big Little Books, and Les Adams of The Old Corral of B Westerns website has a great article on his remembrances of Big Little Books. You may also want to visit two of the best web sites about Big Little Books, and I think you’ll enjoy these as well.

Well, Thanks for stopping by the Trading Post blog. I hope you’ve found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you would like to leave your comments, please do, they are always welcome. You can also subscribe to this blog and sign up as a follower – I hope you do, and I hope to see you around some more. Remember, you’re always welcome! Until next time my friends,


Whiskey Jack

Today’s Word of Wisdom: “If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there with ya.”

3 comments: said...

Got to Love "Big little Books" They are great to collect. Thanks for the post.

Coach Gary

Whiskey Jack said...

Howdy Coach,
I'll tell ya, I sure loved reading them when I was a kid. Somewhere around here I still have one, a Bat Masterson TV show tie in Big Little Book, with a picture of Gene Barry on the cover. They were great, weren't they?
Whiskey Jack

AuctionWally said...

Wow, I still get excited when I see these in an estate.
Big little books epitomize the sense of adventure, and that Lone Ranger kind of nostolgia.

Great post WJ.