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1889 The Boy Broker
1931-06-13 All-Story Love
1896-06 The Munsey
1938-10-29 Argosy
1896-12 The Argosy
1940-09 Red Star Western
1897-05 Munsey's Magazine
1940-10 Big Chief Western
1912-10 The All Story
1941-11 Detective Fiction
1926-11 Argosy All-Story
1940-06 Red Star Mystery

























Frank Andrew Munsey was born on August 21, 1854 on a farm near Mercer, Maine. His father, Andrew C. Munsey, was born in 1822 in Barnston, Quebec, Canada, and came to America in 1833 and settled in Maine. His mother, Mary J. Munsey, was born in 1820 in Maine. His parents married in 1848 and had five children, Ella (b.1849), Emma (b.1850), Frank (b.1854), Delia (b.1859), and William (b.1861). The father was a farmer.

In 1855 the family moved to Gardiner, ME.

In 1858 the family moved to Bowdoin, ME.

In 1861 during the Civil War, his father served with the 20th Maine Volunteers.

In 1868 the family moved to Lisbon Falls, ME, where Frank Munsey, age fourteen, began to learn the basics of commerce by working at a clerk in a dry-goods store.

In 1870 he began to work at the Lisbon Falls Post Office, where he learned telegraphy.

In 1871 he was hired as a telegrapher at the Western Union Office in the State capital, Augusta, ME, where he met politicians, public figures, businessmen, and several newspaper publishers.

According to Frank Munsey, "It is probable that I should never have found myself in the publishing business but for the fact that the general manager of the Western Union Telegraph Company sent me to Augusta to take the management of their office in that city. I was a youngster at the time, with life before me and with insatiable ambition. The four walls of a telegraph office were to me as a cage to a tiger yearning for the boundless freedom of the jungle. I knew at that time, as well as I know now, that I could do things. The thought of immediate money had no weight with me, no consideration. It was the future I wanted, a future in the big world, where things are done in a big way. I had picked up telegraphy and was using it as a stepping-stone to something better, a means to an end, but to get out of one kind of activity and into another, for which one has no special training, is not easy. I learned this fact through bitter disappointment and many heartaches."

According to The Daily Boston Globe, "As a telegrapher in Augusta, Maine, Munsey came to know many prominent politicians, and also came to know something about the great cheap magazine publishing business that so flourished in that Maine city. Seeing other grow rich from such means he decided to grow rich in a similar manner, but in 1882 he went to New York to start his own venture." He lived at 524 Fifth Avenue at 44th Street in Manhattan

In September of 1882 he published the first issue of Golden Argosy, a weekly dime novel of adventure stories for young men. In 1888, after six years of struggle and mounting debt, he finally experienced success, when he began to publish Munsey's Weekly, which sold forty-thousand copies.

Frank A. Munsey also wrote several books, such as Afloat In A Great City (1887), The Boy Broker (1888), A Tragedy of Errors (1889), Under Fire (1890), and Derringforth (1894).

In 1891 Munsey's Weekly was repackaged as Munsey's Magazine.

In December of 1896 he used the mass-production technology of a newspaper press to produce the first pulp paper fiction magazine, The Argosy, whose phenomenal sales revolutionized the American publishing industry.

By 1899 the Munsey Company included The New York Sun, eleven other newspapers, The Mohican Department Store Chain, the Munsey Trust Company, a hotel and large real estate holdings. Erman J. Ridgway (1867-1943) was the vice-president and general manager. The editorial offices of Munsey Publications was located in the Constable Building at 111 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of 18th Street, where Frank A. Munsey had a private office on the 11th floor. The Munsey printing plant was at 141 East 23rd Street, where his bindery, staffed entirely by women, was also located.

In 1903 Erman J. Ridgway left the Munsey Company to become the founding publisher of Everybody's Magazine and Adventure Magazine. He was replaced by William Thompson Dewart (1876-1944) who would eventually become president of the Munsey Company. He was born on January 31, 1875 in Fenelon Falls, Ontario of Scottish ancestry. His father, William Dewart, built a Canadian railroad and in 1881 moved to Rochester, NY. His mother, Jessie Graham, was from a Scottish banking family. His parents had eleven children. William T. Dewart attended Rochester University, where he studied chemistry and business accounting. When Frank A. Munsey opened a department store in New London, Connecticut, Dewart was hired as the bookkeeper by Erman J. Ridgway. Dewart was later transferred to New York City and assigned to the Red Star News Company, a Munsey distributing company.

In 1902, when the Frank A. Munsey Company was incorporated, William T. Dewart became the company treasurer.

In 1906 Munsey began to produce Railroad Man's Magazine. The following year he produced The Ocean and The Live Wire. Other Munsey pulps were The Puritan, Scrap Book, Cavalier, and Current Mechanics.

In 1908 William T. Dewart married Mary Louise Wheeler. She was born in 1878 in Ohio. They had three children, William (b.1909), Thomas (b.1910), and Mary (b.1916). They lived at 390 West End Avenue at 79th Street.

Some of the artists who illustrated Munsey magazines in the early years were Clinton Pettee, Fred W. Small, C. D. Williams, John R. Neill, Samuel Cahan, Roger Morrison, and the cartoonist Charles Howard Tate (1874-1954) became the art editor at Munsey Publications.

Munsey newspapers included The Washington Times, The New York Daily News, The Boston Journal, The Baltimore News American, The New York Herald, The New York Sun, The New York Evening Sun, The New York Press, and The New York Globe.

The October 1912 issue of All-Story Magazine featured the first appearance of the fictional "Tarzan" by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The cover painting was by Clinton Pettee.

In 1912 Frank A. Munsey encouraged President Theodore Roosevelt to form the Progressive Party, which ran the greatest Third Party presidential campaign in American history. Roosevelt received 27% of the popular vote, while Republican candidate William Howard Taft received only 23%. Democrat Woodrow Wilson won election with 41% of the vote.

In 1913 Frank A. Munsey founded the Munsey Trust Company, and two years later it was re-organized as The Equitable Trust Company with Munsey as the chairman of the board. The company became one of New York States major financial institutions, and remained so for over seven decades.

In 1920 All-Story Weekly was merged with The Argosy to become Argosy All-Story Weekly.

By the roaring twenties, Munsey had become infamous for buying a newspaper and then shutting it down or merging it with another of his newspapers. On June 28, 1923 the humor magazine Life published a cartoon by Percy Crosby (1891-1964) to illustrate this tendency.

On July 31, 1924 The New York Times reported the Red Star News Company was incorporated in New Jersey at 243 Washington Street in Jersey City. Lawyers for the company said that the name Red Star News had been used in New York for some time, and that the purpose of the new registration was to protect the name in New Jersey as well.

Artists who sold freelance illustrations to Munsey magazines in the 1920s included Patrick J. Monahan, Stockton Mulford, Robert A. Graef, Edgar Franklin Wittmack, Walter de Maris, and Paul Stahr.

The village of Munsey Park on the posh North Shore of Long Island, NY, was named after him, as was the Munsey Building in downtown Baltimore, MD, at the corner of North Calvert and East Fayette Streets.

According to The Daily Boston Globe, "Surrounded in his later years by the trophies of his ambition, dollars by the millions, newspapers that were prospering, and by newspapers done to death by his own hand, Munsey was a bachelor living for himself and proud of the fact that he was a self-made man. He had risen by his own energy from farm boy, grocery clerk, telegrapher, magazine publisher, owner of a grocery store chain, a hotel, a bank, sky-scrapers, estates, and properties. He was a Knight of the French Legion of Honor, a philanthropist, an honorary doctor of laws and letters. He was consulted by Presidents and business men, an eminent American. He was also a frigid, circumspect, straight-laced New Englander with a fishy handclasp that gave nothing, a man of little education beyond what he gained through association with his work and men, an amazingly ambitious man, a strange man, one envied in his magazine field and universally hated in his newspaper field, a man who profited by his own mistakes and worked solely for his own interests. He had been alone by temperament and choice, an outsider looking in. Munsey was a lonely man, with no one to whom to leave his wealth."

Mr. Munsey was a man of extreme reserve and only William T. Dewart seemed to enjoy his intimate friendship. During his final period of illness, Munsey had Dewart constantly by his side.

Frank A. Munsey died of a burst appendix in NYC at the age of seventy-one on December 22, 1925. He left generous bequests to his sister, nephew, niece, cousins, old acquaintances, and business associates. William T. Dewart was named president of all Munsey's enterprises. The remaining twenty-million-dollars of his personal estate was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which used his wealth, accumulated from selling pulp magazines, to acquire the finest public collection of art in America.

In 1926 William T. Dewart bought control of The New York Sun from his other associates.

In 1927 The New York Telegram was sold to Scripps-Howard, and later merged with The New York Evening World to become The New York World-Telegram.

In the 1930s, Munsey magazines published illustrations by freelance artists V. E. Pyles, Marshall Frantz, Emmett Watson, and Rudolph Belarski.

During the Great Depression William T. Dewart tried to reorganize the Frank A. Munsey pulp magazines. He sold various properties and explored a wider range of prospects in publishing and distributing.

On September 11, 1937 The New York Times reported. "The Frank A. Munsey Company will publish two new monthly magazines, All-American Fiction and Double Detective Fiction, selling at fifteen cents each."

On November 23, 1939 The New York Times reported, "A new magazine called 'Prize Comics' will be published by Mayfair Publishing Company. The distributor is the Frank A. Munsey Company." The owners of Prize Comics were Michael Bleier and Theodore Epstein.

On May 16 1940 The New York Sun reported "Feature Publications will publish Boom Comics. It will appear on newsstands in July, distributed by the Frank A. Munsey Company." Boom Comics never appeared in print, but Prize Comics lasted for several years and eventually included a Statement of Ownership that identified the publishers as Bleier & Epstein of 1270 Sixth Avenue.

In 1941 William T. Dewart's son, William, Jr., age thirty-two, became publisher and secretary of the Frank A. Munsey Company, while his younger son, Thomas Dewart, age thirty-one, became vice-president and treasurer.

In 1942 the Frank A. Munsey Company published five magazines of pulp fiction, Argosy, Detective Fiction, All-Story Love, Railroad Magazine, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries. They also produced True Crime Mysteries Magazine and Cowboy Movie Thrillers Magazine. Artists who sold freelance illustrations to Munsey magazines in the 1940s included Rafael DeSoto, Virgil Finlay, Modest Stein, George Rozen, Hugh J. Ward, and Ernest Chiriacka.

In December of 1942 the Frank A. Munsey Company discontinued publication of all magazines, and sold their titles to Harry Steeger's Popular Publications at 205 East 42nd Street in NYC.

On January 27, 1944 William T. Dewart died at the age of sixty-eight in NYC.

                               © David Saunders 2018

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