Author of Peck's Bad Boy

Author, Politician, Publisher, and Statesman

Belford, Clarke and Co., Chicago (1879-1892)

This firm was the first major publishing house that printed the Peck books. The first edition of Peck's most famous title, Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa was published by Belford, Clarke in 1883. It published Peck books between 1880 and 1890. Apparently Belford bought the rights in 1883 to the Peck's Bad Boy newspaper columns for $1000.

The Belford brothers emigrated from Ireland to Toronto in 1857. Charles Belford (1837-1880) was involved in the newspaper business and was editor of both The Leader and later the Toronto Mail. In 1876 he joined with his two brothers Alexander (Aleck) and Robert to form the Belford Brothers. This firm lasted two years and upon Charles' withdrawal because of ill health, the remaining brothers partnered with G. M. Rose in February, 1878 to form the publishing house of Rose-Belford.

George Maclean Rose (1829-1898) was a native of Scotland. His early training was as a printer. He was involved in the printing trade as a named partner in the Hunter Rose and Company firm. This firm carried on as a printer/publisher for a number of years.

Alexander Belford left the Rose-Belford Publishing House in 1879 and with James Clarke formed Belford, Clarke in Chicago. Robert Belford followed his brother to Chicago thereafter. In 1879 the company was styled as Belfords, Clarke & Co. The company officially incorporated in 1880 to Belford, Clarke and Company. The firm had a New York branch which was run by Robert Belford. Financial difficulties forced the company into receivership in 1889 and it officially went out of business in 1892.

(A significant number of reference materials claim that the Belfords and James Clarke left for Chicago in 1875 but this is clearly erroneous. It appears that the post-1937 references all are citing " Cheap Book Production" written by Raymond Shove - without attribution. Most likely this errant statement was copied by a number of successive "researchers". A contemporaneous article in the New York Times from 1889 notes the founding of Belford, Clarke and Co. in 1879. An article in the 1889 American Stationer quoting the same source gives an 1879 date. Other early documents note the 1879 date. The earliest known title page imprints of Belfords, Clarke and company are in 1879.)

Belford, Clarke and Company published seven George Peck solo authored books. It also published books written by Peck and others. Of the Peck only books six were first editions and one was a second edition. They are listed just below.

The first edition George Peck books that it published and the date of that first Belford, Clarke publication:

Peck's Sunshine 1882
Peck's Compendium of Fun 1883
Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa 1883
Peck's Bad Boy , No. 2 (The Grocery Man and Peck's Bad Boy) 1883
Peck's Boss Book 1884
Peck's Fun 1886 (This is a different book than the earlier Peck's Fun)
How Private Geo. W. Peck Put Down the Rebellion 1887
Peck's Irish Friend, Phelan Geoheagan 1887

Non first edition Peck books
Peck's Fun 1880

In 1883 Belford Clarke and Co. published Mirth for the Million: Peck's Compendium of Fun. This oversized 544 page book cost $2.75 in cloth and $3.50 in sheep. Other copies were published in 1886 and 1889. A number of other publishers printed this volume in the 1880's. By 1888 the Belford, Clarke and Company book was $1.00.

Belford, Clarke and Co. published these books in a number of different formats, both in hardcover and wraps.

In 1889 seven books were published in the Caxton Edition. How Private Peck was not included in this series but Peck's Compendium of Fun was. In 1889 the Household Library, a series in wraps included six Peck books. How Private Peck and the Compendium book were not part of these 25 cent editions.

The 1890 format for the seven titles changed. See below for the examples. They are both 12 mos.

Note that only the 1886 Peck's Fun book (not the 1880 version) was published in these formats.

1889

1890



Peck's Fun was first published by Symes, Swain and Company, a Milwaukee printer in 1879. One year later in 1880 this publisher printed a copy. This book consists of copies of the vignettes of Peck's newspaper writings over the previous ten years (1869-1879). Other copies were published in 1882 and 1883. By May 15, 1883 this book had 75,000 copies published in hardcover and paperback. This book differs in content from the Peck's Fun which was copyrighted by Belford, Clarke in 1886 and edited by Thomas W. Handford (Elmo).

1880

 

1882

 

1883



Peck's Sunshine
Belford, Clarke and Company published the first edition of this book in 1882. It was 12 mo. and published in hardcover and wraps. Thereafter it was reprinted in 1883. By May 15, 1883 it was in its 60,000th printing. In 1887 it was reprinted in paperback and in cloth. By 1888 it was in its 125,000 printing.

Three different 1882 formats have been seen. The covers and title pages are the same but the spine decoration is different. The spine of the latest 1882 book is the same as the spines of the 1883 Belford, Clarke books. The copyright page of the second of the 1882 books is the same as the later books. See below.

1882 First edition

1882 Later

1882 Latest



This 1882 title page is the same for all 1882 books.

 

First edition 1882 copyright page

Later 1882 edition copyright page

 

1883 edition



A new format 1887 Peck's Sunshine was published. This book which is in wraps and cost 25 cents has not been seen.

Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa
This book is by far the most well known of all the Peck books. The first edition was published in 1883 in hardcover and wraps. It is considered one of the classics of 19th century children's literature. Belford, Clarke published copies throughout the 1880's. By 1888 it was in its 750th thousand printing.

The book consists of numerous vignettes/adventures of "the bad boy". It is noted in Peter Parley to Penrod, a 1938 bibliography written by Jacob Blanck describing the most important juvenile books of the 19th century.

The first edition was published in wraps as well as cloth. The first state of the first edition has lines above and below the copyright notice that are 7/8" apart and has no advertisements after page 196. Later editions have either different spacing of the lines or no lines at all. (Per Blanck)

1883 First edition

1883 First edition

1883 edition in wraps

 

First edition copyright page
with lines 7/8 inch apart

Later state with
lines 5/8 inch apart

Later state with
no lines



Belford, Clarke and Company published a number of later editions of Peck's Bad Boy.

1888 edition

 

1889 edition

 

1890 edition



The Grocery Man and Peck's Bad Boy
This book was first published in 1883 in hardcover and wraps. Later the title was changed to Peck's Bad Boy, No. 2. The 1883 editions have been seen with multiple cloth colors. By 1888 it was in its 200th thousand printing.

1883 earliest edition: It appears that the earliest editions of this title note "Printed and Bound by Donohue & Henneberry Chicago" at the base of the copyright page.

1883 edition

 

1883 edition in wraps

1883 title page

 

1889 Edition



Peck's Boss Book
Belford, Clarke and Company published the first edition of this title in 1884. The unique 1884 cover has been seen in several colors. By 1888 it was in the 50th thousand printing. The characteristic Belford, Clarke and Company covers for 1889 and 1890 are shown below.

 
 

1889 Edition

 

1890



Peck's Fun (2)
The first edition of this book was published by Belford, Clarke and Company in 1886. It was published in hardcover and wraps. It differs from the earlier Peck's Fun in that it was edited by Thomas W. Handford (Elmo). By 1888 it was in its 125th thousand printing.

I have only seen an 1889 Belford, Clarke and Co. copy. I assume the 1890 issue has the typical 1890 format. See above.



How Private Geo. W. Peck Put Down the Rebellion (1887)
Belford, Clarke and Co. published the first edition of this book in hardcover and wraps in 1887. By 1888 it was in its 40th thousand printing.



Peck's Irish Friend, Phelan Geoheagan (1887)
The 1888 edition is the earliest I have seen. I am not sure whether this is the first edition or if there is a book with an 1887 title page. I suspect that the cover for any earlier edition is the same as the 1888 book. The 1889 and 1890 books formats are the same as the other Peck books by this publisher.

In 1888 the cloth book cost $1.00 and the book in wraps cost 25 cents.

1888

 

1889

 

1890

 

Last Revision: November 8, 2014