Sunday, July 2, 2017

Tattered dust jacket: "The Mercer Boys at Woodcrest"

This colorful maritime-themed dust jacket, with a trio of guys who look like they need some Fisherman's Friend lozenges, was wrapped around The Mercer Boys at Woodcrest, which was first published in 1929 as the second book in the 10-book Mercer Boys series. This was the jacket for The World Publishing Company's edition of the book, which was published about two decades after the original A.L. Burt edition.

Here's an excerpt from the promotional text on the back of the dust jacket:
"The dangerous and unusual adventures of the Mercer boys with their friend Terry Mackson while exploring strange a strange island; cruising in their boat the "Lassie" and solving mysteries at Woodcrest Academy, yield many thrilling moments. The encounters of the three lads with smugglers and pirates, and their quest for a phantom treasure galleon, makes this an exceptionally entertaining new series of books for boys."
That blurb could have used a copy editor.

A Goodreads reviewer wrote this very short review of The Mercer Boys at Woodcrest: "Opa's book when he was a kid. Interesting adventure. I liked the game they played — hare and hounds."

Here are some facts about Albert Capwell Wyckoff (1903-1953), who penned The Mercer Boys Series:

  • His father died when he was young, and so he wrote to help support the family.
  • Early in his career, he had two stories published in Weird Tales magazine: "The Grappling Ghost" (July 1928) and "The Guillotine Club" (July 1929).
  • He followed The Mercer Boys Series with The Mystery Boys Series, which included four books. 1934's The Mystery Hunters at Old Frontier is described thusly: "The Mystery Hunters become students at Frontier College in New York and investigate a nearby abandoned hospital rumored to be haunted."
  • He used money from his books to help finance missionary work and became and ordained minister later in life.
  • There is a Capwell Wyckoff Fan Page on Facebook. The administrator notes that, when The Mercer Boys Series was revised and republished in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the books "were updated. For example, lanterns became flashlights, a horse-drawn wagon becomes a station wagon, etc. Search out the older A.L. Burt editions for the original words of the author."

Sources for the above include and Terence E. Hanley's Tellers of Weird Tales.

The Mercer Boys Series, as a mystery-focused set of books, was a predecessor to The Three Investigators series, which I last wrote about in October 2015. A good article about this genre of juvenile literature is "Series Books: Through the Lens of History," which was published in 2010 by by David M. Baumann

Note: No monies were paid to Papergreat by Lofthouse in exchange for the Fisherman's Friend mention in this post. No lozenges, either.

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