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July 1, 2004 5:52 PM   Subscribe

The Original Tom Swift Series Public Domain Texts. Twenty-five of 'em for your perusal. In piles of formats, some including page scans, and with color cover images (mostly from here, where they also have larger images). Not that kind of Tom Swift, mind you.

I must admit, the domain name gave me pause. So far, no teleportation has transpired.
posted by mwhybark (13 comments total)

 
oh man, i used to check out tons of those from the elementary school library... but i can't for the life of me remember what tom's deal was. time to catch up!
posted by jcruelty at 6:19 PM on July 1, 2004


I have a complete series of these books, all first editions and all inscribed with the name of the last person in Massachusetts to die of rabies. (All of the above is true.)

Bidding starts at $20,000.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:29 PM on July 1, 2004


I have about a half-dozen of these, in the original editions, from various library book sales over the years. A few years ago, I decided to read them at bedtime to my son, then age 8. I was quite surprised? startled? (but probably shouldn't have been) to see the stereotyping of the black and Jewish characters.

from the first Tom Swift book ever, end of chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8:

The darky looked up. He saw the approaching machine, and he seemed to lose possession of his senses. "Whoa, Boomerang!" cried the negro. "Whoa! Suffin's gwine t'happen!" . . . .

"Are you hurt?" asked Tom as he leaned his motor-cycle against the fence and stood beside the negro.

"Hurt?" repeated the darky. "I'se killed, dat's what I is! I ain't got a whole bone in mah body! Good landy, but I suttinly am in a awful state! Would yo' mind tellin' me if dat ar' mule am still alive?"

"Of course he is," answered Tom. "He isn't hurt a bit. But why can't you turn around and look for yourself?"

"No, sah! No, indeedy, sah!" replied the colored man. "Yo' doan't catch dis yeah nigger lookin' around!"

posted by LeLiLo at 6:46 PM on July 1, 2004


I was quite surprised? startled? (but probably shouldn't have been) to see the stereotyping of the black and Jewish characters.

...Tom said self-righteously (sorry, couldn't pass that up).

Seriously, the same is true of Tin Tin, among others; it's really kind of cool to be able to see how much attitudes have changed in such a relatively short period.
posted by hob at 6:59 PM on July 1, 2004


Interesting, lelilo.

I think there were some reissues that removed that material - the ones I read as a kid were clearly 'new' in the 1970s. OTOH, just what was identifiable as offensive in 1974 is prolly not what we'd find offensive today.
posted by mwhybark at 7:02 PM on July 1, 2004


Had I 20k, Mayor Curley, I'd get'm for my Dad who has at least one of each, but only 80% firsts.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:58 PM on July 1, 2004


"My name? Why I was christened Eradicate Andrew Jackson Abraham Lincoln Sampson, but folks most ginnerally calls me Eradicate Sampson, an' some doan't eben go to dat length. Dey jest calls me Rad, fo' short."

"Eradicate," mused Tom. "That's a queer name, too. Why were you called that?"

"Well, yo' see I eradicates de dirt. I'm a cleaner an' a whitewasher by profession, an' somebody gib me dat name. Dey said it were fitten an' proper, an' I kept it eber sence. Yais, sah, I'se Eradicate Sampson, at yo' service."


I think I may have found myself a new favorite name.
posted by yhbc at 8:30 PM on July 1, 2004


I have about a half-dozen of these, in the original editions, from various library book sales over the years. A few years ago, I decided to read them at bedtime to my son, then age 8. I was quite surprised? startled? (but probably shouldn't have been) to see the stereotyping of the black and Jewish characters.


Pardon my ignorance, lelilo, but I haven't caught any Jewish slurs so far, and I've read the first four or so tonight. Would you care to give an example?
posted by teferi at 10:02 PM on July 1, 2004


robocop is bleeding, I don't actually know what first editions are worth. They may be very affordable. I won't sell mine unless I become a desperate junkie, but less-sentimental types might. After all, father's day is just a year away.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:56 AM on July 2, 2004


I think there were some reissues that removed that material

There have been four Tom Swift series since Edward Stratemeyer published the first one in 1910. Most of us probably read either the second series written in the 50's and 60's or the third series written in the 80's. A fourth series was published in the 90's after Simon and Schuster acquired the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Following that acquistion, the NYPL acquired over a hundred years of the Syndicate's records. This is an invaluable source of information in determining the authors of the Tom Swift books and the Nancy Drew books.

Bob Cook's done some really wonderful work on the history and bibliography of the Tom Swift books.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:34 AM on July 2, 2004 [1 favorite]


Man, there are a couple of the second series in my family somewhere. I remember Tom Swift and his Jetmarine.... I read those, and I remember having a whole bunch of Hardy Boy books too. Those nefarious thugs!!!! I wish I grew up in Bayport...
posted by Eekacat at 6:45 AM on July 2, 2004


I tried to read a Tom Swift book to my nephew one night about eight years ago and had a terrible time figuring out how to pronounce all the scientific words. I have no science background whatsoever, but I had to wonder how many of those words were made up.
posted by orange swan at 8:03 PM on July 2, 2004


Pardon my ignorance, lelilo, but I haven't caught any Jewish slurs so far

It's not ignorance, teferi; that book isn't among those included at that site. In Tom Swift and His Talking Pictures (book #31, 1928), the 'insane' villain Greenbaum tries to sabotage Tom's work on behalf of a shadowy coalition of "wealthy Jews." (p. 180).

(p. 114): "Oh, so Jackson has been talking about me, has he?" asked the Jew [Greenbaum], with an ugly leer.

Essentially, Tom has invented television, and the men who run radio and the movies are worried that he will steal all their revenue. By the end, however, there's enough money going around to satisfy everyone. And two pages from the end, "Tom was glad to learn, later, that Greenbaum's insanity was not permanent, and that after the Jew was assured of a chance to make another fortune in the new business, his mind became calm and he was himself again."

p.s. The family's "faithful colored servant" Eradicate Sampson (as yhbc is now known), is also still around. On p. 13, after Greenbaum blows up Tom's laboratory (with Tom inside), Tom's father yells at Rad to run and help.

"Yes, sah, Massa Swift, I's a-hurryin'!" he says.
posted by LeLiLo at 4:02 AM on July 3, 2004


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