Dedicated to the legacy of Edward Stratemeyer, author & founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate

The Ted Scott series begins

The first volume of the Ted Scott series was an obvious retelling of the first solo Transatlantic flight by Charles A. Lindbergh in May 1927.  From time to time a reference is made to how quickly the story was rushed into print.  An examination of the dates is interesting.

Charles Lindbergh departed from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York on May 20, 1927.  Some 33 1/2 hours later he landed in Paris on May 21, 1927.

His flight was not the first time an aircraft flew over the Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe.  However, the solo flight of the U.S. Air Mail pilot was an historic first and the goal of a prize.  It captured the attention of the world and did much to convince many that air travel was not merely a stunt or fad but something real that they might be willing to experience. This was a milestone following the Wright Brothers’ flight by less than a quarter century.  In two decades more, an aircraft would break the sound barrier.

Lindbergh’s Great Circle route from New York to Paris.

Edward Stratemeyer saw the news about Lindbergh and within a couple days he and his publisher had made plans to issue an aviation series using the new pen name for the just-published Hardy Boys mystery series.  Ted Scott would prove to be more popular than the Hardy Boys for the first five years of the two series.  Only by 1932 did the sales of the Hardy Boys begin to surpass the aviation stories about the “Lone Eagle.”

A chart showing average sales per volume where Ted Scott was up to twice as large as the Hardy Boys from 1927 to 1932.

Stratemeyer’s outline was dated May 27, 1927, less than a week after news of the milestone achievement was spread around the world.  This outline was provided to a New York Times writer and prolific Stratemeyer Syndicate ghostwriter, John W. Duffield.  He lived in Hollis, New York, and it was fairly common for Stratemeyer and Duffield to meet in person or speak on the phone so not every communication is preserved as a letter or telegram.

The first story was called Over the Ocean to Paris; or, or, Ted Scott’s Daring Long Distance Flight.  The initial draft of the story was completed within four weeks.  Stratemeyer wrote on June 21, 1927 to describe some changes that were made to the story, including the name of the plane (Hapworth instead of St. Louis) and the starting point for the flight (San Francisco instead of San Diego).  The letter noted their telephone conversations.  It also referred to plot threads to be used in the next two books in the series.

Stratemeyer letter to Duffield, 21 June 1927.

It is possible that the editing was done in the Syndicate offices so Duffield could begin work on the other volumes of the series.  As was traditional for the Syndicate, several books were to be issued at once in what collectors call a “breeder set.”  The other two books were Rescued in the Clouds and Over the Rockies with the Air Mail. 

Illustration and typesetting were also done as quickly as possible.  The frontispiece and dust jacket illustration were by Walter S. Rogers.  His typical illustration fee for a halftone frontispiece illustration was between $12 and $15.  The typical medium was color gouache, a water-based opaque paint, on illustration board.  None of the original art for the Ted Scott series has been seen.

Once copies were published, the copyright application was turned in to the Copyright Office.  The date on the form was August 10, 1927 — some 82 days from the landing in Paris.  This span of two months and 21 days was shorter than the typical six-month production schedule.  Two copies of the book were marked as received by the Copyright Office on August 12, 1927.

On a series like the Hardy Boys, the breeder set was issued at once (May 16, 1927).  For Ted Scott, the copyright dates for the next two books was Sept. 15, 1927 and Oct. 20, 1927.  The sample copies were recorded two days after each date.  It is likely that the three titles were all known and part of the same title proposal sheet for the series but these first three books were issued one per month from August 10 to Oct. 20, 1927.

All 20 Ted Scott covers with the 1932 endpaper illustration.

The series would continue for 20 published volumes and one phantom title.  Cumulative sales figures are not available for the entire series.

Non-Syndicate Andy Lane series (1928-1932) by pilot Eustace L. Adams.

The Ted Scott stories have some repetitive elements and don’t always follow the historical developments of aviation as do some other contemporary series like the Andy Lane series by pilot Eustace L. Adams which began in 1928.

A non-Stratemeyer Syndicate series book example with its own version of the Lindbergh flight was Trail Blazers of the Skies; or, Across to Paris and Back (Barse & Hopkins, 1927), volume 1 of the Aviation series by “John Prentice Langley” (St. George Rathborne).

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Keeline

James D. Keeline has been researching Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate since 1988. He has written many dozens of articles and conference presentations on these topics and has several books in progress, including a Series Book Encyclopedia, a full biography of Edward Stratemeyer, and Stratemeyer Syndicate Ghostwriters. He has also edited and published several Stratemeyer texts in illustrated and annotated editions under the 24 Palmer Street Press imprint at Lulu.com.

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