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eBook available: How to Do Mechanical Tricks

Our latest Project Gutenberg eBook release, produced with the help of the Distributed Proofreaders project, is another Ten Cent Hand Book published by Frank Tousey: How to Do Mechanical Tricks, published in 1902.

Like most of the books in this inexpensive, paper-covered series, the content appears to have been gathered together from a variety of sources, often without regard to attribution or context. The collected instructions describe how to perform a variety of magic tricks and optical illusions, most relying on simple physics, mathematics, or commonly found household items. A lot has changed in the more-than-a-century that has passed since the publication of this book, and there are definitely some tricks here you really shouldn’t try at home (like simulating volcanoes using a chemical reaction involving lead paint or catapulting flaming matches); however, some of these demonstrations have proven timeless and can still be found in contemporary how-to books on illusions.

The entire book, complete with many diagrams, can be downloaded or read online through Project Gutenberg. Enjoy with care!


Available for proofreading: Flower and Jewel

Front cover, Flower and Jewel; or, Daisy Forrest’s daughter / by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller

Our latest title to join the Distributed Proofreaders project for inclusion in Project Gutenberg is Flower & Jewel, another novel by prolific story paper novelist Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller, author of The Bride of the Tomb (and countless other melodramas). The story was first serialized in The Fireside Companion in 1888, but we are working with a later paper-covered reprint from the early 20th century. You can volunteer to help turn our scans of this long-forgotten work into a new electronic edition of the book — just read this earlier blog post to learn how the process works, then sign up at the project page!


Available for proofreading: The Dreadnought Boys on a Submarine

Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project is The Dreadnought Boys on a Submarine, the third in a six-book series of juvenile naval adventures, following The Dreadnought Boys on Battle Practice and The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer.

If you are interested in helping to turn this long out-of-print novel into a free eBook, you can read this earlier blog post to learn about the process, then join in the fun at the project page.


eBook available: The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer

Our latest title to be added to Project Gutenberg thanks to help from Distributed Proofreaders is The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer, the second book in a six-volume juvenile series about the adventures of Ned Strong and Herc Taylor, two young men serving in the United States Navy shortly before the first World War. In this volume, Ned and Herc are assigned to the Beale, a destroyer-class vessel traveling to the fictional South American country of Costaveza, where a revolution against the U.S.-friendly government is underway. Although they are meant to remain neutral in the conflict, the boys are inevitably drawn into the conflict, which turns surprisingly deadly for a children’s book.

As with the rest of the series, this book is far from an exercise in subtlety; the good guys are very good and the bad guys are very bad, and some familiar melodramatic plot devices make their appearances along the way. Perhaps unsurprisingly for its time period, the book seems to go out of its way to label and stereotype its South American characters, whether they are heroes or villains. The most distinctive feature of this book is the way it portrays the politics of United States involvement in South American affairs; as with the rest of the book, this is not handled with any nuance, but it shows a mainstream portrayal of a topic that one might not expect to see in the popular culture of the time.

The full text of the book can be found at Project Gutenberg, where it may be read online or downloaded in popular eBook formats.


Available for proofreading: How to Do Mechanical Tricks

Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project is another volume from dime novel publisher Frank Tousey‘s Ten Cent Hand Book series: How to Do Mechanical Tricks. As the subtitle puts it, this small volume contains “complete instruction for performing over sixty ingenious mechanical tricks.” Containing many illustrations, this book provided quite a few ideas for the amateur magician.

To help create an electronic edition of this text (and perhaps learn a few new tricks from 1902 in the process), you can learn more about the proofreading process from this earlier blog post, then join in the work at the project page.


Available for proofreading: The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer

Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project is The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer, the sequel to juvenile naval adventure, The Dreadnought Boys on Battle Practice and the second volume in a six-book series.

If you are interested in helping to turn this long out-of-print novel into a free eBook, you can read this earlier blog post to learn about the process, then join in the fun at the project page.


eBook available: Jaquelina

Our latest Project Gutenberg release, produced through the Distributed Proofreaders project, is another melodrama by the prolific 19th century author, Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller. In Jaquelina; or, The Outlaw’s Bride, a young orphan farm girl crosses paths with a gang of horse thieves, a wealthy poet and a jealous rival as she tries to gain an education and escape an unhappy life with an unkind aunt. First serialized in the New York Family Story Paper during 1882, this comes from fairly early in Mrs. Miller’s decades-long career as a story paper headliner; the edition in our collection is a later paper-covered reprint. While this is not the most sensational of Mrs. Miller’s writings (that title probably belongs with her over-the-top story paper debut, The Bride of the Tomb), it does contain some of the usual twists and turns that her readers have come to expect.

The full novel may be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


Available for proofreading: Jaquelina

Front cover, An old man’s darling, and Jacquelina / by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller

Earlier in the year, we released an electronic edition of story paper author Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller‘s An Old Man’s Darling through Project Gutenberg. That novel was published in an omnibus volume with a second story, Jaquelina (misspelled “Jacquelina” on the cover), which will be our next Mrs. Miller release. If you would like to help prepare a clean electronic text of this 19th-century melodrama, you can participate through the Distributed Proofreaders project. To learn more about the proofreading process, see this earlier blog post; to dive into the work, visit the project page.


eBook available: Counterfeit Money

Here’s a familiar scenario: a victim receives an unsolicited message offering easy cash. The temptation overrides their common sense, and they find themselves caught by a clever scheme and robbed of their own money. This sounds like a tale of spammers in the digital age, but our latest eBook release, Counterfeit Money, shows that similar trickery was afoot in the age of the telegraph.

Part of the Multum in Parvo Library, the self-described “smallest periodical in the world,” this new digital edition of a 19th-century chapbook was created with the help of the Distributed Proofreaders volunteers, and can now be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


eBook available: The Senator’s Favorite

The Senator's FavoriteOur latest Project Gutenberg release, produced with the help of Distributed Proofreaders, is The Senator’s Favorite, a rare sequel in the output of prolific story paper author Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller, following on from her much earlier novel, The Senator’s Bride.

While the previous novel’s happy ending left a fairly obvious setup for where a sequel might lead, The Senator’s Favorite does not follow this path of least resistance. Instead, it largely sets up a whole new generation of characters, with the leads of the earlier story having relatively limited roles. Surprisingly (in a novel that otherwise follows the expected melodramatic formula), the story provides sad fates for some of the previous novel’s protagonists; Mrs. Miller wrote in her autobiography of feeling frustration with the unrealistic requirement for a happy ending to every story, and it seems that this sequel gave her a rare opportunity to retroactively work around that necessity.

The complete text of the book is now available for online reading or download through Project Gutenberg.


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Last Modified: August 2, 2017