Rex Cole Jr. Blast From the Past

The Crystal Clue by Gordon Chapman

We recently came across this well used book. As you can see its an oldie.

I did some searching on the net, but was only able to find limited info on this two book series.

Rex Cole, Junior was created by Gordon Chapman and appeared in the two-book “Rex Cole, Jr. Detective Stories” series, beginning with Rex Cole, Jr. and the Crystal Clue (1931) and concluding that same year with Rex Cole, Jr. and the Grinning Ghost. Rex is described by one source as a “juvenile occult detective.” Rex himself is a strapping young man, with “steel grey eyes,” a “straight, aquiline nose,” a strong mouth and chin, and curly chestnut hair. He’s avid to solve crimes, and thrusts himself into investigations which under normal circumstances would be the province of adults alone. Rex became famous after his first case, “marked…as a youth of great ability and initiative,” and even Scotland Yard was impressed by him, enough so that they sent a special investigator to obtain his help when a valuable Indian ruby is threatened with theft. Rex is the son of Mayor Rex Cole of Hilton, Illinois; Rex’s best friend is “Butterball” Thomas, his “greatest intimate” and a stereotype of fat boys everywhere, down to his clumsiness. Interestingly, Rex and Butterball are out of high school but are not college-bound, perhaps reflecting the assumptions of the early 1930s about what kids would do after high school.

1931 is the only date listed in the book. There are no numerals or letters to indicate which printing this copy is, so I am loosely assuming that this could be a first edition. I love thinking about and searching for things that were going on when old books were written.

What was going on in 1931 when this book was published?

Jan 6th Thomas Edison submits his last patent application.
Feb 15th 1st Dracula movie released
Mar 3rd “Star Spangled Banner” officially becomes US national anthem
Apr 6th – 1st broadcast of “Little Orphan Annie” on NBC-radio
May 1st Empire State Building opens in NYC
Jul 1st – Ice vending machines introduced in LA 25 lbs, 15 cents
Oct 17th Al Capone convicted of tax evasion, sentenced to 11 years in prison

Here’s another interesting thing. There is a note inside from someone who owned this book at some point. This book was given as a Christmas present in 1942 from Frank Collins to somebody named Edward.

What was Christmas like in 1942?

Dec 1st Gasoline rationed in US
Dec 4th – US bombers struck Italian mainland for 1st time in WW II
Dec 22nd World War II: Adolf Hitler signs the order to develop the V-2 rocket as a weapon.

It’s true, this book has seen better days, but it’s also seen much worse.

If you have any memories of the two books in this series, or the era in which it was published, please share.


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Categories: Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Rex Cole Jr. Blast From the Past

  1. Hello, I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that you have a great site! Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Lady Phaze

    Love the older books! This series escaped me when I was younger, but given that there were only two books in it and limited printings, I figure it would be pretty hard to find now.

    The timeline makes one think about how much our world has changed in just a short span. I enjoy your musings, keep them coming….

  4. Thanks, I will.

  5. Paul mance

    I have this book in good condition and with a dust jacket. Any idea of the value

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