Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lovecraft in Context: 1924

Lovecraft, who in his teen years was eager for new technology and scoured the newspapers and science journals, had by the mid-20's retreated into a type of antiquarian pose. The U.S. was bustling with youth, energy, and the jazz and radio age. Talkies were closing in on theaters, and even television was on the cusp. Lovecraft was about to head to New York and reach his early Weird Tales exposure to a whole new generation of fans.

When you get to the dollar equivalents, understand how much money was being thrown at Lovecraft by Henneberger - who was essentially strapped for cash - and ask ... how? Recall this tidbit, "...Frank Belknap Long believed that a $60 HPL used on a book buying spree store credit was from Henneberger..." that I posted some time back. According to 1924 dollars this was equivalent to $700 (2010)! Not bad!

Long speculated (in his biographical memoir), "I did not find out until later, - for some reason he had been reluctant to tell me - that he had a bookseller's credit slip for sixty dollars, given to him by J. C. Henneberger, the founder of Weird Tales, in lieu of cash payment just before Farnsworth Wright had assumed the editorship of the magazine and story sales on a cash basis had come to an abrupt halt. I have never had any doubt that someone had given Henneberger the credit slip and, being in Chicago, he could not have readily availed himself of a pleasure he had passed along to Howard, without giving much thought to the money he might have saved had he purchased the story for cash."

1924 (from an article)by Juliana Smith 12 April 2010
(link attached to today's blog title)

In the U.S., Calvin Coolidge was serving as president after the death of President Warren G. Harding and was re-elected in November. Congress declared Native American Indians U.S. Citizens through the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act, although Native Americans were not allowed to vote in some states until 1948.

In these early days of radio, radio stations were popping up and broadcasting across the country. Calvin Coolidge became the first President to broadcast over the radio from the White House. Further, eighteen radio stations hooked up in September with General John J. Pershing and other military officials in a demonstration of how radio can be used in the event of an emergency to communicate important information across the country in the National Defense Test Day Broadcast.

In March, people in the U.S. were flocking to the theatres to see Douglas Fairbanks’ silent picture, The Thief of Bagdad. Popular songs included, California, Here I Come (Al Jolson), Rhapsody in Blue (George Gershwin and Paul Whiteman), and It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’ (Wendell Hall).

As for economics, $100 was the equivalent of $1,160.82 in today’s dollars. What could you get for your money? A quart of milk would cost you about $0.14, a loaf of bread or a pound of sugar ran around $0.09, eggs were $0.48 per dozen, coffee about $0.43 a pound, and if you wanted a nice sirloin, it would run about $0.40 per pound.

So, how much did those new-fangled radios cost? A few years earlier, in 1921, factory-made radios could cost more than $2,000 in today’s dollars, but in 1922 the National Bureau of Standards released a circular that sold for five cents and told how to build a crystal radio set and soon newspapers picked up on the story and the information spread quickly. The circular stated that the cost of materials needed was typically under $10.

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