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1924 H. K. Fly Book Co.
1928-11 Plain Talk
1925-05 Complete Novel
1930-03 Comp. Detective
1926-08 Complete Novel
1930-04 Complete Love
1927-01 Complete Novel
1931-06 Complete Movie
1928-06 Comp. Detective
1935-07 Star Novels
1928-07 Wild West Novel
1935 Winners
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H. K.FLY

(1879-1970)

Harvey Kratz Fly was born November 27, 1879 in New Galena, Pennsylvania. His father, Jonathan W. Fly, was born in 1837 in PA. His mother, Mary G. Kratz, was born in 1844 in PA. His parents married in 1863 and had six children, Annie (b.1864), Bill (b.1865), Charles (b.1869), Samuel (b.1873), Frank (b.1875), and Harvey (b.1879) The father was a farmer.

In June of 1892, at the age of thirteen, Harvey K. Fly completed the eighth grade at public school, after which he entered the work force as a newsboy for The Phildelphia Press newspaper.

At the turn of the century, Philadelphia politics was controlled by the "Vare Machine." William Scott Vare (1867-1934) was one of three Vare brothers who handled all government contracts and job appointments. They used brutal tactics to enforce control, which siphoned millions from the city budget. Their dominance of Philadelphia was comparable to the infamous Tammany Hall gang of NYC.

In 1900, at the age of twenty-one, H. K. Fly was a traveling salesman of books for the Drexel Biddle Publishing Company of Philadelphia.

In 1904 H. K. Fly was a traveling salesman of books for the Bobbs-Merrill Company.

In 1909 he traveled to the West Coast and throughout the Southern States for the John Lane Publishing Company.

In 1911 Harvey K. Fly moved to New York City and founded the H. K. Fly Publishing Company at 9 Barrow Street in Greenwich Village.

On March 28 1913 he married Juliette E. Renoux. She was born September 2, 1876 in Paris, France. They lived at 112 Waverly Place. They had no children.

In 1916 H. K. Fly published "The Secret of the Storm Country" by Grace Miller White. He sold the rights to serialize the novel to Woman's World Magazine. One year later it was produced as a popular motion picture starring Norma Talmadge.

On January 17, 1920 the Eighteenth Amendment took effect, which made the sale of alcohol a federal crime. Demand exceeded supply to such an outrageous extent that law enforcement was quickly overwhelmed. Politicians had intended to prohibit unwholesome behavior, but inadvertently generated a national syndicate of organized crime that controlled and coordinated the wholesale import, manufacture, storage, trucking and distribution of alcoholic beverages. Criminal gangs were suddenly involved in a wildly lucrative mass production industry on a scale that was previously unimaginable.

On April 5, 1923 The New York Times reported the State Supreme Court had ruled in favor of Harvey K. Fly on a claim of $5000 against Hall Caine, author of 'The Master of Man,' who refused to pay a 10% commission after the Goldwyn Company bought the film rights for $50,000.

During the "roaring twenties" organized crime acquired control of the nationwide system of distribution, trucking, warehousing, and labor unions. The American News Company (ANC) was the most powerful force in publishing. It was controlled by organized crime, but it was headed by William Randolphh Hearst, Arthur Brisbane, and Moe L. Annenberg. To avoid prosecution for anti-trust laws, ANC delegated various affiliates, such as Lee Ellmaker, Paul Sampliner, Irving S. Manheimer, Warren Angel, and Theodore Epstein, to operate as independent publishers, although the lifeblood of their operating credit came from ANC.

In 1924 Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel formed Eastern Distributing Corporation located at 45 West 45th Street near Times Square. They handled newsstand distribution of cigars, candy, and magazines. Along with these conventional duties, Eastern Distributing also offered publishers credit for operating funds in exchange for control of services, such as printing, engraving plates, paper supply, trucking, warehousing, subscription services, handling of returns, and overseas sales. All of these services were provided by affiliated subcontractors, who gave discounted prices for massive orders. This risky approach to business reflected the reckless ambition of the roaring twenties, which brought Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel into association with powerful industrialists, syndicates, labor unions, and gangsters.

One of the affiliated businesses of Eastern Distributing was The Tab Printing Corporation, owned by Theodore Epstein, who produced The Daily Racing Tab for Moe L. Annenberg, a member of the Hearst Executive Council. In 1925 Theodore Epstein registered two new incorporations, Publishers Distributing Corporation (PDC) and Publishers Surplus Corporation. The second company handled overseas sales of unsold and returned periodicals. The New York Times reported the newly incorporated company, and listed the lawyers Arthur J. Brothers, Jacob Korshin, and the firm of Epstein & Bros. A few weeks later, on March 21, 1925, The New York Times reported another newly incorporated business, Novel Magazine Corporation, with the same legal team, which suggests all three companies were incorporated by the same group of investors.

When Novel Magazine Corporation was founded, B. A. MacKinnon was suddenly promoted from circulation manager at The Pictorial Review, where he had worked since 1908, to president of Novel Magazine Corporation. Harvey K. Fly, the book publisher and literary agent for Woman's World Magazine, was appointed treasurer and secretary of the company.

The first "MacKinnon & Fly" publication was the pulp Complete Novel Magazine, dated May 1925. The table of contents identified B. A. MacKinnon - President and H. K. Fly - Sec'y & Treas. Located at 188 West 4th Street, NYC.

In 1926 Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel hired Irving S. Manheimer to work for Eastern Distributing as a Circulation Manager. He had formerly been in the circulation department at Collier's Weekly Magazine. Manheimer was also appointed Director of Theodore Epstein's Printers Surplus Corporation. Manheimer would eventually become the president of Publishers Distributing Corporation (PDC) as well as Macfadden Publications.

In 1927 MacKinnon & Fly Publications began to produce an anti-Prohibition magazine, Plain Talk, which called for the repeal of the 18th Amendment. According to B. A. MacKinnon, "Frankly, I liked the United States before the war better. With so many brilliant writers, diplomats and keen financial minds in America, I am subject to constant amazement that they do not apply themselves to the task of setting the United States in better accord with the rest of the world, and making this country truly free. I am essentially an optimist, and when I see the magnificent battle being waged by John Haynes Holmes and others, I am almost persuaded that, eventually, temperance and tolerance may conquer Prohibition and ignorance."

By 1928 Eastern Distributing handled the many publications of Hugo Gernsback, an innovative publisher with significant unpaid debts. On February 21, 1929 he was legally forced to declare bankruptcy. During subsequent negotiations he accepted the offer of credit in exchange for control, after which Irving S. Manheimer became his business manager and B. A. MacKinnon became his circulation manager. Gernsback's company was reorganized by a group of New York and Chicago investors. They split the business into several independent companies, whose names included Stellar Publications, Radio-Science Publications, MacKinnon & Fly Publications, Forward Publications, Experimenter Publications, Modern Publications, and Grenpark Novelties. The executive officers of these various companies included Hugo Gernsback, Bernarr Macfadden, Lee Ellmaker, B. A. MacKinnon, Harvey K. Fly, William M. Clayton, Theodore Epstein, Harry Donenfeld, Frank Armer, and Harold Hersey, while the production and distribution was handled by Eastern Distributing.

The September 1929 issue of Gernsback's Radio News contained a Statement of Ownership, which informed readers that "MacKinnon & Fly Publications" had acquired the magazine. The business manager was listed as "B. A. MacKinnon of 230 Fifth Avenue."

During the 1920s most of the expense for advertising mass market products was paid to publishers of magazines and newspapers, so by 1929 those wealthy publishers were alarmed by the growing popularity of radio programs, which also sold advertising. Most of the biggest publishers began to buy radio stations in an effort to retain control of nationwide advertising.

When Hugo Gernsback lost control of his business, William Randolph Hearst ordered the publisher of The New York Evening Journal to bid up to $100,000 for Gernsback's radio station, WRNY.

Hearst Radio owned broadcasting stations WINS (NYC), WCAE and WSWS (Pittsburgh), WBAL (Baltimore), WISN (Milwaukee), KYA (San Francisco), KELW (Burbank), KEHE (Los Angeles). To use the most desirable wave-lengths Hearst sent lobbyists to the Federal Radio Commission in Washington.

In 1928 Novel Magazine Corporation was listed in the indicia of Wild West Stories and Complete Novel Magazine at 225 Varick Street. They also produced Brief Stories and Screen Book Magazine, whose editor was Frederick Gardener.

In 1929 Novel Magazine Corporation moved to 381 Fourth Avenue, which is a 16-story office building on the corner of 27th Street and Park Avenue South.

On March 9, 1929 The New York Times reported Experimenter Publishing Company at 230 Fifth Avenue had added B. A. MacKinnon as manager of circulation, and the new manager of both the editorial and advertising departments was Macfadden's former radio editor Arthur H. Lynch.

In September of 1929 Radio News carried a statement of ownership that identified MacKinnon & Fly as publishers.

In 1930 MacKinnon & Fly produced Amazing Stories, Amazing Stories Quarterly, Aero Mechanics, Radio News, Science & Invention, Screen Book, Plain Talk, Your Body Quarterly, Complete Detective, Complete Love Novel Magazine, Wild West Stories and Complete Novel Magazine. Cover artists included William F. Soare, Sidney Riesenberg, Hans Wesso, and P. J. Monahan.

In 1930 MacKinnon & Fly produced an advertising mailer for subscribers that featured their major titles.

On May 17, 1930 The New York Times reported in the real estate section that "MacKinnon - Fly" had rented additional space in 381 Fourth Avenue.

In December of 1930 the owner of Complete Detective Magazine was identified as Novel Magazine Corporation at 381 Fourth Avenue. Two months later, in February of 1931, the owner was listed as Radio-Science Publications at 381 Fourth Avenue.

On April 2, 1931 The New York Times reported that Macfadden Publications had acquired Liberty Magazine from J. M. Patterson and R. R. McCormick, who owned The New York Daily News and The Chicago Tribune, in exchange for an undisclosed payment and The Detroit Daily News. The staff at Liberty Magazine would remain, but Fulton Oursler would be supervising editor, and Lee Ellmaker would be the publisher.

On April 12, 1931 The New York Times reported the new incorporation of Archer Press. The first publication of this company was Complete Movie Novel Magazine, which listed B. A. MacKinnon as president and H. K. Fly as secretary and treasurer. The magazine cover showed Marlene Dietrich in a provocative pose. That same year, the same image also appeared on "Madame-X" by Alexandrine Bisson from Archer Press. That book was distributed by Triangle Monthly Books, a subsidiary of Doubleday that was owned by Moe L. Annenberg.

The Archer Press went on to produce several hardcover books for Triangle Monthly Books, such as "Help Wanted" by Jack Lait and "Once To Every Man" by Larry Evans. These books were later distributed through back-page ads for Mayfair Publications, a company owned by Theodore Epstein, on behalf of ANC.

"The Archer" is the name of the zodiac sign for Sagittarius, which features a centaur aiming a bow and arrow. Harvey K. Fly was born on November 27th under the sign of Sagittarius, so the name of this company is most likely a reference to the majority share of H. K. Fly in the corporation.

At the same time The Archer Press was producing books for Triangle Books, Doubleday also began to publish a new pulp, Star Novels Magazine. The first issue was dated October 1931. The interior illustrations were drawn by Pete Kuhlhoff. The covers were painted by Rudolph Zirm, Clemens Gretter, Gerard Delano, and Harry L. Parkhurst. Several of the covers were later re-used on Short Stories and Weird Tales, which were also owned by Doubleday.

In 1931 Lee Ellmaker also became the owner and publisher of Pictorial Review, as well as The Woman's World, Radio News, Amazing Stories, Complete Detective Magazine, and Wild West Stories and Complete Novel Magazine.

On November 17, 1931 The New York Evening Post reported Teck Publishing Corporation had leased space at 350 Hudson Street.

During the 1930s, Irving S. Manheimer joined the Board of Directors of Macfadden Publications, and gradually acquired majority control until he replaced Bernarr Macfadden as president and forced him to retire from publishing. Macfadden Publications included Liberty Magazine, True Stories, True Romances, True Experiences, True Detective Mysteries, Master Detective, Physical Culture, New York Investment News, and Radio Mirror.

Hearst profited from his reputation as a smart businessman by selling stock to finance his various projects. This arrangement made it important for his projects to appear successful. To reduce the risk of failures associated with his name, Hearst used proxies, like Arthur Brisbane, Moe L. Annenberg, James Quirk, and Bernarr Macfadden, to act as owners of new business ventures. Once those projects had achieved financial success, Hearst would "buy" the company from his proxy "for an undisclosed amount."

After Irving S. Manheimer had control of Macfadden Publications it was no longer necessary for MacKinnon and Fly to act as the owners of Novel Magazine Corporation, so on July 17, 1931 The New York Times reported the corporate dissolution of MacKinnon & Fly Publications, Novel Magazine Corporation, and Plain Talk Magazine. Fifteen years later, Plain Talk was revived, but instead of publishing anti-Prohibition editorials, the revived magazine was anti-communist. It ran for only three years.

After this point MacKinnon & Fly never published any other magazines, although they both continued to work independently in the publishing industry.

On May 20, 1932 The New York Times reported the new incorporation of Teck Publications by Abner Germann (1896-1976), who was Office Manager at Macfadden Publications. Lee Ellmaker was the president of Teck Publications. The new business was located at 222 West 39th Street, which was the address of the Pictorial Review Building.

In 1932 Irving J. Manheimer acquired control of Macfadden Publications. Bernarr Macfadden legally agreed not to publish any rival periodicals for six years, and on July 1, 1932 he filed for bankruptcy.

On October 12, 1932 The New York Times reported the bankruptcy of Quality Publications, publishers of The Thinker, at 45 West 45th Street. The principal creditor listed was Screenland Magazine, which was owned by Macfadden Publications.

On December 8, 1932 The New York Times reported Bergan A. MacKinnon, sales manager, 44 Woodland Avenue, Bronxville, had filed a petition for bankruptcy, claiming $23,075 in liabilities and no assets.

In 1933 the new owner of Complete Detective Novel Magazine was listed as Teck Publications at 381 Fourth.

On May 16, 1933 Walter Winchell wrote in his column for The Daily Mirror, owned by William Randolph Hearst, "Frederick Gardener is expecting to produce a new magazine entitled Conflict." This new pulp magazine was produced by Centaur Publishing Corporation. The president of this new company was H. K. Fly. The name "Centaur" is another reference to the zodiac sign of Sagittarius, "The Archer." The first issue of Conflict listed the editorial offices at 101 Park Avenue. The advertising was handled by H. D. Cushing of Man Story Magazines, located at 45 West 45th Street. The printing was handled by James A. Falconer of the Phelps Printing Company in the Myrick Building in Springfield, Massachusetts. Only four issues of Conflict were produced. The table of contents confirmed that the editor was Frederick Gardener. The artists included Harry Parkhurst, and Leo Morey. The authors included Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson.

By 1934 the circulation of The Pictorial Review had reached 2,500,000, at which point Lee Ellmaker "sold" Pictorial Review to Hearst Publications. Two years later it was merged with The Delineator, another popular woman's magazine. The combined circulation of the two magazines was over three million copies. The only other magazines to reach that pinnacle were Liberty and Saturday Evening Post.

In 1934 Complete Detective Novel Magazine listed the address of Teck Publications as 222 West 39th Street, which was the Pictorial Review Building.

On April 28, 1934 The New York Times reported the Federal Trade Commission had accused a consortium of five publishers (The Pictorial Review, Macfadden Publications, Frank A. Munsey, Street & Smith, and the Butterick Publishing Company) and three distributors (S-M News, International Circulation, and Midwest Distributors) of conspiring to monopolize the second-hand magazine business by obtaining agreements from retailers not to deal in second-hand magazines, and refusing to sell or distribute magazines to any retailer who persists in handling second-hand periodicals.

In 1935 H. K. Fly Publishing Company, located at 30 Irving Place, suddenly replaced Doubleday as the publisher of Star Novels Magazine and Love Novels Magazine. The editorial topics suddenly included astrology, numerology, horoscope, and predictions of the future by Madame Iris Vorel. There also appeared several advertisements in these magazines for mystical and erotic books from The Cosmic Press, which was also located at 30 Irving Place. This editorial shift proves that Harvey K. Fly was interested in the zodiac, and the fact that he named his businesses "Centaur" and "the Archer" most likely refer to his own date of birth under the sign of Sagittarius.

The July 1935 issue of Star Novels Magazine included an advertisement for True Gang Life Magazine. The indicia in that magazine identified the publisher, distributor, and advertising manager as Paul Sampliner, John Shade, and Theodore Epstein, all of whom were affiliates of Moe L. Annenberg. The inside back cover of True Gang Life had a full-page advertisement for erotic books, which featured "Help Wanted" by Jack Lait from The Archer Press.

In 1935 The Cosmic Press published "Winners And How To Select Them" by Robert S. Dowst.

On June 24, 1937 The New York Times reported that Hearst Magazines, The Pictorial Review, the Curtis Publishing Company, Crowell Publishing Company and The McCall Corporation had joined the Periodical Publishers Association to form a more effective cooperation of mutual interests for the whole advertising industry.

On August 7, 1934 William Scott Vare, the retired "Boss" of Philadelphia politics, died at the age of sixty-six. Harvey K. Fly visited the estate sale of his former benefactor, and bought a cut-crystal punch bowl and set of serving cups, which he kept for the rest of his life.

On January 18, 1938 The New York Sun reported that Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, with offices in Chicago, had purchased Radio News and Amazing Stories from Teck Publications.

In 1939 Hearst abruptly ceased publication of the Pictorial Review. It remains one of the largest and most mysterious collapses in the history of Publishing.

On August 11, 1939 the same District Attorney and Federal Judge who had historically convicted Al Capone of tax evasion, brought similar charges against Moe L. Annenberg. On April 20, 1940 he was convicted to serve three years in Federal prison and to pay a fine of $8,000,000, which was the largest such penalty in U.S. history.

On October 14, 1940 The Times Recorder of Zanesville, Ohio reported that Lee Ellmaker, of Philadelphia, had filed a voluntary petition of bankruptcy for Woman's World Publishing Company at 461 Eighth Avenue. The monthly magazine, with a circulation of 1,500,000, listed its liabilities at $614,730. Lee Ellmaker, the sole stockholder, said that its only cash was $2.99 on hand and $132.95 on deposit. The printer was Kable Brothers of Mount Morris, IL, which was co-owned by Warren Angel.

In 1940 B. A. MacKinnon became director of circulation for The American Home Magazine.

In 1940 Mr. & Mrs. Fly lived at 344 Cabrini Boulevard in Upper Manhattan, where he listed his occupation as "publisher of books and magazines."

On 1942 his wife, Juliette E. Renoux Fly, died at the age of sixty-six.

In 1942 he listed himself as self-employed at 14 East 47th Street, and his home residence at 501 West 175th Street.

While Moe L. Annenberg served his three-year sentence in Lewisburg Pennsylvania State Prison, his health declined to a critical extent, until doctors urged his early release for medical treatment on June 3, 1942. He traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis for an emergency brain operation. While recuperating from surgery, he died at the age of sixty-five on July 20, 1942.

In 1947 B. A. MacKinnon was director of circulation for The American Home Magazine, at 55 Fifth Avenue, NYC.

On January 21, 1949 Warren Angel died of a heart attack at age sixty-two in NYC.

In 1949 B. A. MacKinnon retired from the magazine industry. That same year Harvey K. Fly also retired from publishing. He left NYC and returned to Philadelphia, where he bought a home in the suburbs at 1960 Easton Road in Doylestown, PA.

Bergan Arling MacKinnon died of a heart attack at the age of seventy-one at Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, NY, on March 11, 1951. That same year William Randolph Hearst died at the age of eighty-eight. Four years later Bernarr Macfadden died at the age of eighty-seven.

H. K. Fly died in Doylestown, PA, at the age of ninety on June 11, 1970. The contents of his home were sold in an estate sale, where some lucky bidder bought the cut-crystal punch bowl and set of serving cups that had once belonged to William S. Vare for the record price of $4,500.

                               © David Saunders 2017

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