Clayton pulps closing down sale – 1933

An earlier version of this article appeared in the Author and Journalist, August 1933.

The finis of the Clayton Publishing Company was written on July 13, 1933, when its more important magazines and titles were disposed of by the bank­ruptcy court at a public sale, various attempts at re­organization of the company having failed. At the termination of the bankruptcy proceedings, which may take six months or more, cash dividends will be paid to the creditors of the defunct company, includ­ing authors, who are holding some $70,000 in Clay­ton notes. According to John J. Wildberg, attorney for the American Fiction Guild, it is conjectural what the dividend rate may be. It can hardly be more than 10 cents on the dollar, however, as liabilities of the company were in excess of $350,000 (Sai: nearly 8 million dollars in 2023).

The purchasers of the magazines and titles, and the amounts paid for them, were as follows:

MagazinePurchaserAmt. Paid2023 Equivalent
Ranch RomancesE. F. Warner30,000685,000
Five Novels MonthlyDell Publishing Co.1,10025,000
Ace High Ace High NovelsDell Publishing Co.50011,500
Astounding StoriesT. R. Foley (partner with William Delaney in publishing Weird Tales from 1938 on)1002,300
CluesT. R. Foley2505,750
Western Adventures Cowboy StoriesStreet & Smith2004,600

Sai: I wonder if files, prior rights and purchased inventory of the magazine were included in the sale. If so, the prices were quite low.

An effort will be made to find purchasers for other titles owned by the company, although the magazines have not been published within some months.

Sai: The other titles were All Star Detective (which merged with Clues a few months before the sale), Complete Western Love Novelettes, Complete Adventure Novelettes, Detective Library, New Fiction Library, Reader’s Library, Rangeland Love Stories, Strange Tales, Western Love Stories, Western Adventures and Bunk. All of them were discontinued.

Ranch Romances, the most successful magazine of the Clayton group, now passes into the hands of Eltinge F. Warner and is made a member of the Warner Publications group. Mr. Warner is president of Arts and Decoration and publisher of Black Mask and Field & Stream.

The address of Ranch Romances, hereafter, will be 578 Madison Ave., and it will continue under the efficient editorship of Miss Fanny Ellsworth, who has guided its policies with such marked success as to make it the outstanding property of the Clayton organization. There will be no changes in editorial policy, and, in addition, the magazine will have behind it the facilities and energetic back­ing of one of the soundest organizations in the field. In accordance with the unvarying policy of Warner Publications, it will pay for material promptly on acceptance at 1 cent a word.

The publication plans of the purchasers of other titles disposed of at the sale have not yet been an­nounced.

Sai: Astounding Stories and Clues were sold by Foley almost immediately to Street & Smith. S&S resumed publication of three titles: Astounding, Clues in October and Cowboy Stories in November. Western Adventures was discontinued.

Dell continued Five Novels Monthly without any gaps; the August issue was from Clayton while the September issue was under the Dell name. Ace High was published by Dell for just over a year and then sold to Popular Publications. Ace High Novels was discontinued.


  1. it stuns me that ASTOUNDING STORIES sold for only $100; the cheapest title on this list. That the magazine was so lightly valued in 1933 simply floors me.

  2. I wonder what the turnaround sale price to Street & Smith on Astounding was, I bet it was low but still a quick turn around on a hundred dollar investment.

    Still, I’d take the dividends from the Ranch Romances purchase – surely that is one of the better selling pulps ever?

    I love it as a mix of genres, even if it leans toward polite more often than hard-boiled.

    1. Ranch Romances was the longest running pulp, which must make it one of the better selling ones.

      You might have some luck with the 1950s issues of Ranch Romances. They were home to some great western writers including Elmer Keaton and Stephen Payne.

      Or if you just want hard-boiled western, take a look at Texas Western. I have a review of one issue here.

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