The 'Mini-Golden' Editions
I have coined the 'Mini-Golden' term to describe the hardbound format in which the Brains Benton stories were published in Italy, France, Great Britain & Germany in the 1960s. The name refers not only to the diminutive physical size of the books, but also to their part of a Golden Press collection of stories exported to Europe by Western Publishing. These editions share the same artwork, binding and overall design in each of these four territories, with the only major modifications being the translations of the stories themselves.
• History & Origins.
The large and potentially profitable European market beckoned, and sometime in the late 1950s, or early 1960s, Golden Press sought to have their vast and varied catalogue of popular juvenile titles published in the continent. Ultimately, four countries in particular – Italy and France at first, followed by Great Britain and Germany later – each published approximately 60 of these stories (including the Brains Benton series) in a physically uniform format and design. A random selection of non-Brains Benton Mini-Golden editions can be seen here.
• Printer & Publishers.
While the books had a common manufacturer in Italy, they were published by different companies in each territory. For example, in Great Britain, the books were released by Golden Pleasure, a publishing house co-owned by Paul Hamlyn and Western Publishing. The French books were actually published by Hachette, through their 'Editions des deux coqs d'or’ (Two Golden Cocks Editions) imprint, while the German publishers were ‘Delphn-Verlag’ (Dolphin Publishing House).
While the individual book titles and story translations are naturally unique to each region, the binding, overall design and illustrations are identical. The hardback editions were of a diminutive 'hexadecimo' size; barely five inches tall, and under four inches wide (the metric measurements are as follows: 95 mm x 127mm).
• Publication Dates.
• Cover & Internal Artwork.
• Story Collections / Series.
The parental link back to Golden Press is clear to see in the names of these collections, as well as the names of the British and French publishing houses:
The stories were numbered in each particular series, and these were identical for the titles released in Italy and France (for example, the translated Missing Message is No. 8 in both of these territories). However, the order and sequence in Germany is significantly different; there, the Missing Message edition is No. 4 in the ‘Goldene Happy-Bücher’ collection. Strangely, the British releases did not appear to employ a similar numbering system.
Again with the notable exception of the UK (where the following convention was reversed), the books in these collections were divided into those for younger readers (denoted by a blue reverse cover and spine), and those for slightly older readers (sporting a red colouration instead). The actual age range covered by the red titles (according to the French editions) is 10 to 14 years.
• Text Changes:
Curiously, the editor’s scissors appear to have been wielded differently by each individual publisher. In Germany, for example, the first chapter of Missing Message is ludicrously short, ending shortly after Jimmy’s mother receives the mysterious phone call from Brains. In comparison, the French and British opening chapters are considerably longer, while the Italian text, at the time of writing, has not been available for examination.
The following table illustrates how many of the chapters in the Mini-Golden editions were merged together in the abridgement process, lowering the overall count. Curiously, Roving Rolls appears to be the only title to have escaped this treatment completely:
Please visit the dedicated pages for each of the four countries for more specific information on the Brains Benton titles published there: