Charles A. Beard, An Intellectual Biography

By Ellen Nore | Go to book overview

10

An Intellectual Dairy
Farmer's Public Life

The Beards were moderately wealthy. In the spring of 1923 they had moved into what Beard fondly called his "beautiful studio apartment, " the top two floors of the Hotel des Artistes at 27 West 67th Street. Built in 1916, the building had a mixture of Gothic and Tudoresque detail, two-story living rooms, squash courts, a swimming pool, theater, ballroom, restaurant, and a communal kitchen wherein a chef used to stand by to cook tenants' dinners and send them up via the dumbwaiter. In 1941, Beard recalled about this apartment that he had paid rent of $5000 a year in "flush days" before he bought it, adding that, in those days, his "books were selling about 1/4 million a year." 1

This figure was an understatement. With collaborators, Beard had completed in 1920, 1921, and 1922 five texts for students from grade school through college, each of which sold more than a quarter of a million copies in various editions during the twenties. 2 These schoolbooks, along with some investments and his farms, provided Beard with luxurious comfort and a freedom from financial anxieties. During the early thirties Beard purchased, with money from the sale of some weak securities, another dairy farm at Sherman, Connecticut. "I bought the farm," he told Matthew Josephson, "because I have learned to mistrust all forms of paper wealth ... I like to be able to see my investments with my own eyes, and if the Depression goes on, if worst comes to worst, at least I can eat my investments too." 3

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