OUP offers cut-price magazine history book

July 29, 2016

OUP revolutions from Grub Street - magazine history

Oxford University Press has a summer sale offering Cox and Mowatt’s Revolutions from Grub Street: A History of Magazine Publishing in Britain for a fiver off at £14.99 for the paperback. The hardback edition is half price at £18.75. OUP has several other titles covering magazines and literature, from literary theory to Playboy, a few of which are also in the sale.

 

 

 

Photo competition for a magazine cover

July 29, 2016

Summer of Print competition from Newspaper Club and Stack 3
Newspaper Club – the website that helps people make and print a newspaper – is launching a competition with Stack, the subscription service for independent magazines, on Monday. The idea is simple: they are inviting anyone to post an image they’d use for the cover of a publication about their summer. Tag it with #summerofprint on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for a chance to win a £100 printing voucher for Newspaper Club and a year’s subscription to Stack.

Just the sort of prize to inspire anyone working on or thinking about their own magazine, or is just keen on getting a free year’s worth of independent magazines. If that’s you, look out for the August issue of Creative Review, which carries an article ‘How to make a mag’ by Danny Miller, co-founder of  Little White Lies and Weapons of Reason.  And, of course, Gym Class, the magazine about magazines.

Take a look at the Secrets of Magazine Design page and flick through the pages of covers for some inspiration on what makes a good cover pic. And there are several sites around where you can test your cover design idea, such as Canva.

The contest will run from 1 August until noon on 5 September. The winner will be announced on 7 September.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

Tremulous author frustrated in finding Poyner’s verdict

July 22, 2016
Seafoxes band

The Seafoxes playing at Jamboree tonight – musical distraction from my worries

Aaaarrrggghhh. As I wrote last night, I went out to find a copy of August’s Creative Review to read Rick Poyner’s view on A History of British Magazine Design after a restless night. But the world is against me. No copies in yet at the newsagents in Borough High Street or WH Smith and around London Bridge.

So on I go past Tower Bridge to the Design Museum. Oh Woe. The museum has finally moved. You’d think Kensington needed another museum like a hole in the head. It’ll be sorely missed by me.

History of British Magazine Design in Creative Review

First heavyweight criticism of A History of British Magazine Design in Creative Review

So, on to Tate Modern. Guaranteed to find Creative Review there. But no. All the July copies are sold out too – as they were every else (you get the impression that Creative Review might have pulled back on its newsstand distribution too far).

But is wasn’t all bad, I ended up signing copies of British Magazine Design on sale at the Tate Modern bookshop with Amy and Richard, who were very helpful in trying to track down a copy of Creative Review. Rush down there now!

So my panic over Prof Poyner’s criticism continues … but a night at Jamboree to see the Seafoxes launch their new EP should at least take my mind off things!

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

Tremulous author awaits verdict on his book

July 22, 2016
History of British Magazine Design in Creative Review

First heavyweight criticism of A History of British Magazine Design in Creative Review

Having started writing A History of British Magazine Design seven years ago and seen it published in May, you want people to tell you what they think of it (ie, how good it is!). And many friends and acquaintances have.

Then you wait to see if it will be reviewed. And wait… because it takes a couple of months before anything appears, apart from some newsy online items. Since then, there’s just been the Amazon ranking to watch – it bounces between about 25,000 and 350,000 (from the look of it, depending on a single copy being sold!). Now, a neighbour tells me, the first considered review has arrived, in August’s Creative Review, a special issue on starting out in the creative industry.

The review, ‘Britain in print’, is by critic and writer Rick Poynor, who made his name on Blueprint, was founding editor of Eye and is now visiting professor at the Royal College of Art. A true heavyweight in design commentary.

I look at an image of the review on the website. It’s a spread – that has to be good news? Gulp. Will he delve into the holes I know exist, or bombard me with others? Will he focus on the virtues or the vices? I’ve got butterflies. I knew I should have done more on the RCA and its Ark journal! And there are no Eye pages, but there are some from Blueprint, honest Rick!

But the JPEG text is too small to read and the article continues on to a third page. Now I’ve descended into panic … I’ll have to get a copy in the morning.

Website for car magazine collectors

July 18, 2016

John Avis has emailed me about his new website for collectors of car magazines. Here’s what he says:

I have created a website for magazine collectors that is a bit like a Wikipedia where the community can build an index of car magazines. Anyone can add and edit magazines including covers and contents, which are searchable. People can also flag magazines they have, want or are selling and I’ve also added a forum for members to discuss topics related to car and motorcycle magazine collecting.

When a member contributes to the website the earn reputation points which result in new privileges like becoming a site moderator, so they can then approve new member’s contributions amongst other things.

I have created the website because collecting magazines is my hobby, and I wanted to track my collection and be able to search for articles. I hoped there would be other people interested who would help build the index and find it useful themselves.

Car magazines are widely collected and many hold their value well, as recent posts about  Practical Motorist and Autocar showed. And my Cars page on Magforum has always been popular.

So, click the link and take a look at what  John’s Magazine Collector has to offer.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 

Fleet Street jokes

July 17, 2016

Fleet Street was a place full of humour, much of it reflecting the rivalry between groups of journalists, such as news editors, sub-editors and reporters. Here are some examples.

A reporter tells his news editor that, trying to interview a man, he has been tossed about three times, the last time with a broken nose. ‘Huh,’ says the news editor, ‘you go back and try again. He can’t frighten me.’

Can’t remember where I heard that, but the next two come from the Cornmarket/ Haymarket news weekly Topic, which ran a column by Morley Richards, a former senior editor on the Daily Express.

Arthur (‘Chris’) Christiansen [a famous Express editor in its mid-1950s heyday] to gathered sub-editors at a lunch in 1962: ‘You are all pit ponies. Why, one of you greeted me on this sunny day with “Good evening”.’ Topic, 28 April, 1962

And some darker humour still:

Reporter: ‘The chief sub has hanged himself.’
Editor: ‘Have you cut him down yet?’
Reporter: ‘No, he’s not dead yet.’
                                              Topic, 28 July 1962

 

Was Kitchener’s poster effective? Ask Winston Churchill

July 6, 2016
Churchill's Great War partwork from 1933

The third part of Churchill’s Great War partwork from 1933

There has been a theory promulgated by the Imperial War Museum and various writers that the iconic ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster was not very effective in driving recruitment in the First World War and some have even questioned its very existence. The British Library repeats the claims and describes it as an ‘advertisment’, a mistaken description that has been repeated by, among others, Wikipedia and in a concert programme from the London Symphony Orchestra.

One of the features of the book Kitchener wants You, which I wrote with Martyn Thatcher, is a timeline of images that track the poster’s use, and its many derivatives, over the past century. However, I did not come across any examples in the 1930s, until I found a copy of The Great War, a 1933 partwork by Winston Churchill that was published by George Newnes.

The Kitchener poster shown in the third part of Churchill's Great War partwork in 1933

The Kitchener poster shown in the third part of the Great War partwork in 1933

Page 132 of the third part, above, shows the poster with a credit to the Imperial War Museum. The caption reads:

A FAMOUS RECRUITING POSTER.
Lord Kitchener’s recruiting campaign in 1914 was carried out with characteristic driving force. Every town and village up and down the country was placarded with posters urging men to join the colours for the duration of the war. The illustration above was reproduced from one of the most effective of all posters in use at that time.

So, Churchill’s partwork claims that it was ‘one of the most effective of all posters’. Kitchener wants You shows three photographs of the poster, in Liverpool, Chester and Ulster. There is a fourth image, from Cork in Ireland, thar also shows the poster on a wall.

So, Churchill reckons it was effective and there are at least four photographs of the poster in use. That should settle the argument.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

What’s a magazine worth? – Practical Motorist

July 2, 2016

Mick has sent in a query about Practical Motorist, a car magazine from the publisher George Newnes that was founded in 1934 and specialised in general maintenance. It started as a weekly dated 12 May 1934, became a monthly from May 1954 and closed in 1997, a victim of competing titles that specialised in the various marques, such as Ford or VW. For part of the period, Practical Motorist also covered motorbikes. There’s a website that is gathering cover images of all the past issues. Here’s Mick’s question:

My 86-year-old father has around 2,000 Practical Motorist magazines dating back to approx 1958. Are they worth anything?

The answer is yes, but the issue is whether you want to spend the time selling them.

A quick search shows that Ebay has 70 lots of Practical Motorist sold in the three months since the end of March for £2.49-£23 each (inc postage) out of 192 listed (click through to see my search results). That’s better than a 1-in-3 selling rate. The copies at the top end are from the 1930s. Half the sales were in the £4-£6 range.

So, if you sold half of them for £5 with a cost of £2.50 for postage, packing and eBay fees, that’s 1,000 sales at £2.50 each after costs, or £2,500. The problem is the time to take the photos, do the listings, package them up, etc. Mind you, if you could get the work down to 6 minutes a copy, that’s 100 hours of work for 1,000 issues – 2½ weeks at rate of £1,000 a week! At half that rate, you’d earn £100 a day, or £12.50 an hour. How much is your time worth?

If you don’t want to do it yourself, you could approach the online magazine shops listed on my Magforum.com Magazine Collecting page or contact the eBay sellers who specialise in car magazines. You will not get much for each copy that way (50p-£1?) but even at 50p, it would work out at £1000.

So, do some research using the eBay searching tips on the Magforum.com Magazine Collecting page and decide what you want to do. The research should give you an idea of which copies sell and which don’t. If you see issues that are particularly popular, you could cherry pick those and sell on the rest.

Another idea to consider is whether there is a keen teenager around or someone who has the time to do the listing and you could split the proceeds. Local charity shops might also be interested because the bigger charities have central teams with experience doing this.

>>Table of British car magazines

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

Statist from 1967: worth quoting after Brexit vote

June 29, 2016
A cover from 1967 that could be in the shops today after the Brexit vote: Statist magazine from 24 February 1967

A cover from 1967 that could be in the shops today after the Brexit vote: Statist magazine from 24 February 1967

I mentioned the predilection of Financial Times columnist and editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek Merryn Somerset Webb for quoting a long-defunct weekly magazine, the Statist, a while back. On April 18, she came clean:

Filed away in my basement I have every edition published of The Statist, a financial magazine from the 1960s and early 1970s. I flick through them often to see how things have changed – and how they haven’t. It is amazing how often seemingly new ideas are recycled and how our money gripes stay much the same, whatever the government.

Too true. And now we know the trick to becoming such a successful FT writer. But another question arises: what is Somerset Webb doing with a basement full of such a rare magazine? It’s not exactly the sort of thing that pops up on eBay every week.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

>>>Profiles of finance magazines at Magforum.com

Winnie-the-Pooh has a Home Chat

June 27, 2016
'Christopher Robin's Braces' by EH Shepard sold at Sotheby's for £68,500

‘Christopher Robin’s Braces’ by EH Shepard sold at Sotheby’s for £68,500

Winnie-the-Pooh has been a favourite of children (and adults) all over the world since AA Milne’s books were published in the 1920s, with their black-and-white line drawings by EH Shepard. The bumbling, philosophical, bear first saw the light of print in a poem in When We Were Very Young (1924) and this was followed by a collection of stories, Winnie-the-Pooh, two years later and then the House at Pooh Corner in 1928. All were illustrated by Shepard.

Forty-odd years later, Shepard was approached by Methuen, the publishers, to provide colour for his original black and white drawings. But the coloured drawing above – which sold for £68,500 at Sotheby’s three years ago  – dates back to the first publication of House at Pooh Corner, and is one of six prints that were commissioned for a weekly women’s magazine, Home Chat, in 1928.

Colour prints of the drawings were given away with copies of Home Chat from the issue dated 6 October 1928. They were described as ‘Six incidents in the lives of Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh specially drawn in colour by Ernest H. Shepard’.

Sotheby’s described the drawing, with an intriguing colourful comment, so:

The scene represented in this present drawing is one recalled by Piglet at the conclusion of chapter four of the House at Pooh Corner (‘In which it is shown that Tiggers don’t climb trees’). Tigger and Roo are stuck in a pine tree and Christopher Robin proposes to remove his tunic so that Roo and Tigger can jump into it. Piglet fails to listen to the entire plan for he was “so agog at the thought of seeing Christopher Robin’s blue braces again. He had only seen them once before, when he was much younger, and, being a little over-excited by them, had had to go to bed half an hour earlier than usual; and he had always wondered since if they were really as blue and as bracing as he had thought them…” Shepard has used a light green for Christopher Robin’s braces which is, presumably, a joke.

The ink and watercolour drawing is signed with Shepard’s initials and measures 130 by 186mm.

Winnie the Pooh appeared exclusively in colour in six 1928 issues of Home Chat

Winnie-the-Pooh appeared exclusively in colour in six 1928 issues of Home Chat

Along with ‘Christopher Robin’s Braces’ (an incident from chapter 4 in the the House at Pooh Corner), other prints in the Home Chat series included: ‘Christopher Robin has a Little Something at Eleven’ (one of Pooh’s favourite things to do is to have ‘a little smackerel of something’ at around eleven, and, funnily enough, his clock is always stopped at five to eleven); This exclusive series of prints must have been a real boon for sales, and is the sort of clever marketing on the part of Amalgamated Press that women’s magazines seem to have lost the knack of.

Also in the Sotheby’s sale was a preliminary pencil drawing, unsigned, of the Pooh Sticks game, ‘For a Long Time They Looked at the River Beneath Them…’. This fetched £58,750. And ‘A Happy Christmas To You All’ went for £32,500.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design


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