What’s a copy of the Sunday Times Magazine worth?

May 20, 2016
The Sunday Times Magazine cover of Davie Bowie from 1975 has been popular on eBay - with prices ranging from £5 to £35

The Sunday Times Magazine cover of Davie Bowie from 1975 has been popular on eBay – with prices ranging from £5 to £35

An email landed this morning from Danielle that got me thinking:

I came across your site from Google. I have over 100 Sunday Times magazines as well as a few other titles from the late 60s and early seventies. In fairly good and good condition (in my opinion). Some of them I have seen for sale on someone’s website for £30+ per edition, but I’ve no idea if they’re actually selling at that price. I’d rather sell them together than have to list them separately but don’t want to be ripped off. Someone offered me £40 for the lot but that seemed ridiculously low. Are you able to advise at all?

There are always copies of the Sunday Times Magazine – originally the Sunday Times Colour Section when it was launched in 1962 – on eBay but the value of a copy mainly depends on what’s in it.

This is demonstrated by two recent auctions on eBay. In one, a complete 1962 bound set sold for £102 plus £11.50 postage and there were 2 bidders. Yet, a single issue from 1964 sold for the same amount – £102 + £5.89 postage – and attracted 4 bids. Why? Because it contained the article ‘Mods Changing Faces’ which covered 8 pages in the August 2 issue. So, Mods rule, OK!

But these two sales are exceptional: in the past 6 months only 9 listings have fetched more than £20 (including postage). Postage rates varied from £1.60 to £4.50.

The first Sunday Times colour section from 4 February 1962 (though the cover is not dated)

The first Sunday Times colour section from 4 February 1962 (though the cover is not dated)

A first issue from 1962 sold for just £8.49 + £2 postage. The fact that there were just 2 bids suggests not many people were aware it was for sale – but then the listing did not give the issue date or describe it as the first issue. The better the description, the more likely people are to find it.

An analysis on eBay this morning shows 213 lots sold in the past six months, but if you tick the ‘Completed listings’ box, you’ll see 1,789 finished listings. So only about 1 in 8 have sold. There are pages of unsold issues, whether priced at £30 or £3. Table 1 shows what’s sold and notes some of the sales.

Table 1. Sunday Times supplements and magazines that have sold on eBay from Dec 2015 to 19 May 2016
Price range No. sold Comment
£100+ 2 Sunday Times magazines – complete 1962 set – bound. £102 + £11.50 postage. 2 bids
1960s Sunday Times Magazine 1964 Mods Changing Faces, 8 pages in magazine Aug 2. £102 + £5.89 postage. 4 bids
£30-£99.99 2 30 Dec 1962 Marilyn Monroe Rudolf Nureyev. £39.99 + £4.50 postage (same issue also sold for £3.99 + £1.45)
David Bowie cover from July 20 1975 sold for £30, £25, £16, £11, £6, £5
£20-£29.99 5
£10-£19.99 41 First issue from 1962. £8.49 + £2 postage. 2 bids
9 copies 1960s-1970s. £11.50 + £5.80 postage. 2 bids
£5-£9.99 94 12 issues from 1971. £1.99 + £3.80 postage.  2 bids
9 issues from 1975. £1.99 + £3.80 postage. 1 bid
Under £5 82

Table 2 gives an overview of number of copies sold as a percentage of total listed by price.

 

Table 2. Number of copies sold as a percentage of total listed by price
Listing/sale price No. listed No. sold % sold
£70+ 5 2 40%
£60-£69.99 5 0 0
£50-£59.99 12 0 0
£40-£49.99 35 0 0
£30-£39.99 83 2 2%
£20-£29.99 104 5 5%
£10-£19.99 214 41 13%
£5-£9.99 243 94 39%
0-£4.99 1088 82 8%
Total 1789 226 13%

Danielle raises some other specific issues.

Some of them I have seen for sale at £30 a copy

Specific listings hold messages for both buyers and sellers. For example, one person listed the 30 Dec 1962 Sunday Times Colour Section and sold it for more than £30. But someone else only earned £3.99 + £1.45. A big factor in this was that the former mentioned the main contents – Marilyn Monroe and Rudolf Nureyev. Magazine with features on Monroe, Madonna and cult TV series such as The Avengers tend to sell well.

Sites like Crazy About Magazines and Elegantly Papered are professional sellers and put the mags up at high prices and sit in wait of a serious buyer. They trade on their reputation for selling magazines that are rare and in very good condition. Also, they have expertise and so know what they are selling and can usually judge how rare a magazine is. You can approach such sites or regular eBay sellers and see what offers you can get from them. Crazy About Magazines has an email form to fill in to get a quote. Many such traders are listed on my Collecting Magazines page.

Someone offered me £40 for the lot…

You will not get the best price by selling them in bulk, but then can you be bothered listing them separately on eBay and then doing all the posting and packaging? One strategy is to keep an eye on eBay for a few weeks, see what goes well and pick out the best issues to sell. Then, sell off the remainder as a job lot. Note that 9 copies from the 1960s and 1970s sold for £11.50 + £5.80 postage. That’s just over £1 an issue. Another 12 issues from 1971 went for just  £1.99 + £3.80 postage. That’s 16p an issue. With that sort of success rate, £40 for 100 issues might not look so bad!

Another option might be an impecunious relative/friend/teenager with the time to do the listings and you could split the proceeds.

In fairly good and good condition (in my opinion)…

Be very careful about descriptions. The average person’s ‘good condition’ will not be the same as an expert collector’s. So stick to facts rather than opinions: no missing pages; no writing on the issue; describe bad creasing; rips. Photos can be really useful here. Again, there’s more advice on the Magforum.com Collecting page.

I’ve no idea if they’re actually selling at that price..

The thing to do is to build and save searches on eBay to get a feel for the market. You’ll find tips on doing this at the ‘Useful ebay searches‘ section on my Magforumcollecting page.

Four things to blame magazines for

May 18, 2016

Four things to blame magazines for.

The ‘greatest liar on Earth’

The Adventures of Louis de Rougement in Wide World Magazine August 1898

The Adventures of Louis de Rougement started in Wide World Magazine, August 1898

Louis de Rougemont conned the Victorian world with his fantastic accounts of being shipwrecked and spending decades fighting off sea monsters and living with cannibals in Australia.

What brought his stories to the public attention was the Wide World Magazine, which used ‘astounding pictures’ and ‘thrilling adventures’ to appeal to readers under the line ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’.

The magazine was published in both the UK and the US and serialised de Rougemont’s life story from its August 1898 issue. The opening page for the first instalment sets the scene: ‘The Adventures of Louis de Rougement … the most amazing experiences a man ever lived to tell.’ Even 55 years later in the US, the articles were the topic of comment in Time magazine’s letters page.

His tall tales were eventually debunked. In truth, de Rougemont’s real name was Henri Louis Grin and he was born in Switzerland. He had several jobs before ending up in Australia.  After the scandal, Grin became a music-hall attraction, billed in South Africa as ‘The greatest liar on earth’. As ‘Louis Redman’, he died in London in 1921.

His life inspired books such as The Greatest Liar on Earth (1945) and The Most Amazing Story a Man Ever Lived to Tell  (1977). In 2009, Donald Margulies, a US playwright, brought de Rougemont’s story to life for a modern-day generation with Shipwrecked!, reviewed as ‘a breathless story’ and ‘theatrical pop-up book’.

Banner advertising

Hot Wired website from 12 December 1997

Hot Wired website from 12 December 1997

The online magazine HotWired is credited as being the first website to sell banner advertising in large quantities. It also coined the term ‘banner ad’ and established the idea of providing reports on clickthrough rates to its advertisers. The US phone company AT&T bought HotWired‘s first first banner, which went online on 27 October 1994. The web itself was just five years old, having been invented by the British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee while working as a software engineer at CERN, the particle physics laboratory near Geneva.

The swindling Horatio Bottomley

 John Bull cover from 1917 is a good example of Bottomley

This 1917 John Bull exemplifies Bottomley’s self-promotion

Horatio Bottomley was the founding chairman of the Financial Times, twice an MP and one of the greatest orators of the Edwardian era. His Great Patriotic Rally a few months into the start of the First World War saw London’s Albert Hall crammed with 12,000 people. Yet, he had been forced to resign from his first seat as a Liberal MP after filing for bankruptcy in 1912.

The foundation of his mass popularity was the weekly magazine John Bull. By 1915 it was selling a million copies a week with Bottomley’s editorials thundering from the cover of every issue. It was the pulpit from which he supported his money-making schemes and fended off his enemies.

However, Bottomley was pursued by one of the men he had robbed over many years and finally sentenced to seven years hard labour for fraud in 1922. He blew most of the money he had swindled on champagne and horse-racing. Bottomley’s house near Eastbourne, The Dicker, is now Bede’s school.

Celebrity culture

The first issue of Hello from 21 May 1988 with Princess Anne on the cover

The first issue of Hello! from 21 May 1988 with Princess Anne on the cover

Hello arrived in Britain from Spain in 1988. Subjects were given approval of the article and pictures head of publication, encouraging a fawning attitude towards anyone who could sell a few copies that week.

The parent title, Hola!, focused on royalty but rival OK! went after actors and pop celebrities. Owner Richard Desmond famously signed up the Beckhams and the two titles fought a massive battle over access to photographs of the wedding of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas.

Soon all the publishers were jumping up and down on the bandwagon, such as Here!, with Heat moving away from its focus on entertainment to carry cover pictures of stars at their ugliest. Soon Closer (to the stars) and Now joined the fray every week. There was even a magazine just called Celebrity. The launches took their toll on the mainstream women’s weekly magazines.

In the US, Talk hit the streets, but it was a rare failure for the self-exiled British editor Tina Brown, despite having Hillary (opening up), Gwyneth (going bad) and George W. (getting real) on the cover (surely you know who I mean?).

Geraldine Harmsworth – a park, a printing press and a mother

May 9, 2016

 

Alfred Harmsworth's Forget-Me-Not was founded in 1891

Alfred Harmsworth’s Forget-Me-Not was founded in 1891

Carters Steam Fair, the largest vintage travelling funfair in the world, comes to Southwark this weekend at the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, which surrounds the Imperial War Museum. The park’s name immediately strikes a chord because it was dedicated to his mother in 1930 by the newspaper and magazine magnate Lord Rothermere (Harold Harmsworth).

Harold was the business brain behind his brother Alfred, who became the greatest of the newspaper barons – the ‘Napoleon of Fleet Street’ – Lord Northcliffe.

A memorial plaque in the park states that the gift was in memory of Rothermere’s mother, and for the benefit of the ‘splendid struggling mothers of Southwark and their children’. The Harmsworth brothers used their mother’s name much earlier, however, as the issue above of Forget-Me-Not testifies.

This ‘Pictorial Journal for the Home’ was one of the many periodicals founded by Alfred Harmsworth. With Answers (1888) and Comic Cuts (1890), Forget-Me-Not (1891) was the backbone of what was on its way to becoming the largest publishing empire in the world, the Amalgamated Press.

Forget-Me-Not was based in London’s Tudor Street, which runs south to the Thames from Fleet Street, with the advertising sold by Greenberg & Co just up the road at 80 Chancery Lane. The imprint reveals a third address, for Forget-Me-Not was printed by The Geraldine Press at 21 Whitefriars St, which runs parallel to Fleet St but nearer the Thames.

Like all the penny magazines, it was a cheap affair though, on newsprint with a greenish cover not unlike Tit-Bits, the model for Answers, for which Alfred had worked. The masthead page inside described Forget-Me-Not as ‘the most useful home paper’ and it carried fashion hints and articles on fancy work and households management as well as fiction. The best illustrations were saved for the paper patterns that readers had to send for at a shilling or two each. None of the articles or illustrations carried a byline.

Most of the pages carried marketing messages printed at the bottom such as: Forget-Me-Not is a great help to young couples in all household matters’; ‘Home, Sweet Home [another Amalgamated title] is published on Fridays – 1d’; ‘Answers is the paper for a railway journey’; and ‘This paper is published every Thursday’. Amalgamated aimed to have a magazine for all types of readers with three women’s weeklies, the smaller format Home Chat making up the trio.

One of the editors of Forget-Me-Not, a Hungarian called Arkas Sapt, has been credited with developing a new way of publishing several pictures on a spread, a technique that was to be vital in reinvigorating the Daily Mirror as an illustrated paper after its flagging launch.

If you do head for Carters Steam Fair at the weekend, the park may be a suitable venue for such shenanigans, because the Imperial War Museum itself was part of the old Bethlem Hospital, successor to the mediaeval mental hospital in the priory of Saint Mary of Bethlehem in Bishopsgate Without – on the site of today’s Liverpool Street Station. The original mental hospital dates back to 1329 and gave rise to the term ‘bedlam’.

Magazine mantra: ‘No heads above the masthead’

May 9, 2016
Front cover title from Woman's Own from 19 May 1955

Front cover title from this 1955 Woman’s Own magazine overlays actress Dawn Addams

The typographer Dave Farey reminded me of the magazine designer’s mantra ‘No heads above the masthead’ at the recent launch of A History of British Magazine Design. So he immediately came to mind when I saw this front cover design from Woman’s Own dating back to 19 May 1955.

The full magazine front cover from Woman's Own ahowing the Dawn Addams knitted jacket

The full magazine front cover from Woman’s Own showing the Dawn Addams knitted playtime jacket

The actress Dawn Addams is photographed modelling a knitted jacket, but quite what the designer was up to is a mystery.

Were the film star’s eyes deliberately positioned to peer round the letters? Was the photograph cropped to show the most of the jacket? Whatever the intention, the end result is a mess.

Addams was a ‘delightfully vivacious’ British-born actress who had recently married an Italian prince, the ‘darkly handsome’ Vittorio Massimo, and had her first baby.

 

 

Trinity Mirror closes ‘New Day’ after 2 months

May 5, 2016
New Day newspaper launched in February by Trinity Mirror is to close

Trinity Mirror’s New Day has not lasted long

Newspaper group Trinity Mirror announced today that New Day – the cheap daily paper it launched in late February – will close tomorrow.

The news came in a trading update to the stock market at its annual meeting:

Although The New Day has received many supportive reviews and built a strong following on Facebook, the circulation for the title is below our expectations. As a result, we have decided to close the title on 6 May 2016.

The newspaper group, which owns the Mirror and local newspapers such as the Liverpool Echo, also said the ‘trading environment for print advertising continues to be volatile’.

Under editor Alison Phillips, who formerly ran both the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, the aim of the experiment was to achieve sales of 200,000 a day, but actual figures as low as 30,000 copies have been reported.

The Guardian columnist and City University academic Roy Greenslade immediately pointed the finger of blame at chief executive Simon Fox in  a comment piece under the headline ‘The New Day got off to a terrible start, and Trinity Mirror’s bosses are to blame‘.

Fox has no experience of running newspapers, having been chief of HMV before moving to Trinity Mirror, although he was a non-executive director at Guardian Media Group.

Sadly, New Day will now have to report its last big story – its own demise.

>>British newspapers profiled

 

Magazine design book launched

May 1, 2016
A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn - now out from V&A Books

A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn – now out from V&A Books

Last week saw the launch of A History of British Magazine Design, a book that’s been almost seven years in the making. The V&A commissioned me to write the book and the end result – even though I say it myself – is fantastic, with a great design by Joe Ewart. Lesley Levene, the copy editor, kept me on my toes with her thorough fact checking and queries (I even had to show how Wikipedia had got things wrong!).

The interviews and reviews have started to go online:

Matthew Whitehouse at i-D magazine has done a piece ‘Exploring the origins of British magazine design

Caroline Keppel-Palmer from the Museum Bookshop, which specialises in books about museums and their collections.

At MagCulture, with an interview by Madeleine Morley. The launch of the book took place at the MagCulture shop in Islington where they sell some 300 titles from around the world – very fitting!

And 99designs, which has a feature on ’20 new design books for your summer reading list’

The core of the book is mainstream consumer magazines, starting in the early 1840s and the launches of Punch and the Illustrated London News. In about 240 pages and with some 450 pictures of covers and spreads, it shows how magazine design has evolved, taking in influences from society and, in turn, influencing that society. Ian Locks, who was chief executive of the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA) for 20 years and is a former Master of The Stationers’ Company, provided the Foreword.

The cover shows parts from seven covers and one spread, with the magazines dating from 1870 to 1996. (Can you name them all?)

Who will want to read the book? Well, people who like beautiful books for a start. Everyone who’s seen a copy has found something that’s grabbed them, whether that’s a magazine from their childhood or that’s related to an interest they have in art, music or literature. Photographers have peered at the 1957 Picture Post spread stitched together from 15 Bert Hardy images, for example. And everyone smiles at John Gilroy’s grinning cat from Radio Times in the 1930s.

Obviously, students and academics of magazines, design and the media in general. And practitioners in those industries. At £30/$50, it’s not cheap, but the value is really good because that price was set 7 years ago!

The book’s for sale online in all the usual places, such as:

And don’t forget your local bookshop!

10 things to thank magazines for

May 1, 2016

Here are 10 things that might not exist without magazines.

1. The word ‘magazine’

The first magazine: the Gentleman's Magazine from Sylvanus Urban (Edward Cave) in1731

The Gentleman’s Magazine  in 1731

In January 1731, the Gentleman’s Magazine was the first publication to use the word ‘magazine’ in its modern sense as a periodical.

Before Edward Cave, its publisher, came up with the title, most periodicals were called journals and a magazine was a storehouse, from an ancient Arabic word. That sense still exists, in the sense of a gunpowder magazine, or a magazine of bullets for a machine gun.

But Cave didn’t just come up with the word, his collections of news, opinion and articles set the approach for the modern magazine, and it was published for almost two centuries.

Samuel Johnson listed the word in his dictionary of 1755: ‘Of late this word has signified a miscellaneous pamphlet, from a periodical miscellany named the Gentleman’s Magazine, by Edward Cave [who used the pen-name Sylvanus Urban].’

2. Charles Dickens

The opening page of Dickens' Household Words magazine from 1859

Dickens’ Household Words

The quintessential Victorian author followed in his father’s footsteps as a journalist and worked on a variety of publications for eight years from 1829. He then became editor of Bentley’s Miscellany,  which published Oliver Twist in twenty-four monthly instalments from February 1837. In 1840, he launched his own magazine, Master Humphrey’s Clock in which was published The Old Curiosity Shop. Most of Dickens’ works were first published in magazines as weekly instalments. The publishers then collated them as monthly parts or whole books. His first novel, The Pickwick Papers, was published in 19 issues over 20 months from 1836.

This publishing approach affected his writing style – it was vital for readers to remember his plots and characters from week to week, so encouraging vivid characterisations and descriptions in his works.

Dickens went on to launch Household Words, which was published by Bradbury & Evans on Fleet Street from 1850. This was followed by All the Year Round in 1859, which carried on after his death in 1870 under the editorship of his son, Charley, for another 18 years. The Dickens Fellowship in tribute to the writer was founded in London in 1902.

3. The curate’s egg

The first issue of Punch magazine dated 17 July 1841. Punch has coined many words and phrases, including 'the curate's egg'

The first issue of Punch magazine dated 17 July 1841

The English expression ‘a curate’s egg’ describes something of mixed character (good and bad).

The phrase was coined in the caption of an 1895 Punch cartoon entitled ‘True humility’ by George du Maurier. This showed a curate who, having been given a stale egg by his host but being too meek to protest, stated that ‘parts of it’ were ‘excellent’ (9 November, p222).

Punch has been credited with coining or popularising many words and expressions. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the magazine almost 4,000 times in entries from ‘1984’ to ‘intersexual’ to ‘youthquake’ to ‘zone’.

4. The Pre-Raphaelites

Portrait by Millais of Effie Gray holding a copy of Cornhill magazine

Portrait by Millais of Effie Gray holding a copy of Cornhill magazine (Perth museum)

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in 1848 as a secret society, with its founding members, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, all signing their paintings as PRB.

That strategy changed two years later when the Pre-Raphaelites launched a magazine – The Germ – to promote their cause. Rossetti was the editor and the literary monthly was wrapped in a yellow cover.

The January 1850 issue included engravings by William Holman Hunt to illustrate the poems ‘My Beautiful Lady’ and ‘Of My Lady in Death’ by Thomas Woolner. The Pre-Raphaelites’ work was at first regarded as scandalous, but by 1860 they had taken the art world by storm. Their illustrations appeared in many magazines, particularly Cornhill Magazine from its first issue. Millais painted his wife, Effie Gray, holding a copy of the magazine.

5. Mrs Beeton

A spread on puddings from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management

A spread on puddings from Mrs Beeton’s book

Isabella Beaton was the wife of Samuel Beeton, who bought the Victorian world magazines such as The Queen and the Boy’s Own Paper. Isabella was a vital part of Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, which was one of the first magazines to address the expanding market of middle-class woman who did much of her own housework. Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was spun out of Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine. Isabella was just 25 when the book came out, but she died four years later giving birth to their fourth child. Samuel’s life fell apart after that and he lost control of his publishing empire.

6. The Daily Mail

This logo from a recent Daily Mail is based on the original masthead for Answers Magazine

This logo from the Daily Mail echoes the original masthead for Answers Magazine

The editorial strategy developed from 1881 by George Newnes with Tit-Bits – editing down news and facts to their essence and presenting them as entertainment – influenced Alfred Harmsworth as he established both his rival magazine, Answers, and the ‘tabloid’ news style of the Daily Mail (launched in 1896).

Harmsworth’s move from magazines into newspapers (the Daily Mirror followed in 1903) was echoed by Pearson’s Weekly magazine publisher C. Arthur Pearson, who started the Daily Express (1900). These three stalwarts of British newspapers are still published today.

7. Cryptic crosswords

The Dictionary of Bullets published by John Bull in 1935

John Bull’s Dictionary of Bullets 

Cryptic word games were popular as puzzles in British magazines from the Victorian era. My pet theory is that the ‘Bullets’ prize puzzles in the weekly John Bull – the best-selling magazine from about 1910 to 1930 – created a nation of cryptic thinkers.

It’s difficult to make sense of many Bullets today because of the way they drew on topical events of the times. However, Bulleteer Bill’s blog is based on cuttings left over from his dad’s obsession with the game (an obsession shared by Alan Bennett’s father).He explains ‘The basic premise was that the competition setters would supply a word or a phrase which the player had then to “complete” or add to in a witty, apposite way’ and quotes the following examples:

A HUNDRED YEARS HENCE: More Radio – Less Activity? (In 1949 when BBC Radio was a fixture in the country’s homes and talk was of expansion and more stations.)

ALL DAD THINKS OF: Retrieving fortunes at Dogs! (Greyhound racing was a popular pastime with dog tracks in most towns, and there’s the extra pun on ‘retriever’.)

Once crosswords were established in Britain in the 1920s – in magazines such as Answers before newspapers such as the Times and Telegraph – it was only natural to combine ‘Bullets thinking’ with crossword clues.

To mark the 1,000th competition, John Bull published a Dictionary of Bullets in 1935.

8. St Trinian’s

Searle's St Trinian's on the cover of Lilliput in December 1949

Searle’s St Trinian’s on the cover of Lilliput in 1949

The first of Ronald Searle’s St Trinian’s cartoons about a bunch of anarchic schoolgirls was published in Lilliput and he did several covers for the magazine, the first in December 1949, before he established himself on Punch.

The popularity of the cartoons led to four films between 1954 and 1966. The first was The Belles of St. Trinian’s with Alistair Sim, Joyce Grenfell and George Cole. Another film followed in 1980, and then the Rupert Everett films of 2007 and 2009.

Not only that, Kaye Webb, Searle’s first wife, was the picture editor of Lilliput.

9. ‘Metal Postcard’ by Siouxsie and the Banshees

A Heartfield montage on the cover of Picture Post dated 9 September 1939

A Heartfield montage on the cover of Picture Post dated 9 September 1939

In the 1930s and early 1940s, Stefan Lorant published the photomontages of German Dadaist John Heartfield. Both had fled to Britain to escape the Nazi regime. Lorant popularised Heartfield’s anti-Hitler photomontages in Britain through both Lilliput and Picture Post – two of the most popular magazines of the era.

Heartfield’s response to the Munich Agreement, ‘The Happy Elephants’ of two elephants flying, was used in the third issue of Picture Post (15 October 1938) and his montage of Hitler as the Kaiser used as a front cover for 9 September 1939, a week after war broke out. The images became familiar to the British population and one of Heartfield’s montages, ‘Hurray, the Butter is All Gone!’ inspired the song ‘Metal Postcard’ by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

10. £100m for Britain’s poorest people

The Big Issue of 4 March 2016 celebrates selling 200 million copies

The Big Issue of 4 March 2016 celebrates 200 million sales

In 1991, John Bird founded The Big Issue to help homeless people earn some cash and to try to shame the John Major government into doing more to help them. In April 2016, The Big Issue marked the sale of 200 million copies.

Street vendors sell 100,000 copies a week and the proceeds they earn help keep a roof over their heads.

In total, Bird reckons the magazine has helped homeless people earn £100m. Furthermore, The Big Issue has inspired street papers in 120 other countries, leading a global self-help revolution.

 

Kitchener, Ernest Noble and the Nignog Club

April 25, 2016
First issue of Kitchener's Army & the Territorial Forces from 1915 written by Edgar Wallace

First issue of Kitchener’s Army & the Territorial Forces from 1915 written by Edgar Wallace

Pick up a magazine and you never know where you’ll end up next. A copy of the first issue of the 6-part Kitchener’s Army & the Territorial Forces arrives in the post. This was a part work published by George Newnes, probably starting in January 1915, though it does not carry a date.  It was written by Fleet Street legend Edgar Wallace.

Magazine's back page advert for Fry's Cocoa by Ernest Noble

Magazine’s back page advert for Fry’s Cocoa drawn by Ernest Noble, which carried the acknowledgement ‘by kind permission of the Northern Echo’

On the back cover is an advert for Fry’s Cocoa drawn by Ernest Noble, which carried the acknowledgement ‘by kind permission of the Northern Echo‘. A search on Noble and the Echo took me to a website about the comedians Morecambe and Wise – and a page dedicated to Ernie Wise and the Nignog Club! As it says:

It is a well recorded fact that Ernie Wise was part of a variety concert party in his youth. Its name has gone into Morecambe and Wise folk law, and is often spoken in hushed tones. It was known as the Nig Nog club, and in these days of political correctness and over-eager internet filters, it’s not a phrase you type into Google with carefree abandon.

The site explains on a page based on material from reporter Chris Lloyd that the club originated in County Durham and was launched by the Darlington-based Northern Echo in 1929 as the Nig-Nog Ring, a children’s club. The ‘Chief Ringers’ were Uncle Mac, BBC broadcaster Derek McCulloch who hosted Children’s Hour, and Uncle Ernest, the Noble of my query who it turns out was from Darlington.

The Oxford English Dictionary cites Beale Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang suggesting that the word was found in army contexts in the sense ‘fool’ from the late 19th century (a ‘nigmenog’) and as a ‘raw recruit’ from c1925. It also notes a possible connection with the Nig-Nog children’s clubs run by local newspapers, ‘following the model of the children’s page of a Birmingham newspaper’, the Evening Dispatch of 1 November 1929:

My Dear Children, I am sure you must be getting awfully excited … about becoming members of the Children’s Ring … The girls will be called ‘Nigs’ and the boys will be called ‘Nogs’ — and if any of you are twins there will be a special name for you. You will be called ‘Nig-Nogs’!

But this policy was changed a few days later:

After Uncle Ernest and I … talked yesterday … we made up our minds that you should all be called Nignogs, so that there will not be any distinction at all between girls and boys.

I leave the Northern Echo and the Evening Dispatch to argue over who came up with the idea. However, ‘uncles’ running children’s cartoons were a traditional form in newspapers – the Daily Mirror‘s ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ were incredibly popular from their founding in the early 1920s, for example.

The Northern Echo is a legendary paper, the place where Sunday Times and Times editor Harry Evans made his name, and before him Ted Pickering, a 1950s editor of the Daily Express, and WT Stead, who as editor of the Pall Mall Gazette was one of the great Victorian crusading journalists and who died on the Titanic. Unfortunately, the Evening Dispatch is no more.

The Lord Kitchener poster

Britain’s national newspapers

A scary number of magazine covers

April 14, 2016
Cosmo Stylist Blast Trace Men's Vogue - just a few of the magazine covers

Cosmopolitan, Stylist, Blast, Trace, Men’s Vogue – just a few of the 29,000 magazine images sitting on my hard drive 

Doing a backup of my picture files has just informed me my machine is copying over 29,754 images! And they are all magazine covers and spreads. That’s really scary. 10MB of memory for that lot.

A fresh look at Darby and Joan

April 8, 2016
Kate Greenaway painting called 'Darby and Joan' on Illustrated London News in 1878

Kate Greenaway painting called ‘Darby and Joan’ on cover of an 1878 Illustrated London News – or is this a pair of radical printers?

This is one of the magazine covers I’ve used in my History of British Magazine Design. It’s an engraving from a Kate Greenaway painting called ‘Darby and Joan’ on Illustrated London News in 1878. ‘Darby and Joan’ is generally taken to refer to an established elderly couple, and that’s the sense seemingly portrayed here in an ironic way. So it’s a surprise to find that the first Darby and Joan were husband-and-wife radical printers in the mid-1600s!

It appears Mr and Mrs Darby were in and out of prison for printing anti-government propaganda and protesting against the return of the monarchy. According to Prof Ted Vallance of Roehampton university, their pamphlets were like a ‘greatest hits’ of radical martyrs in the late 17the century.

There were several husband-and-wife teams of printers and the wife could carry on the work while the husband was imprisoned. So the Darbys were a ‘celebrated power couple’ whose names became a common phrase that was later separated from their activities.

Anyone printing such material risked imprisonment until 1695. A lot of radical material was printed in Holland and imported as a way of avoiding censorship.

The Darby & Joan item is part of a Making History episode on BBC Radio 4 and is available online.

In the programme, Tom Charlton presents the evidence on the radical pamphleteers and visits the first Darby and Joan club, which was opened in 1942 in South London.

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