Archive for the ‘1930s’ Category

When ‘Put-U-Up’ was a trade mark

March 1, 2020

Illustrated-1939-may-13-p41-put-u-up-bed-advert.jpeg

‘Put-U-Up’ is one of those expressions that’s a household phrase to me for a folding bed, but, as this pre-war colour advert shows, it was an actual brand, made in Clapton, east London.

The full-page advert is from a 1939 copy of the tabloid-sized Illustrated, one of the biggest-selling weekly magazines at the time. It was a rival of Picture Post, and later John Bull, when the latter adopted colour after the war. Its sales at the time will have been about a million copies a week. Illustrated was printed in Watford for its Covent Garden-based publisher, Odhams Press. It closed in 1957, a time when magazines were losing advertising revenue and readers to commercial television.

> General weekly magazines

 

A sparkling New Year magazine cover

December 31, 2019

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So, I’m signing out for 2019. I leave you with this 1933 London Opinion cover by Van Jones. Happy New Year!

Christmas magazines: vanity and Vogue

December 25, 2019

 

vogue-1935-December-25-Christmas-vanity-cover

The theme of Vogue’s 1935 Christmas cover was vanity

Vogue‘s 1935 Christmas issue was a vanity number – and it is dated 25 December – though the cover photographer is not credited. At this time, Vogue came out twice a month (notice it is issue number 26 for the year), a practice that carried on into the 1980s.

Masks were a feature in English theatre at the time and were a specialism of Angus McBean. McBean’s 1936 photograph of Ivor Novello as George Hell, the anti-hero of ‘The Happy Hypocrite’ play, showed the actor holding a mask made by McBean. The image was a sensation – it was published in the Sketch, Tatler, Bystander, Illustrated London News and Britannia and Eve and encouraged the mask-maker to focus on theatre publicity and ‘surrealized’ photography.

vogue-1935-December-25-Bruehl-Bourges-colour-photo

Bruehl-Bourges colour photo for Condé Nast

Condé Montrose Nast, the owner of the US fashion magazine Vogue, was keen on introducing colour advertising and in 1931 turned to photographer Anton Bruehl and colour specialist Fernand Bourges to develop a process to produce high-quality colour transparencies. Among the results was Vogue’s first photographic cover in 1932 (July 20). They produced hundreds of brilliant plates for Condé Nast’s House & Garden and Vanity Fair, as well as Vogue. The company published 64 examples of Bruehl–Bourges photographs in a brochure, Color sells.

vogue-1935-December-25-Cecil-Beaton-illustration

Cecil Beaton did these ballet costume designs

Cecil Beaton was an established Vogue photographer by this time, and these sketches were done as ballet costume designs for ‘The Edwardians’.  He would do similar work for ‘My Fair Lady’ in 1964 – and won two of that film’s eight Oscars. Beaton did a fashion shoot as well in this issue, as did Shaw Wildman.

vogue-1935-December-25-nazi-1936-olympics

Semi-display adverts: collecting, bath granules, hair perfection, cruel fur and Olympic travel

This half page of semi-display adverts shows some of the preoccupations of Vogue readers in the 1930s and the issue’s vanity theme. Yesterday’s post suggested that it wasn’t until the 1990s that fur became a dirty word. However, that wasn’t totally accurate as this advert against the cruelty of trapping for furs shows. Major C Van Der Byl of Towcester had been running adverts as part of a ‘fur crusade’ against the ‘horrors of trapping and skinning animals alive’ in newspapers such as the Telegraph since at least 1929.

To the left of the major’s campaign, readers are recommended to wear a Lady Jayne slumber helmet. To the right is a more sinister image – an Olympic skier doing a Nazi salute.

More Christmas goodies: self-referential Christmas magazine covers.

 


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


Christmas magazines: 1936 Help Yourself

December 18, 2019
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Staff at London’s stock exchange produced Help Yourself, a charity magazine

You may have noticed that Christmas is coming, geese are getting fat and it’s time to put a penny in the old man’s hat. Charity is a big part of the season and this cover is from a magazine especially published to raise money for good works.

Beano magazine was launched in 1934 by Nalgo, the trade union, to raise funds for members widows and orphans. Did it inspire the comic title?
Beano magazine was launched in 1934 by Nalgo, the trade union, to raise funds for members widows and orphans. Did it inspire the comic title?

Help Yourself was an annual published by the Stock Exchange Dramatic and Operatic Society as part of its Christmas appeal. The woman Beefeater has been a constant in the four issues I have seen between 1931 and 1938, with Remington typewriters and Cow & Gate milk food as cover sponsors. The image was signed ‘Abbey’. It was a very professional offering at 128 pages plus the covers costing 2/6 – two shillings and sixpence. As a comparison, a copy of Vogue at the time cost one shilling.

It was a common model at the time, with Fleet Street publishing the likes of Winter’s Pie to raise cash for industry pensioners, there was Red Poppy to raise money for veterans, and Beano magazine was launched in 1934 by Nalgo, the trade union, to raise funds for members’ widows and orphans.

What was in Help Yourself to justify a cover price two and a half times that of the expensive monthly glossies? The answer is that is was packed with the biggest names in fiction and illustration at the time. These included Pamela Frankau and Marjorie Bowen, and Fortunino Matania, Bert Thomas, William Heath Robinson, Edward Hynes.

Frankau had dozens of novels published, including The Willow CabinA Wreath for the Enemy, The Winged Horse, all three of which were reissued as Virago. Bowen’s first novel was The Viper of Milan in 1906 and her last in 1954, bringing her total to about 150 works, covering romance, horror, popular history and biography.

Red Poppy was a fundraising magazine produced in Glasgow

Red Poppy was a fundraising magazine produced in Glasgow

Matania had been a war artist and provided illustration for almost all the best titles; Thomas was famed for his ‘Art a Mo’ Kaiser poster from the Great War; WH Robinson is still known today for his mad machine constructions; and Hynes was just starting to do the covers of Men Only – and would carry on doing so for 20 years.

Among the advertising pages was a campaign for Ovaltine by Lilian Hocknell, who did many magazine covers and is probably best remembered for her advertising collaborations with Chilprufe.

A rare feature of this issue is a colour portrait of King Edward Viii as the frontispiece. He stepped down over his affair with the US divorcee Wallis Simpson, having served for less than a year, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.

This is the first of several Christmas covers I’ll be posting in the next week.

More Christmas goodies: self-referential Christmas magazine covers.

Type portrait of the royal family on a Monotype in 1937

February 16, 2018
Type portrait of the royal family composed on a Monotype machine. Published in Newspaper World magazine in 1937

Type portrait of the royal family composed on a Monotype machine. Published in Newspaper World magazine in 1937

Moiré fringing is probably going to ruin this image, but it’s a type portrait of George VI with the royal family, ‘set up and composed on the Monotype [hot metal typesetting] machine by Battley Brothers Ltd, of Clapham Park’. The image was published in Newspaper World & Advertising Review, dated 15 May 1937. I associate such images with typewriters and computer printers, so it was a surprise to come across one from 80 years ago.

The skin tones on Princess Elizabeth in the type portrait are made up of the letters 'e' and 'f', with the § symbol used for darker tones

The skin tones on Princess Elizabeth in the type portrait are made up of the italic letters ‘e’ and ‘f’, with the § symbol and ‘g’ used for darker tones

The portrait was printed half-page size in Newspaper World,  and it’s possible to make out many of characters used. The skin tones on Princess Elizabeth, for example, are made up of the letters ‘e’ and ‘f’, with the § symbol used for darker tones. That year – 1937 – marked the new king’s coronation after the abdication of King Edward VIII after the Wallis Simpson affair.

george vi royal family portrait. margaret. elizabeth. 1937

George VI royal family portrait with princesses Margaret, left, and Elizabeth, in 1937. This is probably the shot used for the type portrait

Newspaper World was published by Benn Brothers from Bouverie House off Fleet Street.


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

 

 

 


 

Beano: a cheery cover for grey days

January 12, 2018
Beano magazine was launched in 1934 by Nalgo, the trade union, to raise funds for members widows and orphans. Did it inspire the comic title?

Beano magazine was launched in 1934 by Nalgo, the trade union, to raise funds for members widows and orphans. Did it inspire the comic title?

Here’s a cheery cover for a rainy day (and I’m off to a funeral today for Tom Pride, a Times journalist I first worked with in 1980).

Beano comes from B ‘n’ O, the abbreviation for  Nalgo’s benevolent and orphan fund (B&O).  Nalgo – the National Association of Local Government Officers trade union – was founded in 1905 and is today part of Unison. It appears to have been produced in Scarborough, described as the ‘conference town’ because of the number of big meetings held there, such as political party annual conferences.

The NCTJ used to hold training courses there – on one of them, I met Tom Baker, the would-be monk and former Doctor Who star; the Yorkshire boxer Richard Dunn, who took on Muhammad Ali in 1976; and Brian Glover, the wrestler, teacher and actor best known for his role in Kes. All in the same hotel bar. What a night that was!

Winter's Pie, an edition of Printers' Pie, magazine cover from 1913. The cover is by John Hassall

Winter’s Pie, an edition of Printers’ Pie, magazine cover from 1913. The cover is by John Hassall

Producing special magazines to raise funds for charitable purposes was a popular strategy right into the Eighties. These included Printers’ Pie, where the funds went to printing charities, Christmas Pie, ‘All profits to King George’s Jubilee Trust’ in 1939, and Blighty, which raised money for the troops in both world wars. The most famous writers and illustrators would provide work for these and volunteer printers would produce them on Fleet Street presses.

The Nalgo Beano cover appeared in 1934, four years before DC Thomson launched the famous  Beano comic on 30 July 1938 in Dundee. And, of course, its most famous strip – The Bash Street Kids – was about the perils of a group of public service workers – teachers and janitors – in a state school.

The Oxford Dictionary relates the word ‘beano’ – a rowdy celebration – to the printing industry, going back to 1888:

CT Jacobi, Printers’ Vocab. 7 Beano, a slang abbreviation for ‘beanfeast’, which is, however, usually termed ‘goose’ or wayzgoose by compositors.

So, a trade union – Nalgo – was the inspiration for the Beano comic. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!

 


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

 

 

 


 

What does a Bolshevik look like?

October 30, 2017
Portrait of a rabid Bolshevik by Charles Sargeant Jagger on the cover of War Illustrated in January 1919

Portrait of a ‘frenzied fanatic’ Bolshevik by Charles Sargeant Jagger on the cover of War Illustrated in January 1919

War Illustrated magazine left its readers in no doubt where its stood on the prospects of Russia in the control of the Bolsheviks after the 1917 revolution. This ranting maniac was portrayed on the weekly magazine’s front cover for 11 January, 1919, by CS Jagger. Inside, Sir Sidney Low wrote about the revolutionaries as ‘frenzied fanatics’.

I take this illustration to be by Charles Sargeant Jagger, one of the pre-eminent sculptors of the early 20th century. He served with the Artists’ Rifles in the First World War and created several war memorials – most notably the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner (1925). There is a British Pathe film of Jagger at work.

Sir Sidney Low was a journalist during the war and edited the wireless service of the Ministry of Information. He had been knighted the year before.

War Illustrated‘s editor at Amalgamated Press was John Hammerton, one of Alfred Harmsworth’s most successful editors. War Illustrated was relaunched as New Illustrated after the war.

 


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

 

 

 


 

Gracie Fields sings for Woman’s World

April 20, 2017
Songs ‘Our Gracie’ Sings from 1933 included a flattering pencil portrait of Gracie and included stills from her films

‘Songs “Our Gracie” Sings’ from Woman’s World in 1933

Sally in Our Alley was a film by Radio Pictures in 1931, and it turned Gracie Fields from a music hall star into a film star, singing her signature song, Sally. ‘Our Gracie’ was also one of the biggest radio stars of the era. Woman’s World, a weekly magazine from Amalgamated Press, recognised this popularity and published at least three Gracie song books from 1933 to 1938 as giveaways with the magazine.

Portrait of Grace Fields form Radio Pictures in the song book

Portrait of Grace Fields from Radio Pictures in the song book

The booklet here, Songs ‘Our Gracie’ Sings from 1933 included a flattering pencil portrait of Gracie and stills from her films, Sally in Our Alley and Looking on the Bright Side. The cover photograph was by Eric Gray. Fields was famed for her Northern accent, and the song book included two songs, ‘Ee-By-Gum’ and ‘Stop and Shop at the Co-op Shop’, that reflected her heritage.

Fields was born above her grandmother’s fish-and-chip shop in Rochdale, but lost her British citizenship when she married the Italian director Monty Banks in 1940. The British authorities then refused to give her a passport at the end of the war, even though she had entertained the troops as a volunteer. No such problems for Vera Lynn.

A First World War Woman's World bases its cover on on 'Sally in Our Alley'

A First World War Woman’s World with a ‘Sally in Our Alley’ cover

The film, Sally in Our Alley, took its title from an 18th century poem that became a popular song during the First World War. And Woman’s World magazine was part of the spread of that song’s fame – a year before a British silent film of the same name was released.

The 27 February 1915 issue of ‘The favourite paper of a million homes’ carried the music and lyrics and featured a cover devoted to the song. ‘Sally in Our Alley’ by H. Gregory Hill took its first stanza from a poem by Henry Carey (1687–1743).

The poem was set to music on p177:

Of all the girls that are so smart
There’s none like little Sally,
She is the darling of my heart,
And she lives in our alley.

Oh, when I’m dressed in all my best
To walk abroad with Sally;
She is the darling of my heart,
And she dwells in our alley.

Stills from Gracie Fields' films in the song book

Stills from Gracie Fields’ films in the Woman’s World song book

Women’s magazines – a 5-volume history on the way

December 9, 2016
Cover of Womens Periodicals and Culture from Edinburgh University Press

Women’s Periodicals and Print Culture to come from Edinburgh University Press

Edinburgh University Press is working on a five-volume series edited by Jackie Jones with the title ‘The Edinburgh History of Women’s Periodical Culture in Britain’. The series aims ‘to make a particular contribution to the “turn” to periodical studies over the last decade by giving due prominence to the history of women’s periodical culture in Britain’.

Due out next autumn is Women’s Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1918-1939: The Interwar Period. This is being edited by Catherine Clay (Nottingham Trent University), Maria DiCenzo (Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada), Barbara Green (University of Notre Dame in the US) and Fiona Hackney (formerly Falmouth, now at Wolverhampton University). The press’s catalogue describes the volume:

New perspectives on women’s print media in interwar Britain by experts in media, literary and cultural history. This collection of new essays recovers and explores a neglected archive of women’s print media and dispels the myth of the interwar decades as a retreat to ‘home and duty’ for women. Women produced magazines and periodicals ranging in forms and appeal from highbrow to popular, private circulation to mass-market and radical to reactionary. The 1920s and 1930s gave rise to a plurality of new challenges and opportunities for women as consumers, workers and citizens, as well as wives and mothers. By restoring to view and analysing the print media which served as the vehicles for debates about the arts, modern life, politics, economics and women’s roles in all these spheres, this collection makes a major contribution to revisionist scholarship on the interwar period.

The book’s cover shows an issue of Woman’s Outlook, a magazine produced from 1919 to 1967 by the Co-operative Women’s Guild in Manchester.
October 2017; 448 pages; 44 b&w illustrations; 16 colour illustrations; hardback 978 1 4744 1253 7; £150.

The Red Poppy in Scotland in 1931

November 7, 2016
Red Poppy was a fundraising magazine produced in Glasgow

Red Poppy was a fundraising magazine produced in Glasgow

The Red Poppy is a rare and unusual magazine. It was produced for several years by the West of Scotland committees of the Earl Haig Fund to raise funds for disabled veterans. It is not dated by month, but will presumably have come out in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.

The poppy was adopted in the early 1920s by the British and Canadian Legions as the symbol of remembrance of World War One, inspired by the Canadian surgeon John McCrae with his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. Lady Haig established a poppy factory in Edinburgh in 1926. Both the Haig Fund and the poppy factory are still active.

Charles Davidson's signature

Glasgow artist Charles Davidson’s signature

The cover is by the magazine’s staff artist, Charles L Davidson. It shows the positions of the Allied and German lines on three dates during the Great War and marks the sites of the greatest battles during the conflict in France.

Davidson studied at Glasgow School of Art and served in the war as a captain in the Seaforth Highlanders. Davidson also produced several posters for the war effort that aimed to encourage men at the front to salvage materials.

This logo was used as a strap on the pages of Red Poppy magazine

This logo was used as a strap on the pages of Red Poppy

Among the magazine’s cartoonists were Charles Allen Oakley, who took the name Ochre as his nom de crayon; Arthur Ferrier, who drew for Blighty magazine in the First World War and would do so again in the Second World War; T Grainger Jeffrey; and Berwick painter Frank Watson Wood, who painted the surrendered German fleet at Scapa Flow in 1918.