Archive for the ‘Colour printing’ Category

When ‘Put-U-Up’ was a trade mark

March 1, 2020

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‘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

 

Christmas magazines: vanity and Vogue

December 25, 2019

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


George Newnes and his Millionaires

July 25, 2019

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The valiant attempt by George Newnes to bring colour to the masses, ‘the million’ as they were described in the early 1890s, was the subject of a paper I gave in Liverpool a couple of weeks ago.

The Million, an ambitious penny weekly, is rarely discussed*, but was a rare failure for the man who pretty much invented the modern magazine industry – and became one of the richest men in the country in the process. Magazine publishers such as Cassell and Hodder & Stoughton would soon become, in today’s parlance, legacy brands, and were left to concentrate on book publishing.

But Britain was slow to adopt colour printing. Although the Illustrated London News had started at trend for colour supplements at Christmas in 1855, colour was still reserved for special occasions and papers for children. There were colour weeklies in France and the US, however.

Newnes had launched Tit-Bits, the best-selling weekly, in 1881, and The Strand, the best-selling monthly thanks to Sherlock Holmes, ten years later. The Million started as a tabloid-size magazine in 1892 and lasted for about three years, though it halved its page size during that time and had two redesigns (usually a sign of problems). Its readers were called, of course, ‘Millionaires’ – Newnes was nothing if not aspirational for his audience.

coloured photograph of a lifeboat coxswain in The Million, 1894

Coloured photograph of a lifeboat coxswain in The Million, 1894

The size, quality and number of colour engravings falls sharply in the final year, though there are some surprises; a coloured photograph of a lifeboat coxswain in September 1894 is particularly striking.

The Million was printed on letterpress machines – so did not have to use expensive paper – by the London Colour Printing Company at their works in Exmoor St, Notting Hill. The same printer later produced Puck, a colour cartoon paper launched by Harmsworth in 1904 and seemingly modelled on a US paper with the same format and title. Harmsworth’s Amalgamated had also tried colour for a one-off edition of a comic paper called The Funny Wonder in 1898 (May 28).

In fact, Guy Lawley, a fellow researcher at the conference, told me that the colour presses used by Newnes were bought from Hippolyte Auguste Marinoni, who already used letterpress for a supplement to his French daily tabloid Le Petit Journal. This was the best-selling paper in France – probably the world – claiming a million print run in the early 1890s.

Le Petit Journal appears to have started publishing an eight-page colour illustrated supplement on Fridays in November 1890, judging by adverts on the front page of online digitised copies of the daily edition at the French national library. The price was 5 centimes, the same as the daily edition. Soon after, the supplement itself was claiming print runs of just over a million.

Guy adds that the success of Le Petit Journal and The Million inspired US newspaper publishers to turn to colour. The Chicago Inter Ocean added a free Sunday colour supplement in 1892, three months after The Million; The New York World added colour pages from 1893 and later a colour section. The Inter Ocean referred to the success of both Le Petit Journal‘s Supplément Illustré and the Million in its editorial announcing the coming of colour.

The New York supplements evolved into colour Sunday comics section, a development that was then copied across the country, giving birth to a new form of mass entertainment in the US.

As for the US Puck, that was printed using a different printing technology, lithography, until it was taken over by William Randolph Hearst in 1917, and closed down. However, in 1918, he resurrected the name Puck on his own Sunday comics supplement for the New York Journal, so it was also printed on newspaper-type colour letterpress presses.

Guy is working on a PhD thesis about colour printing and US newspaper comics.

Print Networks and the Centre for Printing History & Culture organised the conference, Dregs, dross and debris: the art of transient print. Discussions are under way about collating the talks as proceedings, or publishing them in Publishing History or Printing History and Culture.

*Kate Jackson’s Newnes and the new journalism in Britain, 1880-1910 has the most to say about it; Dave Reed doesn’t mention it. My British Magazine Design shows one of the smaller format covers. The issues are available in the British Library as bound volumes

General weekly magazines

The Strand magazine

 


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