Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

The innovative past of magazines

August 6, 2018

There much talk of innovation in the publishing industry at the moment, but an often-overlooked place for ideas is the past 150 years of magazine publishing. And here’s one from the Boy’s Own Paper (BOP).

Until the Second World War, a strategy for some magazines was to publish a magazine as a weekly, and then collate those four issues as a monthly, and also as a complete annual.

So, this BOP from Jan 1908 is actually the December issues with their covers removed, some fresh advertising pages and all in a new wrapper. The price was half as much again as for the four weekly issues at 6d. However, the part carried ‘added value’ in the form of a fold-out colour plate.

The plate was of a painting, ‘?Companions in Tribulation’ by Miss N. Joshua, which showed two men in the stocks. It was printed separately by Tom Browne & Co in Nottingham, a colour lithographic printer founded by Tom Browne, then one of most famous cartoonists.

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Artists, their signatures and monograms

April 12, 2018
Alfred Leete's monogram

Alfred Leete’s monogram

Alfred Leete, creator of the Your Country Needs You poster of Kitchener, had a distinctive signature for his work, as did one of his artistic contemporaries, Lawson Wood, the creator of the Gran’pop chimpanzee character. Both were famous illustrators and in both cases, the signature evolved over time.

Richard 'Dicky' Doyle's monogram on Punch

Richard ‘Dicky’ Doyle’s monogram from Punch

Other illustrators and cartoonists used a monogram, a graphic device made up of their initials. A great example of this was the Punch illustrator Richard Doyle. He used a reversed R to share the upright of the D, with a bird on top to symbolise his nickname, Dicky Doyle. Monograms seem to have become less popular in the 20th century, but Simon House has a spread of Victorian examples in his book, The Dictionary of 19th Century British Book Illustrators.

Leete’s and Wood’s signatures are easy to make out, whereas Doyle’s is a rebus. However, some cartoonists’ signatures seem perverse in their illegibility – Gilbert Wilkinson being a prime example with his covers for Passing Show and Illustrated weekly magazines.

To help get my head round them all, I’ve started a page of signatures and monograms on Magforum with 100 examples. Another illegible example is East on a Health & Efficiency cover – pointers as to what it says or in identifying some others would be appreciated!

east monogram from 1928 Health and Efficiency

Illegible signature for part of ‘East’


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

 

 


 

Magazine titles: what’s in a name?

February 20, 2018
Title from the first issue of men's monthly Loaded-in 1994: for men who should know better

Title from the first issue of men’s monthly Loaded in 1994: for men who should know better

My mention of Private Eye editor Ian Hislop included his editorial philosophy on the satirical magazine. He sees his job as to:

Make jokes about what people know and then tell them things they don’t know.

Simplifying an editorial strategy to a few words is a great skill. Today, companies have their ‘mission statements’ but magazines have been coining these for centuries. What is the magazine about? What is it about a magazine that is different from its rivals?

A Tit-Bits cover from 1955

A Tit-Bits cover from 1955

For James Brown’s Loaded, it was ‘For men who should know better’; for the science fiction weekly Scoops in 1934, ‘Stories of the wonder-world of tomorrow’; FHM‘s mantra coined by Mike Soutar was ‘Funny, sexy useful’.

George Newnes came up with the not-so-pithy title Tit-Bits from all the Most Interesting Books, Periodicals and Contributors in the World for his pioneering weekly magazine in 1881, which was soon shortened to Tit-Bits.

Sometimes, the title goes a long way to saying it all: Answers to Correspondents, Men Only, Motor, Woman, Razzle. But even in these cases, differentiation is needed from rivals.

Alfred Harmsworth's Home Chat from 1895

Harmsworth’s Home Chat from 1895

Think of the woman’s weekly Home Chat. The name dates back to an Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliffe) launch in 1895.  Would House Chat have been as good? Or Home Talk? Or Fireside Chat?

Probably not, and certainly Home Chat lasted until 1959, when it became a victim of new technology in the form of television. The word ‘chat’ was resurrected for the weekly Chat by ITV/IPC in 1985, though by that time the word ‘home’ was a no-no for a woman’s magazine.

A rival to Home Chat was Home Notes (1895-1958) from C. Arthur Pearson. This carried a line of poetry on its cover: ‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,’ by the US poet William Ross Wallace. This summed up the influence of the mother, but today it has sinister connotations.

Charing Cross magazine took its name from a famous place in London -1900-first-issue-magazine-cover

Charing Cross magazine took its name from a famous place in London in 1900

Many Victorian publishers took their titles from fashionable places in the world’s greatest city. Examples include Cornhill, Pall Mall, The Strand, Charing Cross.

In doing so, they spread the fame of these thoroughfares and places even farther around the world, in a way that song lyrics would do in the 20th century (Ferry Across the Mersey, Wichita Lineman, Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa) and TV does today (Jersey Shore, The Only Way is Essex).

Many magazine titles have changed the meaning of words, or at least influenced our perception of them, such Punch, Eagle and Delayed Gratification.


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


 

£149 for an Argos catalogue

February 14, 2018
Argos catalogue No 6 from autumn 1976 sold on eBay for £149

Argos catalogue No 6 from 1976 sold on eBay for £149

How did I miss this? An Argos catalogue from 1976. And it sold for a whacking £149 before Christmas.

As the eBay seller, Halcyontoys, noted:

From the mists of time comes this original and highly collectable Argos catalogue. Released for the autumn/winter 1976/77 season, it runs to 200 pages and is a fascinating ‘window’ into the lifestyles and technologies prevalent at the time.

From record decks to teas-maids and Evel Knievel toys – they’re all here in garish 1970s colour!

The catalogue has some age-related signs of wear, mainly handling/stress marks to the cover and some discolourisation to the back page. However, it remains in good condition and all 198 internal pages are present and correct with no annotations or creasing.

A very enjoyable, rare and historic publication.

Read and weep all ye who missed it.

The cameras spread from Argos catalogue No 6 from 1976 sold on eBay for £149

The cameras spread from Argos catalogue No 6

 


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

Festival celebrates 100 years of advertising

February 4, 2017
The Cadbury's Smash Martians

A great favourite from the 1970s: the Cadbury’s Smash Martians

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is to hold a festival in March celebrating its founding 100 years ago. The theme of the events will be  celebrating the most creative adverts, ‘from the PG Chimps to the Smash Martians and the Cadbury’s drumming gorilla; from Lord Kitchener’s ‘Your Country Needs You’ to John Lewis’s Buster the boxer’.

The IPA’s festival takes place over four days centred around an exhibition at the Boilerhouse, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, from the 9th to the 12th of March.

Alongside the exhibition will be events such as a screening and Q&A with Oscar-winning director Sir Alan Parker; a ‘romp’ through the relationship between pop music and commercials; and a tour through the funniest ads.

A great favourite from the 1970s are the Martians developed by Boase Massimi Pollitt for Cadbury’s Smash dried potato. Those Martians were the Meerkats of their day and Cadbury’s linked up with children’s comics to promote them. Car workers at Vauxhall in Ellesmere Post and Ford in Halewood made Martian models from car parts and hawked them around the local pubs at 50p at time. The only problem was that the car parts probably cost £10!

I hope they remember that Alfred Leete’s ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster with the pointing Lord Kitchener was originally an editorial magazine cover!

 

Gravure printing at The Telegraph – 3 days on the presses

December 30, 2016
The first of the DailyTelegraph's colour magazines in 1964

The first of the Daily Telegraph’s colour magazines in 1964

The Daily Telegraph launched its colour supplement on 25 September 1964. It was christened the Weekend Telegraph, and came out with the Friday paper. By 1968 it was printing 1.5 million copies a week. The supplement was first called The Weekend Telegraph and later The Daily Telegraph Magazine.

Of course, it was not the first of the 1960s newspaper supplements, The Sunday Times having led the way with its colour section in 1962, but September 1964 was a busy month with The Observer launching its version on Sunday, the 6th. The Observer‘s supplement launch can be seen in the context of the launch of The Sunday Telegraph, which had hit the streets on February 5, 1961, though it had no magazine and would not get one until the 1970s. The aim of these supplements was to enable the papers to offer colour advertising across the nation – and it was a strategy that damaged revenues at magazines.

The Telegraph‘s printing was handled by Eric Bemrose in Aintree, Liverpool, on gravure presses. This was a massive operation, producing magazines of up to 80 pages, 60 of which could be printed in four colours.

The Daily Telegraph produced a 1968 book written by Otto Lilien, its printing consultant, which described the process in depth. A diagram at the heart of the volume shows a press configuration of 13 units, with each unit printing one colour on one side of a massive ‘web’ of paper. There were two of these giant ‘toilet rolls’ feeding paper into the presses.

Each gravure printing cylinder was 70 inches wide, with a circumference of 42in, meaning it could carry the engraving of five pages across and four pages round – 20 pages in all.

The press configuration used five units on one web. This  printed black only on one side of the paper and four colours on the other (4/1 or ‘four back one’ printing). The second web used eight cylinders to produce four colours on both sides of the web (4/4).

Once up to speed, the presses produced 18,000 copies an hour. So it would take about 83 hours – more than three days of the presses running round the clock – to print the whole run.

The issues were ‘self-cover’, so the covers were printed on the same paper as part of the same run. Once the two webs, each printing 40 pages, had gone through the presses, they came together and were folded, trimmed and ‘saddle-stitched’ (stapled) to make an 80-page issue. The binding machines operated at 20,000 copies an hour.

 

 

The eyes of a magazine

December 4, 2016
David Moyes's eyes cropped from an issue of the Sun in 2014 (April 23)

David Moyes’s eyes cropped from an issue of the Sun in 2014 (April 23)

Former Everton manager David Moyes is back on the TV as manager of Sunderland, but whenever I see his face, I’m reminded of the Pictorial Magazine poster below.

Pictorial Magazine poster from 1902

Pictorial Magazine poster from 1902

The poster promoted the start of a new serial – ‘The House with the Scarlet Knocker’ – in the May 2 issue that year.


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

 

 


 

Codd’s bottles and codswallop in The Caterer magazine

November 17, 2016
Advert for Codd's globe-stoppered bottles from the Caterer magazine (1878)

Advert for Codd’s globe-stoppered bottles from the Caterer magazine (1878)

‘Codswallop’ is a term long-known to me as meaning ‘drivel’ so I was intrigued to come across this advert for Codd’s bottles, from which the word is supposed to be derived. The story goes that Hiram Codd patented a bottle for fizzy drinks with a glass marble – a ‘globe’ – in the neck and that ‘wallop’ was slang for beer, so ‘Codd’s wallop’ became a derogatory term for weak beer.

Codd’s ‘globe-stoppered’ bottles were very popular – ‘the greatest invention of the age in connection with aerated waters’, according to another advertiser –  with 450 soda water makers using the technology according to the advert. It won awards from Philadelphia to Vienna.

For the editors at the Oxford English Dictionary, however, the Codd’s wallop story poses a problem because they can find no trace of it until 1959, when it crops up in an episode Hancocks’s Half Hour:

Tony (Hancock): I was not.

Sidney (Sid James): Don’t give me that old codswallop. You were counting your money…

The theory has been cited in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, but how could if have survived by word of mouth for the best part of 100 years without  ever being captured in print?

The page advert for Codd’s bottles appeared in the launch issue of The Caterer & Refreshment Contractors Gazette, from April 6, 1878. It was published by J Gilbert Smith & Co under the editorship of John Plummer and is a fascinating magazine, for its advertising as well as the editorial. And it’s still going strong today, as The Caterer, a ‘multimedia brand’ that regards itself as ‘the beating heart of UK hospitality’.

In 1878, The Caterer was based at 67 Leadenhall Street in the City of London. This was close to Leadenhall Market, a covered food market built in 1881, though there had been traders there for 400 years. The market specialised in meat – hence the butchers’ hooks that can still be seen outside many of the shops – though today you’re more likely to go there for a lunchtime beer or on a scene-spotting trip for the Harry Potter films.

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