Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

How can I track down a John Bull Bullets winner?

October 14, 2020

Jeanne Garbett (nee Giblett) wants to track down a copy of the issue of John Bull magazine in which her father won the Bullets prize competition. She writes:

My father won in 1939, which paid for our first holiday ever – and last before the war started. I would love to find the John Bull magazine in which he won. How would I go about it?

This will be tricky because the magazine did not always print the winners’ names, though readers could send in for a list of the winners. I don’t know if the names were published in 1939.

First, I’d suggest narrowing the dates down as much as possible. War was declared on September 1, so, assuming the holiday was in July, that’s half a year’s worth of issues to go through – say 30 copies.

There aren’t many places to find these issues, but potential sources include:

  • a library that stocks the title. Reference libraries such as the British Library will have them. Also, some universities; maybe big city libraries. You may have to register to gain access, but they are usually very happy to help over the phone or by email.
  • eBay. Sellers might be prepared to check issues for you (it also gives them an idea for marketing their copies). However, an eBay search on John Bull shows there’s just one issue on offer at present: Oct 7. Another October issue sold in August. At that rate, it’s likely to be a long wait.
  • An even longer eBay shot: certificates to winners occasionally pop up on eBay.

Of course, getting access to the issues is only any good if they printed the winner names. The 1935 Dictionary of Bullets did not print the winners’ names, just the bullets and answers, so I assume other editions did not either. However, there is another possibility. In the 1930s, Bullets Bulletins leaflets were published. I don’t know if these went out with the magazines or were sent to regular Bulleteers. These ran stories about at least some of the winners. I’ve seen one dated 1 January 1933 and numbered 210, so it must have run for several years. Libraries may have these.

My final suggestion, Jeanne, is asking around, just like you are doing. Ian Cowmeadow and his Bill the Bullet blog is another place to start.

See also: John Bull magazine history

'Dictionary of Bullets' published by John Bull to mark the 1000th competition in 1935

1935 Dictionary of Bullets: no winners’s names

>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016)

1984: the year T-shirts went to war

August 22, 2020

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Models wear Katharine Hamnett activist T-shirts on the June 1984 cover of The Face magazine

These days, T-shirts just seem to be covered in commercial logos or platitudes. Back in the 1980s, however, British fashion designer Katharine Hamnett made the activist T-shirt  a force to be reckoned with across the world.

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Hamnett meets Thatcher

‘Stop Acid Rain’, ‘Worldwide Nuclear Ban Now’ and ‘Stop Killing Whales’ in huge black capital letters on white cotton were among her in-your-face slogans for 1984. 

Hamnett even brought her campaigning style to a Downing Street reception to promote Britain’s fashion business in March that year.

She wore one of her own T-shirts that yelled ‘58% don’t want Pershing’ to meet Margaret Thatcher. This was a reference to a US missile system being deployed in Europe. The prime minister is supposed to have remarked ‘We don’t have Pershings, we have cruise [missiles]’ as she shook hands with the designer.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood used Hamnett-style T-shirts to promote Two Tribes, the Liverpool band’s second single after Relax, in summer 1984. The slogans were ‘Frankie Say War! Hide Yourself’ and ‘Frankie Say Relax Don’t Do It!’ Both singles got to number one, as did The Power of Love at the end of the year. Three consecutive chart-topping  singles was a feat that not even the Beatles achieved.

Note the word ‘bodylicious’ on the Face cover at the top of the page. It was used 20 years later as the title of a top 10 Destiny’s Child single.

The Observer Magazine colour supplement did its own version of one of Hamnett’s designs for its New Year 1986 cover. Hamnett still does activist T-shirts today.

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Get a fix on 86: the Observer Magazine‘s take on Hamnett’s designs for its end of 1985 cover

Prince pops up on a fag packet

August 16, 2020

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I mentioned a while back who I thought a fake cigarette had been painted on a photograph of Edward, Prince of Wales in 1919.

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And now I’ve come across this advert in a 1923 issue of Printers’ Pie for the Prince Charming cigarette brand. He’s painted on a packet of cigarettes rather than a cigarette being painted oh him!

The brand was made by Moustafa of Piccadilly and the character is clearly based on the Prince of Wales, in a pose and uniform just like the ‘doctored’ photograph.

Celebrity endorsements were popular at the time, but they were usually by stars of screen and stage, rather than the next-in-line to the throne. There is not sense that Edward was involved in this.

 

 

Chubb banks vaults in Chambers’s Magazine

June 10, 2020

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It’s not often anyone gets to go in a Goldfinger-style bank vault, but pay a visit to Lisbon’s Museum of Design & Fashion and you’ll find yourself in one.

The museum is housed in a former bank. On the ground floor, you can stroll past  clothing, accessories, household goods and furniture – and the pair of Vivienne Westwood platforms that brought Naomi Campbell tumbling down on the catwalk in 1993.

The underground vault and upper floor host temporary exhibitions, with jewellery on display in the old steel safe deposit boxes.

The vault, built for the Banco Nacional Ultramarino, is just like the one shown in this advertising insert from a 1924 copy of Chambers’s Journal (August 1). And it was made by Chubb – you can see a chub fish symbol engraved in the side of the crane hinge door as you walk in, as well as the usual branding. British vaults made by Chubb, or Tann, its main rival, can be found in central banks across the world. Today, however, Chubb only exists as a brand name on locks and alarms.

Of course, there were probably not that many bank vault owners reading Chambers’s Journal, but the reverse of the insert promotes Chubb’s domestic and commercial products. The insert was printed offset by George Stewart & Co in Edinburgh.

Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal was a weekly founded in 1832 in Edinburgh by William Chambers. In 1854, the publishing offices moved to 47 Paternoster Row in London, an area near St Paul’s Cathedral that was then the centre of the English book trade. The title was expanded to Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Arts. The title shrank again in 1897 and the magazine survived to pass its centenary, but closed in 1956. Chambers’s English Dictionary was founded in 1872 and is today an imprint published by Hodder & Stoughton.

chamberss-magazine-1924-august-chubb-bank-vault-advert

 

Magazines and adverts in Fleet Street

April 20, 2020

Fleet-Street-postcard

Fleet Street has run with printing ink ever since Wynkyn de Worde moved Caxton’s press from Westminster into Shoe Lane, just off the east end of the street, in the 1490s. This coloured postcard tells of much of that history.

The view looks east along Fleet Street across Ludgate Circus and through the railway viaduct that once spanned Ludgate Hill up to St Paul’s Cathedral. The church spire in front of the cathedral’s dome is St Martin’s Ludgate, a church that, like St Paul’s, was rebuilt by Christopher Wren after the 1666 Great Fire of London. Ludgate Hill station closed in 1929, but the bridge was not demolished until 1990 as part of the construction of Thameslink, the line that crosses the capital to join the south coast with the Midlands.

Fleet-Street-newspaper-seller

Newspaper seller by Poppin’s Court

Bride Lane is to the right and a newspaper seller stands on the left at the archway leading into Poppin’s Court. Shoe Lane would be behind to the left.

At least three pubs can be seen. The King Lud is in front of the rail bridge on the left. Today, it’s split into a Santander branch and a Leon fast food joint. There’s a plaque up on the wall on the Ludgate Hill side of the Leon marking the site of publication of the first regular English daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, in 1702. The pub was named after the king who, legend has it, founded London and gave his name to Ludgate. A statue of Lud and his sons that was once part of the gate now stands in the porch of St Dunstan-in-the West church at the other end of Fleet Street.

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A detail from the photograph used for the coloured postcard. Signs for Smith’s Advertising Agency (SAA), Quiver magazine and Tit-Bits, probably in May 1914

On the right of the postcard, can just be made out the square white sign for the Punch Tavern (No 99). It can be seen better, left, in the photograph on which the postcard is based. The Punch Tavern was called the Crown and Sugar Loaf, but took the new name after Punch magazine moved to 85 Fleet Street in 1845. The pub developers Saville & Martin rebuilt the pub in 1890s and it is now grade II listed. Smith’s, one of the biggest advertising agencies, occupied the offices above the Punch Tavern, named Publicity House. The SAA lettering can be seen on the corner of a building it occupied from 1885 to at least 1936. Coming back in this direction on the right is Bride Lane, home to both the journalists’ church and the  St Bride’s Institute and Printing Library. There’s then an awning with a shop frontage below and a white sign for Ye Olde Bell Tavern (No 95).

Today, the newsagents under the awning is gone and there is a fancy windowed frontage to the Old Bell, but photographs show there used to be just a tiled entrance way into the pub (like the Punch Tavern today).

Above the Old Bell are two hoardings. The lower one with a green background is for Tit-Bits, promoting ‘£500 in simple cricket competition’.

The larger hoarding shows a poster for The Quiver, a popular monthly, headed up with the words ‘Special mothers’ and daughters’ number’. The name Annie S Swan tops the billing. Swan was a famous romantic fiction writer, and editor of Women at Home from 1893 to 1917. She was also a founder of the Scottish National Party. The Quiver serialised Swan’s Corroding Gold from early 1914 and Cassell published the book that same year. The poster appears to be advertising the May issue, suggesting the photograph was taken at that time.

Other writers on the Quiver list include Amy B Barnard LLA (author of The Girls’ Encyclopaedia), the author Mrs George de Horne Vaizey,  Mrs Elizabeth Sloan Chesser MD, and Helen Wallace. 

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The Quiver, February 1914. The cover lines are for Arnold Bennett’s ‘mental stocktaking’ and the romantic serial ‘Heart’s Desire’ by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey

The Quiver, which ran from 1861 to1926, was published and printed by Cassell at La Belle Sauvage Yard, a few hundred yards away near the foot of Ludgate Hill. Cassell was a publishing house that pioneered cheap reprints of classic books and hit it big in 1883 with Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines two years later. The Quiver was originally ‘designed for the defence and promotion of biblical truth, and the advancement of religion in the homes of the people’, what would have been called ‘Sunday reading’, but became more general in its coverage in the Edwardian era. The name Cassell is now associated only with books, but the company was also one of the biggest magazine publishers of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and sold its titles to Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press in the late 1920s. Its titles included Cassell’s Magazine, the short-lived Woman’s World (edited by Oscar Wilde), Cassell’s Saturday Journal, Chums, the Penny Magazine, New Magazine and The Story-Teller.

La Belle Sauvage Yard no longer exists, but John Cassell moved his publishing and printing offices there in 1852, when it was part of one of the oldest inns in the City of London, The Bell Savage, dating back to 1380. According to The Story of the House of Cassell, the name derives from a combination of William Savage and the name of the hostelry he owned, Savage’s Inn, otherwise called the Bell on the Hoop. It later became a theatre and coaching inn.

The book places the Francification of the name to La Belle Sauvage at the door of no less a literary figure than Joseph Addison, co-founder of the original daily Spectator in 1711. In issue 82 of the Spectator, despite customers finding their ale at ‘the Sign of a Savage Man standing by a Bell’ he writes about ‘the reading of an old Romance translated out of the French, which gives an account of a very beautiful Woman who was found in a Wilderness, and it is called in the French La Belle Sauvage.’

Cassell gradually took over the yard and rebuilt it. The entrance was through an arch off Ludgate Hill. The inn was demolished in 1873 to make way for the railway viaduct. The rest of La Belle Sauvage was destroyed, like much of Fleet Street, by bombing in 1941.

Notice how prolific the advertising signs are. The Bovril sign atop the building on the far side of Ludgate Circus was there from about 1900 for 40 years. Below are promotions for Schweppes and the Isle of Man office with its Legs of Man logo.

Finally, the postcard demonstrates image manipulation, not only because it was a black-and-white photograph that has been coloured, but part of the view has been edited. Compare the bottom-right corner of the postcard with the close-up photograph of the Quiver poster; you’ll see that the lorry with the Robin starch advertising on its canvas side has been removed and painted over with pedestrians, probably because it was felt to detract from the card.

Big prizes in 1924 FA cup final competition

April 12, 2020

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There’s not much chance of any football cup finals at the moment, but we can at least look back at previous events and this 1924 advert from The Humorist dated April 12 prompts just such an opportunity.

The Humorist was a popular weekly, a downmarket competitor to Punch. But just look at the prizes – a house, a car and £1,000 or £2,500 cash for correctly predicting the scores and the size of the crowds in the two semi-finals. They don’t do competitions like that any more!

Note that the competition was set up by another weekly, Tit-Bits. It was common practice at the time for publishers, in this case George Newnes, to run massive prize competitions like this across several magazine titles. The company had been renowned for its marketing ever since the advent of Tit-Bits in 1881.

The semi-finals being played were:

Newcastle United     v      Manchester City
Aston Villa       v      Burnley

All four teams are today in the Premiership. You’d now expect City to murder the Magpies, except for the fact that Newcastle have had a couple of shock results over City in recent years. Similarly, the betting would be one Burnley – Villa look set for the drop in this suspended season. But back in 1924, research shows the odds would have been the other way – and in the quarter-final, the Toon Army would have been ecstatic with a 5–0 drubbing of Liverpool! This season, Liverpool have only lost one Premiership match, having whacked 66 goals past their opponents with just 21 in reply. But it’s doubtful if anyone would have used the phrase ‘Toon Army’ in 1924. It comes from the Geordie pronunciation of  ‘town’, but the earliest example I can find of its use in print dates back only to 1993 – in the Financial Times of all places – when Kevin Keegan was manager and the Magpies finished third in the Premiership.

1924-FA-cup-final-programme-fleetway-pressThe 1924 FA cup final marked just the second such event at Wembley. This was the year after Wembley opened with the famous White Horse Final, when the pitch was flooded with 200,000 fans in the ground, double its capacity. Despite the overcrowding, no one was crushed because fans were not then penned in as they are now. And a single mounted PC, George Scorey on his white horse Billy, was able to herd the crowd off the pitch so the game could get under way, though it was an hour late. Bolton beat West Ham 2-0. The cup final venue before Wembley was Crystal Palace in south London.

In 1924, Newcastle beat Villa 2-0, the goals scored by Neil Harris and Stan Seymour. After the problems of the year before, it was an all-ticket match, which was dubbed the Rainy Day Final’. But the bad weather was a boon for collectors of match programmes. Why? Fans used their programmes as makeshift umbrellas so there were few decent copies left after the game. It was also printed with a colour pictorial cover for the first time, but on poor paper. Copies of that programme have fetched £4,000 at auction.

>>Humorist magazine profile

Harry Furniss: he Lika Joko

January 10, 2020

Lika Joko first issue cover

Lika Joko first issue cover in 1894. It was ‘conducted’ by Harry Furniss

Harry Furniss was a popular black and white artist of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods who launched his own magazine, Lika Joko in 1894 after he left Punch. The name was a pun on ‘like a joke’ and one of his noms-de-crayon. Like many periodicals of the time, the cover was dominated by advertising.

Note how Furniss portrays himself alongside the magazine’s title with his quill pen piercing the artist’s palette and the nib appearing to be covered in blood – the pen being mightier than the sword. He is dressed in a kimono with sheets of paper held in place at his back by the belt. The patterns on the kimono are formed from parts of his signature. The lettering of the title also has a Japanese feel. Furniss had produced a series of cartoons, ‘Our Japanneries’, under the name Lika Joko in 1888, pretending to be ‘the celebrated Japanese Artist … who is now on a visit to this country’. In the late Victorian period, Japan had a huge influence of art in Britain, resulting in a phenomenon known as Japonisme. Japan and Britain were great allies until World War II.

Illustration from Lika Joko editorial page: How Harry Furniss portrayed Mr Punch and Toby

How Harry Furniss portrayed Mr Punch and Toby in the Lika Joko editorial

On Punch, Furniss was renowned for his quick-fire caricatures of MPs in parliament for the Essence of Parliament pages, which were collated into books, but he turned his pen to all sorts of subjects and illustrated many books. RGG Price in his History of Punch (1957) says: ‘During the years of his Punch work, Harry Furniss dominated the pages. He was all over the place with jokes, illustrations, dramatic criticisms, headings and parliamentary sketches … It is said that he would chat to a man and caricature him on a pad held in his pocket.’

One of his cartoons in the satirical weekly was a spoof on advertising for A&F Pears (now part of Unilever), which used endorsements from celebrities such as the actress and notable beauty, Lillie Langtry, to sell its translucent amber soap. The spoof (26 April 1884) showed a tramp writing a letter saying:

I used your Soap two years ago; since then I have used no other.

Furniss and Punch fell out when the magazine sold the copyright in the drawing to Pears for use in advertising. Price describes Furniss as being ‘dictatorial and slick’ over the issue and the Punch people as ‘patient and disinterested’ in their correspondence. Despite this, the Pears advert was carried on the back cover of the first issue of Lika Joko – see at the bottom of this post – though with a slightly different caption. Pears used the Furniss cartoon advert at least for 16 years – I have a copy of it in a 1910 issue of TP’s Magazine.

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Pears took the Millais painting ‘A Child’s World’, added a bar of soap by the boy’s foot to advertising reproductions, and called it ‘Bubbles’

Pears famously turned another image, the painting ‘A Child’s World’ by the Pre-Raphaelite artist John Millais, into advertising – the  image became so famous because it was reproduced as colour lithographs millions of times over several decades. Thomas Barratt, the company’s managing director, bought the painting from Illustrated London News owner Sir William Ingram, who had reproduced it in the magazine as a colour poster for a Christmas issue. Pears had the image copied with a bar of its soap added and today we know it as ‘Bubbles’.

Barratt has been described as ‘the father of modern advertising’ for his innovative strategies. The boy in the painting was the artist’s grandson, Willie James, who later became a Royal Navy admiral. Like Pears’ soap, ‘Bubbles’ is now owned by Unilever and is on loan to the Lady Lever art gallery in Port Sunlight, on the Wirral. Copies of the colour advertising can be seen online from the V&A museum catalogue.

Pear's soap took the back page of Lika Joko with its Harry Furniss advertisement

Pears took the back page of Lika Joko with its Harry Furniss advert

Lika Joko lasted for just 26 issues, from 20 October 1894 to 13 April 1895. Price describes how Furniss was refused a gallery ticket to parliament for Lika Joko – a disaster for a political caricaturist – and that this proved fatal to the paper. Later, Furniss went to the US, where the Internet Movie Database lists him as directing, writing and appearing in three films for Edison Studios, a company controlled by the inventor Thomas Edison: The Mighty Hunters and The Artist’s Joke (1912), and Rival Reflections (1914). Furniss returned to Britain and has been credited with helping to pioneer animated cartoon films in 1914 with War Cartoons and Peace and Pencillings. The BFI credits Furniss on 15 films.

There is a short film online at Brighton University, Winchelsea and its Surroundings. A Day with Harry Furniss and his Sketchbook, which shows Furniss at the cottage of Helen Terry and painting the actress. Other scenes are filmed in Winchelsea and Hastings.

Price reckons Furniss made a lot of money but lost most of it to making films. He died in 1925, in the seaside town of Hastings, where he is buried.

The National Portrait Gallery has a self-portrait of Furniss and more than 450 of his sketches for sale online as prints.

>> Harry Furniss profile in Tit-Bits, alongside Sir Leslie Ward (‘Spy’ of Vanity Fair) and the theatrical caricaturist Alfred Bryan

>> More on Punch, a weekly satirical magazine that lasted 150 years


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

 

 


Kitchener poster and the Washington Post film

November 20, 2019

The cover of Art Buchwald's 1968 book, Have I Ever Lied to You? is on the wall of the editor's office in The Post

The cover of Art Buchwald’s 1968 book is on the wall of the editor’s office in The Post

I rabbit on so much about Alfred Leete’s Kitchener poster that I wrote a book about it, but it still never ceases to amaze me the way that Leete’s Kitchener image – and the many derivatives of it – keep popping up. One example is in the Steven Spielberg film, The Post.

A poster for Have I Ever Lied to You?, a book by the Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald, is on the wall of the editor’s office. It can be seen in several scenes. Buchwald is portrayed as Uncle Sam from the 1917 recruiting poster by James Montgomery Flagg.

The Flagg image, which, like Leete’s, first appeared on a magazine cover (Leslie’s Weekly), was a blatant copy of Leete’s September 1914 cover for London Opinion magazine. Flagg simply replaced Kitchener with himself as Uncle Sam, and the poster has been as big a hit in the US as Leete’s was in Britain.

In The Post, Tom Hanks plays the editor, Ben Bradlee. It comes across just like the 1980s TV series Lou Grant. In that, Mrs Pynchon, the widowed owner of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune, was based on two women: Katherine Graham, the widowed owner of the Washington Post; and ‘Dolly’ Schiff, owner and publisher of the New York Post.

The innovative past of magazines

August 6, 2018

Boy’s Own Paper from January 1908

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.

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