Archive for the ‘printing’ Category

How to spot a magazine reproduction

July 12, 2020
sharpes-london-magazine-1866-letterpress-printing

Letterpress impression on this 1866 issue of Sharpe’s London magazine is clear

Country Life, Women’s Weekly, Time Out, The Face – all magazines that have published reproductions of their first issue. In the case of the latter two, the fact that they are celebratory facsimiles is made clear, but there is no such indication in the others.

So, if you’re buying a copy of Country Life that seems to be a first issue from 1897 or a premier Women’s Weekly from 1911, you need to watch out for clues, because the real thing is worth far more than a repro.

As I mentioned in a post about buying and selling copies of Country Life magazine, the giveaway is the printing technique. Most magazines before 1950 will have been printed letterpress, with gravure for big run titles between about 1930 and 1990. With letterpress, the metal type is raised and often makes an impression on the paper.

The scan at the top of this page shows the detail from a copy of Sharpe’s London magazine from 1866. The impression from the printing of the reverse page can be clearly seen. This is a particularly obvious example and better techniques as the century progressed greatly reduced the excess pressure, so it’s unlikely to be this clear.

womans_weekly_1911nov4_110

Facsimile of first Woman’s Weekly

The first issues of both Country Life and Women’s Weekly were letterpress, so should show some signs of the impression of the type on the pages. Modern copies using offset lithography will be perfectly smooth.

 

Also, the real issues are unlikely to be in good condition. Women’s Weekly was printed on newsprint, which will have turned brown and brittle because of the acid in the woodpulp paper. The facsimiles are printed on brown paper, but the colouring is very even, which will not be the case with the real thing, because these usually brown from the outer edges in.

Country Life is tricker in this regard because it was printed on good paper, but it will have picked up dirt. Finally, the staples will have discoloured the paper on the centre pages and will probably have rusted, particularly on Women’s Weekly.

So, if you’re selling one of these, be careful in your description. If you’re buying, ask about the provenance. If in doubt, assume it’s a repro.

Chubb banks vaults in Chambers’s Magazine

June 10, 2020

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

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

 

Field & Tuer’s types of beauty

June 7, 2020

 

Field & Tuer advert for their typefaces of beauty and Stickphast paste

This page advert for Field & Tuer, art printers and publishers, is from the first issue of Merry England in 1883.

Andrew Tuer and Abraham Field founded the printing firm of Field & Tuer in the early 1860s and went on to establish a publishing arm, the Leadenhall Press, named after their  offices in Leadenhall Street in the City of London.

Stickphast, a vegetable paste and a ‘cleanly substitute for gum’, was a profitable sideline.

Merry England, was a monthly magazine that lasted two years from 1883, according to the British Library. It was based in Essex Street, which runs down to the Thames river at 2 Temple Place from The Strand at the west end of Fleet Street. Halfway down the street is the Edgar Wallace pub (pre-coronavirus archived page).

Arthur Rackham’s magazine masthead

May 30, 2020

ladies-field-magazine-masthead-1898-by-arthur-rackham-signature

The best publishers stay that way by using the best suppliers, from writers to illustrators to paper merchants. And front page titles, mastheads as they are now known, are a case in point. I was struck by this one, which is from the first issue of The Ladies’ Field from 1898.

The magazine was a spin-off from Country Life, which had been launched the previous year by Edward Hudson, who owned the printers Hudson & Kearns, and George Newnes, publisher of Tit-Bits and The Strand. As was common at the time, the cover was a protective ‘wrapper’ dominated by advertising.

ladies-field-magazine-1898-march-19-first-issue

And a close inspection shows that the masthead artwork was by no less than Arthur Rackham, renowned as one of the best illustrators of the era for his work on books such as Peter Pan and Grimms Fairy Tales.

 

 

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

 

 

 


 

The printing revolution in India

April 13, 2017

early printing in India explored

Anindita Ghosh explores the ‘Renaissance’ that came about through the medium of print in India

BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting the first in a series celebrating India’s independence in 1947 with a programme about the effect of the first wooden printing press being brought to Kalkota by the British in 1799.

In Printing a Nation, Anindita Ghosh from the University of Manchester argues that print was far more important than the railways in shaping the Indian nation. The setting up of the first presses by missionaries led to a search for a putative ‘Indian’ identity – the Bengal Renaissance – that was shaped through the exchange of ideas via printed texts.

This was particularly because of the sea of Indian-run presses, printing in local languages, that furthered ‘a cacophonous print revolution’. By the end of the nineteenth century, ‘more titles were produced in India than in France during the Age of Enlightenment’.

 

This day in magazines: Woman’s Realm launch

February 22, 2017
The first issue of Woman's Realm dated 22 February 1958

The first issue of Woman’s Realm dated 22 February 1958

Woman’s Realm was launched as a mass-market women’s weekly magazine on 22 February 1958 to take sales pressure off Woman – which was selling three million copies an issue – and use printing capacity at a plant in Watford, Herts, owned by Odhams, its publishers.

Woman’s Weekly was an updated version of the well-tried formula of fiction plus domestic tips and information. By 1960, the latter dominated. It added a medical page, personal problems, fashion and regular spots for children. The Odhams publicity machine took sales to over a million. Clarity of hints on domestic matters in Woman’s Weekly, particularly cookery, kept those readers.

There had been intense rivalry since the 1930s between Odhams with Woman, George Newnes with Woman’s Own and Amalgamated with Woman’s Weekly (the oldest of the women’s weekly magazine trio, dating back to 1911). There was also a printing rivalry with both Woman and Woman’s Own being printed in Watford, at Odhams – the Art Deco building is still a print works today – and Sun Engraving. All that is left of the Sun plant, the biggest printing works in Europe in the 1930s producing a huge range from Picture Post to Vogue, is the clock building that stood at the factory entrance, some road names and a Sun bar in a hotel built on the site.

In spring 2001, Woman’s Realm magazine folded after 43 years and was merged with sister title Woman’s Weekly. Press reports quoted editor Mary Frances saying it could not get away from its old-fashioned image and an ‘association with knitting patterns’. Most sales for mass-market magazines had been falling since 1960 but Woman’s Realm had seen a sharp drop in 2000, down 15% year-on-year to 152,053. It was selling 500,000 copies a week in 1989.

Woman’s Weekly has proved its staying power over more than a century, having overtaken its more lavishly designed rivals to register an ABC figure of 276,208, with no freebies, against Woman (208,145) and Woman’s Own (185,172).

Contraction in magazine publishing had set in during the 1950s after the launch of commercial television and later Sunday newspaper supplements. Odhams, Newnes and Amalgamated all merged to form IPC – which then controlled the bulk of British magazine sales – in the 1960s. In 2001, the group ended up in the hands of the US media group Time Inc. Turmoil in the US owners has resulted in cost-cutting and turmoil for the UK offshoot since 2018 and a massive drop in value for the company.

Addendum (April, 2019; February 2020)

With magazine sales in gradual decline, IPC was bought and sold several times:

  • 1998: Reed Elsevier sells IPC  for £860 to Cinven, a venture capital group.
  • 2001: Cinven sells IPC for £1.15 billion to AOL Time Warner. The US publishing giant ran down its British arm, closing or selling many magazines – including Woman’s Realm (after a half-hearted attempt to relaunch it as Your Life under editor Mary Frances). In 2015, it also sold IPC’s Blue Fin office building in London for £415m, moving half of the magazines to an industrial estate in Farnborough.
  • 2018: after Time Inc (what was left of AOL Time Warner) was itself bought by Meredith, another US group, the remains of IPC were sold to private equity company Epiris for a paltry £130m. It changed the name to TI Media.
  • September 2018: TI sells its comics division to Oxford-based 2000 AD and games publisher Rebellion Developments.
  • June 2019: TI sells NME and Uncut to BandLab Technologies, a music specialist group established in 2016 and based in Singapore.
  • September 2019: TI closes the print edition of Marie Claire, a title launched in 1988 as the ‘thinking woman’s magazine’ with serious features, fashion and beauty.
  • In October 2019, Epiris announced it was selling TI Media‘s 41 brands to Future for £140 million. The new owner said it would own 220 global media brands (nobody just publishes magazines any more). Listed as part of the ‘compelling strategic and financial rationale’ for the deal was the entry into ‘three new specialist verticals’, one of these being Women’s Interest with Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own, Woman and Chat. Another reason was that TI Media was historically UK-focused whereas Future had a global operating model.

The official sales figures of the three women’s weeklies at the end of 2018 and 2019 were:

  • Woman’s Weekly: 236,429 (227,505)
  • Woman: 133,103 (124,580)
  • Woman’s Own: 124,187 (113,963)

Information about magazines


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


On this day in magazines: Grazia goes with Kate Moss in 2005

February 21, 2017

 

First issue cover of Grazia magazine, the weekly fashion glossy. The cover feature for the 2005 February 21, issue was Kate Moss saying she will never marry

First issue cover of Grazia magazine, the weekly fashion glossy. The cover feature for the issue is Kate Moss saying she will never marry

Emap set out to change the face of glossy fashion magazines with Grazia, a weekly glossy, on 21st February 2005. The idea of having the production values of the big fashion glossies on a woman’s weekly is not original, having been tried, in vain, by Home Journal in the 1930s, Riva in 1988 and Real in 2001.

Kate Moss is the cover model, with a newsy story about her views on marriage to provide the topicality – and the celebrity interest – a weekly needs today. Take a look at the Evening Standard, one of London’s free papers, these days and you’ll see there’s barely a story without a celebrity angle.

Inside, Grazia is printed gravure, which gives a silky feel to the matt paper pages, with lots of fluorescent yellow ink and black.

Grazia's contents page shows its signature colour, yellow

Grazia’s contents page shows its signature colour, yellow, with a Tod’s advert opposite

A large format and gravure is the formula that works for Grazia, now published by German-owned Bauer, attracting fashion advertising and selling an average of 117,597 copies of its 50 issues a year, at a cover price of £2 (89.8% purchased).

Grazia‘s success has helped gravure printing become more popular against offset litho, with Cosmopolitan switching over last year when its adopted its ‘midi’ format, and stopped printing at two sizes, handbag and A4. Condé Nast rival Glamour – which popularised the monthly handbag format when it launched – adopted a midi format (276 by 203mm) with its February 2017 issue, and has been printed gravure at Prinovis in Nuremberg, Germany, since 2004. Glamour sells 256,466 copies a month (91.4% purchased; now £1 on the news-stands, against £2 last year); and Cosmo 400,547 (77.7% purchased; £1 on the news-stands).

Bauer has a Grazia data page and Grazia media pack. See Grazia’s ABC sales certificate.


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

 

 


This month in magazines: Oz in 1967

February 17, 2017
The first issue of underground magazine Oz in February 1967

The first issue of underground magazine Oz in February 1967

Oz was an underground magazine launched in London in February 1967 that became a leading part of Britain’s counterculture. Notice the word ‘London’ at the top left of the Oz title above. It’s there because Oz was originally an Australian magazine, founded by Richard Neville, Martin Sharp and Richard Walsh. They were prosecuted in Australia and Neville and Sharp came to London, where they launched another version of the magazine with Jim Anderson.

It was not the only magazine of its type – International Times, Ink and Friends were also influential – but Oz gained mainstream notoriety for the obscenity trial that followed the publication of the Oz School Kids issue (number 28).

The Oz Schoolkids issue

The Oz Schoolkids issue

The three editors (Sharp had left and been replaced by Felix Dennis) selected a group of youngsters aged between 14 and 18 to edit issue 28. The magazine’s offices were raided by the Obscene Publications Squad, the issue was seized and the editors were charged with conspiring to ‘debauch and corrupt the morals of young children’ because of some of the cartoons and discussion of sexual freedom and drug use.

Protest issue at Oz obscenity trial

Protest issue at Oz obscenity trial

For Felix Dennis, the Oz trial was the ‘finest hour’ for John Mortimer, their defence lawyer and later author of the Rumpole of the Bailey TV series and books. Although they were found guilty under the Obscene Publications Act, the verdict was overturned on appeal.

Like Private Eye, Oz might have looked crude, but it was an innovative user of the latest production techniques such as lithographic colour printing. It produced some amazing imagery by people such as Peter Brooke – now the leading political cartoonist on The Times – and Sharp’s iconic imagine of Bob Dylan, the Tambourine Man.

Another Australian who worked on Oz, in Sydney and London, was Marsha Rowe, and Germaine Greer wrote for it, too. Greer wrote The Female Eunuch in 1970 (and was gardening correspondent of Private Eye with the byline Rose Blight!) and Rowe was a co-founder of Spare Rib in 1972. She condemned a plan by Charlotte Raven to relaunch Spare Rib in 2014. The archive of Spare Rib can be found through the British Library’s website.

Felix Dennis went on to found Dennis Publishing, which launched Maxim and The Week. Since Dennis’s death, the profits from the company have been put to creating a massive forest. As well as the people behind Oz becoming mainstream, so have many of the ideas it, and the other undergrounds titles, argued for.  Oz is also one of the most collectable magazines.

The last issue of Oz - November 1973

The last issue of Oz

The University of Woollongong holds an online archive of the Australian issues of Oz, which was first published in Sydney on April Fool’s Day 1963 and continued until December 1969.This was set up with Neville’s co-operation after he returned to Australia and became a writer.

Woollongong also has all the London editions of Oz, from February 1967 to November 1973. The last issue cover carries a photo of the Oz staff naked overlaid on a background of disgraced US president Richard Nixon.

 


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

 

 

 


This month in magazines: Vogue’s 1977 green jelly

February 9, 2017
Vogue's February 1977 green jelly cover was by Terry Jones

Vogue’s February 1977 green jelly cover was by Terry Jones

I always get something out of interviews with Terry Jones because he always wants to spill the beans about something. The details make life at Vogue come alive behind the oh-so-made-up corporate face of Condé Nast, with stories of cover transparencies being lost in bins, rows with all the ‘suits’ who want to push in and change things, and his attempt to get a nipple onto his last cover as art director.

I wrote a piece last year for the sold-out last issue of Gym Class about cover design rules, and Jones epitomises the final rule – break them all!:

For every rule, there’s a cover that broke it yet was a tearaway success. Black for the cover didn’t work for Talk in the US – yet it was the signature colour for Willy Fleckhaus on Twen. He produced a classic, but who’s done it since? … One day the rules here will be built into InDesign and Photoshop. For now, and probably even then, it’s up to you to test the rules, make mistakes and learn what works for your magazine.

Jones – who was made an MBE in the 2017 honours list for services to fashion and popular culture – founded the punkish, dot-matrixy i-D magazine after he left Vogue, with later help from Tony Elliott to turn it into a  mainstream title.

Jones has identified his favourite Vogue covers in interviews with Ludovic Hunter-Tilney (FT, ‘Happy birthday i-D magazine’, 19 November 2010) and for i-D/Vice. Among his three favourites is the green jelly cover from February 1977 shot by Willie Christie:

The image was originally for an inside editorial that Grace [Coddington, fashion editor, who was previously a model] and I convinced Beatrix [Miller, then editor] to run with. We got approval from Bernie Lazer, the managing director at British Vogue, who had to defend the decision when Daniel Salem, the European company director, demanded to have it stopped on press.

Vogue itself described the issue so:

The cover is entitled ‘first taste of spring’ and features ‘Rowntree’s jelly… full of gelatine, a valuable source of protein and good for strengthening nails.’ Green is the colour of the fashion moment inside, modelled by Jerry Hall, while Maria Schiaparelli Berenson’s wedding to James H Randal is featured, wth Anjelica Huston, Jack Nicholson, Liza Minelli, Halston and Andy Warhol all there to see it. ‘If there was ever such a thing as a groovy wedding, that was it,’ said Nicholson.

So un-Vogue: the full-length January 1974 cover shot by David Bailey for Terry Jones

So un-Vogue: January 1974 cover shot by David Bailey for Terry Jones

Jones was given space to experiment on covers, but he was also aware that ‘there were rules you were meant to abide by’.

Another cover he’s amazed that he and Coddington managed to ‘smuggle’ through was a full-length portrait by David Bailey of Anjelica Huston and Manolo Blahnik drinking champagne on a beach at sunset (Jan 1974).

As he says, ‘It was so un-Vogue. I don’t think Vogue have done a full-length since.’ Sometimes, it’s by breaking the rules that you set them.

 

So grainy: Vogue 1974 cover of Bianca Jagger blown up from a 35mm transparency

So grainy: Vogue 1974 cover of Bianca Jagger blown up from 35mm

The third cover he rejoices in is ‘the accidental cover’ of Bianca Jagger photographed by Eric Boman (March 1974). Boman took a 35mm shot of Jagger at the Paris Opera that Jones liked, but the model was very small in the photo.

So Jones had a 10×8 transparency made up that was cropped to the head and then blown up to the cover area. This blow-up made the image very grainy, a feature that Jones wanted but that would have been regarded as unusable by the normal production standards at Condé Nast.

‘The print production manager still complained,’ said Jones, ‘but it remains one of my favourite covers alongside the the green jelly cover from February 1977.’

 


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