I spoke to James Hyman last year who runs the Hyman Archive and I send people there when they start thinking they have a problem storing their magazine collection. This is just a great picture (and links to a video from his website):
Hyman has 50,000 magazines. My collection is trivial compared with this, but then I do say I spend my time trying not to collect magazines. I look for evidence of change and watersheds in the industry. However, even if I were to have just the first, last and one other copy of every one of the 7,000 titles published in Britain today, that would be 21,000 magazines! And in that context, even Hyman’s archive is just a toe in the water.
Take the monthly fashion glossy Vogue, just the British edition, first published in 1916.
That’s 100 years of a monthly. So, you think, 100 x 12 magazines = 1200. At 25 in a box, that’s 48 boxes. Manageable. But then you discover that Vogue came out pretty much twice a month into the 1970s (notice the dateline on the one above – late May 1918). So it turns out you need 80 boxes, each with a footprint larger than A4. Have you ever tried moving a box of 25 Vogues? Believe me, you won’t want to do it very often.
And that’s before you discover the spin-offs, such as Vogue Knitting and Vogue Beauty (which were merged into the main magazine because of paper rationing during the wars). Surely you will be tempted by a few French, Italian, US and Japanese issues? (Don’t be – there are 125 different editions; I think one of the Indian issues was the biggest, the thickness of a telephone directory.) But you’d have to let in the classy 1960s Men in Vogue (luckily it was only two or four times a year for five years). Then what about Men’s Vogue (again, didn’t last long)? The dress patterns? Media packs? Band-on supplements? Cover gifts? – the tacky flip-flops, beach bags and paperbacks really mess up the 25 in a box plan.
Before you know it, the collector in you has amassed 5,000 magazines, is still only halfway to satisfying that acquisitive urge – and that is just one title.
So, before you get into too much deep paper, do a bit of planning. Limit your storage space, and, once it’s near full, adopt a one-in, one-out strategy. Don’t use wine boxes because a full wine box will be too heavy to lift 10 years from now; also, the weight will flatten the spines of perfect-bound magazines such as Vogue. Keep them downstairs. But do use sturdy boxes so they don’t fall apart, offer some protection when dropped (I once had a wall of shelves full of magazines collapse on me at college) and can be sealed to keep out spiders, insects and mice.
If you collect more than one magazine, how are you going to arrange them? By date? By title? By sector? Depends on why you want them and plan to use them. Be careful of individual storage bag sizes if you plan to store them that way – but watch the pages don’t catch on the bag’s sticky sealing strips as they come in and out. Also, the bags slide off each other very easily, so the magazines can’t be just piled up. Do store them well though, because the condition is so important when you come to sell them.
Finally, you’ll want to catalogue them. I have 3 essential lists, all 2.5Mb-2.9Mb wordprocessor files with basic facts such as title, date, price, publisher and editor, along with notes about writers, designers, illustrators, unusual features, etc. And if you want to trade, don’t forget sources and prices. My files aren’t online (total lack of planning), but the saintly Phil Stephensen-Payne and his Philsp website are an absolute boon for research into the contents of so many magazines.
You’ll find some more (hopefully useful) comments on my Magazine Collecting page.
In the meantime, I find myself asking myself: why haven’t I taken my own advice? Happy collecting.