Archive for the ‘women’s magazines’ Category

Chilprufe and Lilian Hocknell’s babies

October 7, 2015
Chilprufe advert from Queen magazine in 1961Chilprufe advert from Queen magazine in 1961

Chilprufe advert from Queen magazine in 1961

Chilprufe was once one of the biggest British clothing makes – the name derives frim ‘chill-proof’. It favoured illustration for its advertising of babies in its clothes, and the artist of choice in the 1920s and 1930s was Lilian Hocknell (1891-1977).

However, by the 1960s the company had turned to other artists, as this illustration from Queen magazine in 1961 shows. Chilprufe’s sans-serif typeface is still vogue, however. Bonhams sold a set of 12 drawings in 2008 and Hocknell’s work is also held by the V&A.

I don’t know the 1961 illustrator, but it has a more ‘modern’ feel. Would it be more appealing to potential customers though? Compare it with the 1936 advert below and make your own mind up.

By 2012, Chilprufe’s Leicester factory was specialising in lingerie and knitwear but the 90-year-old firm closed that year and the name was bought up by Manchester Hosiery Manufacturing of Hinckley. Goods are still made under the brand and can be found online.

Lillian Hocknell advertising illustration for Chilprufe children’s clothing. From Mother magazine 1936 – note the spelling error

Lillian Hocknell advertising illustration for Chilprufe children’s clothing. From Mother magazine 1936 – note the spelling error

Needlecraft and the craft of the magazine

September 12, 2015


‘Mother Christmas’ cover for Needlewoman magazine from December 1925

‘Mother Christmas’ cover for Needlewoman magazine from December 1925

Needlecraft. Now there’s a topic I know next to nothing about. As children though, we sat around a table every Christmas with a tablecloth that had been decorated with colourful robins and holly by my maternal grandmother. She had been in one of the Dublin orphanages run by nuns where the girls were trained to make and repair linen for the city hotels and later worked as a seamstress for a tailor in Prescot, just outside Liverpool. Her fingers could do magic with a needle.

It was a world of tracing and transfers, often found free in magazines such as Needlewoman. Magazine formats like this were pioneered by Samuel Beeton – husband of cookery’s Mrs Beeton – with the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine from 1852. Beeton’s Book of Needlework was published in 1870 (though Isabella was just a brand name by then, having died five years earlier). The quality of work such magazines encouraged is superb, as I saw when leafing through copies of the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine at the V&A’s National Art Library when researching my forthcoming book on magazine design.

Needlewoman magazine was printed and published by Tillotsons in Mealhouse Lane in Bolton. The company also had an office at 23 Fleet Street in London, where it used an advertising agency, Sells Ltd. The magazine was probably an offshoot of the Bolton News group, certainly the paper was founded by the Tillotsons and based in Mealhouse Lane from 1860.

The illustration for the ‘Mother Christmas’ cover above is reminiscent of the work that would usually be seen on Vogue at the time, but is not credited. One of the projects inside, a fish-shaped bag, seems in contrast to Christmas theme cover, but provides a superb graphic spread with the same-size pattern (one half of the spread is shown here). This was the Art Deco era. How many of these bags were made up I wonder?

Needlewoman fish purse design from 1925

Needlewoman fish purse design from 1925

Needlewoman merged with Needlecraft Practical Journal to become Needlewoman and Needlecraft, which was published into the 1970s. Copies are regularly traded on eBay and at craft fairs. Craftylittlebugger is one of the many people inspired by such magazines, whose contents are finding a new lease of life. Her wartime copy of Needlecraft shows a ‘beautiful bit of bias binding’ that caught her attention. Her issue is just over A5 in size – half the page size of my 1925 issue because of wartime paper rationing – but, as Craftylittlebugger says, it ‘packs quite a punch’.

Magazines from Bolton are rare, but in the 1920s Lancashire was still at the heart of the cotton and spinning industry and there were big advertisers such as Clark’s whose marketing for ‘Anchor’ thread below would have been vital it keeping the magazine profitable. The Anchor thread brand is still going as part of the Coats group, which traces itself back 250 years to the Clark brothers and weavers in Paisley, Scotland. The wealth of Lancashire from the industrial revolution was on display this year at 2 Temple Place in the Cotton to Gold exhibition.

Colour advert for Clark's 'Anchor' thread on the back cover of Needlewoman

Colour advert for Clark’s ‘Anchor’ thread on the back cover of Needlewoman

These crafts have made a huge comeback, and magazine publishers have spotted the trend. Hachette found itself in a ‘crochet part work hell’ a few years ago when it misjudged demand for its Art of Crochet part work. Copies of the Art of Crochet now sell on eBay for up to £5 each and individual patterns for £1. The century-old Woman’s Weekly has produced a Vintage View spin-off carrying past articles and Pretty Nostalgic is now in its fourth year of publication and has built up an industry around itself.

One of the Needlewoman articles carries the quote: ‘The thing of beauty is a joy forever’. How true.

One for the magazine collector

August 15, 2015

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):

James Hyman in his archive - happy as a...?

James Hyman in his archive – happy as a…?

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.

Vogue from 1918 - beware, it's bigger than it looks

Vogue from 1918 – beware, it’s bigger than it looks

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.

Greenslade’s mystery of Woman’s Own solved

July 19, 2015
A cover of woman's Own magazine from 17 December 1932, its first year of publication

A cover of woman’s Own magazine from 17 December 1932, its first year of publication

A friend pointed me in the direction of a Roy Greenslade Guardian blog from 2012 that sets up a mystery as to when Women’s Own was founded by George Newnes – 1932, as both the magazine and Wikipedia state, or 1931, which I state on Magforum. I confess I must be wrong.

The earlier version of Woman's Own, from 13 December 1913, published by WB Horner

The earlier version of Woman’s Own, from 13 December 1913, published by WB Horner

I can confirm the existence of the earlier magazine with the same title, however. The British Library has Woman’s Own published by WB Horner’s from 1913, with the modest strapline ‘The best woman’s paper’. I’ve seen copies dated December 1913 and as late as December 1916. The BL has copies into 1917, when it seems it was ‘incorporated with Horner’ s Penny Stories‘. Its offices were at The Fleetway House, Farringdon, in London, the same address later used by Amalgamated Press, the magazine arm of the Harmsworth brothers publishing empire, which took over Horner’s.

The Bear Alley blog – which takes its name from the passage at the side of Fleetway House – has a history of Horner’s.

Woman’s Own is published to this day by Time Inc UK, alongside Woman. For much of their lives, however, the duo were deadly rivals. Woman’s Own was owned by George Newnes and Odhams launched Woman against it on 5 June 1937. They came together in the 1960s with the formation of IPC. These home-based women’s weeklies were massive sellers in their day, peaking in about 1960 with a combined weekly sale of nigh on 6 million copies a week.


A winning magazine cover?

July 4, 2015
Home Chat, a leading women's popular weekly, from 14 May

Home Chat, a leading women’s popular weekly, from 14 May 1910

How’s this for a front cover? For Woman’s Own or Hello!, perhaps? Home Chat was a leading small format women’s weekly, which, surprisingly with such designs, survived until 1959 when it was merged into Woman’s Weekly.

Victorian advertising – snake oil for hairless magazine readers

July 2, 2015
Koko: Victorian hair advertising from Flashes magazine in 1892

Koko: Victorian hair advertising from Flashes magazine in 1892

Would you like to stop your hair falling out? Make it grow faster? Judging by this magazine advert for Koko, it was a simple ask to ensure ‘magnificent tresses’.

For Edwardian men it was moustashes, for women it was hair that attracted reams of such adverts promising the earth, or at least a straighter nose (another preoccupation for the Victorian consumer).

This advert was in Flashes magazine in 1892. The editor was B. Fairlee, author of The Mystery of a Type-Writer (of which there is no sign in the British Library’s online catalogue).

Lilian Hocknell’s cute kids still have vintage value for women’s magazines

June 21, 2015
Lilian Hocknell artwork revived for Christmas 2014 Vintage View from Woman's Weekly magazine cover

Lilian Hocknell artwork revived for Christmas 2014 Vintage View from Woman’s Weekly magazine cover

Woman’s Weekly has been one of Britain’s most popular magazines for more than a century. The cover here is from a compilation magazine – Vintage View – of its past articles as owner Time UK exploits its archive. Although no signature is visible, it’s clearly by Lilian Hocknell, who was renowned for her illustrations of children in the art deco period leading up to the Second World War. You can even recognise the same cute toddler from this Mother cover of 1936:

Mother magazine cover of child with toys by Lilian Hocknell from November 1936

Mother magazine cover of child with toys by Lilian Hocknell from November 1936

Woman’s Weekly was originally published by Alfred Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press (later rebranded as Fleetway), which was one of the three big groups that formed IPC in the 1960s and is today controlled by the US published Time Inc.

In its late 1950s heyday, Woman’s Weekly sold 1.5m copies a week and was one of IPC’s ‘big three’ women’s weeklies that ruled the roost in that market until the arrival of new niches in the 1980s, such as Best from Germany and the celebrity weeklies such as Hello and Heat. The other members of that vaunted trio are Woman (originally Odhams Press) and Woman’s Own (George Newnes). In 1959, they were massive money spinners, selling in total about 7 million copies a week between them. Then, both Woman (3.2m copies a week) and Woman’s Own (2.4m) outsold Woman’s Weekly (1.5m). Today, all have dropped sales but Woman’s Weekly has overtaken its rivals. The respective totals are 252,000, 220,000 and   307,000.

More genius of colour printing – Vogue cover

June 20, 2015


The 'London Babes' cover from Vogue in December 1993

The ‘London Babes’ cover from Vogue in December 1993

This is a great issue of Vogue, with Danish fashion model Helena Christensen on the cover photographed by Nick Knight (his second Vogue cover, the first being the month before). Inside, is Steven Meisel’s ‘London Babes’ photoshoot styled by Isabella Blow. From a printing point of view, the cover is interesting for several reasons. The Blighty colour cover I discussed last week was printed colour letterpress. That technique produces quite a crude result compared with modern-day offset lithograph printing, which is used for most magazines today, including this 1993 Vogue. Nick Knight is renowned for his digital manipulation of photographs and as a proponent of its ‘extremely exciting’ possibilities.

Detail of Helena Christensen's eye from the cover of Vogue in December 1993

Detail of Helena Christensen’s eye from the cover of Vogue in December 1993

The detail of Helena Christensen’s eye from the Vogue cover demonstrates several things. First, the skin tones are purely made up of magenta dots. Compared with the Blighty cover, the dots are finer – more like 300 lines per inch than the 150 of the 1950s. Click on the images here to see them at a larger size. Notice how much blue there is in and around the eye – this looks to me as if a blue shadow has been added in Photoshop. Similarly with the blue highlights in the eyebrows and hair.

Detail of Helena Christiansen's lips from the Vogue cover

Detail of Helena Christensen’s lips from the Vogue cover

This close focus on Christensen’s lips shows a much higher density of the magenta, a tinge of yellow at the centre of the mouth and then a shadow of cyan, which becomes heavier moving to the right. Below is a a magnified image of the whole face, with the bottom of the G from the title across the forehead. This is printed in solid magenta.

Detail of Helena Christiansen's face from the Vogue cover

Detail of Helena Christiansen’s face from the Vogue cover

The genius of colour printing

June 19, 2015
Blighty pin-up cover for the popular men's weekly by MB Tompkins in 1958 (16 August)

Blighty pin-up cover for the popular men’s weekly by MB Tompkins in 1958 (16 August)

Colour printing has always seemed to me to be a bit of a miracle – seemingly every colour under the sun can be printed from just four colours, cyan (sky blue), magenta (a pinky red) yellow and black. The colours are abbreviated as CMYK – with K being black, the ‘key’ colour. In theory, the black is not necessary because the other three should merge to black, but in practice, the result is a bit washed out, more a murky brown.

In the 1950s, when this cover was printed, the colour painting of the glamorous dancer would have been photographed through a filter and a metal screen to produce a sheet of printing film for each colour. The screen would be a metal screen capable of showing 150 lines to the inch. The film would taped on to the other pieces of film of each colour for the rest of the page and then paired up with its partner page – the back cover in this case – and that assembled film used to make a printing plate for each colour. Each plate would have been wrapped around its cylinder on a four-unit press. When the paper is run through the press, each colour ink in its turn would have been passed from the printing plate on to the paper. The overprinting of the colours builds up the image.

Detail showing dots of printed ink from the lower face of Blighty magazine cover in 1958

Detail showing dots of printed ink from the lower face of Blighty magazine cover in 1958, Click on the picture to see it in more detail.

Look at the magnified detail here and you can see individual dots for each colour. In the bottom left, there are dots of pure cyan. You can see that the dots are in regular lines at an angle of about 10 degrees to the horizontal. In the darker blue areas, you can see black dots among the cyan. The skin tones are mainly magenta with yellow highlights. The red lips are a combination of magenta and yellow. The teeth are simply the white paper. You can make out some of all the colours in the black areas.

Blighty was a popular men’s weekly magazine published by City Magazines at 64 Fleet St, but it was printed 200 miles away by Eric Bemrose in Long Lane, Liverpool. The Long Lane plant closed down in 1991. The illustration was by MB Tompkins, an artist about whom I only know that he produced Blighty covers in 1958, and some pulp book covers.

MB Tompkins signature from Blighty magazine cover in 1958

MB Tompkins signature from Blighty magazine cover in 1958


Harry Linfield – a down-to-earth side of the Star Trek and Doctor Who artist

June 19, 2015
Harry Lindfield drawing for Annabel magazine in 1966

Harry Lindfield drawing for Annabel magazine in 1966

Type the name Harry Lindfield into a search engine and up will come a gang of results pointing to illustrations for Gerry Anderson-based comics such as Joe 90, TV21 and Lady Penelope from City Magazines and Polystyle’s Countdown. For Lindfield drew Star Trek, Doctor Who and others strips from about 1968 in the great heyday of TV-based comics – when some issues were selling in excess of half-a-million copies a week. The illustration above predates that – it’s from a September 1966 issue of DC Thomson’s monthly Annabel. Lindfield had already drawn strips for the Eagle‘s sister paper Swift at Hulton Press.

A colour centre spread of Star Trek by Harry Lindfield from Joe 90 . Click on the image to find a larger version on Beano cartoonist Nigel Parkinson's website

A colour centre spread of Star Trek by Harry Lindfield from Joe 90. Click on the image to see a larger version on Beano artist Nigel Parkinson’s website

The Gerry Anderson website quotes Look-In writer and TV21 script editor Angus Allan on Lindfield:

[Lady Penelope] went into colour, with an artist – a genius – called Harry Lindfield. If ever I had to choose something that I’d done, and was proud of, those strips would be the ones. Harry was brilliant, and it was a pleasure to write for him. And up went the sales. Not to a million, though. Not ever. But 750,000? That was money to Century 21 and City Magazines.

Annabel saw itself as a ‘New young and lively monthly for women’ and was just in its seventh issue. The large page format – almost A3 – could show off the photography and illustration.

Harry Lindfield's Dr Who cover for Countdown comic

A Harry Lindfield Dr Who cover for Countdown comic. Click on the image to see a larger version on comic artist Lew Stringer’s website


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