Posts Tagged ‘men’s magazines’

Kitchener – this is not a poster!

May 29, 2014
Daily Mail's Event magazine with its Ralph Steadman article

Daily Mail’s Event magazine with its Ralph Steadman article that mistakenly identifies a poster as the original London Opinion cover

Whatever the faults of the Daily Mail, it exhibits a sense of history in the logo it carries on its ‘answers to readers questions’ page. The logo is based on the original title for the magazine that founded the Daily Mail dynasty back in 1888: Answers to Correspondents on Every Subject under the Sun, founded by Alfred Harmsworth.

Logo from the present-day Daily Mail - based on a magazine title from the 1880s

Logo from the present-day Daily Mail – based on a magazine title from the 1880s

As Answers, this became a massive success, building on the pioneering George Newnes’s Tit-Bits, for which Harmsworth had worked, to help establish British magazines as the first truly mass media. Answers claimed to answer questions sent in by readers directly by post, and those of general interest were published. Answers was a such a success that it was the foundation of a magazine and newspaper empire, the likes of which the world had never seen. Alfred and his brother Harold went on to found both the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, then buy up both the Sunday Observer and the Times and become lords Northcliffe and Rothermere. Alongside the newspapers, the Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press (later Fleetway) became the largest periodical publishing empire in the world. Viscount Rothermere rules the roost at today’s descendant, the Daily Mail & General Trust.

London Opinion 1914

The original magazine cover – this is NOT a poster!

So it’s no surprise that the paper is running a series to mark World War One, including an 80-page souvenir issue of its listings section, Event. Pride of place in the May 4 edition was a feature by the brilliant Ralph Steadman, whose father fought in that war and was injured three times. Steadman interprets Alfred Leete’s famous Kitchener image and the article make reference  to its original appearance as a London Opinion cover – but then shows one of the early London Opinion posters in the centre of the spread rather than the magazine cover!

The error adds to half a century of people getting it wrong: including the Imperial War Museum (which was given the artwork by Leete); Picture Post using the artwork in 1940 and again referring to it only as a poster; and biographers such as  Philip Magnus adding to the confusion. Even the British Library captions the cover as a poster in an article by the historian Professor David Welch. To cap it all, the Royal Mint makes no reference to Leete even as it copies his artwork for a commemorative coin!

The full story of Alfred Leete’s cover illustration for London Opinion is told in the book, The Amazing Kitchener Poster.

Magazines for collectors at London book fair

May 27, 2014

I was at the London International Antiquarian Book Fair in Olympia on Saturday and saw magazines for sale on several stands – most prominently Biblioctopus offering a set of the 75 Holmes stories in the Strand for £55,000.

But even £55,000 is peanuts if you want to get your hands on the two Holmes stories, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four, that predate the Strand. Scarlet was published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887. This is one of the rarest magazines in the world and probably the most expensive. (The wife of the publisher Samuel Beeton, was the Mrs Beeton of cookery book fame.) In 2007, a repaired but complete copy of the Beeton annual sold for $156,000 at Sotheby’s in New York.

The Sign appeared in Lippincott’s Monthly, a US magazine, in the February 1890 edition, which was published in both London and Philadelphia. (Lippincott’s also published Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray in its July 1890 issue.)

Neither story was particularly successful and it took George Newnes and his groundbreaking Strand to make a household name of Sherlock Holmes and his creator Arthur Conan Doyle with the short stories, starting with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in its launch issue of 1891.

My visit to the antiquarian book fair came about because of the boom Magforum is seeing in the level of interest in collecting magazines. In the past year, Magforum’s collecting page has established itself as the most popular of the site’s 200 pages, pulling in 1700 visits last month. It is the top Google result to searches such as “collecting magazines”. Two years ago, the page was not even in the top 10. So, I’m seeing big growth in interest in collecting magazines.

Ebay has driven the boom and both buyers and sellers have moved upmarket – as have the prices. Ten years ago, copies of Town could be had for £5; five years ago it was £10; now, the starting price is a tenner and many fetch £100. It’s a similar story with all the classic titles – and fans of the everything from the latest celeb such as Benedict Cumberbatch to the Man from Uncle prepared to pay £133 for a cheap 1966 magazine are continually pushing up the prices of all sorts of titles.

Another book fair item that caught my eye was a nice copy of Brassai’s first book, Paris de Nuit. Sixty of his images were printed in stunning gravure in this 1933 work over 74 pages. The copy was described as: ‘Cover slightly rubbed at corners. Spiral binding intact binding.’ The price was £1650. The Belgian bookseller Deslegte was also offering a ‘very fine copy’ of Robert Doisneau and Arthur Gregor’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 children’s book from 1955 for £525.

London’s Harrington Books had more copies of the Strand on offer, such as a set of the first 44 bound volumes for £2,750. However, it’s complete unbound copies that fetch the best prices, such as an issue carrying Conan Doyle’s The Land of Mist for £750.

IPC set to close Nuts

March 31, 2014
First sold issue of Nuts

First sold issue of Nuts

IPC Media has announced a 30-day consultation with staff about the potential closure of Nuts and IPC Inspire managing director Paul Williams said:

After 10 years at the top of its market, we have taken the difficult decision to propose the closure of Nuts and exit the young men’s lifestyle sector. IPC will provide impacted staff with all the support they need during the consultation process.

There are several factors behind the decision. First, falling sales. In print, it now shifts an average of just 53,000 copies and digital figures are a pitiful 8,000 an issue.

Second, Nuts and its rivals have been under attack from women’s lobby groups for the past year as a form of harassment. Time-Life, the strait-laced US owners, undoubtedly hate this – Maxim founder Felix Dennis has pointed out that a magazine like Nuts could never have been launched in the US:

‘anyone who does [try to] will be utterly crucified because there isn’t anywhere to sell it. There’s not a supermarket in America that would touch [Emap’s and IPC’s weeklies] Zoo or Nuts.’

Also, Nuts has been looking exposed since IPC sold lad’s mags pioneer Loaded four years ago

First issue of Zoo from Emap

First issue of Zoo from Emap

Yet, when Nuts and Zoo launched in 2004 it was one of the great publishing races of the decade – IPC gave away a million free copies through WHSmith. At stake was leadership of a weekly men’s market alongside women’s in a way that gave hopes of turning the publishing clock back to the 1950s. IPC beat Emap (since swallowed up by Bauer) by a week and Nuts has held the sales lead since.

The first ABC sales figures were impressive – almost 300,000 for Nuts and 200,000+ for Zoo. The weeklies took a chunk out of the monthlies – FHM (Emap), Loaded (IPC) and Maxim (Dennis) – with Loaded losing almost a third of its sales in 2005-6. Since then, all the headlines have been about plummeting, for monthlies and weeklies. Maxim was the first to go in 2009.

IPC reckoned it spent £8m launching Nuts – that’s the best part of £1m a year over its decade on the news-stands. The only winner has been websites (and not the ones owned by the publishers).

So, what will Bauer, publisher of rival Zoo, do now? Zoo’s sales are even more dire – 29,521.

IPC profile

Bauer/Emap profile

Men’s weeklies

Men’s monthlies

Mayfair first issue fetches £434 on eBay

November 22, 2012
Mayfair men's magazine launch issue cover with Raquel Welch

Mayfair men’s magazine launch issue cover from 1966 with Raquel Welch

A copy of the 1966 first issue of Mayfair has just sold on eBay for £434 with 43 bidders. The men’s magazine’s cover has a single cover line below a picture of Raquel Welsh wearing a pink leotard inside a male symbol (derived from the shield and spear of the Roman god Mars): ‘The incredible revolution of sex in the sixties.’ It was the year she appeared clad in an animal skin bikini in One Million Years BC.

Mayfair profile

Buying and selling magazines on eBay

Razzle dazzle on eBay

December 4, 2009

Razzle men’s magazine from January 1953

A copy of Razzle is going on eBay with bidding at £21! What is going on? What can possibly be in issue 49 (probably from 1953)?


The George Davies centre spread pin-up must have been Razzle’s main selling point

Copies of Razzle, a pocket men’s monthly, typically sell for less than £5 including postage. Its big feature was a ‘dream girl’ colour illustrated pin-up by George Davies on the centre spread, the rest was timeless, humorous articles and cartoons featuring leggy girls.

Razzle‘s big claim to fame today is that it inspired the flipside of ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll’ by Ian Dury and the Blockheads.  The lyrics to ‘Razzle in my Pocket’ (1977) are about trying to steal a copy of Razzle from a newsagent (Dury was born in 1942):

‘In my yellow jersey, I went out on the nick.
South Street Romford, shopping arcade
Got a Razzle magazine, I never paid…’

Could it be this is the issue he was trying to nick (he’d have been about 11)?

Like many of the big-selling men’s magazines of the 1950s, the title lives on as a top-shelf magazine published by Paul Raymond (since 1983).

Katy Manning, a Dalek and a cup of cold sick

July 27, 2009
Naked Katy Manning in boots with Dalek from Dr Who

Naked Katy Manning in boots with a Dalek from Dr Who

What makes an old magazine worth money? This 1977 issue of Australian magazine Girl Illustrated, which has just sold for £120 on Ebay, combines a naked minor celebrity – Dr Who girl Katy Manning wearing a pair of knee-high boots – a Dalek and a scandal at the BBC! The cover flash reads: Exclusive! TV’s Katy strips. I’ll let the seller describe it:

Girl Illustrated (vol 8 no 10), featuring Dr Who girl Katy Manning.  This copy is in very good condition, slight crease on front and back cover, all internal pages practically mint, crisp, unmarked. The pictures of Katy include 6 poses, including a centrefold. Katy Manning was persuaded by the Australian men’s magazine to do the feature, much to the shock and anger of BBC management at the time. They had managed to get hold of a Dalek and the darling young Katy in the buff (and in one shot with only a pair of knee length boots) made a perfect match for the most dangerous machine/creature in the universe. She commented that news of her photo shoot went down ‘like a cup of cold sick’ with the BBC Managers. Needless to say, she never worked on BBC children’s programmes again…

Manning played the companion, Jo Grant, to Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in the 1970s.

The BBC’s Radio Times magazine did do an interview with Katy Manning in 2012 and it turns out that Kylie Minogue had also wrapped herself round a Dalek.

A-Z of men’s magazines

WATCH OUT for my book on British Magazine Design from the V&A

Tip for the chaps from Men Only

June 6, 2009


A tip from cartoonist Wm Scully on how to attract the girls – read the Financial Times! Men Only was a pocket magazine and probably the best-selling men’s lifestyle monthly in 1955.

History of Men Only

Maxim closes – but don’t mourn the gonners

April 4, 2009
Issue 4 of Maxim under editor Gill Hudson carried a CD-Rom on the cover

Issue 4 of Maxim under editor Gill Hudson carried a CD-Rom on the cover

Maxim has followed Arena into the great paper recycling bin in the sky. Well, it’s no surprise; the title had been dead on its feet for a couple of years. What is surprising is the health and breadth of the men’s lifestyle sector.

Back in 1985 there was nothing. As Brian Braithwaite, a former publishing director of National Magazines, said:

‘I was told quite positively in the mid-70s by the Men Who Must be Obeyed from America that men’s magazines were a dead duck. My attempt to produce more than one edition of Cosmopolitan Man [with Paul Keers, who was later to head the launch of GQ, as editor] in 1978 was quashed by top management to make way for yet another women’s title, Company.’

That was eight years before the debut of  Arena, which sparked today’s lifestyle titles – and James Brown’s reaction to them led to Loaded.

Today, there is FHM, Loaded, GQ, Esquire, Nuts and Zoo for the mainstream sector; Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Bizarre, Stuff and T3 taking a specialist slant;  and a raft of quarterly or biannual niche titles, from the recently launched Buck, to The Chap, Another Man, Blag, Fantastic Man, Man About Town, Notion and Wonderland.

Then, there are the freebies – Shortlist, Sport and (digital only) Monkey.

And, like any sector, men’s lifestyle is littered with bodies – Later, Cut, Deluxe, Eat Soup, Ego, Front, Ice, Mondo, Sky, Untold and Jack, to name a few.

So, don’t mourn the gonners, go out and buy The Chap and learn about Steam Punks; compare your moustache with the lads in Buck; see how many fewer nipples there are in FHM these days. Pip! Pip!

History of men’s magazines

History of Maxim

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

Buck – one for the new, creative, lad

January 29, 2009
Buck first issue

Buck first issue

Buck is a lad’s mag with a difference – a world away from the Loaded/FHM/Nuts/Zoo clones and with an individuality that sets it apart from the likes of GQ/Esquire.

The first issue (December cover date), intrigued me with the blazer badge showing a coat of arms. I live opposite alms houses built by the Worshipful Company of Salters, ‘one of twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London’. The Salters go back to 1394 (these days they’re all chemists) and their arms consists of a knight’s helment with an armoured arm on top holding a salt cellar.

Blazer badge

Blazer badge

Buck‘s model sports a blazer badge with an armoured arm holding a branch topped with a crown (the badge is credited to Polo Ralph Lauren). The magazine, or rather editor Steve Doyle, does have a motto and coat of arms:

Doyle coat of arms

Doyle coat of arms

‘Fortitudine Vincit’ – ‘He conquers through fortitude,’ according to my schoolboy Latin.

Doyle – who has put his own money up to fund the launch – will need all the Fortitudine he can muster. Such titles cannot live by UK sales alone, so getting good overseas distribution will be vital.

Perhaps Len Deighton could back Buck with a few bob.

Men’s magazines A-Z