Sunday, December 28, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Since this is a magazine collector's blog, we should talk about those. Probably the most commom and frustrating reproductions I've encountered over the years are the first issues of TIME and Newsweek. They are very, very often on eBay represented by the seller as authentic, usually because the seller himself doesn't know what he or she is selling.
TIME is a little tougher since it was printed in black and white. The paper of the originals is thinner than most repros. The easiest way in to look at the bottom of the back cover. Repor's say nothing or "printed in U. S. A.". The originals say "Williams Printing Company New York". A true pristine first issue of TIME is quite rare and is worth upwars of five hundred dollars. I recently got one that had been removed from a bound volume (without the staples) for a little over a hundred.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Two most important and widely circulated magazines in 1789 were the Columbian Magazine and Matthew Carey's American Museum. My copy of Columbian is in the very rare original wrappers. I obtained is from a fine Rhode Island antiquarian paper dealer, M & S Books, about twenty years ago for $5000. It seemed like a lot then but its rarity made it an imperative for my collection. As I've said, buy the best and you'll never go wrong and this is a great example. The American Museum issue is from a bound volume but, as all eigteenth century magazines, is quite difficult to come across.
The fourth Constitition issue is from Isaiah Thomas' Worcester Magazine. It would have been instead in Thomas' newspaper The Massachusetts Spy, but he suspended publishing it in favor of a magazine format to avoid the tax on the delivery of newspapers at the time. Apparantly, the one who laid out the magazine had some trouble fitting it in as can be seen by the reduced type size on the back page!
The Bill of Rights was never printed in a magazine at the time it was ratified. There are two collected newspaper appearances (in Gazette of the United States). An earlier draft of the Bill did appear in American Museum. When I found it in a bound volume I went back and found that I indeed had previously bought the issue in the original wrappers. A few thousand dollars of serendipity never hurts.
All of these magazines are quite expensive and I haven't seen one on the market for many years. With the possible exception of the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts (founded by Isaiah Thomas and the greatest repository in the world of pre-centennial American paper) you won't find them in one place anywhere!
Since we're on the subject of the Constitution, here's another gem. It's the earliest periodical in my collection and mega-rare. John Peter Zenger had quite a lot to do with establishing freedom of the press in America. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/Ftrials/zenger/zenger.html
Here is the second issue of his New York Weekly Journal, containing his first essay on the importance of the freedom of the press- a true milestone of American journalism. For me, it simply doesn't get better than this one.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
From the standpoint of illustration, the earliest image of Santa I've found comes from the first issue of the 1841 Dollar Magazine. As you can see, the illustrator had undoubtedly read the poem. (though he got the holiday mixed up!)
No doubt Nast was a great and extremely important illustrator and political cartoonist, nor am I advocating that he plaigarized the image. Nast was, indeed, the father of political cartooning and is responsible for the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant (which also first appeared in Harper's Weekly) among many other iconic images.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Steven Lomazow, M.D.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The paragraph below comes direcrly from the PBS "American Experience" website. The importance and impact of this wonderful anarchist magazine is self-evident- I obtained this issue a few years ago from a book scout who knew of my interest in rare magazine. I have never seen another copy of the first issue (apparantly nor had PBS). A publishing milestone of a great woman unafraid to back down from her principles.
The first issue of Mother Earth, with a print run of 3000 copies, hit newsstands in March 1906. For a dime, readers got a showcase of anarchist and radical writings on current events, as well as poetry and fiction. Editor Emma Goldman kept the monthly in circulation until August 1917, despite conflicts with the U.S. Postal Service and law enforcement authorities who found its content "treasonable." Goldman's circle of friends and associates -- especially Alexander Berkman, a professional typesetter -- helped shape each issue at meetings in Goldman's apartment. "My room was the living-room, dining room, and Mother Earth office, all in one," she said. By 1918, in a repressive wartime environment federal authorities had seized lists naming over 8,000 subscribers to Mother Earth, targeting them for investigation.
I've added a few other images of "radical" magazines of that era from my collection- The Masses issue is one of three I own that was banned by the Post Office for its radical content. The Liberator was a monthly magazine established by Max Eastman and his sister Crystal Eastman in 1918 to continue the work of Masses, after it was shut down by the wartime mailing regulations of the american government. It combined astute radical political coverage of events of the day, fine art, poetry, and some of the best left-wing political cartoons in the history of American journalism. Take a look at the list of contributors to Comrade. You'll find an interesting "radical" there, probably best remembered for his adventure story about a dog of the frozen north (which, incidentally,first appeared as a serialization in a decididly unradical magazine, The Saturday Evening Post in 1903).
Other excellent examples of how magazines reflected the cutting edge and controversies of the culture of their time and the joy of magazine collecting.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The young writers engaged in mutual flattery. They also discussed such topics as future wars and what Doyle later called ''the cynical maxim that the good fortune of our friends made us discontented.'' By the end of the meal Stoddart had accomplished what he had traveled all the way from Philadelphia for: commitments from Doyle and Wilde that each would write a short novel for Lippincott's. As a result, Wilde produced ''The Picture of Dorian Gray'' and Doyle the second appearance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, in ''The Sign of Four.''
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I guess this is a pretty good segue into an important collecting philosophy. If you buy the best and rarest you will rarely go wrong (look at the price of the famous one cent British Guiana stamp or the Honus Wagner T206 card, for example). The problem with many unsophisticated collectors is that they begin by hoarding everything in sight and before too long are inundated with mountains of inexpensive material that they eventually wish they hadn't bought in the first place that rarely is worth as much as they paid for it. Every collector will tell you regretful stories of "the one that got away".
Principle number two. Collect because you enjoy it. Never buy things with resale in mind. Good and truly rare items will always appreciate. When a dealer tells you a piece is "a good investment" run in the other direction. Caveat emptor!
Three. Do your homework. In collecting, knowledge is power. Scour any reference you can find in your chosen field. Dealers often know less about what they are selling than an astute collector. An EBay addict as I am, a day doesn't go by that I don't see some item that is either misrepresented or underdescribed.
Now go out and have some fun. Isn't that what collecting is all about? Thanks for reading!