Saturday, October 31, 2009

An Exceedingly Rare Television Magazine. Local Televisor.

This magazine appeared on ebay last week with a starting bid of $50. Until the last few seconds it stayed under $100 and, at the last moment someone bid over $2000. To both my chagrin and elation, my $2300 snipe was indeed enough to snag it! I doubt I will ever again have an opportunity to obtain another one. While the price hurts a little, the collecting satisfaction is worth it!

This was essentially the last piece of the puzzle for my collection of TV programming guides. Over the years I'd seen a few later issues but never anything close to the first. A collector from Colorado, Bob Reed, had sent me a photostat of the first issue a number of years ago. Reed has an amazing devotion to early TV magazines and I would consider him the leading authority in the subject. Shortly after my win, I received a detailed email from Bob, with documentation of just how rare the magazine is. I also promised him that I would correct an error I had made, in attributing the inception of this magazine to Walter Annenberg. Bob's note to me is worth reprinting in its entirety (with a little copy editing).

"The extreme rarity of the first Local Televiser is beyond question. I will demonstrate by quoting from a couple of sources:

Page 238 of "The Annenbergs" by John Cooney (1982 by Simon & Shuster)
“In Philadelphia, the magazine Annenberg wanted belonged to two brothers, Irvin and Art Borowsky. In 1948, they were in the printing business when they dreamed up the idea of putting up a little TV program guide that could be used as a promotion piece to increase television sales. They received a commitment from local Philco television distributors to pay half the publishing costs as well as provide them with television ownership lists, which were prized, because owners were still such a novelty.

Philadelphia TV Digest November 4-10. 1949. Excerpted from an editorial celebrating magazine’s first anniversary.

“A year ago a lusty little infant now named T. V. Digest was born. TV was a little bewildered at first. He couldn’t understand why everybody thought so much of him right from the beginning .. Especially since he was born at a time when the thing called television hadn’t quite reached general audiences. Before long, induced by the confidence of his parents - your editors - TV’s bewilderment disappeared. Nurtured by an appreciative public, TV put on heft and grew. Yes, there was a bit of normal groping about while TV was still in the dydee stage. First christened the Local Televiser, his name was changed because because it seemed more apropos that he follow the call letters of his world. His appearance changed too. Like any other infant he outgrew his adornment as successive styles and formats were tried on him. Nonetheless, TV kept on growing. When TV was about a week old there were only 80,000 television sets in Philadelphia, the city where he was born. One-week-old TV could be found lying about on only 90 of these sets. But he was working and pleasing . . Giving solid service. TV grew in size too. First 8 pages of material loved by television owners; then 12, and upped again on March 20, 1949 to 16 pages . . . double his original size! TV reached adulthood at the age of six months when his circulation passed the 10,000 figure. As a full fledged, man-sized publication his name was now Mr. T. V. Digest - although his ever-growing list of followers fondly dropped the Mister and call him TV.”

Bottom line: one can easily picture the brothers Borowsky cooling their heels in the waiting room lobby outside of an office, nervously awaiting the call of Philco representatives, all the while clutching a ‘hand made’ first issue prototype to show them. Though by May 1, 1949, publication date of the first one called TV Digest, circulation totaled five figures - - i. e. over ten thousand distributed per week, the proverbial ’number’ six months earlier, (according to this account ) was just two figures: a mere ninety (emphasis added) copies. The total print run of that Vol 1 # 1 in question was probably just 100 copies."

To reiterate from my TV and Radio ebook (downloadable from this site), modern weekly TV programming guides began in 1946 with this magazine:

which evolved into this one:

The first digest sized guide was Television Forecast, later TV Forecast, published in Chicago. Here's the first issue:

Shortly afterwards, Television Guide later TV Guide, published in New York, began with this issue:

This issue is a reproduction, made by Jeff Kadet of TV Guide Specialists of Macomb Illinois He tells me that it was made from the only original copy he has ever seen and that, furthermore, the original issue may have been destroyed. Jeff and Bob have seen more TV programming guide than anyone else so, if there is one, it's a phenomenal rarity (I will post here a standing offer of $2000 to obtain one).

Enter Local Televisor in Philadelphia in November 1948. Here's a later issue and the first of its new title (maintaining the previous numbering) TV Digest (every time I see Paul Whitman can't help but think of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", that Whiteman pioneered and introduced in 1924):
TV Guide, TV Forecast and TV Digest (and all pre-1953 TV programming guides) are so called "pre-national" magazines (according to Bob, who should know, a term coined by Jeff), which were amalgamated into one title by Walter Annenberg in 1953 as national TV Guide, the highest circulation magazine of the twentieth century (today's is, believe it or not, Modern Maturity, the standard bearer of the AARP).

This issue, as all national TV Guides, are readily obtainable. The first one usually brings about $300 on ebay. Pre-national issues are scarce to unobtainable, show up randomly and are priced according to the cover image. As you go back in time to 1946 they get harder to find. Thanks again to Bob Reed for his incredible scholarship.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Magazine Happy Halloween from Enoch Bolles

One of the masters of the highly collected genre of "good girl art" was Enoch Bolles. This New Jerseyan created many memorable images for such titles as Film Fun, Judge, Snappy, Spicy and other "girlie" and humor magazines of the 1920's and thirties. You can see quite a few by simply going to google images using his name.

I bid on this magazine recently and was the underbidder at $118, but wanted to share this wonderful seasonally appropriate image with you.
Trick or treat!


Laurie Powers, on her blog, pointed out that I own another rare Bolles image from Talking Screen, a very rare title (I've only seen this issue). Laurie scooped me with my own image from my e-book so, for completeness, I've added it for all to see.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Confederate and Southern Magazines

It's a rainy Saturday, there's no antique shows or bookfairs to go to, so it's a perfect time for a long blog post. I just spent about an hour photographing some additional images, so here we go.
Since they called it the Confederate States of America and I collect American magazines, they are fair game for this discussion. Of course, when Parrish and Willingham wrote their book on confederate imprints, they left out the magazines, so I had to start from scratch. For my 1995 book, I did a lot of research and put together the only comprehensive list of Confederate periodicals I've ever seen. There's some real beauties here, all of which rate between scarce, rare and impossible to find. I'd give my eye teeth for an issue of Bugle Horn of Liberty, for instance. I've never personally examined one.
Here's the list:

Now here's some great images from my collection:
The first magazine published in any of the states that became the confederacy was South Carolina Weekly Museum, published in Charleston for three volumes in 1797-98. I do not own a copy. The second, and first in Virginia, was National Magazine, published largely due to the imprisonment of editor James Lyons' brother under the Alien and Sedition Acts. Even then the north was giving certain southerners fits!

Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, quite a few magazines were published in the south, reflecting the political attitudes and literary preferences of the southern upper class.

This magazine was edited by one of the most important southern writers, William Gilmore Simms.

Perhap's the most important of all ante-bellum southern magazines were De Bow's Review, published in New Orleans and Southern Literary Messenger, clearly the finest in the literary area, edited for a time and with mutltiple contributions by Edgar Allan Poe.

Here is a real gem. The first issue of SLM in oriiginal wrappers and a presentation copy of the publisher Thomas White!

SLM continued publishing after the outbreak of the war. Here is the first confederate issue

Here's an 1858 magazine that Simon Legree types probably perused regularly. The motto at the bottom "The Negro, The Rail and The Bale" pretty much says it all.

When war broke out, magazines took a back burner to other more urgent priorities and lack of manpower and resources. Towards the end of the war southern newspapers were sometimes printed on "necessity paper" and numerous rare and valuable wallpaper editions are highly coveted. The most widely known are various editions of The Vicksburg Citizen. I'm not aware that any magazine was ever printed on wallpaper, though, towards the end, the paper quality was distinctly inferior.
Here's one of the earliest magazines to be started in the Confederacy. Aside from the frontis engraving of General Beauregard, there is a fold-out map of the southern victory at Manassas (Bull Run).

The second issue features this engraving of Jefferson Davis.

The most important and widely circulated periodical of the Confederacy was Southern Illustrated News. It was essentially the south's answer to Harper's Weekly and Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. All issues are scarce and early ones are especially rare. One can get a random issue for a few hundred dollars. Generally, the more important the personality or event on the cover, the more valuable. Two issue's feature Robert E. Lee. Here's the three I own.

I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Richard West of Periodyssey for offering me the first issue when he obtained it. I think I paid about $1000 and was thrilled to get it. I've never seen another copy. The cover features the iconic Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (pre-beard). Pardon the slightly faded printing. When you have an opportunity to obtain something like this, you don't ask questions. As my friend David Leishman often says " find another one" !!

This is a very early issue with a view of Vicksburg:

And here's General James Longstreet of Gettysburg fame:

My favorite wartime issue of any confederate magazine is this one. The masthead features the seal of the Confederacy and the content is fantastic: General Lee's report of the Pennsylvania campaign (aka: How the war was lost).

The Magnolia is a combination newspaper/magazine. This issue features an early report of the death of the aforementioned General Jackson.

This is one of the last magazines to be started in the Confederacy.

Talk about rare: this magazine was published on a plantation in Georgia. Amazingly, it features the first appearance in print of the typesetter and soon to be author: Joel Chandler Harris.
Just to show how far we've come, Harris' Uncle Remus, immortalized in the Disney classic "Song of the South" his never been re-released due to its racial content.

A number of "copperhead" southern sympathizing publications were printed in the Union. The most famous was The Old Guard. The Weekly Southern Spy is exceedingly rare. This may be the only copy in existence.

After the war, with the infusion of raw materials and personnel, it didn't take long for magazines to start up again. This one was published in 1866 by a former Confederate General and brother of General A.P. Hill.

The last three decades of the 19th Century had its fair share of southern oriented magazines:

As the bitter memories faded, a spirit of mutual cooperation and common purpose began to slowly evolve- characteristically reflected in magazines (though I doubt there are still too many Yankee fans south of the Mason/Dixon line).

And lastly, I could not resist including this 1933 "southern" magazine which features my current obsession, Franklin D. Roosevelt (from southern N.Y!).
Whew! Quite a Saturday afternoon. Football- Shmootball, nothing beats talking about magazines!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Great Newstand Photo

I found this on my hard drive. I love old newstand photos. Its amazing to see the quantity that these publications existed in and to appreciate how incredbly rare they are today!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Correction! and a Contest

I stand corrected. In the last post I stated that William Livingston was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. This is incorrect. He was a signer of the Constitution (from New Jersey as a correctly stated, after being kicked out of New York for saying bad things about the local government in his magazine).

I also hedged and stated he was perhaps the only magazine publisher to sign the D of I. In fact, there was one, who also signed the Constitution as well. Pretty easy to guess who- the incredibly multi-talented printer, publisher, author, scientist, inventor, statesman, ladies' man and one-hundred dollar bill honoree- Benjamin Franklin.

While I'm eating a little crow, how about a little contest. A copy of my 1995 book to the first to identify the woman in the photo below. She holds the distinction of being an important "first" and led a tragic life afterwards. Hint: her first name rhymes with her last.

Good hunting!

Latest Installment M-O including Movies and New York. Lon Chaney

Should be a great day today. Meeting with the publicist for our upcoming book on FDR. I was underbidder on latest copy of the first Groucho Marx sheetmusic, Mary Moore, that sold for $2750 (the first one solf for $6700). Also, lost a damaged first issue Playboy (1953, Not 1919) for $850.

One of the original movie villains, Lon Chaney and a cover rarely if ever seen.

This installment includes an exquitely rare volume of movie magazines, Movie Adventures/Movie Thrillers/Movie Monthly that I paid a little under $2000 from Tampa pulp and memorabilia dealer David Alexander a few years back.

It also contains a pot-pourri of magazines published in New York. A topic I should address more completely in a separate entry. Here's the first issue of the first magazine published in the Gotham City, Independent Reflector. Perhaps the only magazine published by a signer of the Declaration of Independence (from New Jersey!), William Livingston.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Latest Installmement of My 2005 Magazine Collection Supplement

aka: the fruits of the labor of an obsessive collector with a few dollars and a lot of time on his hands!

I've since obtained a complete run of Illustrated California News (for $15,000, eek!) (one of only 2 in existence).

This is really the best way of demonstrating the scope and scholarship of the collection. As ususal, there are many images and much information that you will simply not find elsewhere.

While it say's i-l it actually includes m as well.

The original 1995 book remains available (see home page).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another Balloon Hoax in Magazine History. Poe, Mongolfier and Jules Verne

What's in a word?

The most recent story about a "Balloon Hoax" brings to mind other references to balloons in the periodical literature.

The most interesting balloon hoax story is an article published in a newspaper, The New York Sun, on April 13, 1841, by none other than Edgar Allan Poe, the center of many controversies in his day..." Originally presented as a true story, it detailed European Monck Mason's trip across the Atlantic Ocean in only three days in a gas balloon". It was later revealed as a hoax and the story was retracted two days later. for more details see:

Of course, the first balloon flight was inFrance in June 1783 by the Montgolfier brothers, and was reported in America in Boston Magazine with the following illustration:

From a magazine collectible standpoint, my greatest "balloon" find was this May 1852 issue of Sartain's Magazine I found in Connecticut for $7 (along with another 1852 issue, similarly priced, that contained the first appearance of Thoreau's "Walden"). It contains a story entitled "A Voyage in a Balloon" attributed to Anne T. Wilbur (the translator) on the rear wrapper, but correctly inside to the real author Jules Verne. This is Verne's first American appearance and the story was the basis for the 5 Oscar winning 1956 movie "Around the World in Eighty Days".

Here's the text with some additional information about Sartain and his magazine:
and, more importantly, here's the original magazine, one that may not elsewhere exist in its original state!