Saturday, April 17, 2010

Liberty Magazine

There's a nice article that ran yesterday in The New York Times and is presently featured on its website about entrepeneur Robert Whiteman, who owns the rights to Liberty Magazine.

It seems appropriate to add a little about the magazines collectible aspects.

The cover of the first issue in 1924 has always been one of my favorites for obvious reasons.

It sells for between 100 and 200 dollars when it occaisionally shows up. For the first seven years of its existence, it was a financial loser for right wing McCormick/Patterson publishing empire. In 1931 it was sold to the venerable Bernarr McFadden. The magazine quietly died in 1950.

By far the most collectible issue is that of September 30th 1939 that contains the first important article about Alcoholics Anonymous that essentially jump started the whole organization.

It sells consistently for over $300 is decent condition. I have always been impressed at the nearly religious fervor of demand for this and other AA publications.

The other widely collected AA magazine publication is the March 1, 1941 Saturday Evening Post featuring a cover by Norman Rockwell and, by virtue of the AA article, perhaps the most expensive of all Rockwell Post covers to obtain, other than the first one he did in May 1916. Despite an enormous circulation, there seems to be an unending demand for it and it always sells for over $200.

From an illustration standpoint, Liberty is forever linked with Leslie Thrasher, who did over 360 covers until his death in 1936. Rockwell comments in his 1961 autobiography that the demand on Thrasher by the magazine for a regular supply of material nearly killed him.

Off the top of my head, I can think of no greater number of covers done by any illustrator for any individual magazine (Rockwell did 321 Post covers between 1916 and 1963, one more in total the the venerable J.C. (Joseph Christian) Leyendecker.

The issues in the early thirties with Dr. Seuss illustrations inside bring modest amounts. The most interesting aspect here is the lawsuit won by Liberty owners in the 1960's over the copyright of Seuss' name in conjunction with some dolls they marketed based on his illustrations. (see Nel, p. 141 for details).

The remainder of the issues of Liberty have some topical interest but are generally very common and inexpensive.

Have a great day!

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