Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Successful Literary Dinner- Lippincott's Magazine, Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde

Many major literary works have had their genesis in magazines. Among the most important occurred by virtue of a literary dinner at the Langham Hotel in London in late Summer 1889 between a literary agent, J.M. Stoddart, representing the editors of Lippincott's Magazine, and the esteemed authors, Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde.

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.''
These appearances are probably the true first editions and since they were published in their entirety are quite valuable and highly sought. One dealer currently lists the Wilde issue for sale at $12,500. The Doyle issue is even more highly sought.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Earliest and Rarest Illustrated News Magazine and Principles of Collecting

Most collectors equate the "illustrated news magazine" (news publications illustrated with engravings, published in the last half of the 19th century) with Harper's Weekly, begun in 1857 or the rarer Leslies Illustrated Weekly which started in 1855. Prior to this there were a few others such as Gleason's, and Illustrated News (founded in 1853 by none other than P.T. Barnum). The first one, though, started in the boom town of San Francisco on September 1, 1850, The Illustrated California News. It lasted a mere six issues and contains unique and important images of early California life. There are two complete sets of these known to exist. I am fortunate to own own one individual issue, which I bought some years back from my friend Richard West of Periodyssey. This was the only copy he had ever handled and Richard sees more rare American magazines than anyone. When I heard of the the existence of a complete set of these in late 2007 I ponied up more than I had ever spent on a magazine purchase before, $15,000. Though times are a little harder at present, I'm still quite happy I took the plunge. It's too early to speculate whether or not the economy is affecting prices of these collectables and but I think it's safe to say these wont drop in price to the same degree as the stock market.

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!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Great Women in American Magazines: Sara Josepha Hale - A Little Lamb and a Lot of Turkey

In studying magazines, you come across so many interesting people. Perhaps one of the greatest and least appreciated is poet and editor Sara Josepha Hale. As editor of Godey's Lady Book, beginning in 1836's for nearly forty years, her influence on the American mores, fashion and culture cannot be underplayed. (Click on the issue picture below and check out her co-editor.)
Prior do this she founded and edited the important Ladies' Magazine. This is a great example of finding copies of magazines with the original wrappers intact.

Sara Josepha Hale is most remembered for her poem Mary's Lamb, published in the September 1830 issue of Juvenile Miscellany is perhaps the most recognizable snippet of magazine poetry ever published. I've only seen a few of these and they retail upwards of $3000.

Miss Hale was also the primary force behind making Thanksgiving a national holiday, by writing a letter to Lincoln convincing him to support legislation establishing a national holiday of Thanksgiving in 1863, previously only celebrated in New England. Think of her when you're carving your turkey! For more biographical information on this very important woman click on

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Maxfield Parrish and Alphonse Mucha

(Frederick) Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) created some of the most beautiful magazine covers ever published during the golden age of american illustration. They continue to be highly sought and valuable. His career has two distinct phases. Until 1930 he illustrated collectible prints, books and magazines. After this he turned his attention to calendar art, creating magnificent summer and winter scenes for Brown and Bigelow.

Parrish's magazine covers began with the Christmas 1895 issue of Harper's Bazar, employing a classic art nouveau motif. He went on to illustrate for many other magazines including Scribner's in the late 1890's, over a hundred covers for Collier's and six magnificent images for Hearst's in the early teens. The "frog prince" cover may be the most beautiful cover ever printed

While these are very hard to find, Parrish's covers for The Edison Sales Builder, a magazine made for sellers of Edison Mazda (later General Electric) products are extremely scarce. Some of Parrish's finest work are his paintings between 1918 and 1934 that grace the annual Edison Mazda calendars. It is these images that appear on the cover of the "Sales Builder".

Parrish also did fabulous work for the old humor Life Magazine. Many of these images also appeared on prints. Perhaps the most collectible Life cover is Humpty Dumpty, also on my top ten list of magazine art.

Alphonse Mucha was a master of art nouveau. His magazine work was limited and appeared primarily in french periodicals. He his do a few covers for american magazines. The ones for Burr McIntosh Monthly and Literary Digest are fairly easy to locate. The two for Hearst's are much, much scarcer. The image illustrated is my personal favorite of all magazines covers.

Enjoy the show!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Movie Magazine Bibliography

Here's a treat for you. something I wrote a while back but still very current. There is no book on movie magazines in existence. Here's the most comprehensive bibliography ever compiled of all movie magazines published to 1950. enjoy!! if you'd like the rest of the book containing many fabulous images, drop me an e-mail at and i'll send it as a pdf file.
if you know of or have any titles not listed, let me know and i'll add them.

Despite the enormous popularity and size of the movie industry, there has been very sparse bibliographic study of the magazines issued in conjunction with it. A recent perusal of internet search engines rather amazingly confirms that there is virtually no other comprehensive source, despite the fact that many of the actual early films have been lost and the only remaining documentation exists in printed form. Other than the chapter in my 1996 volume, the following is the only comprehensive visual and textual treatment of the subject, new and improved, emphasizing the pre-1940 era, with a few selected major titles afterwards. All illustrations are from the author’s personal collection. The focus has been to obtain the first issue of a title, though when rarity (not infrequently) supervenes, type issues are employed.
Source material is very sparse. The initial list began with the only two existing resources in 1996:
The Union List of Film Periodicals by Brady, Wall and Weiner, Greenwood Press, 1984
International Film, Radio and Television Journals. Edited by Anthony Slide, Greenwood Press, 1985
and was expanded with exhaustive research as well as prospecting for new titles and information at antiquarian bookfairs, ephemera shows and on the internet (primarily eBay). The latter has been most fruitful. This list has been twenty years in the making. It is now quite unusual to find something new, suggesting that it is getting fairly close to complete (being an avid collector, the author wholly realizes that there is always potentially something new in the next booth or listing, hence the fun of it all!). In nine years of intensive searching, only about ten new titles have been added. Many of these have only been seen once. Early Movie Magazines are very rare birds indeed; ephemeral in the true sense of the word, despite their relatively recent vintage.

Movie Periodicals can be roughly divided into five categories:
1) Fan Magazines- intended for the general public as a vehicle to increase viewing interest
2) In-house Magazines- issued by individual studios to promote their films to distributors
3) Exhibitor’s or Trade Journals- employed by movie distributors and exhibitors, containing much about the films themselves, especially new releases, often with graphic advertising.
4) Technical Journals- designed for members of the industry for technical and creative
5) Movie Pulp Magazines- fiction magazines based on either movie screenplays or movie themes
The list is chronological, from the origin of the earliest title. Technical journals are excluded.

A Bibliography of American Movie Periodicals

Fan Magazines

Motion Picture Story Magazine (February 1911) title changed to
Motion Picture Magazine (March 1914)
Photoplay Magazine (August 1911)
Motion Picture Album (June 1912)
Movie Pictorial (1913)
Moving Picture Stories (January 3, 1913)
Motion Picture Times (1915)
Who’s Who in Moving Pictures (1915)
Motion Picture Mail (1915) A weekly Supplement to The Daily Mail newspaper
Photoplay Vogue (1915)
Weekly Movie Record (1915)
Movie Magazine (March 1915)
Film Players Herald and Movie Pictorial (March 1915)
Picture Play Weekly (April 10, 1915) title changed to
Picture Play Magazine (October 3, 1915) title changed to
Picture Play (March 1927) title changed to
Charm (March 1941)
Feature Movie Magazine (March 15, 1916)
Photoplay Review (March 16, 1915)
Film Fun (July 1915) an amalgamation of three non-movie titles
Motion Picture Supplement (September 1915) title changed to
Motion Picture Classic (December 1915) title changed to
Classic (September 1922)
Wid’s Films and Film Folk (September 9, 1915)
Photo-Play Journal (May 1916)
Photoplay Weekly Mirror (September 30, 1916)
Photoplay World (September 1917)
The California (June 23, 1918)
Shadowland (September 1919) some non-movie content
Screenland (New York) (September 1920)
Filmplay Journal (1921)
Hollywood Informer (1921)
Pantomine (1921)
Photo Drama (1921)
Movie Weekly (February 12, 1921)
Screenland (Seattle) (May 1, 1921)
Filmplay Journal (July 1921)
Movie Melody Magazine (July 1921)
Silver Screen (March 23. 1922)
Motion Picture Review (1922?)
Cinema Art (1923)
Movie Monthly (March 1924)
Hollywood (September 20, 1924)
Movie Adventures (October 1924) title changed to
Movie Thrillers (January 1925) title changed to
Movie Magazine (September 1925) title changed to
Pictures (May 1926)
Movie Digest (March 1925)
So This is Paris (March 1925) title changed to
Paris and Hollywood (April 1926) title changed to
Paris and Hollywood Screen Secrets (1928) title changed to
Screen Secrets (April 1928) title changed to
Screen Play Secrets (April 1930) title changed to
Screen Play (October 1931)
Motion Picture Monthly (September 1925)
Hollywood Life (November 1925)
Screen Book (July 1928) title changed to
Screen Life (March 1940)
Movie Romances (December 1928)
Screen Romances (June 1929)
New Movie (December 1929)
Passing Show of Today (December 1929)
Cinema (January 1930)
Talking Screen (January 1930)
Modern Screen (November 1930)
Silver Screen (November 1930)
Screen Romances Album (February 1931)
Screen Album (March 1931)
Movie Classic (September 1931)
Movie Mirror (November 1931)
Screen Weekly (September 1932)
Shadowplay (March 1933)
Golden Screen (August 1934)
Screen Star Stories (August 1934)
Popular Screen (September 1934)
Movie Life (November 1937)
Moviepix (February 1938)

Trade Journals

Film Index (Views and Film Index) (April 26, 1906) Absorbed by Moving Picture World,
July 1, 1911
Variety (December 16, 1905) Initially a theater magazine which evolved into a movie magazine
Moving Picture World (March 9, 1907) Merged with Exhibitor’s Herald to form
Exhibitors’s Herald and Moving Picture World (January 7, 1928) title changed to
Exhibitor’s Herald World (January 5, 1929) title changed to
Motion Picture Herald (January 1931)
Moving Picture News (May 1908) title changed to
Motion Picture News (October 11, 1913) Absorbed by Moving Picture World, January 3, 1931
Nickleodeon (1909)
Motography (April 1911) Absorbed by Exhibitor’s Herald (1918)
Exhibitor’s Times (May 17, 1913) Absorbed by Moving Picture News (October 1913)
Moving Picture Publicity (December 1913)
Photoplayer’s Weekly (1914)
Photoplay Scenario (May 1914)
Exhibitor’s Herald (June 24, 1914) merged with Moving Picture World to form Exhibitor’s Herald and Moving Picture World, (January 7, 1928)
Film Daily (June 1922)
Photoplay Weekly Mirror (September 30, 1916)
Exhibitor’s Trade Review (December 9, 1916) title changed to
Exhibitor’s Daily Review (February 6, 1926)
Cinema News (December 15, 1916)
Affiliated Committees for Better Films Bulletin (1917) title changed to
Film Progress (1924)
Dramatic Mirror of the Stage and Motion Pictures (February 17, 1917)
Camera (April 1918)
Vine Street (November 15, 1918)
It (1920)
Exceptional Photoplays (November 1920)
Screen (1921)
Film News (1923) title changed to
National Ehibitor (August 15, 1927)
Motion Picture Record (1924)
Photoplay Guide to Better Pictures (June 1924)
Film Spectator (June 1926) title changed to
Hollywood Spectator (June 20, 1931)
National Board of Review Magazine (March 1926) A merger of Film Progress, Vine Street and Motion Picture Record
Hollywood Filmograph (1927)
Brevity (July 1927)
Le Cinema (September 1927)
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (November 1927)
Talking Picture Magazine (October 1929)
Motion Picture Advertising (November 1929)
Hollywood Reporter (1930)
Motion Picture Daily (December 22, 1930) Absorbed Exhibitor’s Daily Review
Hollywood Herald (June 8, 1931)
Box Office (January 21, 1932)
Showmen’s Round Table (May 27, 1933)
Jones’ (1937)
Cinema Arts (June 1937)

In-House Publications

Biograph Bulletin (1902-1912)
Edison Kinetogram (1909)
Bison Magazine (1910)
Essanay News, Essanay Guide (1910)
Selig Polyscope Guide (1910)
Vitagraph Bulletin (1910)
Eclair bulletin (1910-1914)
Film Fancies (Carlton Motion Picture Company) (1910)
Kalem Kalendar (1911-1914)
Vitagraph Exhibitor (1911-1915)
Mutual Film Magazine (1912)
Reel Life (Mutual Films) (1912-1917)
Implet (Carl Laemmle) (January 10, 1912)
Universal Weekly (June 22, 1912) title changed to
Moving Picture Weekly (1915) title changed to
Universal Weekly (1922)
Movies (General Film Company) (1913)
Pathe Fortnightly Bulletin (1913) title changed to
Pathe (April 15, 1915)
Lubin Bulletin (October 27, 1913)
Paramount Progress (1914) title changed to
Picture Progress (June 1915)
The Biograph (September 5, 1914)
Paste, Pot and Shears (Selig) (1915)
Triangle ( 1915-1917)
Metro Pictures Magazine (September 1915)
Fox Folks (Fox Films) (1916)
Sherry Punch (Sherry Features) (1916)
Mack Sennett Weekly (1917-1919)
Studio Skeleton (Samuel Goldwyn) (1919)
Film Follies (Christie Films) (1919)
Loew’s Weekly (December 6, 1920)
Dotted Line (1922-1926)
Distibutor (MGM) (1925-1941)
Movietone Bulletin (June 11, 1928)
Columbia Mirror (November 1934 - October 1941)
MGM Studio News (1935-1940)
MGM Studio Club Club News (1935-1936)
RKO Studio Club News (1935-1956)
Lion’s Roar (MGM) 1941-1946

Movie Pulps

Film Stories (1921)
Movie Novel (1929)
Hollywood Romances (1931)
Screen Novels Quarterly (ca. 1933)
Romantic Movie Stories (1933)
Sure Fire Screen Stories (1934)
Movie Action (1935)
Saucy Movie Tales (1935)
Stage and Screen Stories (1936)
Movie Love Magazine (1937)
Hollywood Love Romances (1938)
Cowboy Movie Thrillers (1 941)
Movie Love Stories (1941)
Movie Western (1941)
Movie Detective (1942)
Hollywood Detective (1943)
Movie Mystery (1947)