Friday, February 27, 2009

The American Journal of Science: America's Longest Running Periodical

I am often asked what the oldest continuously published American magazine is. The answer is the venerable American Journal of Science, originally published by Benjamin Silliman. If you go to Yale today, you can go into Silliman Hall. The current issue is Volume 309 Number 2 and AJS is still the pre-eminent Earth Science journal published in America.

The New England Journal of Medicine actually goes back to 1812, but it went through a number of name changes so AJS still gets the prize for the longest continually published title.

The North American Review, America's first purely literary magazine, started in 1815 and is still being published in Iowa, but it suspended publication in 1940 for two decades.

Of today's literary magazines, the oldest are Harper's Monthly (1850) and Atlantic (1857).
All of these images are Volume 1 Number 1 issues from my collection. If they can be found, these magazines would sell for about $500 each, with the exception of New England Journal of Medicine, which would bring considerably more. I have only seen one copy of the original first issue in wrappers in thirty years and it is probably worth a few thousand dollars, considering it's importance as one of the most widely quoted present-day medical journals.

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