Thursday, September 24, 2009

John Kennedy's First Magazine Cover. My 100th Post!

I just noticed that I had made 99 posts since this blog began so I wanted to add another as soon as possible to cross the century mark. There's plenty more material to talk about among the 276 years of American popular culture residing in various niches of my abode.

Here's one item that's a lot of fun that I've never seen discussed.
Pic magazine was one of the more successsful picture magazines created following the tremendous success of LIFE in 1936. Others that made significant impacts were LOOK and Click, and I have at least two dozen others that were of lesser consequence.
The first newstand issue of LOOK,volume one number two (notice the dark blob over the left eye of Franklin Roosevelt, lots more about that in my upcoming book!) and the first issue of Click, featuring Dorothy Lamour.
The first issue of Pic has Joe DiMaggio on the cover (probably his first). I have one but its too large for my scanner. The issue of Pic that I find most intriguing is the one illustrated above- It is basically a campaign advertisement for the 1946 congressional campaign of John F. Kennedy, undoubtedly published through the influence of his father Joseph P. Kennedy (don't get me started on this anti-semitic, bootlegging, disgraced ambassador), who ordained John as a future president after the death of his oldest son, Joe, during an incredibly dangerous mission during WWII. Interestingly, JFK is not referred to within the magazine. He may have been seen in earlier publications but this his first cover appearance.
Just another of many great magazine covers and the start of quite an interesting political career.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reader's Digest. Dummy Issue 1920. Repros. DeWitt Wallace

Magazine history was made by DeWitt Wallace when he published his monumental magazine, Reader's Digest in February 1922. After a time it became the cornerstone of a publishing empire.
Wallace's roots in publishing are well documented. See: for a nice summary.

It all began with a self-published pamphlet entitled "Getting the Most Out of Farming", published in 1916, that Wallace sold door to door to the tune of 100,000 copies. There are no copies presently for sale on the web. I obtained this copy, apparantly a dummy copy (see the insert on the front cover), from bookdealer Jim Cummins. It came in an expensive imprinted box, along with a "first first" issue, dated January 1920, along with a set of all the issues from 1922 in a similar box, obviously produced by someone who was pretty close to the magazine.

The first "first issue" probably only had a print run of a few hundred copies. It is expensively produced on high quality paper and was sent out to potential publishers, with little or no success. I have never seen another copy. You can get a good idea what Wallace was aiming at by the first page, essentially the prospectus.

The second "first issue" arrived in February 1922 and had a run of 5000 copies. It was reprinted in 1957 and 1972 in large quantities. Allegedly, there is a way of telling the reprints from the original. The table of contents misprinted "Is the Stage too Vulgar" as "Is the State too Vulgar" which is supposed to have been corrected in the reprint. This may be partially true.
I suspect one of the reprints (perhaps the later one) may have done this but there are just two many alleged originals around. I own four copies altogether (including the one in the box) all with the error in the table of contents. In an effort to determine a way to cull out what is really an original copy, I carefully examined all of my 1922 copies from the boxed set.


probable repro

If there is any difference at all, the printing on the original copies is a bit more delicate than the later copies, and there is a distinct speckling in the hair of the female figure on the cover. The paper may also be ever so slightly more porous, but this is a very tough call.
In examining the blown up scans of the above copies after first publishing this post, I noticed a subtle but real difference. In my "copy in the box" and the other with the stippled hair (the ones I assumed to be original) the "s" in "Digest" has a small bite out of it (the March issue has it too, but not subsequent issues). Since it's on two of them in exactly the same way, it most likely isn't a one-time printing quirk. So that's how you can tell them apart. At least one can say with assurance that the ones with the nicked "s" are original.
Not exactly a cure for cancer but a lot of fun nonetheless. Gosh, I love this stuff!

All in all, I'd have to say that the multitude of copies on the web (the last sold for $100 on eBay this week) are later repros. There just can't be more than a few dozen originals extant, if that many.

Originals are worth $1000 plus. Repros are valued at the cost of reproducing them.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

U.S. News and World Report. An Unexplained Mystery

I've had this magazine for quite some time and am still to resolve a small mystery. As you can see, it is the October 2, 1939 issue of United States News and is unequivocally stated as Volume 1 Number 1. That's were the problem arises.

Here is the crux of the listing in the Union List of Serials (ULS) (the third and definitive edition), an indispensible adjunct to any magazine historian, for this title.

I guess we should digress a bit to explain the terminology as you see it. The + after 1933 means that the title was still being published as of 1965. The + after the letters at the bottom means that the individual holding is continuous and ongoing. The abbreviations represent individual institutions, with the first letter being a key to their location. A key appears at the front of each of the individual five volumes. DLC, for instance, is the Library of Congress in the District of Columbia. Az 8+, means that The University of Arizona holds all volumes from the eighth onward.

The publication history is contained in the first large paragraph, indicating here that prior to 1933, when the current numbering began, it was a newspaper (that's a whole other set of books, see for more info).

As you can see the present day U.S. News and World Report is an amalgam of two magazines.

The problem that arises is that ULS clearly states that the first magazine issue was January 1, 1940. Even more confusing is that it makes no mention whatsoever of this Volume One Number One issue in October 1939.

There are no indications within the magazine that it was a dummy or trial issue and I've not seen another one from this era. Since the format closely resembles United States News of the forties, my best guess is that it was an experiment that eventually merged into the present run, but that admittedly is just a guess.

I would state though, that I probably have a copy of the only number one issue magazine of this title (I've seen many of the newspaper format issues but have never had the first one from 1933).

All a bit crazy and perhaps much ado about nothing, but its a lot of fun for this collector and that's really what collecting and cataloging (spelling?) is all about.

I offer a copy of my 1995 bibliography to anyone that can solve the mystery! Thanks to the king of twentieth century first issues, David Leishman, for supplying two of the images (WR and USNWR). I know I have them somewhere but can't put my hands on them.

Its a bright, crisp and beautiful fall day here in the Garden State. Exactly the type of day that stops me from being a resident of Florida or Arizona. Have a great one!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Newsweek. First issue, Dummies and Repros

Newsweek, then known as News-Week was founded in 1933 by a Thomas J.C. Martyn, a former Time editor. The first issue, dated February 17, had a print run of 50,000 copies.
The initial format was to publish seven captioned photos, one for each day of the week, on the cover. Here is an authentic first issue, note especially the captions for Saturday and Sunday on the bottom two pictures.

Here is a later reproduction, almost always confused for the original. As you can see, the bottom two captions are cropped off. Also, the back cover if the original is pink, while the back cover of the repro is orange.

Obviously what happened here is that the repro was made from a cropped, bound copy and, for the sake of time and expense, only one color ink was used. I make a point of informing eBay sellers that they are not selling the real McCoy most of the time. Some are rather indignant but most have made an honest mistake and rapidly withdraw the item as original. Its fooled a lot of people. Every image of the first issue presently on the web is of the repro!
I have seen perhaps a dozen authentic first issues (I own three) over the years and they are quite scarce, worth at least $300, if not more. Repros are worth the paper they are printed on.

There are two pre-publication dummy issues. They were made to work out the kinks of publication and to show advertisers what they were about to spend their money on.

The first dummy is very rare. I've only seen one copy, which I bought with a number of other issues at a bookfair for a total of $100 in the 90's. It is dated January 14, 1933. I'd assess its value at $1000+.

The second dummy is quite scarce. I've owned two and seen one other. It is dated inside as February 10, 1933 and identified as Vol 1 No A. The inside covers are blank. As you can see the captions are now incorporated in the photos, just like those on the first issue a week later. I would value it at $500+.
As I've said all along, knowledge is power. Enjoy!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Chronicle of Magazine Covers (4) 1820-1830. William Russell and America's First Journal Devoted to Education.

The 1820's saw further expansion of America to the west and a remarkable proliferation of magazines covering all aspects of newly forming American culture (seems like I keep saying this over and over again so it must be true!)

One of my favorite finds was a magazine I obtained at Hartford in the early nineties. It was, of course, a first issue in wrappers and therefore fair game for my bookshelf. I think I paid less than ten dollars for it.

When I got home, I started researching my cache and found that I had obtained the first journal in America (and, indeed, the english language) devoted to education. Moreover, I learned the editor was William Russell and the journal was alternatively known as Russell's Journal.

To my great surprise and with obvious joy, I then noted that the name William Russell was penned across the top of the front wrapper. So for a few dollars, I had bought the first issue, in wrappers of America's first education journal, in wrappers, signed by the editor and founder. Not a monumental financial coup by any means, but nonetheless an irreplaceable highlight of my collection.

Here's a nice bio of Russell.

Graphically, this decade, magazines look pretty much like the previous one, though, as I said, the locations have expanded and the topics are more varied. These images represent only a small part of my holdings, basically first issue octavos in wrappers, though a pretty good representation of the era. Many of these titles were celebrations of our religious freedom, including the first published by a Jew, in response to the proselytizing efforts of another magazine. It is quite rare and valuable. I believe I bought this volume from Baumann Books for about $2000.

There were three different American Monthly Magazines. The first (left) published the first appearance of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The United States Literary Gazette also featured Longfellow and Bryant.

This is the direct precursor of today's important New England Journal of Medicine.

One of countless masonic and anti-masonic publications.

More literature.

etc., etc., etc

A great idea then, still unresolved now. To quote Pete Seeger"when will we ever learn"

This was edited by the important pioneer and author Timothy Flint

Off the the shore, have a great Labor Day!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

E-Books on Magazines Available To Download

Check the right hand column of the homepage of this blog and you will find links to four highly illustrated E-books that I wrote using illustrations from my collection. You will not find many of the illustrations (or much of the information) anywhere else

1) 18th Century American Magazines
2) Movie Magazines (with a bibliography)
3) Radio and Television Magazines
4) My Favorite- A History of American Literature in Magazines


Periodically yours,

Steven Lomazow, M.D.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Casket, Graham's Magazine and Samuel Atkinson

One of the more interesting magazine histories surrounds Philadelphia publisher Samuel C. Atkinson. Atkinson was co-founder of The Saturday Evening Post in 1821. Even today the mythology that the Post evolved from Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette continues to be perpetrated. The only relationship is that it was first published in the same building that the defunct Gazette had used in the past. This ersatz folklore was invented by publisher and master marketer Cyrus Curtis after he acquired the moribund Post in 1898 and, with George Horace Lorimer as his editor, built it into a highly successful weekly magazine, one of the major cogs in the golden age of magazine illustration.

Here is copy of Norman Rockwell's first Post cover that he personally signed for me and a clearer scan showing the false heritage on the masthead.
In 1826, Atkinson founded a monthly magazine, The Casket: Flowers of Literature, Sentiment and Wit, that acheived the highest circulation of any magazine of the time. Intially, the Casket was little more than the monthly amalgam of articles from the Post. The first volume is quite scarce. I obtained mine from a dusty shelf of De Wolfe and Wood's great bookshop in Alfred Maine one summer in the early 1990's. It is the only copy I've ever seen. A highlight is an unrecorded printing, perhaps the first in a widely published periodical, of "Twas The Night Before Christmas" allegedly by C.C. Moore but here published anonymously as all versions prior to the death of Henry Livingston (for an interesting account of this literary controversy see

Volumes of the Casket are dated but do not contain a volume number, which is a source of some confusion. What is not apparantly appreciated anywhere is that Atkinson actually began this venture as a quarterly 16mo (half the size of an octavo) in 1824. I found and overpaid for this volume in the 80's but have yet to see another or any reference to it. A very rare number one issue, to say the least.

The image on the right (1826) is the first wrappered copy of the monthly to contain the engraving.
The Casket is perhaps best known for its hand-colored maps. The remainder of the content is decidedly pedestrian but obviously appealed to the American readers of the time.
Atkinson also published other periodicals. A very rare one is The National Atlas, begun in 1836. I was fortuate to obtain two full volumes. The highlight is this fabulous, rare and valuable (about $2000) map of Texas.

In 1839, the Casket was acquired by George R. Graham, who had also obtained William E. Burton's Gentleman's Magazine in 1840, primarily for it's circulation list of 3500, and combined them into his own new venture, Graham's Magazine.

Also, along with Burton's Magazine came the services of one Edgar Allan Poe, who had also briefly edited it and published many tales and criticisms, most notably "The Fall of the House of Usher" in 1838 (here in original wrappers).
Poe also co-edited the earliest volume of Graham's and published the first detective story, "Murder's in the Rue Morgue" in it in 1840. Graham started his magazine as volume 18 (apparantly continuing the numbering of the Casket). Initial circulation was a sparse 5,500 but by the end of the first year was 25,000 and later considerably more.
The scarce Volume 18 or Graham's today routinely sells for $500-1500 and copies in wrappers are notably rare. I've never seen "Rue Morgue" (the most important and only Poe magazine highlight that has eluded me) in its original wrappers but do have the next issue that contains his "A Descent into the Maelstrom".

Graham's is the pre-eminent title of the 1840's. Later volumes are readily available and collected mostly for the hand-colored fashion engravings.

Perhaps now you are getting some insight into the method of my collecting madness!

If this chronology is a bit confusing, here's an illustration from the first volume of Mott which might help.