Saturday, December 18, 2010

A New E-Book: America at War, A Magazine History

I recently delivered a powerpoint presentation for the holiday dinner of the New Jersey WW2 Bookclub. Here is an annotated presentation. I hope you find it interesting and informative.

Seasons Greeetings!



Friday, December 10, 2010

The First Rules of Baseball

I see that the first rules of Basketball are to be auctioned off today at Southeby's and are expected to bring two million dollars.
A while back, I was researching the origins of Baseball in the sporting paper Spirit of the Times and in the May 12, 1855 issue came across these rules, which I believe to be the earliest published. I've never seen another or an earlier account. A nice history of Porter and early American sporting magazines appears here:

The first image of Baseball as we know it appeared in volume three of Porter's Spirit of the Times in 1857.

Less than three months to spring training!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Amazing Early Periodical Devoted to Gambling

This post arises from a conversation with Vincent Golden, curator of newspapers and periodicals at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester Massachusetts, the greatest repository of pre-1876 American printed material in the universe, of which I am priviliged to be a member.

Vince told me of his excitement to find an 1843 magazine devoted to gambling (most probably the first on the topic), more specifically to exposing cheating. I asked him to send the images and here they are.

I do not have a copy of this gem in my collection. It is not listed in Union List of Serials and this may very well be the only copy in existence. It was written and edited by Jonathan Harrington Green (1813-1887) an American gambler, inventor, writer and later reformer in New York City during the early-to mid 19th century. In his youth, he was known as one of the most skilled card players in the United States. Following his retirement from gambling in 1842, he became an active crusader against illegal gambling and was responsible for enacting anti-gambling laws in several states. He is the author of several books on the subject. His Wikipedia bio is leaked here (I couldn't resist the temptation after the most recent firestorm!):
Here is the title page, an illustration and the back cover. The graphics of the front cover are impressive.

Just one more great example of the rich heritage of the American magazine. Thanks Vince!

Here are a few items from my collection all from the same decade. Since the Gambler's Mirror has great graphics, great rarity and a great topic that applies to today, I have chosen one example of each.
An 1845 magazine devoted to the elimination of capital punishment:

A wonderfully graphic temperance magazine

And an exquistely rare literarary magazine that may also be the world's only example (obtained from the renowned NYC dealer James Cummins), that, among other interesting content, contains a reference to Edgar Allan Poe.

Best of the season to all.
Periodically yours,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hugo Gernsback. The Upcoming Centennial of Ralph 124C 41+. The Greatest Ever Work of Futurism

April 2011 will be the one-hundred year anniversary of the greatest work of futurism ever written, Hugo Gernsback's Ralph 124C 41+ (itself a play on words). It appeared in twelve consecutive installments in Gernsback's pioneer electrical journal Modern Electrics. Here is the first issue of that publication:

While the plot of the story has been (rightfully) criticized as amateurish, the greatness of the work lies in Gernsback's prophetic vision of the future. Jules Verne and aother authors might have fallen upon isolated futuristic creations but the panoply of incredible and accurate predictions in "Ralph" far exceeds any other work. The story is the first to describe, among others, television (and channel surfing), remote-control power transmission, the video phone, transcontinental air service, solar energy in practical use, sound movies, synthetic milk and foods, artificial cloth, voiceprinting, tape recorders, and spaceflight. It also contains "...the first accurate description of radar, complete with diagram..."

The easiest way to appreciate this amazing (an adjective used by Gernsback on the first ever magazine devoted to science-fiction, a term coined by.... you guessed it, Hugo Gernsback)

The first issue of Amazing Stories

work is to show the covers of the serial for you to appreciate, each an illustration from the story. It would take a many years of intensive searching to put together a run. The book edition did not appear until 1925.
I have grabbed a few images from the web for comparison to help you appreciate the uncanny nature of the work.
The first image of television!

This one in particular blows me away! We still have a few more years to go until solar fields are a widespead reality. Remember, the above image was published in 1911!
You need not go further that any NFL broadcast to see a woman wearing a similar apparatus.
If you still don't understand why present day science-fiction awards are called "Hugo's", here is the first magazine issue devoted to science-fiction and a few other of Gernsback's publications from my collection.
The first magazine devoted to television- 1927!
The man in the picture is Gernsback himself, watching the invention he first predicted and whose name he coined.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another "Our" African American Magazine. Our Grapevine

I have written previously if the list of magazines that I have collected with the word "our" in the title that are publications intended for the African American community prior to the mid 1950's
I just obtained another exquisitely rare example on eBay. While undated it is from late 1955 0r early 1956 (referring to Willie Mays as 24 years old) and published by Perrin Publications in New York, being the equivalent of Confidential.
There is only one reference to it on the web and it probably never made it to a second issue. Another exquisitely rare magazine and yet another wonderful reason to collect and appreciate magazines. Enjoy!
Here are some other rare related first issues.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happy 100th Birthday Boy Scouts. Boy's Life. Norman Rockwell

Sorry for not posting more recently. I've been immersed in a new book on General Albert C. Wedemeyer.

One cannot discuss the history of the Boy Scouts without referencing their magazine Boy's Life, begun in 1911. The Boy Scouts have issued a number of more specialized periodicals, but Boy's Life is their flagship.Early issues are exceedingly rare. Rockwell's first ever magazine appearance (December 1912) and his first magazine cover (unsigned September 1913) are highlights.
I had Rockwell sign a copy of this for me and traded it away.
I still own the first three issues and a volume from 1914 that was art edited by Rockwell (his first job in illustration) that contains dozens of his illustrations. Rockwell did illiustration from the magazine well into the 1970's. I don't believe that there has been a longer association between an illustrator and a magazine in publishing history.
See you again soon.