Alfred Leete’s First World War ‘Kitchener Needs You’ recruiting poster was copied by the US artist James Montgomery Flagg and that has continued in use as a symbol of Uncle Sam’s imperialism in America. This picture from September 2014 shows Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner alongside a US judge, Thomas Griesa, depicted as Uncle Sam.

The poster was seen in Buenos Aires during an international legal battle over the Argentine government’s refusal to repay US hedge funds – regarded by their critics as financial ‘vultures’ – after the country had defaulted on its debt. The poster reads: ‘Either you are with Cristina or you are with the Yankees – Vultures get out of Argentina’.

In the same way as Leete’s image was first used as a magazine cover, for a September 1914 issue of London Opinion, Flagg, first sold his version to Leslie’s Weekly magazine for a colour cover in 1917.

There much talk of innovation in the publishing industry at the moment, but an often-overlooked place for ideas is the past 150 years of magazine publishing. And here’s one from the Boy’s Own Paper (BOP).

Until the Second World War, a strategy for some magazines was to publish a magazine as a weekly, and then collate those four issues as a monthly, and also as a complete annual.

So, this BOP from Jan 1908 is actually the December issues with their covers removed, some fresh advertising pages and all in a new wrapper. The price was half as much again as for the four weekly issues at 6d. However, the part carried ‘added value’ in the form of a fold-out colour plate.

The plate was of a painting, ‘Companions in Tribulation’ by Miss N. Joshua, which showed two men in the stocks. It was printed separately by Tom Browne & Co in Nottingham, a colour lithographic printer founded by Tom Browne, then one of most famous cartoonists.

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Last issue of Amalgamated Press's War Illustrated on 8 February 1919

No sad ending: the last issue of Amalgamated Press’s War Illustrated on 8 February 1919. Allies from the Empire (to the left) and Europe are portrayed with a statue of Victory

The demise of a magazine is normally a sad time but note the cover line below this image on the front of War Illustrated from 1919: ‘The Happy End’. The cheery angle came about because this issue marked the end of the Great War after more than four years of slaughter. Also, the magazine was about to rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of closure with a different name – New Illustrated – the next week. In essence, it was being relaunched with a different name and editorial strategy under its editor JA Hammerton.

Alfred Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press had a winning team on its hands under Hammerton and the back cover ran his editorial ‘An end and a beginning’, along with an order coupon for the next issue. Yet, relaunching a magazine is always a challenge – keeping the established readership while attracting new buyers is very difficult.

John Hammerton was one of the most successful editors of his generation. He is best known for his work with Arthur Mee producing magazines and partworks that were then republished as some of the best selling books of the day. These included the Harmsworth Self-Educator, Harmsworth’s Universal Encyclopædia and the Children’s Encyclopaedia. In 1933, his Popular History of the Great War was published in six volumes. So, Hammerton set about the task of changing the editorial philosophy of War Illustrated from one of recording a war’s progress to creating New Illustrated as ‘a fascinating pageant of the living history of our own times’.

First, the changes were announced several weeks in advance with a competition to come up with a name for the relaunched magazine – and a tempting £100 prize. This was at a time when a soldier’s pay was about £1 a week, so such a fortune was great publicity. For a month, the back page ran its editorial focusing on the idea with introductions such as: ‘Some of my readers have asked me to help them think of a title for the successor to the War Illustrated … I am yielding to the requests that have reached me by giving a very brief outline of my scheme.’ (By ‘very brief’ Hammerton means the whole of the back page.)

The War Illustrated was launched to record the progress of the war in photographs and illustrations and was designed to be bound into annual volumes. The format was an A4-ish page size on newsprint. Each issue was 32 sides plus the covers (wrappers in the language of the day) and they were numbered sequentially: issue one, 1-32; issue two, 33-64, and so on. Later issues added a four-page centre section printed gravure, which gave a much better reproduction for photographs and raised the pagination to 36 plus 4.

New Illustrated kept to this format and initially looked little different. The volume strategy was still in place with the new title being seen as a ‘continuous sequel’ to War Illustrated. However, as the issues went on, the martial content was slowly decreased. In April, a marked shift took place with a switch to gravure covers. Hammerton announced:

there is nothing quite so costly as the photogravure process which the New Illustrated is introducing for the first time to popular British journalism

Very good artists were always used, such as Harry Rodmell and Francisco Sancha, and the photographs would have looked amazing at the time. May saw a woman on a cover – Lady Diana Manners dressed as Britannia. Manners was one of the leading socialites of the day, and is better remembered today under her married name of Lady Diana Cooper (or as the great aunt of Tory prime minister David Cameron).

From June, the covers always showed women and colour was introduced with dazzling designs befitting the start of the Jazz Age and illustrations by artists such as Billy Bunter illustrator Leonard Shields and photographs by Lallie Charles – who, with her sister Rita, was one of the most successful portraitists of the early 1900s. The women portrayed were shown in the latest fashions, or at parties or at play in the snow, or using the latest technology in the form of the telephone.

New Illustrated starts to change its name to Record Weekly in 1920 (January 17 issue)

New Illustrated starts to change its name to Record Weekly in 1920 (January 17 issue)

However, depression set in as the economy struggled to switch from wartime to peacetime thinking with millions of demobbed troops looking for work. So the start of 1920 saw another relaunch in progress. The masthead became ‘The Record New Illustrated Weekly’, though with the emphasis still on ‘New Illustrated’. With each issue, the emphasis changed until Record Weekly fully emerged from its chrysalis in March. However, the strategy failed and 20 March saw the last issue.

This might finally have been the end of War Illustrated, had not an Austrian painter called Adolph Hitler come along to give rise to World War II. Hammerton – by then Sir John Hammerton – dusted off the War Illustrated strategy and the magazine rose again to record that conflict in a similar way.

EF Skinner's signature on the War Illustrated illustration (8 February 1919)

EF Skinner’s signature on War Illustrated (8 February 1919)

The illustration for the last issue of War Illustrated is by Edward Frederick Skinner, whose works are held by both the Science Museum and the Imperial War Museum. These paintings all depict industry and factories harnessed to the needs of war, but Skinner was a varied and sought-after artist, as the Father Christmas image and the lengthily titled ‘High Priest Coifi riding up Goodmanham Lane to smash the Idols‘ from Little Treasure Island by Arthur Mee (Hodder & Stoughton, 1920) show. The much-enlarged signature here also highlights the crude tones produced by letterpress printing as compared with modern colour lithography.

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Beautiful Britons glamour magazine first issue cover from November 1955

Beautiful Britons glamour magazine first issue cover from November 1955

The mid-1950s saw an explosion of men’s magazines after paper rationing was lifted. Many of them used a pocket format and one of the most popular was Beautiful Britons. Two copies of the first issue have sold on eBay recently, one for £29.99 and the other for a hefty £51.

Note the magazine’s motto: ‘The magazine of [EYE] appeal.’

Centre spread from the 1955 first issue of Beautiful Britons

Centre spread from the 1955 first issue of Beautiful Britons

Although the colour was cover, the inside was mono. The picture above is from the centre spread. The bikini was a relatively new invention – at least in modern times – dating from 1946 when a French engineer came out with the world’s smallest swimsuit, named after the nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll.

The magazine’s publisher – Town & Country, known as ‘Toco’ – already published Spick and Span, both ‘glamour magazines’ launched in 1954, in the same format. Many of the pin-up photographs were of unknown models but actresses such as Shirley Ann Field and Joan Collins were a staple for such magazines. All three titles survived into the 1970s.

Initially, the models were not topless, but the market was changed by the advent of Kamera, published by photographer Harrison Marks and the model Pamela Green, which included topless models. Marks and Green, who also modelled under the name Rita Landre, were involved in the making of Michael Powell’s controversial 1960 film Peeping Tom. The horror thriller centred on a photographer who murdered women with a device built into his camera.

>>List of men’s magazines with profiles

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An advance copy of the book I’ve written about the history of magazine design has landed and has prompteed me to dig out some old Vogue covers. Also, London’s National Portrait Gallery is running the Vogue 100 exhibittion and I’m planning a visit to that. How’s this for the first cover (May 1989) of Madonna in the US edition:

vogue 1989 may madonna us first

Anna Wintour was told this Madonna swimsuit magazine cover would not sell

Fashion Indie has noted that editor Anna Wintour says she was told ‘[Madonna]’ll never sell’, but, in fact, newsstand sales rose 40%. Strange that Wintour hadn’t checked with Liz Tilberis, her successor at the British sister magazine – ‘Brogue’ – which had run this cover in February:

Vogue front cover Madonna

British Vogue beat the US edition in having a Madonna front cover four months earlier

Of course, Madonna has a reputation that has seen her described as having the ‘world’s most exploited belly button’ and she vies with Joan Collins and Kate Moss as the biggest magazine cover star.

Madonna had appeared on two three magazine covers as early as February 1984 in Britain.

The British Vogue cover archive is online with the ability to search on date, model, photographer or editor, although not all covers are up. The first Vogue cover under Liz Tilberis was of Naomi Campbell – her first appearance on the front of the fashion magazine.

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Diana Rigg as The Avengers' Mrs Peel on the cover of TV World in 1965

Diana Rigg as The Avengers’ Mrs Peel on the cover of TV World in 1965

Who is the most popular cover star? Joan Collins, Marilyn Monroe? To judge by two recent eBay sales, it’s actually the 27-year-old Diana Rigg – as Emma Peel in The Avengers.

Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Blighty from 1956

Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Blighty from 1956

The evidence is the £147 that a 1965 copy of TV World fetched. There were no less than 18 bids from 4 people. In contrast, a 1956 copy of men’s humour weekly Blighty with Monroe on the cover brought in a mere £46 (12 bids from 4 people). A copy of the same issue of Blighty fetched £70 on eBay in April.

When it comes to collecting magazines and TV memorabilia though, Mrs Peel and Steed have a long way to go to catch up with Dr Who and the Daleks – a copy of the first Radio Times cover for Dr Who has fetched £509.99.

Emma Peel in one of her leather jumpsuits in a spread from TV World

Emma Peel in one of her leather jumpsuits in a spread from TV World

TV World listed Midlands ITV programmes and this issue covered Saturday December 25 to Friday December 3. Inside there was a double page interview with Rigg – who had found that ‘sudddenly, everybody wants to marry me’ since she featured in the spy series. The seller, Brogan2040, specialises in film and TV.

Other articles covered Noel Gordon and Anthony Morton in Crossroads, a Stars Snakes and Ladders game and an interview with Mark Goddard of Lost in Space. The listings include episodes from The Avengers, Gerry Anderson’s Stingray and Patrick McGoohan as Danger Man.

Nick Buckler, the Blighty seller, also has a July 1957 copy of Fiesta on ebay with a Monroe cover and centre spread.

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Alfred Leete’s Kitchener poster was the subject of great debate last year with James Taylor’s book suggesting it might never have existed, but The Amazing Story of the Kitchener Poster proved that thesis wrong by uncovering pictures of the poster on display during the Great War (a book I wrote with Martyn Thatcher). We also discovered an image that Leete might have seen of a pointing man used in advertising. Now, I’ve unearthed two more pointing figures, one that Leete very possibly saw, and one that he undoubtedly did see. The first is this one, a pointing man in an advert for The Power Within from Pearson’s magazine (June 1907). I don’t know if Leete was a contributor to Pearson’s at this time, but it was a big illustrated monthly and he would probably have had an eye on it – he certainly did covers for Herbert Jenkins’ Mrs Bindle series in the magazine in 1921. So this advert has to be considered a possible inspiration for Alfred Leete’s Kitchener image. Note the way the word ‘you’ is picked out just below the man’s hand.

A pointing man in an advert from Pearson's magazine (June 1907)

A pointing man in an advert from Pearson’s magazine (June 1907)

The second image that he probably did see is this one:

The pointing man from an advert in London Opinion magazine, 17 September  1910

The pointing man from an advert in London Opinion magazine, 17 September 1910

Why am I so sure Leete will have seen these? Because Leete was an established illustrator on the magazine by 1910, regularly doing covers as well as drawings inside. Also, there is the illustration below in that very same issue of London Opinion – note his signature to the bottom right. When the war came along, he was in the right place to dash off the ‘Your Country Needs You’ image for the magazine cover.

Drawing by Alfred Leete in the same issue of London Opinion

Drawing by Alfred Leete in the same issue of London Opinion

It’s January 1940. the Second World War is four months old, but the conflict still seems far away for most people in Britain. The next few months would see the Germans move into Scandinavia and sea battles at Narvik, but Dunkirk was five months away, the summer would bring the Battle of Britain fought in the air – and then the bombing Blitz on British cities in December. Meanwhile, at Woman’s Fair, an Odhams women’s weekly filled with American fiction and illustration, the war has hit home with the price of paper – an imported commodity from Scandinavia and Canada – shooting up. The editor bemoans in a whimsical article, ‘We are going up’:

Paper has become about as precious as gold and we’ve been wondering whether we should make Woman’s Fair smaller or ask you to pay a tiny proportion of wartime paper costs. We don’t believe you’d like a smaller Woman’s Fair and so instead we’re making it a penny more. Your February issue will cost 7d.

The editor of Woman's Fair blames wartime paper costs for the magazine's price rise

The editor of Woman’s Fair blames wartime paper costs for the magazine’s price rise

All supplies from Scandinavia were soon lost and soon the German U-boats would be hounding Britain’s convoys, where food and weapons no doubt took precedence over paper for magazines. By 1942, publishers were cut to a ration of less than a fifth of their pre-war usage. The result was that many magazines closed, they all had fewer pages, some cut their page size and the battle was on to cram as many words on to the precious paper as possible – in the case of Woman’s Own, even starting articles on the cover. The standard fare of the magazine was beauty, as shown by a Pathe news-reel called ‘Beautifying! Where to Put the Accent!’ The short film is based on Jean Barrie, ‘Beauty Editress’ of Woman’s Fair showing us ‘where to put the accent on our beauty’. Marketing was important in drawing as many readers in as possible before the lack of paper supplies really bit.

'Once I was a Pretty Girl' - a poem designed to encourage subscribers to Woman's Fair magazine at the start of WW2 in 1940

‘Once I was a Pretty Girl’ – a poem designed to encourage subscribers to Woman’s Fair magazine in 1940 during the first year of WW2

At Woman’s Fair they took a creative approach with a poem, ‘Once I was a Pretty Girl’:

Once I was a pretty girl A witty girl, a city girl, Now I’m just a pity girl’ Was poor Amelia’s cry. ‘My skin is yellow, dull and lined, My hair a mass of tangles twined, My sex appeal has quite declined Won’t someone tell me why?’ ‘Of course we will the secreet share, Cried Maud and Milly, Kate and Clare, ‘You haven’t ordered WOMEN’S FAIR, And wise girls will allow It’s WOMEN’S FAIR that marks the trends, That guides the feet and shapes our ends And turns to husbands our boy-friends – RESERVE YOUR COPY NOW!’ There’s an order form on page 61

A Pore Em’ly poem in Woman’s Fair preys on the beauty worries of its readers

A Pore Em’ly poem in Woman’s Fair preys on the beauty worries of its readers

A few pages later, the message was reinforced, again stressing the danger of becoming a dowdy woman:

Pore Em’ly Em’ly Brown was a glamour girl, Witht sparkling figure and hair a-curl, And luscious teeth of mother-of-pearl’ Oh, Em’ly was delicious! But that, alass, was in days pre-war’ And now she’s known as the Awful Bore’ Her face is one GIGANTIC poer – So she stays at home washing dishes. Poor Em’ly knows as well as not Why her looks and wit have gone to pot’ For she quite forgot (may her conscience rot, May she tear her hair in sheer despair) She quite FORGOT – believe it or not – To reserve her copy of WOMAN’S FAIR.

The text goes on:

MORAL: Don’t be like Pore Em’ly. The war has made us short of paper and so your newsagent will be short of your copy of WOMAN’S FAIR unless you tell him to keep you one. NOW! – ED

The attitude to readers at Woman’s Fair seems pretty cynical. And the magazine was undoubtedly put together on the cheap, buying in almost all its copy and illustrations from the US. Among the imported material was:

  • cover illustrated by Jon Whitcomb cover (where the woman seems to have a voodoo doll in her hair);
  • Lyn Arnold short story ‘Life begins in January’;
  • Wilton Matthews fiction, ‘She Made His Bed’, illustrated by Jon Whitcomb;
  • ‘She’s a Treasure’ by Lester Ashwell;
  • ‘This Time it’s True’ by Gladys Taber. Illustrated by Earl Cordrey;
  • White Magic serial by Faith Baldwin.

The only prominent British illustrator commissioned was Clixby Watson, who was a regular choice for top magazines such as Lilliput, Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine and The Passing Show as well as Woman, the leading woman’s weekly at Odhams. He also worked for advertisers, including Mars’ Spangles sweets. Women’s monthly magazines

A Woman's Own centre spread from 1939 - 'She likes undies'

A Woman’s Own centre spread from 1939 – ‘She likes undies’

Undies. When did you last see that word? It used to be used on women’s magazine covers and in headlines quite a lot. But where do you see it now? Fashion journalists in magazines were certainly not afraid to use it in 1939 – as this centre spread from Woman’s Own shows – ‘She likes undies.’

And in Woman’s Fair in its January 1940 ‘Wishful thinking’ editorial for the new year: ‘We are going to stop hoarding old evening dresses and decrepit undies and make instead the beauteous evening gala outfit on page 24.’ At the end of the 1940s, here are undies as the topic for the main cover line above the title on Woman’s Pictorial:

Woman's Pictorial magazine from 1949 with the cover line: 'Beutiful undies to make and embrioder'

Woman’s Pictorial magazine from 1949 with the cover line: ‘Beautiful undies to make and embroider’

But note that these were the days when fashionable women made their own. I can’t see such an article causing Woman’s Own to go flying off the shelves today. Fashions change and it seems that reliable, cheap undies from Marks and Spencer tempted women away from their sowing machines. By 1991, the Times could inform us: ‘And we know that Margaret Thatcher gets her undies at M&S. “Doesn’t everybody?” she asked a television reporter.’

The full Oxford English Dictionary defines undies as meaning ‘Articles of girls’ or women’s underclothing’. In support, it quotes:

  • 1906. Punch 30 May: ‘She’d blouses for Sundays, And marvellous “undies” concocted of ribbons and lace.’
  • 1920. Arnold Bennett, the Woman editor and novelist, in his book Our Women: Chapters on the Sex-discord: ‘You have only to reflect … upon the astonishing public importance given to what are delicately known as “undies”.’
  • 1939. Arthur Ransome in Secret Water: ‘Go on, Bridgie. Off with your things. Undies too.’ (Doesn’t sound like it’s from one of his Swallows and Amazons children’s books!)
  • 1967. Crime writer Nicolas Freeling in one of his Van der Valk books, Strike Out Where Not Applicable: Arlette … knows I’m not just belting off for the afternoon because of the black undies.

But that OED definition needs rewriting because undies are for men these days, as the Christmas clash of the male models shows:

David Gandy has claimed victory over David Beckham in the battle of the undies – and even made the astonishing claim that his underwear range has single-handedly saved Marks & Spencer (Mail on Sunday, 18 January 2015)

Undies meaning men’s underwear is a trend that goes back to at least 1993, when the Evening Standard talked about a company ‘that makes men’s undies’ and there was an ‘offer’ in another newspaper that year, the a Daily Star: ‘Buy a pair of Gazza’s undies.’

However, a quick flick through the newspaper cuttings suggests the word is these days much more likely to appear in the Sun than a broadsheet. While the ever-so-posh Lucia van der Post was quite happy to talk about undies for How to Spend It, the Financial Times glossy magazine, the FT put the word in quotes last year in a column by David Tang; almost as if it’s not quite a safe word to touch for its tycoon columnist (a sense suggested in that ‘delicately known as’ phrase from Arnold Bennett in 1920):

A stay at a flash hotel in Miami last year had us in a suite of rooms with a huge art-deco style bathroom, beautifully decorated in black and white, but with nowhere to sit or put one’s ‘undies’

‘One’s undies.’ Now that’s a really rare phrase.

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A Magforum reader asks – ‘I have a complete copy of a 1916 Autocar magazine in good condition, any idea what it is worth?’

Autocar magazine from 1907

Autocar magazine from 1907 – colour covers did not come in until the 1920s

Copies of Autocar tend to sell on eBay for £10-£30, including postage. 1916 will be before it used colour covers and the front will be semi-display advertising. It’s a wartime issue, which are rarer because of paper rationing and there may be war interest. So I’d guess at the upper end of the range. Some useful Ebay.co.uk searches:

Notice that I don’t use the word ‘magazine’ in the search – because some listings don’t; I don’t specify the books and magazines category because some people list them under cars or collectables or vehicle parts; the use of the quote marks ensures the separate words ‘auto car’ are excluded.

Among the results:

  • The top-value single copy from the third search was for a September 1910 issue at £29.50, including postage, on a buy-it-now.
  • There were about 20 results above £20. These were pre-WW2 issues, except for one – a 1963 copy featuring a Jaguar E-type road test. They were buy-it-nows or had a starting price at £19.99 + postage.

When it comes to listing the magazine, leave out words that people don’t search on in the main description such as: dated, the (though can be useful for some other searches, such as The Face), for the year. In the photographs, be sure to show good adverts in the issue – though there may not be any bigger than half-page in a 1916 issue – as well as the main articles.

Car magazines at Magforum

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