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Thursday, 3 March 2016


The very first magazines, back in the 16th century, were storehouses for ammunition. Its origins lie in the Arabic for Storehouse (makhzan), which the French borrowed as their word for a shop, magasin.

In the mid-17th century, magazine began to describe a book containing specialist information. Our modern sense of the periodical developed from this.

The Ladies' Mercury was launched by John Dunton in London on February 27, 1693. It was the first women's magazine and contained a "question and answer" column that became known as a "problem page." The debut issue offered relationship tips and love advice with "the Zeal and Softness becoming to the Sex."

The Ladies Mercury February 27, 1693

The first periodical called a magazine was the Gentleman's Magazine launched by Edward Cave (February 27, 1691 – January 10, 1754) in January 1731. In an age of lousy yellow journalism, the punchy periodical featured stories about fire-eating as well as essays by a young upstart named Samuel Johnson.

By Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers -, Wikipedia

In 1741 Benjamin Franklin began publishing The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America, the first such monthly magazine of this type published in America.

In early 1743 the minister and colonial historian Thomas Prince Sr. worriedly surveyed the religious landscape. Reports across the colonies suggested the wave of intense religious interest was devolving into chaos. Worried that the Great Awakening was fading, Prince and his son started the first evangelical magazine, The Christian History.  His intention was to publish a journal that would flesh out the details of the revival that had been spreading through the American colonies. The first journal was printed by Thomas Prince on March 5, 1743.

Portrait of Thomas Prince, minister of Old South, Boston.

The Christian History ran only two years, but Thomas Prince had such a high standing within the local community that the town of Princeton, Massachusetts was named after him.

Louis Antoine Godey (June 6, 1804 – November 29, 1878) was the publisher of Godey's Lady's Book (1830-77), the largest circulation magazine of its time. Its illustrations not only influenced nineteenth century women's fashions, but would become documents for social historians and prized items for collectors. A publisher also of children's and music journals, Godey was among the first to copyright magazine contents.

Cover from June 1867 issue
Die Gartenlaube - Illustrirtes Familienblatt (The Garden Arbor - Illustrated Family Journal) was the first successful mass-circulation German newspaper and a forerunner of all modern magazines. 19th-century German publisher Ernst Keil conceived the idea for a weekly magazine called Die Gartenlaube, while in prison, and he founded it with editor Ferdinand Stolle in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony in 1853. it was named after the gazebo in Keil's garden in Leipzig. Their objective was to reach and enlighten the whole family, particularly the middle and lower classes of society, with a mixture of current events, biographical sketches, essays on the natural sciences, short stories, poetry, and full-page illustrations.  The magazine's masthead depicted a grandfatherly figure reading to a family around a table.

Circulation of Die Gartenlaube increased steadily following its initial 1853 print run of 5,000 copies. After the magazine introduced serialized novels, its paid circulation increased dramatically, rising to 382,000 by Keil's death in 1876 with an actual readership of at least 2 million. It kept this market supremacy until at least 1887 and at one time it claimed to have the largest readership of any publication in the world.

Life magazine was founded January 4, 1883, in a New York City artist's studio at 1155 Broadway, as a partnership between John Ames Mitchell and Andrew Miller.  it was developed as a general-interest light entertainment periodical, similar to the British magazine, Punch.

The Lady, first published in 1885, is England’s longest-running weekly magazine for women.

Good Housekeeping magazine went on sale for the first time on May 2, 1885. It was founded by Clark W. Bryan in Holyoke, Massachusetts. By 1911. the magazine had achieved a circulation of 300,000, at which time it was bought by the Hearst Corporation. Famous writers who have contributed to the magazine include Somerset Maugham, , A. J. Cronin, Virginia Woolf, and Evelyn Waugh.

Cover from August 1908 made by John Cecil Clay.

The first issue of National Geographic magazine was published on September 22, 1888, nine months after the Society was founded by a small group of eminent explorers and scientists. Starting with its January 1905 publication of several full-page pictures of Tibet in 1900–1901, the magazine changed from being a text-oriented publication closer to a scientific journal to featuring extensive pictorial content, and became well known for this style.

National Geographic magazine was the first U.S. publisher to establish a color-photo lab in 1920, the first to publish underwater color photographs in 1927, the first to print an all-color issue in 1962, and the first to print a hologram in 1984.

The first issue of Vogue magazine was published on December 17 1892, with a cover price of 10 cents. From its inception, the magazine targeted the new New York aristocracy, establishing social norms in a country that did not value class and ceremony as much as England or France.

The first issue of Time magazine was published on March 3, 1923, featuring Joseph G. Cannon, the retired Speaker of the House of Representatives, on its cover.

Newsweek magazine debuted 10 years after Time, of which Newsweek founder Thomas J.C. Martyn had been an editor. The first issue of the magazine was dated February 17, 1933. It evolved into a full spectrum of news material, from breaking news and analysis to reviews and commentary. Today, Newsweek is the second largest news weekly in the US.

Cover of the first issue of News-Week magazine

Time founder Henry Luce bought Life magazine in 1936, solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name, and shifted it to a role as a weekly news magazine with a strong emphasis on photojournalism. The first all-photographic American news magazine, it dominated the market for more than 40 years. The magazine sold more than 13.5 million copies a week at one point.

The December 1946 issue of Arizona Highways was the first all-color issue of a nationally circulated magazine in the United States.

Playboy, America's men's lifestyle and entertainment magazine, was founded by Hugh Hefner in 1953. Hefner holds the Guinness World Record for the longest career as an editor-in-chief for the same magazine.

Sports Illustrated was published for the first time on August 16, 1954. It was claimed that 250,000 subscriptions had been sold before the first issue came off of the presses.

 By Source, Wikipedia Commons

On October 17, 2005, the 40 greatest magazine covers of the last 40 years were unveiled at the American Magazine Conference. Rolling Stone's cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono was named the top magazine cover. The image was photographed by renowned celebrity portraitist Annie Leibovitz mere hours before Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980.

Two armed Al Qaeda terrorists forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015 at about 11:30 local time, They killed 12 people and injured 11 others. The copy of Charlie Hebdo magazine released after the terror attack, sold nearly 8 million copies, compared to their prior usual of 60,000 copies.

Source Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999. 

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