They are usually published on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, and can range from general interest magazines which cover a wide selection of subjects to specialist magazines on almost any subject imaginable.
Although they have similar historical roots to newspapers, magazines are printed with higher-quality materials and are usually substantially larger volumes than newspapers. Due to their less frequent publication they rarely feature up-to-the-minute news reports, and many tend to focus on in-depth reports and editorial pieces.
Magazine collectors often focus on a specific area of magazines. These could include full-issue runs of a certain title, first-issue magazines, titles on a particular subject (such as movie magazines), news magazines with significant events on their covers, or magazines with cover stories featuring a particular celebrity. Many notable writers, celebrated artists and photographers have contributed to magazines over the years, and those featuring famous stories or images can be highly collectible.
Often magazines are collected as part of a larger memorabilia collection; early car magazines can be considered automobilia, and many celebrity memorabilia collectors will vintage magazines within their collections. Other popular areas for collectors include the American ‘pulp’ magazines of the early 20th century, and magazines with cover artwork painted by Norman Rockwell.
Magazines in excellent condition can be difficult to find as they were never intended to stand the test of time. They are by their nature ephemeral, designed to be discarded after being read, and the majority of old magazines were simply thrown away or recycled.
The value of a magazine is based on a number of factors. Condition and rarity are both important, but the major factor for collectors is the subject matter. If the subject of a magazine (particularly its front cover) is a popular one, such as Marilyn Monroe or the Apollo 11 Moon landing, it will be far more sought-after and valuable. A near-mint condition issue from the 1920s will often be far less valuable than a title from the 1960s in an average condition, depending on the subject and cover.
The first historical use of the term magazine was in the 18th century; The Gentleman's Magazine was founded in London, England, by Edward Cave in January, 1731, and featured stories, news items and original features on a number of topics. It remained in print, in one form or another, until 1922, and Cave was credited with coining the term ‘magazine’ to mean a publication featuring various stories by Samuel Johnson in his dictionary of 1755.
The 18th century saw magazines grow popular, and several notable titles appeared during this time including the shipping publication Lloyds List (which continues to this day) in 1734, the American Magazine (or Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies) in 1741 and the French fashion periodical Journal des Dames et des Modes in 1797.
The 19th century saw a boom in magazine popularity in Europe and the United States, and the first truly successful American magazine appeared in 1821 in the form of the Saturday Evening Post. In 1825 there were still less than 100 regular publications in America, but increasing education and literacy levels meant an ever-expanding audience of readers and by 1850 this had risen to around 600 titles. By 1890 there were 4,400 titles published in the U.S, with a combined circulation of around 18 million people.
In Victorian England magazines, known as ‘periodicals’, were increasingly popular; the men of 19th-century England often spoke of themselves as living in an "age of Periodicals".
These publications containing collections of ordered information from around the world appealed to the spirit of scientific enquiry and order that characterised the era. However, until the end of the century magazines were still read predominantly by the educated upper classes due, in part, to their price. Publishers slowly started to see a market in the urban lower-middle classes, whose main reading matter consisted of daily newspapers and weekly tabloids, and whose literacy levels were growing due to the free schools system introduced in the 1870s.
As the market increased, so did the amount of advertising within magazines, and many drastically lowered their cover price to increase their readership and thus generate more income from adverts (a business model which is still dominant today). Photographs began to appear regularly, and the modern magazine as we recognise it today was born. Notable titles of the 19th century include Punch (1841), the Illustrated London News (1842), the Economist (1843), the Scientific American (1845), Harpers New Monthly Magazine (1850), Cosmopolitan (1886), The Strand (1891) and Vogue (1892).
The first half of the 20th century saw a large diversification of magazines, as many more specialist titles began to appear. The first movie fan magazine Photoplay was launched in 1911, society fashion magazine Vanity Fair in 1914, Good Housekeeping in 1922, the Melody Maker and the National Enquirer in 1926, and Life magazine in 1936. The period also saw the birth of the comic book industry, which grew to dominate the youth publication market.
The 1950s saw magazines reflecting the booming entertainment industry; TV Guide launched in the U.S in 1953, along with Playboy Magazine featuring Marilyn Monroe as its centrefold. In the same year in the U.K, the New Musical Express published its first official record chart. Specialised weekly titles began to appear, such as the Angling Times (1953) and Motor Cycle News (1956), and in 1961 the British satirical magazine Private Eye first appeared.
The 1960s also saw a boom in music magazines, the most famous of which being Rolling Stone which started life in 1967. The period also saw the growth of a large number of underground titles such as Oz magazine, home-made ‘zines’ and adult ‘comix’ featuring the work of artists like Robert Crumb.
The 1970s brought with them the launch of notable titles such as People magazine (1974), Smash Hits (1979) and the first computing magazine Personal Computer World (1978). Computer magazines went on to populate the market during the 1980s with the home computing boom. In 1980 cutting-edge fashion magazine The Face was first published, which the creators followed up in 1986 with the men’s quarterly Arena. The 1990s would see a rapid expansion of the ‘lads mag’ market with titles such as Loaded and FHM, a trend that was started back in the 1950s by Hugh Hefner and Playboy.
Types of magazine
Main article: List of types of magazine
Main article: List of magazine collecting terms
The world’s most expensive magazine
The world’s most valuable magazine is a copy of the American ‘All-Story’ magazine, published in October 1912. It features Edgar Rice Burroughs' second published work, and is the first ever appearance of the character Tarzan in any medium. There are suspected to be fewer than 20 copies in existence, and in 2006 a copy graded ‘FN’ (fine condition) was sold for a record price of $59,000.
Other notable magazines
Main article: List of notable magazines
Notable magazine collections and collectors
Main article: List of notable magazine collections
Main article: List of notable magazine collectors
Main article: List of magazine dealers
Clubs and societies
Main article:List of magazine collectors' clubs and societies
Main article: List of magazine dealers' associations
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