18th century American magazines: one to share…

February 2, 2009 by  
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Magazines published in 18th century America were relative few & far between when compared with newspapers of the same era. From the first magazine in 1741 through the Revolutionary War only 18 magazine titles were published, most lasting but a few issues. During the Revolutionary War only one magazine was in print, and it only lasted from January, 1775 through July, 1776, this last issue containing the Declaration of Independence.

Magazines have always been of interest to me since almost all titles carried various news of the day, typically within the back several pages, much like the British “Gentleman’s Magazine” had done since 1731. Some American magazines contained plates as well, but finding issues with the plates still intact can be extremely difficult and frustrating. The more noteworthy the plate, the less likely it will be present, typically removed by some previous owner many years ago. So when issues come on the market with significant plates still bound within the issue, it’s a moment of much excitement.

Here is one from our private collection, The Columbian Magazine from Philadelphia dated January, 1787, which contains a full page plate of “General Washington”, in addition to a foldout plate of the “Meteorological Observations” for the month of December, 1786.  We are pleased to share these photos with our fellow collectors, and wish all of you the great luck in finding your own American magazine with notable prints!

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3 Responses to “18th century American magazines: one to share…”

  1. Bill Caughlan on September 8th, 2009 10:22 am

    Mr. Hughes,

    I am currently doing a little research on the history of magazines for a temporary exhibt at the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, PA. I am currently reading Frank Mott’s A History of Magazines. In this he says that from 1741-94 there were about 100 magazines published, though most failed. Does that sound about right to you? You say that from 1741 to the Am. Rev. there were only 18, that means their was an explosion of attempts to start magazines right after the war.
    Also, Mott seems to be the main historian on the history of magazines, can you recommend any others?

    Thank you for your time.
    Bill Caughlan
    NPS Ranger.

  2. Tim Hughes on September 8th, 2009 10:39 am

    Bill – I use Mott quite a bit myself (it’s the only work I use concerning magazines of the 18th & 19th centuries) and at the back of his volume one he lists 18 titles from 1741 thru 1779. I count only an additional 26 titles thru 1794 for a total of 44 from 1741 thru 1794, so I’m not sure why he might note “around 100” unless there were many which failed almost immediately which didn’t make it to his list.

  3. Bill Caughlan on September 8th, 2009 11:09 am

    OK. I am reading Mott’s book on Google Books. It seems that once I read a page it won’t let me go back to check. However, according to my notes, the information about the number of magazines was somewhere between pages 19 and 23 A History of American Magazines. I need to get a hard copy of it, but it’s so expensive!

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