A collector sells bound volumes in 1878…

December 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This advertisement appeared in the “Scientific American” issue of June 22, 1878, noting a collector who has various bound volumes of the title, selling for $1 each. How prices have changed.

My Collecting Story… Simon Marshall-Jones…

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

headtats_simon_marshall-jonBeing an artist and writer, I possess a fascination with the world and the universe that isn’t limited by borders. Ever since I was a young boy, living in a small Welsh town, I have always wanted to know about the wonders out there, and before I had reached the end of my first decade I had an avid interest in both archaeology and astronomy, as well as other sciences. I have carried that abiding sense of wonder into my adult life and it continues to inform my everyday existence.

Collecting is as much part of my genes and psyche as my diabetes is part of my genetic make-up and creativity is a part of my psychology. Over the last four decades or so, I have collected everything from pop cultural artefacts (obscure vinyl records from seriously underground outfits, for instance) to high-brow books on unusual subjects (eg, the sociology and politics of death, and the history of Freemasonry). However, the one collecting habit that has given me the greatest pleasure is the one that harks back to those childhood interests – working towards amassing a complete run of Scientific American, from its foundation in 1845 until the present day.

I fell into collecting the magazine quite by accident. In each and every current issue is a column that looks back at articles and items of news from previous issues in its long history – 50, 100 & 150 years ago. It occurred to me that they were only the highlights, mere gilded snippets of a broader tapestry, inevitably giving only a minute glimpse of the fuller picture. I felt that, rather than wonder what else there was in each of these vintage issues, I would chase them down and read them for myself. Not only is this venerable magazine an almost complete history of science, it is also a wonderful tracker of social history as well. The progress of scientific discovery was much slower the, or so it appears, but no less momentous for all that. Scientific American spans steam, automobiles, airplanes, the American Civil War, both World Wars, the discovery of penicillin, insulin, computers, man’s first exploratory ventures into space and into the depths of the oceans – and it’s all been reported in the pages of Scientific American over the past nigh-on 165 years. That in itself persuades me that collecting the magazine is an exceptionally worthwhile enterprise, and often sends a frisson of delight down my spine.

Most Historic 19th Century post-Civil War Headline… revisited…

November 22, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Although I think Tim’s choice was a good one (see his post), my choice for the most important event of the nineteenth century, post-Civil War is the invention of the first practical incandescent light bulb by Thomas Edison. His creation of this light bulb as well as his other inventions make him the most recognized inventor of the nineteenth century and perhaps of all time. In fact, reports about his most significant inventions were featured in several nineteenth century issues of Scientific American, more than any inventor of the era.

Newspapers, however, were slow but not reluctant to recognize Edison’s achievements. As a result, there is no single report that marked his most famous invention. The reports were usually topical ones written by staff writers who visited Menlo Park, witnessed demonstrations of his inventions, or interviewed Mr. Edison. Images and a description were featured in the Scientific American issue dated March 22, 1879.  Nevertheless, the impact of Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb and his other inventions are immeasurable and far-reaching. They continue to play a role in our daily lives and make the world a better place for all mankind.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Note:  Images with a supporting article were featured in the March 22, 1879 issue of Scientific American.

« Previous Page