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Sunday, April 13, 2008

The New Penny Magazine

From the opening editorial:

A Few Words About Ourselves
With the publication of The New Penny Magazine we may claim to have touched the high-water mark in cheap popular periodical literature. Never before has such a collection of valuable material, both literary and pictorial, been offered at so low a price. Much has been done in recent years to cheapen our periodical literature. We can say with confidence that The New Penny Magazine in the matter of cheapness excels any other publication of the day.
It is our desire that it should be equally conspicious so far as the excellence of its contents, and the beauty and variety of its illustrations are concerned. We aim at making it not only the cheapest but the best popular Magazine of its class.
The pioneer of the cheap periodical Press was the Penny Magazine originated by Charles Knight and dear to the reading public in the days of our fathers. Mr. Knight’s publication has been dead for more than a generation. In issuing The New Penny Magazine, we are seeking to adapt to the tastes and requirements of the present day the idea which Mr. Knight embodied in his great publication. We propose to supply week by week a magazine fully equal in quality of its contents to any of the popular monthly magazines now published. In price it will be ONE PENNY, as against the sixpence ordinarily charged for the monthly magazine; whilst the quantity of reading matter and the number of illustrations will be fully one-half of those given in publications costing six or even twelve times as much.
We must leave The New Penny Magazine to speak for itself. Its readers will find themselves in possession of a treasure-house of literature old and new, both solid and entertaining.
Articles of exceptional interest, stories of adventure, thrilling records of gallant deeds, vivid pages from history, anecdotal accounts of novelties, curiosities, and famous personages, and graphic descriptions of Nature’s most wonderful scenes, will find a place in our pages. Each number will also contain one or two short complete stories and a serial tale by the best writers. Some of the richest gems of recent years will be found side by side with the masterpieces of the present day; and the whole will be embellished by illustrations from the pen, pencil or brush of the leading masters of black and white art.
Excellence will be our guiding principle, and the high standard which we set before ourselves will be steadily maintained, our intention being to secure for The New Penny Magazine the proud position of being the best and cheapest magazine that has ever been produced.
Published by Cassell & Company Ltd., London, Paris, New York & Melbourne, La Belle Sauvage, London, E.C.

Although it boasted about its desire to be the best pennyworth available the content was anonymous and fairly undistinguished. In this issue, the “Novelist’s Neighbours” were those of the late Robert Louis Stephenson in Samoa. Frank Barrett, the one named author, was also the author of ‘Olga’s Crime’, ‘Fettered For Life’, etc. Barrett was also a contributor to Cassell's Magazine and a writer of 'sensational' novels in the days when novels were published in three volumes but, beyond his dates (1848-1926), I know very little about him. I shall have to do some digging.

Contents:

The New Penny Magazine [#1, October 22, 1898] (1d, 60pp, cover by ?)
1 * Anon. * A Few Words About Ourselves * ed
2 * Anon. * A Novelist’s Neighbours * ar
6 * Anon. * Hard Pressed * ss
9 * Anon. * Nelson’s Day: October 21st, 1805 * ar
16 * Anon. * The Giant Cuttle-Fish of Fiction * ar
19 * Anon. * A Day’s Work in Queensland * ar
23 * [Comic Strip] * The Valorous Negro * cs; illus. A. H.
24 * Anon. * "As Others See Us" * ar
26 * Anon. * Touch and Go: A Midshipman’s Story * ss
31 * Anon. * In Lavender Land * ar
35 * Anon. * A Tragedy of the Peninsular War * ar; illus. Gordon Browne
37 * Anon. * Curious Spouting Rocks * ar
38 * Barrett, Frank * Out of the Jaws of Death [Part 1 of ?] * sl
44 * Anon. * A Welcome Inundation: The Annual Rise of the Nile * ar
49 * [Misc. Material] * Curiosities * ms
50 * Anon. * A Mysterious Affair * ss
56 * Anon. * "Going to the South Pole" * ar
60 * [Misc. Material] * Fun and Fancy * jo

2 comments:

  1. s.mcgurk1@btinternet.com12 Sept 2011, 01:49:00

    I have a couple of volumes of the new penny magazine, and was looking to find out a bit more about it. Wikipedia's Cassell bibliography doesn't list them and your page at least gives a hint at a publication date. I take it from your list that the numbers marked with a star are volumes that were published- There is no legend so I'm not 100%, but if you want to contact me I can let you know the volumes I have, if they would be of interest, one of which is a "seen better days" 14.

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  2. The listing is simply the contents of the first issue (the one illustrated at the top of the column) with the page numbers, author, title and a code to identify what the item is (ar = article; ed = editorial; ms = miscellaneous, etc.)

    I did a bunch of these first issues (having borrowed a box of old magazines from a friend) which can be seen by following this link.

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