Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Royal Magazine

The Royal Magazine no.1

Launched by C. Arthur Pearson on October 14th, 1898, the first issue dated November 1898. Issued in a buff cover with a two colour (pink and black) photograph engraved by Swain of a young girl designed by Lallie Garet Charles. (In the above picture the magazine was so rust- and otherwise stained that I bleached out the colour. The photograph had survived surprisingly well.)

The Royal followed in the footsteps of Harmsworth's Magazine in being priced 3d. rather than the usual 6d. for a monthly. C. Arthur Pearson, the publisher made much of the need for a huge circulation--a million copies--that would be required to keep such a cheap magazine afloat, although Mike Ashley has pointed out (The Age of the Storytellers) that it is unlikely that the magazine ever achieved anything near a million copies. A more likely circulation was between 150,000 and 250,000, the latter figure for special Christmas issues.

Here is Pearson's first editorial:
It is customary with all new publications for the editor to offer an apology or explanation for coming into existence. We shall make neither the one nor the other. The Royal Magazine will be original in all things. This page, therefore, being at his disposal, the editor proposes to moralise as follows:—
A Million Copies! It does not seem anything very wonderful as the eyes glance about that one is apt to fancy that it is easy to have a just appreciation of what a million really is. Nevertheless, a million copies of The Royal Magazine means more than most people would think.
It takes 65 machines 24 days to print it. If one machine had to do the entire printing and worked continuously night and day it would take 521 days. The binding alone affords occupation for 750 hands. No single firm could undertake so large a task to be completed with the necessary speed.
Setting aside all questions of the labour involved in designing and comlpeting the Magazine, in printing and binding and distributing it, let us now try and gauge the bulk of a million copies
In the first place, they weigh almost exactly 300 tons.
Laid flat on top of the other the million copies would form a slender column rising exactly 4 miles and 1640 yards into the air. That is practically to a height equal to that of Mount Everest.
Placed end to end we would have a “thin buff line” 149 miles 1640 yards in length—a line in fact that would extend from the publishing office some ten of fifteen miles beyond Bristol, or almost to Sheffield.
Or if it were to decide to enclose St. Paul’s in a wall as high as the cross at the top of the dome, one million copies would suffice with due allowance for means of entering.
If, before the magazines were stitched together, the loose pages and covers were laid on the ground, they would cover an are of almost exactly 571 acres.
The area of St. Paul’s is approximately 78,125 square feet. Five times would amount to 390,675 square feet, and yet the first edition of The Royal Magazine would page the lot with copies placed side by side, and would leave sufficient over to stretch, if laid in single file and end to end, a distance of over thirteen miles from the Cathedral.
Despite the magazine never achieving a million sales, it was a success and would run for 491 issues in total. After 385 issues, it was revamped (December 1930) as The New Royal Magazine; in May 1932 it became The Royal Pictorial before switching tack completely. In January 1935 it became a film magazine under the title The Royal Screen Pictorial, followed a few months later by the dropping of 'The Royal' when it became Screen Pictorial in July 1935. It was an early war casualty, the last issue dated September 1939.


The Royal Magazine [#1 v1, November 1898] (3d, 96pp, cover: photo)
3 * Draycott, Kirby * And Crock Face of Schaumburg * ss; illus. V. Christie
10 * Walker, Geo. M. * The Art of the Camera * ar
20 * Florence, Walter * Where Sacred Relics May Be Found * ar; illus. W. Wallis Mills
28 * Rudd, Percy * The Brown Frock * ss; illus. C. Michel
37 * [Misc. Material] * Some People and Their Parents * ph
40 * Ray, Charles * Strange Fates of Some Noted Buildings * ar; illus. Geo. H. Edwards
47 * Marchmont, A. W. * Aeolf, the Martyr * ss; illus. A. L. Bowley
52 * Nauen, Etta * The Laziest People on Earth * ar
56 * Anon. * A Chapeaugraphic Artist * ar
60 * Marshall, Archibald * Elijach P. Jopp and the Dragon * ss; illus. Tom Browne
67 * Denison, Jeffery * After the Accident! The Risks We Run * ar
73 * Anon. * Snapshot Interviews: George R. Sims * iv
76 * Hampton, Evelyn * The Coachman’s Daughter * ss; illus. Lewis Baumer
84 * Harding, Geoffrey * What a Dog Can Do * ar
86 * Stevens, Lewis * Swimming on Dry Land * ar
90 * Anon. * The Curiosity Shop * ms
91 * Wainwright, Caley * After Dinner Carpentering * ar; illus. A. McNeill Barbour
96 * Anon. * One Million Copies! What it Means * ar; illus. J. S. S.

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