The Illustrated London News, c. 1842.

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Printer and newsagent Herbert Ingram moved from Nottingham to London in early 1842. Inspired by how the Weekly Chronicle always sold more copies when it featured an illustration, he had the idea of publishing a weekly newspaper that would contain pictures in every edition.
Ingram’s initial idea was that it would concentrate on crime reporting, as per the later Illustrated Police News, but his collaborator, engraver Henry Vizetelly, convinced him that a newspaper covering more general news would enjoy greater success.
Ingram rented an office, recruited artists and reporters, and employed as his editor Frederick William Naylor Bayley (1808–1853), formerly editor of the National Omnibus.
The first issue of the The Illustrated London News appeared on Saturday 14 May 1842.
Its 16 pages and 32 wood engravings covered topics such as the war in Afghanistan, a train crash in France, a survey of the candidates for the United States presidential election, extensive crime reports, an account of a fancy dress ball at Buckingham Palace, theatre and book reviews, and a list of births, marriages and deaths.
The newspaper also carried three pages of advertisements for items such as a taxidermy manual, Madame Bernard’s treatment for baldness, and Smith’s quinine tonic. Ingram hired 200 men to carry placards through the streets of London promoting the first edition of his new newspaper.
Costing sixpence, the first edition sold 26,000 copies. Despite this initial success, sales of the second and subsequent editions were disappointing.
However, Herbert Ingram was determined to make his newspaper a success, and sent every clergyman in the country a copy of the edition which contained illustrations of the installation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and by this means secured a great many new subscribers.
Its circulation soon increased to 40,000 and by the end of its first year was 60,000.
In 1851, after the newspaper published Joseph Paxton’s designs for the Crystal Palace before even Prince Albert had seen them, the circulation rose to 130,000.
In 1852, when it produced a special edition covering the funeral of the Duke of Wellington, sales increased to 150,000; and in 1855, mainly due to the newspaper reproducing some of Roger Fenton’s pioneering photographs of the Crimean War (and also due to the abolition of the Stamp Act which taxed newspapers), it sold 200,000 copies per week.
By 1863 The Illustrated London News was selling more than 300,000 copies every week, enormous figures in comparison to other British newspapers of the time.
Read more via The Illustrated London News – Wikipedia

H.P. Lovecraft, an early master of Horror, 1890-1937.

H.P. Lovecraft in 1934 – Image Credit: Wikimedia.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Rhode Island.
He was an only child, and when he was three years old his father was committed to a psychiatric hospital where he died five years later.
This left Lovecraft to be raised by his mother, two aunts, and grandfather.
Due to poor health, he didn’t attend public school for long, instead spending much of his time at home where he was an avid reader.
He did attend high school for some time but left after a nervous breakdown. His grandfather’s death didn’t help the family situation either.
They were forced to move to a smaller home due to problems with the management of his grandfather’s estate.
While Lovecraft wrote poetry in his youth, he really prioritized his writing career when he joined the United Amateur Press Association.
He began submitting many of his stories, poems and essays to magazines. His first professional publication was in 1919, the same year his mother was committed after suffering from depression and hysteria.
Lovecraft found much of his success in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, in which he was first published in 1923.
He was briefly married and moved to New York City but financial difficulties led to him returning to Rhode Island after an amicable split with his wife.
He continued to write throughout his life, seeing his most prolific period during the last several years of his life.
He died from intestinal cancer in 1937.
Even though Lovecraft might not have seen immense financial success during his lifetime, later writers have been greatly influenced by his work.
Selected Reading: The Call of Cthulhu The Shadow Over Innsmouth At the Mountains of Madness
Source: Ten Early Masters of Horror Genre

The New York Times (Old Grey Lady).

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Image: “Just a few feet from the door, I am able to watch the final work on the Page One lockup”.
This account of the frenetic activity in the comp room prior to publication of the New York Times (The Old Grey Lady) was written by a well meaning  journalist back in the glory days of hot metal newspaper publishing.
Nearby, ink-stained proofreaders sweat under the lights, trying to catch errors.
It is hard to imagine how they concentrate in all this noise and activity — a din of clattering typesetters, the swirls of rushing people, mallets banging on steel frames.
It is a muscular place, governed by strange customs and alien terms, and I try not to stray far from the elevator.
All the elements of the front page — the type for articles and headlines, the photo-engraved picture cuts, the weather and edition information that flank The New York Times logo at the top — are set into a steel frame, called a chase, atop a waist-high table known as the stone.
Dave Lidman, a makeup editor with a kindly face, motions me over and takes some of the mystery out of the operation.
He checks the whole page, reading type that is upside down and backward. If he spots an error, he does not touch the type.
It’s against the union rules for an editor to handle type, he explains, so he must ask a printer to make fixes.
When Dave is satisfied, the frame is tightened with blocks of wood and screws. Mallet blows are struck to ensure that the type is level and nothing is loose.
Then, Dave explains, the locked page is wheeled to a matrix operation, where a cardboard-like mat is pressed down on the locked-up type with enormous force — 2,100 pounds per square inch — under a cylindrical roller.
The mat, a positive image of the page, is dropped down a chute to the stereotype room five floors below.
There, the mat is curved into a half-barrel shape and molten lead is sprayed against it.
The resulting metal plate is an exact replica — in negative again — of the page set in type in the composing room.
The plate, when cooled in a bath of water, is fitted onto a cylinder of the press. Paper rolling over the inked plates will pick up the positive image.
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When all is ready, the pressmen stand back, a bell rings, a button is pushed and the gargantuan presses, fed by great rolls of newsprint and tons of ink, begin to roll.
The noise is deafening.
Indeed, many pressmen are congenitally deaf. Soon the paper rolls are speeding at 1,200 feet a minute, and the presses are churning out 400,000 newspapers an hour.
It is a two-part paper, averaging 60 pages on weekdays and a whopping 436 pages on Sundays.
via The Old Grey Lady: The Way It Was.

The Bank Burglar’s Outfit, c. 1887.

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As long as there is something worth stealing it is probably the case with the human race that what that something is won’t be, and will be stolen.
This has been the case forever, and as vigilant as an owner of property might be–whether that bit that stood for labor exchange units was a cow or land or gold or money itself–there will be someone else out there in the anti-vigilant world tempting fate and chance and skill at taking someone’s belongings away.
We have a little window that has opened to reveal a piece of that world–an unusual one, for the 19th century, anyway.
That is what I saw when breezing through the memoirs of George Washington Wallace (1823-1891), Recollections of a Chief of Police, which was published in 1887.
Wallace was police chief of New York City, making him the police chief (sorry, Chicago), and he had some pretty good recollections to recollect.
(Which is a good thing he recorded this book when he did, because he would be dead four years later.
Read more via Ptak Science Books: The Correct Tools for the Job: Making Crime Pay But Not Really, 1893.

Lithographs of Locomotives, c. 1850s.

Twenty Four Ton Passenger Engine, 'Gen

“The locomotive industry emerged in mid-nineteenth-century America with the development and rapid expansion of the railroad network.
As the number of locomotive manufacturers increased, the industry became intensely competitive, and builders vied with one another to capture the attention of railroad companies, officials, and agents.
The first locomotive builders’ prints were created in the late 1830s and ‘40s in response to this industry competition. These lithographic portraits of locomotives were soon considered to be essential to the manufacturers’ promotion of their machines.
Locomotive builders’ prints differed from ordinary advertising prints or landscape views with picturesque trains.
Instead, they were a unique type of print, a hybrid designed both to attract potential customers and to provide accurate technical information about locomotive engines and cars.

Amoskeag Manufacturing Co

With the introduction of chromolithography in the 1840s and ‘50s, locomotive manufacturers began commissioning color prints of their engines.
Early American locomotives were often painted and colorfully decorated; chromolithographic locomotive builders’ prints offer a rare insight into the decorative designs, finishes, and materials favored by manufacturers.
The use of color in the 1850s ushered in what has been called the golden age of the locomotive builders’ prints.
See more via BibliOdyssey: Locomotive Lithographs.

Uncle Joe’s Underground Printshop.

Joseph Stalin’s Printing Press
The underground press has a long history, from the 16th century tracts printed in Calvinist Geneva, to the psychedelic magazines of “Swinging London” in the 1960’s, and the “samizdat” literature of the USSR.
In most cases the term “underground” simply means, anti-establishment, clandestine or banned by authorities such as the state or the church.
At the Joseph Stalin Underground Printing House Museum , in Tblisi, the capital of Georgia, the printing press is, literally, underground.
Stalin (1878 – 1953) was born as Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili in Gori, a town about 85 kilometres east of Tbilisi.
His early revolutionary activities included bank robbery, the proceeds of which funded the secret press which the museum celebrates.
Between 1903 and 1906, when the press was discovered by the Imperial Russian Police, flyers, pamphlets, and newspapers were printed in Azeri, Armenian Georgian and Russian for distribution in the Eastern Caucasus – a compositor’s nightmare of four different alphabets.
In 1937 Stalin and the notorious secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria, decided to rebuild the house and cellar, and, with a new building for exhibits, to open a museum, which survived until 1991.
Between 1991 and 1998, when the local Communist Party took over, the museum lay empty, exhibits were pillaged, and the cellar flooded regularly in winter.
A visiting Chinese General berated the Tbiblisi local authority about the flooding and since 2012 the problem has been rectified.
I was shown round by Zhiuli Sikhmashvili, deputy chairman of the Georgian Communist Party, a sprightly man in his 80’s and a committed Communist for over 50 years; he has little English, I have little Russian, but somehow, we managed to communicate.
Visitors now descend to the printshop down rickety stairs from an undistinguished bungalow.
In the gloomy cellar stands the rusty flatbed press, perhaps capable of restoration if the job is tackled soon.
The maker’s name is Maschinenfabrik Augsburg, the date of manufacture 1893. The press made its way from Germany to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, was then dismantled, transported 600 kilometres to Tbilisi, and reassembled where it now stands.
A small bonus for the printing historian is the F M Weiter Liberty Press which rests, without explanation, in the room above the cellar. Apparently in good condition, how one of the most popular American jobbing presses of the 19th Century arrived in the museum is a mystery.
Source: Joseph Stalin’s Printing Press