Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gourmand Magazine, March 1885

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz
Ahhh, Gourmand Magazine!  The magazine of conspicuous consumption! The magazine renowned for its celebration of shear, and unapologetic, gluttony that reached its Zenith in the era of American Splendor in the late 19th Century.  Appearing on each cover was the motto of the periodical, "Jus est Vita", which roughly translated into English as meaning "Gravy is Life".  Each month, readers were taken to places that they could only imagine.  Bakeries, confectioners, beef houses and Bavarian Breweries - where those with a lush desire for nothing but the best (and as much of it as it was humanly possible to consume) could be had.  Even Hetty Green was a subscriber - long cold nights spent lovingly looking through the lush pages, representing the unbridled desire that even the Witch of Wall Street could not supress.  That is the real meaning of Kismet.

Two things lead to the eventual closure of Gourmand, however.  First, there were very, very short life spans of the readers who seemed to be plagued with all manner of health problems.  Gout, apoplexy, catarrh, lumbago and bursitis - all doomed the readership.  And if that wasn't enough, there was the Progressive Era, with all of its repudiations and stances on going back to nature and eating diets that couldn't keep a squirrel alive let alone a 450 pound man who would have a Chateaubriand for a night time snack and think nothing of it.  Oh, the dreams we had those nights as well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

JoMACFA January, 1774

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz
If, by chance you were feeling a bit poorly in January, 1775 and waiting at your barber's for a bloodletting pick me up to cure your ills, chances are you find a ciopy of this magazine in his stack of out of date periodicals.   And long before there were trendy houses with glass curtain walls and Barcelona Chairs people needed a magazine at what was hot, and what was not, in Colonial Modern terms.  And this would be that guide.  Who could forget the December 1773 deatiling newest and hottest fad to sweep France but the Crochet and Crochet hook?  Well not JoMacfa which covered the fad as it swept the New Jersey colony as coverlets for dairy cattle had the hands of wives of Dairymen everwhere clattering away on their hooks.  After all, cozy cow give more milk and better butter!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Heiress, January 1960

Copyright, 2009 Stuart J. Koblentz

The January 1960 issue of HEIRESS Magazine featured that grand dame, America's own successful rich girl, Marjorie Merriweather Post Close Hutton Davies May (who, after divorcing Mr. May went back to her maiden name), otherwise known as force behind Post Cereals and General Foods.  Post always made a name for herself - but she really hit the big time when she bought the entire contents of the Czarist warehouses in Leningrad from Stalin in the 1930s.  Thousands of pounds of Czarist bauble for a few bags of  frozen peas and brussel sprouts.   Post's success was in stark contrast of that of her niece's misfortune.  Post was married to E.F. Hutton (Yes, that E.F. Hutton), uncle of Barbara Hutton, the Poor Little Rich Girl herself and was appalled when Hutton bought a small duchy in Denmark for retail. Post on the other hand could buy the riches of Russia for a few frozen peas.  Needless to say, Post died in splendor at a ripe old age, while Hutton died in the arms of gigolo in Hollywood.

Unfortunatly, Heiress Magazine enjoyed its heydey during the Cafe Society of the 1930s ad 1940s, and by 1960s its readership had shrunk up to mostly nothing owing to the fact that the Federal Income Tax Code had eliminated most chances for a women of means to be Madcap, and instead was pointing them towards cheap sexual escapades to capture the minds of Americans.  By 1970, the magazine was as dead as the Lindy Hop, and with it went Xaiver Cugat's career.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hypchondriac's Home Companion, June 1888

Hypochondriac's Home Companion for June 1888 featured cutting edge articles on cutting edge paper. So much so that the issue would have been recalled given the outbreak of papercuts had the Federal Government monitored such things at the time.  But if they weren't watching what meat packers put into hot dogs, they certainly weren't paying attention to crudly cut bargain paper in a magazine, either.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

SVENGALI, April 1909

Copyright 2009 Stuart J. Koblentz
Svengali, The Magazine For Those in The Know and Know They Know It, was a niche market publication favored by soothsayers and those who enjoyed being in the midst of machinations.  In addition to personality profiles and how to articles, the magazine also included grocery coupons and a popular puzzles sections. The APril 1909 issue featured a personality profile on the latest rage in Russia, RASPUTAN, a mad monk who made cassocks momentaily popular.  He was, however found to be some what of a egoist, and serenaded the Czarina at the annual Surfs Up Ball with with an all too personal version of Sexual Healing.  Chaos ensued.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Satyress (United Kingdom Edition), December 1788

Copyright 2009 Stuart J. Koblentz
Satyress was the first really popular magazine to delve into the pysche of a woman's sexuality in the Georgeian Era.  Founded in 1599 in France, the monthly was an immediate success in its native country.  The magazine originally launch in England in 1618, however its publisher, Pilgrim Press, really underestimated the collective power of British scorn and were forced from the nation.  Vowing to return, they did so in 1765 and finding the political climate much better, they started the whole shebang back up again, this time to much pomp and circumstance.   A sad note: noted French Chemist and cover boy Antoine Lavoisier (above with his wife) would soon be one of the victims of the French Revolution because lovemaking that was "Magnifique" was prohibited under Revolutionary Laws as being a tacic of the First Estate to lull the people into comforts also prohibited under French Revolutionary Courts.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Modern Doyenne, January, 1912

The editorial Board of Modern Doyenne was sure that the birth of the Progressive era would spell the death of its publication, much as the financial panic of 1893 spelled the end for its sister publications, The Female Maturity Gazette and Crone's Life.  Nothing could have been further from the truth. 

What almost killed the magazine wasn't its aging subscriber base, but this cover on its January 1912 issue featuring Gertrude Stein. 

Feeling that the image made Stein look fat, the magazine sinched her up a bit to make her look more youthful, trim and less dowdy.  The outcry from the masses was loud and quite clear.  They wanted Stein to look like a Gerturde Stein should look, and to Hell with the makeovers just to sell periodicals.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ennui, January 1890

Copyright 2009 Stuart J. Koblentz

Ennui, the magazine for those who "have it all, seen it all and know it all", was journal popular with those who had every imaginable creature comfort one could ever want and found them selves bored silly with life and those around them.  Said George Bernard Shaw "It is the perfect journal for those who can find no joy in the tickle that champagne bubbles can give ones nose."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Burgher, 1759

Copyright 2009 Stuart J. Koblentz

The rising middleclass of the German speaking people was centered on consumerism in the 18th and 19th Century.  BURGHER, (which eschewed the more mundane spelling of BURGER in favor of the one one that provided a certain something extra) was targeted at the family man who wasn't a cad, but wasn't dead and buried yet, if you know what we mean.  Each issue devoted itself to People, Professions, Shopping and with increasing frequency into the 19th Century, the desire to obtain the ulitmate cherry that life had to offer - the French Provinces of Alsace and Lorraine which were just chalk full of goodies and beer. 

Alas, the German middle class became increasingly "middling" as time wore on - and as people with aspirations will, set their sites on higher, loftier goals like world domination, instead of a jazzy new coach or baubbles for the little Frau back home.  Thus Burgher, like the people of a unified Germany in the 20the Century, became a victim of itself and found itself out of fashion, and out of luck.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Empress, Novembre 1801

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz
At some point we all have inner doubts.  Do we measure up to our own high standards?  Do we measure up to their standards?  Such was the theme of the self-esteem issue of Empress Magazine in November 1801. Its one thing to be the Empress, its something all together different to fabulous in the esteemed halls of hallowed history.  So this issue looked at one Catherine II, a mousy little courtesan who went on to be the biggest thing that ever happened to sex until Xaviera took London!  And what made Catherine so "Great"?  Well according to the magazine, it was all in the careful selection of her lovers.  All 1,001 of them.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Papal Style, November 1855

If you were in service to the Catholic Church in the 1800s, then you knew that Papl Style was the place to keep tabs on the up and coming fashion for Cleric, Brother, Father and His Serene Holiness himself.  While Sisters and Abesses had a long tradition of high fashion (eschewing structured skirts? I mean, how daring is that in the 18th Century!), it was Pius IX who is generally credited with reigning in the high flaluting styles of previous not so pius Pope's and favoring timeless style that endures today.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The White Anglo Saxon Protestant Monthly rePRESS, 1890

Copyright 2009, Stuart J. Koblentz

While they are loathe to admit it, the American WASP is an endangered species.  At their peak in the 1950s, several million of the hearty people known for the control of their emotions lived across the nation.  The November 1890 issue of The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant rePRESS was noteworthy for its feature on the iconic Borden Family of peaceful Fall River, Massachusetts.  The highlight of the time spent with the Bordon's the witnessing of a family dispute over a key left on a mantle and a locked door.  While nothing was said between them, the writer for the rePOST noted that "Despite the tensions, the family was in complete control at all moments, save for Lizzie whose only outlet was the sharpening the metal of the yard tools for their employment in the next season."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Journal of British Orthodontics, October 1915

Copyright 2009 Stuart J Koblentz
The Journal of British Orthodontics was not a scholarly magazine per se, but it was written so that patients had something to read in the waiting room other than the children's bibles that salesmen drop off just in case someone needs to have the words to Nearer My God to Thee before seeing the Orthodontist.   Each issue was filled with good cheer and matters pertaining to good teeth and gums.  The November 1915 issue featured Music Hall Iicon Marie Lloyd who was a spokes person for straight teeth, her's being unsnaggled by an "Ortho" in Glasglow over a period of several years.  Yes, she still had a horrific overbite, but her teeth were straight, by God!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Modern Doyenne, November 1793

Copyright 2009 by Stuart J. Koblentz
Modern Doyenne magazine was a monthly periodical targeted at the women of means living a life of leisure in the newly formed United States.  Each issue contained advice columns, fashion and recipes and comments on emerging social customs and the dangers they posed for society.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Young Matron Monthly, October 1848

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz

Lonely was the woman who gave her heart (and surrendered her life for that matter) to a man under the employ of the whaling industry.  Average voyages could last up to eight years at sea looking for whales, following whales, throwing harpoons at whales, only to kill the things and then slice the whales apart for a tepid couple gallons of whale oil, and it just could on and on.  During the time that your husband was out looking for Moby Dick, the womenfolk stayed at home and waited and waited some more.  IF, and it was a big IF at that, the whaling vessel encountered a friendly ship she just might get a letter every now and then, but that was a rarity because many of the men manning the ships couldn't read or write.  While they spent their days at sea waiting, their wives were expected to remain chaste, up beat and only have eyes for "Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the All Mighty".  Heaven forbid that Mister came home after a four year stint to find that his brood had grown from three to four, and the youngest a hair past two years old.  

Well until such time that he bobbled into the dooryard laden with presents - the likes of which no person could do without - all in miniature and all carved out of whale bone, or whale tooth.  Yippee.  And if didn't return, her only recourse was to have the lout declared dead and hope some man of means would marry her so she wouldn't become the fifth wheel at her in-laws home.  After all, no one wants to spend the rest of their life as a reminder of someone else's death.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Men's Collars Weekly, July 24, 1824

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz

Specialty publications have always found an audience with those who follow the subjects.  Until the 1930s, men purchased collarless shirts and then purchased collars to suit the fashion of the day.  But in the 1820s collars on shirts reached absurd heights making it next to impossible for a lady (or anything else for that matter) to turn a man's head lest he sufficate in the high collar of his shirt, or slice his nose off along the thickly starched edge of his collar.  Thankfully, someone bright person got the idea that one could have the collar and the shirt together in one garment.  Although it should be noted that fashion is fickle, and all things tend to come back into vogue at some point in time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


ZESTY, THE PICTOGRAPHIC WEEKLY was the periodical to tell stories through pictures, with minimum verbage.  For its February 28, 1909 cover, the magazine featured the richest penny pincher in the world atthe time, Mrs. Hetty Green and her daughter on occassion of her daughters marriage to a man willing to sign a prenuptual agreement.  That he was an heir to the Astor name (not so much the fortune, but he did have money of his own) was about the best she could say about him.   The cover showed the three principle parties and is noteworthy for Hetty's rapatious express of joy over the situation.  

ZESTY would fold in 1913, claiming that it had covered anything and everything worth covering in the world.  Today, ZESTY is but a mere blip on the screen of epehmeria.  Antique malls alway have one booth, laden down with old copies of ZESTY, arranged by date, and large signs inviting shoppers to buy the issue that came out the week that great grandmother was born.  "Its the gift she'll love to get!" the signs state. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hypochondriac's Home Companion, June 1922

Copyright 2009 by Stuart J. Koblentz, all rights reserved.

As we know, the Hypochondriac's Home Companion was a rather targeted audience.  The male to female readership was about 40 to 60%, with women having a myriad of things that could go wrong that men could never claim.  Though no issue was a million copy seller, one issue dealing with the shame of Flatus (Its causes and possible cures) in 1918, reached a 500,000 press run.  Not bad for its time and day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Fortnightly Groundling April 23, 1560

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz

In Tudor England, the common man and woman lived for any news about anything going on around them - and there was a lot of stuff going on.  Given the intrigue left behind by the late King, Henry VIII, his son, his two daughters, pretenders to the throne and all the noble men (and women) who got sucked into the intrigue and ended up either surviving or getting their heads chopped off for puicking the worng side, one needed a magazine that could keep it and the rumors all together in one publication. 

The problem was that most common folk had no idea how to read, so pictures were very important as well, because everyone understands pictures, unless one was blind, and help for that was year away from appearing.  The Groundling was terribly popular and could be found by the money changers at any local market until Oliver Cromwell put and end to the publication during his reign.  But then his head ended up on a pike, and the publication started up again as people were wildly interested in knowing who was running the country "now".

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Stylus

Copyright 2009 by Stuart J. Koblentz, all rights reserved.
Conceived in the wee hours of the 1840s as "The Stylus" by the great Edgar Allen Poe, this journal was to celebrate all the things that Poe held so dear to his bosom: great writing, great drama, great fine arts and the good life and all of its trappings.  Poe had intended to base the journal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and name the periodical "The Penn" which he found a clever play on words.  But when the city of brotherly love turned its back on Poe and his attempt to make good, he moved the magazine to New York and rechristened it The Stylus, alluding to the new name as another pun, this time on ancient Greek origins - as the stylus was the forerunner of the pen. 

The Stylus as Poe originally envisioned it, according to Wikipedia. Oh, what do they know?

Witty though this may have been, backers failed to come forth for the first iteration of the magazine, so Poe had the cover punched up a bit by adding a better picture and some trendy graphics (see above). Poe thought himself very clever and thought that the shiny new format would toy with the great unwashed, and that his careful selection of writings would gradually expose the common man and woman to higher aspirations. However, he failed to underestimate the American public who found him a moribund little man and couldn't fathom his raging hatred for didacticism.

Without the support of backers, or subscribers, the project failed again, failed again, and died a miserable little death before the first issue was produced.  It has been said that the failure haunted Poe until the end of his life, and beyond.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Imperial Concubine Gazette

Copyright 2009 by Stuart J. Koblentz, all rights reserved.
Imperial Concubine was the gazette for women in the know, who for lack of peerage or other reasons could not aspire to the formal heights of power, but nevertheless were adroit at wielding their "prowess" to get
ahead in the world through the use of their talented gifts, as it were.  The magazine was kept behind the counter of shops because of the suggestive nature of its cover's "flag" which illustrated the true relationship between the noble man and a woman of talents.

Friday, October 16, 2009


* , also known as the periodical without a name was launched in July, 1969.

Conceived as the avant guarde publication of its day, the periodical was considered so cutting edge and exclusive, no copies ever were produced.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Friday Evening Curmudgeon, March 13, 1953

Copyright 2009 by Stuart J. Koblentz, all rights reserved.
A boy never does plan about growing old and grizzled, sometimes it just happens when life serves you up something that you have to choke down, then its you against everyone else.  Maybe its because a woman turned you down, or maybe its because she took you up on it.  And then there are the women who decide to leave and steal your heart, pack it up their bags and leave for a better life in some far off hoity toity place like Fresno, or Hawhy-ah.

Before you know it, you're as tattered as the coverings over the kitchen winder.  You let things go to seed - a bowl of bread and milk is better then bread and water when the world around you starts to change just as you were getting used to the way things were.  Well, this here magazine understands its readers, even if it tells you to take a bath every once and while, and maybe call that daughter of yours that went out and married herself one of those chosen people.  Now git on out of here before I give you what for... miserable kids...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Empress Magazine, Brumaire (October) 1801

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz, All Rights Reserved
Though it had a limited audience, Empress Monthly was a favorite with its readers because it understood what they were up against. 

One would think that its subscribers, who had all the comforts afforded royalty, would have a full dance card in life's little fete. Truth be told, aside from producing a male heir, the only other duties were dressing well, and appearing at the ribbon cutting ceremonies whenever a new bakery or meat rendering company opened its doors.  Wait, I take that back; as Empress you changed you clothes a great deal - like six or seven times a day.  And with all that dressing and undressing, there was no time left for being able to take a mad lark every now and then and go junking like the commoners do  - but they, of course, called it "shopping." 

For the readers of Empress, life was made up of little trade offs; and there is that constant reminder that with power comes great responsibility.  A palace here, a castle there, and all of those furs, the gold and ah yes, the jewels.  But at what price?  Well, you can't have everything in life;  if one can not roll in the hay with the farmer's son because it would be slumming, then one must be content with starting a multi-national conflict over the batting of your eyes at some other Queen's prince royale, or having the head of the Church of State drawn and quartered for disapproving of your extreme wealth, and good fortune, no? 

Indeed, it is lonely at the top.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Trailer Park Majesty, April 1971

© 2009 Stuart Koblentz – Original art work that may not be used with the express written consent of its creator.

Trailer Park Majesty was the type of magazine that the residents of the nation's mobile home parks loved to hate, but couldn't stop reading.  Like the Amish based "Budget", Trailer Park Majesty was the "Tattler of the Trailer Park."  Of course the magazine had legitimate roots.  Founded in 1930 by Earl Woolumsey, Trailer Park Majesty aspired to ennoble the lives of those who either exchanged their homes for carefree life of a manufactured home, or those who lived in "tin cans" because it, and the magazine were all they could afford.  But hey, like the sign says, "Mobile Home Living is Luxurious."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Journal of New England Haughtiness, November 1875

© 2009 Stuart Koblentz – Original art work that may not be used with the express written consent of its creator.

Of all of the Alcott's, only Louisa May understood that just as there should be a place for everything, and everything in place, so it should be with great unwashed.

Reason d'etre

I've often wondered, what would it be like if modern Magazine Culture invaded historical times. After all, there really isn't that much difference between Anna Wintour and Oliver Cromwell, is there? And it's not much of a stretch to imagine that Martha Stewart and Martha Washington were that much different, aside from Mrs. Washington's slaves being property and Ms. Stewart's slavers being called interns, right? (Well, I think that the Washington's were kinder to those working for them, but that's my opinion.)

Anyway, I've been dreaming up "what if" magazine covers for various internet sites for years so why not devote a whole blog to the idea.

So I have contacted Donna Lethal and asked her to add her ideas as well, because they are pretty dog gone great. So we'll see where this kooky and wacky idea takes us.  Want to join the Editorial Board?  We might just let ya.

I can't promise something every day, let alone seven or eight posts each day, with original graphics, writing and photoshopping (Hell, I can't even figure out Photoshop), but I'll try my best to hit my goal of 60 original imaginary magazine covers by this time next year. While you're thinking that I am hoping Meryl Streep will play me in the movie, I harbor no such illusions: I am doing this for the art of it.