St. Nicholas Intro Blog

I have chosen to work with a children’s magazine called St. Nicholas an Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks which I was drawn to first by the attractive red cover and then title peaked my interest. I found it weird that they called teens and kids young folks because I always thought of that saying as just a joke you make at your parents when they are acting ancient. This made me wonder what kind of content publishers would put out for the youth in the 19th century.  The two editions were published by Charles Scribner & Sons in 1881, Part I was published in November and was meant to last until May when Part II was then published to last until October. Scribner’s had the magazine printed by Francis Hart & Co. in New York, New York.

The book has a cover that would really pop off the shelf as you can see from the picture they have rather fancy binding done with board covered in red cloth and which has been bevelled and detailed with black and gilt. A bevelled cover is a normal book cover that does not have ninety degree edges but instead slants off at the edge meant for decoration. The gilt is the gold leafing done on top of the cover. These fancy decorations indicate that the book was intentionally made to catch our eye despite still being fairly cheap and easy to produce. Even at the age of nearly 140 years old the books have held together extremely, well all of the pages are firmly secured to the binding and there is little to no ripping. The only signs of aging show on the cover of the books wear you can see general wear and tear and some ripping in the cloth covering the board binding.

They are rather large and have almost one thousand pages between the two of them which contain around two hundred short illustrated stories, poems, puzzles, and news shown in the picture above. The pages are very smooth with no deckle edges and very little fraying. The text is generally small roman font that fills the majority of the page most likely because there is a lot of content that goes into these magazines and they had to fit it neatly around many illustrations. But it does change size and font between different articles and stories. Being that it is meant for teens and it was an early magazine their is a lot of decoration and illustration to be found. The text often wraps around illustrations and in some of the stories they use decorative lettering to open or end a story. Most every piece of writing in the magazine is accompanied by an illustration whether it relates to the text or not. Because it is a magazine there is a large collection of authors and illustrators but being that it was maybe the most prominent text of its kind during its time it attracted many famous authors and illustrators to contribute to its production. It featured writings by Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Theodore Roosevelt and illustrations by some of the most prominent artists of the time. There is a table of contents at the beginning of each edition that lists all of the works in the magazine in alphabetical order by title not in the order they appear in the magazine itself. This indicates that the book is not meant to be read cover to cover but instead that the reader can pick and choose the titles that intrigue him and skip to that page which makes sense because magazines are intended to be read during leisure time. All of its St. Nicholas’s contents were put together by its editor Mary Mapes Dodge who was also prominent children’s author at the time known for Hans Brinker and The Silver Skates. She worked as editor of the magazine from it’s beginning in 1872 until her death in 1905 but relieved herself of some duties in 1881 the year my two editions were released because of the death of her son.