The Illustrated London News was the world’s first illustrated weekly newspaper. It was founded by Herbert Ingram (1811-1860), who is considered the father of pictorial journalism. The idea of publishing a weekly newspaper that would contain pictures in every issue came about when he noticed how existing papers always sold more copies when they featured an illustration. The first issue appeared on Saturday, May 14 1842. It sold 26,000 copies. By 1855, mainly due to the Crimean War, its circulation had climbed to 200,000 copies. That same year, the paper started featuring color illustrations. Its success inspired numerous similar papers in America and Europe. Most copied its format, size, and number of pages. The Illustrated London News was published weekly until 1971 when it appeared less frequently until publication ceased in 2003.
The Illustrated Times Weekly Newspaper was one of the most serious rivals of the Illustrated London News. It started publication in June 1855. Later, it was bought by the Illustrated London News and removed from publication in December 1869.

The Civil War and the Newspapers

By 1863, the Illustrated London News was selling more than 300,000 copies every week. By comparison, newspa- pers such as the Daily News sold 6,000 copies per week at this time, and even the largest selling newspaper, The Times sold only sold 70,000 copies. It reported on the progress of the war in almost every issue. Both the Illustrated London News and the Illustrated Times Weekly provided extensive coverage the American Civil War.

Rural New Yorker was a weekly periodical founded in 1841 that was published by the Rural Publishing Co., New York. The magazine survived through the middle of the twentieth century. It episodically showed war illustrations, mostly portraits.

Illustrated TimesIllustrated News

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper was a news magazine founded in 1852 that continued to be published well into the twentieth century. Born in England, Frank Leslie became head-engraver for the Illustrated London News at age twenty-two. He came to New York in 1848. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (1855-1922) was the first successful American venture to bring pictures and news together in a weekly. Leslie’s breakthrough was in dividing the engraving into many sections for individual engravers and then fitting the woodblocks together. He could accom- plish in a day what a single engraver had taken weeks to produce enabling him to publish pictures of events only a week or two old. By the start of the Civil War, the paper’s circulation had reached 164,000. A German edition of the paper was also printed. During the Civil War, an oversized bimonthly paper (23 inches by 16 inches) devoted entirely to the conflict was published.

Harper’s Weekly: A Journal of Civilization began publication in 1857. By 1861 circulation had exceeded 200,000. Such a large circulation gave the paper enormous influence. Its position had a Northern point-of-view, but its pictorial coverage of the war was balanced in its depiction of battles, personages and events. It has been said that it was t the integrity of its illustrations that allowed President Lincoln to come to understand the ineffectiveness of his early generals.

The original New York Illustrated News was published by P.T. Barnum, originator of the famous quip: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” He tried to emulate the success of the Illustrated London News. Even though the New York publication attained a circulation of 70,000, it closed within the year, resurfacing later under the proprietor- ship of John King. During the Civil War, it was bought in January 1864 by W. Jennings Demorest, an American publisher and continued to be issued under the title Demorest’s Illustrated News.

Harpers WeeklyFrank LeslieDemorestFrank Leslie German
Southern Illustrated News was the Confederacy’s rough version of the northern illustrated newspapers. It was published by Ayres & Wade in Richmond beginning in September 1862 to fill the void left by the unavailability of newspapers from the North. At its peak, it had no more than 20,000 subscribers. Printed on poor quality paper, with only eight pages, it is extremely hard to find.
In a different category, but worth the mention is Vanity Fair. It is considered one of the American best weekly humor magazines. Louis H. Stephens was the publisher, and Frank Wood, the first editor. It featured the political cartoons of H. L. Stephens, brother of Louis H., better known today as an illustrator of children’s books. Stephens caricatured famous people, including Lincoln, William Cullen Bryant, Edwin P. Stanton, Benjamin Butler, William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Ward Beecher, and Gideon Welles. Introduced in late December 1859, the weekly maga- zine ceased publication in early July 1863.
The French Le Monde Illustré and its brother L’Illustration, were clones of the Illustrated London News.

Le MondeL'IllustrationVanity FairS. I. News

The Civil War and the Artists

At the beginning of the war, all the illustrated newspapers of the United States were published in New York City. Although they had always circulated in the South, deliveries stopped at the start of the war, when mail to the South was cancelled. The South created the Southern Illustrated News in 1862. Without means to support an artist in the field, it contained only occasional portraits and cartoons. Fortunately for posterity there was one newspaper artist active in the South. In 1861, Frank Vizetelly having just returned from illustrating Garibaldi’s campaign in Sicily and Italy was sent by the Illustrated London News to cover the Civil War in America. Vizetelly was at the battle of Bull Run and sent his paper a sketch of the Union Army running away. The U.S. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was not amused and did not grant Vizetelly permission to accompany McClellan’s army. The artist went south, andspent the remainder of the war sketching the fortunes and misfortunes of the Confederate army. His drawings, in excess of 130, were published in the Illustrated London News, comprising the main record in pictures of the Confederate war years.

A paucity of means did not affect the three illustrated weekly papers of the North. They were filled with pictures. At any given moment, there were about twelve artists working exclusively for the papers. Some of the most important staff artists were Winslow Homer, Thomas Nast, Alfred R. Waud and William Waud, Arthur Lumley, Theodore R. Davis, William T. Crane, Francis H, Schell, Edwin Forbes, and Henri Lovie.

Arthur Lumley was the first artist to be sent to the Army of the Potomac by Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. English born William Waud joined his brother Alfred Waud in America and began to cover numerous events in the South, including the inauguration of Jefferson Davis. He also recorded the bombardment of Fort Sumter, making it a scoop for Leslie’s. Theodore Davis was wounded twice and had his horse shot out from under him. He worked for Harper’s but traveled with a neutral British journalist, and told people he was an artist for the Illustrated London News. Also working for Leslie’s, Edwin Forbes was one of the few artists who covered the entire war. Noted for his accuracy, Alfred R. Waud was acclaimed by Harper’s in 1865 as “the most important artist-correspondent of the Civil War.”

Other artists who worked for Harper’s were Jasper Green, Winslow Homer, Henry Mosler, Thomas Nast, Allen C. Redwood, William H. Shelton, David H. Strother and William Waud when he left Frank Leslie.

Thomas Nast’s talent places him on a different level. He is rightfully considered to be the originator of the Ameri- can cartoon. He worked for the New York Illustrated News before going to Harper’s Weekly. Among his notable creations are the modern version of Santa Claus (traditionally depicted as a tall, thin man, Nast drew him in an 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly as the bearded, plump man known today), the well-known image of Uncle Sam, and the political symbols of both major United States political parties; the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey.

Frank Leslie Bi-Weekly

Author’s biography: Paul Belard was fourteen years old when he bought his first set of leather bound books “Les œuvres de Rabelais,” illustrated by Gustave Doré. They are still in his collection, now surrounded by Art Deco and Art Nouveau bindings, leather inlaid bindings, history books, travel books, illustrated newspapers about the American Civil War and many more that caught his fancy. Little did he know when he purchased those first two volumes and stroked their red spines that one day he would bind his own. This hobby has allowed him to meet wonderful people and to restore many books that he would otherwise never have had the chance to look at. He treasures them all. Without books, he firmly believes that we would still be living in caverns or huts. He is a retired Mechanical Engineer, and the author of four books published in France and one in the United States. Paul teaches book conservation at LIU Post and continues to restore books.

American Underground: The Scandal papers of the 19th century!


Before Gillette’s invention of the “safety razor” with a disposable blade, at the turn of the century, the barber with his straight edge was the way to go.  Of course, many continued to nick themselves at home for free.  While Gillette was not the first to create the safety razor he became the most successful.  Similarly The National Police Gazette was not the first “scandal” paper but it would become the most famous and influential.
Not until the “Flash” papers (The Sunday Flash, The Whip etc.) began the onslaught of exposing the underbelly of society with its revelations of brothels, houses of prostitution along with coverage of sports, theater and other oddities, would the clamor and debate begin. The editors immediately exonerated their use of risqué illustrations and titillating articles by claiming that such exposure was necessary to point out such vice and iniquities.  While, in fact such notoriety only enhanced business rather than deterred. Publishers and editors rather, gained favor with select brothels mentioned within while, at times, they engaged in blackmailing the named parties who were exposed within their journal.
The plight and fight for what was right for the “press” is an interesting story of individual persistence; pitting the editors against the outrage from the community while declaring their perceived right of freedom of the press albeit benefiting their own financial gain as the demands of a growing audience expanded.  It was not until 1845 when one of the Flash press proprietors, George Wilkes teamed up with a new partner, Enoch E. Camp and came up with a way to stay out of jail while continuing to produce a journal which would be “useful” to the community yet still expose the vices and crimes of the streets and street walkers; The National Police Gazette.
Throughout the 19th century hair and beard styles would change.  Beards of course were even more vogue after Old Abe adorned his face in the early 60s! The mustache and the long sideburns and mutt and chops were also in style for much of the latter half of the century.   More importantly, our “expose” of such scandal papers is more about the social aspects of such “masculine” papers which over time created a unifying bound between males of all strata, defining what it was to be a real man, changing the definition of the meaning of “ribald” to something more sociably accepted, progressive and newsworthy.
After the Civil War the barber shop focused primarily on hair cutting, less of teeth pulling and stopped bloodletting after laws had prohibited their century’s old right to do so, reducing the barber to a technician rather than a “professional.” Meanwhile, the shop had become a man’s haven where a woman might be adorned in the pages of the National Police Gazette in New York, or perhaps in the Illustrated Police News of Boston, but would never be seen in the barber’s chair!
At this time urbanization was well on the rise but still the vast majority in this country lived rurally. However, the distribution of newspapers and periodicals, including through the mail, had been perfected.  With technical advances came more and better illustrations and an added emphasis on sensationalism and exploitation.
By the 1870s the story papers were reaching their peak circulation giving their readers more daring stories of adventures.  At the same time such scandal papers were catering to a more mature audience who required their daring and darlings to be of flesh and blood rather than the fictional kind.  Enter Richard K. Fox.  Fox was to revolutionize The National Police Gazette to worldwide recognition and bring such papers to a prominence as never before imagined.
There can be little doubt that Fox intentionally targeted the barber shop for his Police Gazette as did Stetson in his neck of the woods, Boston.  After all, here to large degree, were the money makers who could afford the luxury of a cut and a shave on an ongoing basis.  Although there were newsboys, saloons, oyster shops and other means of distribution nothing provided the social setting as the local barber shop which would eventually be synonymous with the “Police Gazette” for decades to come.
It would be a long time before the safety razor would have an impact on the barber shop patron and readership, along with the other many tabloids that would eventually abound.  Unfortunately, little is known of Mr. John Stetson’s, The Illustrated Police News.  However, we are happy to be able to say that the collection of Mr. Rainone contains a good many samples (and even more of The National Police Gazette) along with many other true rarities of this nature; many which will be seen within these pages.
Lest we forget, the publishers of like papers were given a constant barrage by the likes of Mr. Anthony Comstock, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, who was looking to close down any publication he thought obscene.   Fox and other publishers often found themselves paying fines, fighting legal battles and even at times were put in the clink.  A number of scandal papers, such as Frank Tousey’s, Under the Gas Light fell by the wayside but Fox and Stetson endured.  Some story papers, even before Fox’s tenure, such as Norman Munro’s The New Sensation, tried to combine the lure of the scandal paper with the story paper even adding color but just could not find the right combination to endure more than 3 years. Frank Leslie’s The Days Doings was more successful and innovative but also came under the sights of Mr. Comstock forcing him to tone down the sex and violent depictions.
As far as the regular folk at home go, one can quite imagine a typical scene of a family man surrounded by other young adults peering over his shoulder to see the latest sensational images of sport heroes, outlaws and of damsels in distress, along with dames not to be reckoned with!  It is extremely likely that most women disapproved and children were denied access; although, no doubt they would devise their own plan to sneak a peek when no one was watching.  Such images of gruesome crimes and salacious depictions, meant to titillate, were no doubt a constant temptation for the curious mind!  Dime novels and story papers might be entertaining…but this was the real deal!
Certainly Mr. King Camp Gillette would have approved of the Police Gazette, and all its imitators, for he was said to have enjoyed the nightlife! In fact, when Nellie Coffman, proprietor of the infamous Desert Inn, in Palm Springs California, was asked why she allowed the old gent who was often seen hanging around her establishment she responded, “Why that is King C. Gillette.  He has practically kept this place in the black the last few years.”

But let’s be fair, the Police Gazette and the Police Illustrated News, along with some of the other periodicals was exciting entertainment, be it sport, sex, criminality or oddity!   And, all for a dime!

Joe Rainone