Friday, June 4, 2010


The grand legacy of The Saturday Evening Post has endured for nearly 300 years in part due to the creativity and innovation of its founders, publishers, editors and cover artists. The rich history of the Post has been thoughtfully reaching its readers since a time before America yet existed.
The story of The Saturday Evening Post begins with Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette, first published in 1728, and became known as The Saturday Evening Post in 1821. Initially it was four-page newspaper with no illustrations that daringly tackled political controversy. In 1839, editor George Rex Graham dedicated the publication to morality and various commercial interests. By 1855 the Saturday Evening Post had an impressive circulation of 90,000 copies per year.
The modern era of The Saturday Evening Post began in 1897 when famed magazine publisher, Cyrus H. K. Curtis, purchased the magazine for one thousand dollars. Curtis, who also founded The Ladies Home Journal, was well aware of the distinguished legacy of the publication. The legendary George Horace Lorimer, who served as editor from 1899-1936, grew The Saturday Evening Post from 2,000 copies sold per year to over three million by the end of his tenure. Under his leadership, The Saturday Evening Post became the first magazine ever to reach 1,000,000 copies sold. It was Lorimer who conceived of changing the cover from appearing as page one of the magazine to a distinct cover featuring artwork or illustrations. His innovation fueled the popularity of magazine advertising as well as the success of The Saturday Evening Post.
Furthering the advent of the magazine cover, The Saturday Evening Post continued to distinguish itself through its cover artwork. These covers, the most famous of which were painted by Norman Rockwell, connected readers intimately with the magazine as a whole. Americans everywhere recognized the art of the Post and eagerly awaited the next issue because of it. On the editorial side, The Saturday Evening Post featured short stories and commentary by such famous authors as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Ring Lardner, and many others. Other notable cover illustrators include J.C. Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth, Charles Livingston Bull, and John E. Sheridan.
In the 1950’s, television’s popularity posed a major challenge to the magazine, and by 1969 The Saturday Evening Post briefly ceased circulation. In 1971, however, it found a new owner and was re-introduced with a focus on health and medical breakthroughs by the Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society.
Having been at the side of Americans in various forms since 1728, through the events and cultural shifts that have shaped the country’s character, The Saturday Evening Post remains America’s Magazine.

SEP January 14, 1911
Curtis Publishing Company

SEP January 14, 1911, Page 3,4 and 5

SEP April 19, 1930
Artist: JC Leyendecker

SEP May 30, 1931
The merchant ship
Artist Anton Otto Fischer

Stressing normalacy through its cover and internal articles, The Saturday Evening Post encouraged a targeted middle class audience through the promotion of fundamental American values during the depths of the Depression. While typical Saturday Evening Post covers depict stereotypical American Caucasian middle class life, the illustrated covers embody a fascination wih The Exotic. This Exoticism--exemplified by the "Oriental" or Asian landscape, the merchant ship (above), the colorfully garbed woman, the boyscout's pajama buttons, and the non-native leopard--suggests not only an interest in the foreign, but also an urgent escapism. The nautical details and even the boyscout at summer camp imply that the reader can sail away, or escape, from the struggles of daily life during the Depression. The Saturday Evening Post gives contemporary historians some insight into the need for some escape, some normalacy while surviving a nation-wide economic disaster.

SEP September 12, 1936
Artist Frances Tipton Hunter

As America faces the unprecedented struggles of the Depression, The Saturday Evening Post celebrates youth's classically quaint "problems" (above).


Along with J C Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell, Dohanos is best remembered as one of the Saturday Evening Post's most prolific and popular cover artists (over 100 covers) as well as much story work for the Post (above).
The Saturday Evening Post "became symbolic of the reading fare of middle-class America" (Peterson, 12). In 1897 Curtis began to revive the Post on the proposition that a man's chief interest in life is the fight for livelihood - business. Fiction and articles about romantic business and successful businessmen filled its pages, and products endorsed by it advertisements directed at the needs and desires of the business world. The general interest weekly reached new audiences. Its conservative viewpoint and strong admiration for material success appealed to the tastes of the millions who settled in an easy chair with it each Thursday evening. As a more commercial, mass-circulation magazine than The New Yorker, the widely readable Post set out to interpret America to itself.
As a national and international institution, The Saturday Evening Post made its mark in the lives of massive numbers of men and women, and served society as a permeating and stabilizing influence. Its editorial matter addressed the problems, perplexities, and interests of the readers as never before. Neither highbrow nor lowbrow, the Post set out to interpret average middle-class America, for that was its audience. However, this magazine lost touch with the mood of the American people in the 1930s. The Post's Editor Lorimer, opposed Roosevelt and the New Deal and changed his magazine from an organ of entertainment and enlightenment into a weapon of political warfare. He believed that in opposing the New Deal he had spoken for the majority of voters, but the 1936 election proved him wrong. His conservatism extended beyond politics, it pervaded the magazine's content and style causing a decline in prestige and authority. The Post met its greatest success when it went beyond the tastes of the masses, challenging its readers to acknowledge the genius of contributors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner. It was later reformed in an effort to fulfill its responsibility to awaken lethargic America, however The Saturday Evening Post seemed to play to conventions while The New Yorker took off to redefine the character of American Humor.

SEP March 1, 1941
Girl Reading the Post
Collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum.
Licensed by Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, Indiana
From arthistory.

SEP February 20, 1943
Freedom of Speech
The Norman Rockwell Art Collection Trust
Licensed by Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, Ind.
From arthistory.

SEP August 28, 1943

SEP 1943
From ozfan22's photostream at flickr

SEP 1946
Ccovers by Alajalov, Norman Rockwell, "Commuters"
From ozfan22's photostream at flickr

SEP 1947
Norman Rockwell covers in 1947
"Piano Tuner", "Crocuses", "Carousel Horse", "High Board"
"Going and Coming", "Babysitter", and "Christmas Rush"
From ozfan22's photostream at flickr

SEP December 25, 1948
From ozfan22's photostream at flickr

SEP 1950
Norman Rockwell covers include, "Practice"
"Shuffleton's Barbershop"
Solitaire", and "Coin Toss"
From ozfan22's photostream at flickr

SEP July 7, 1951

SEP 1952
Norman Rockwell covers, "Cheerleaders", "Waiting For the Vet"
Eisenhower, and "Day in the Life of a Girl"
From ozfan22's photostream at flickr

SEP 1954
SEP magazines, some with Norman Rockwell covers
including, "Girl at the Mirror"
From ozfan22's photostream at flickr

SEP February 13, 1960
Triple Self-Portrait

"The Saturday Evening Post is no longer my father's magazine; it's my grandfather's magazine," said Samir Husni, who publishes an annual guide to consumer magazines as director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi.
Although the Post is making concessions to the digital age, through weekly updates to its Web site and a profile on the social-networking site Facebook, Husni said those efforts could shatter the habits of longtime readers without necessarily drawing new ones.
"Reading the magazine from A to Z should be a complete experience that I don't need to go some other place to fulfill that experience," he said.
The magazine, whose circulation peaked at 6 million in 1960, now has 350,000 readers, most are women older than 45.
Maureen Mercho, chief operating officer for the Post, said ad sales had dropped because of the recession, prompting the magazine to look for ways to broaden its base. "That probably pushed us" to do the redesign, she said.
Post officials also hope that by mixing the magazine's popular art and health features with such content as commentary by former CBS News "Sunday Morning" host Charles Osgood, poetry by Ray Bradbury and fiction by John Hemingway, grandson of Ernest Hemingway, the magazine could boost circulation to 500,000 in the coming years.
It's not dead?
A redesign launching with its July/August 2009 issue combines the Post's hallmarks — art and fiction — with folksy commentary and health articles. The revamped Post promises a more relaxing option for people who are used to doing much of their reading online, or are simply tired of special-interest magazines crammed into tight niches.
"There is a void of magazines now that do emphasize art and creative writing and fiction," Publisher Joan SerVaas said…..
Mercho said some people are surprised the Post still exists. She suspects that's because the magazine is primarily available only to subscribers; fewer than 5,000 copies an issue are sold on newsstands. But she believes the relaunch will increase awareness of the magazine.
The thing the Post has done well over the years is interpret America for America," Mercho said, echoing George Horace Lorimer, who edited the magazine for more than 30 years in the early 1900s…..
By the 1870s, the content had shifted toward entertainment, with fiction on the front page. The page count began creeping up as the Post became a true magazine with more advertising, human interest features, fiction, poetry and cartoons. Over the decades, the Post has printed work from such authors as C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, William Saroyan, Rudyard Kipling, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Lorimer made the cover into an artists' showcase, featuring J.C. Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth and others. In 1916, the Post began a nearly 50-year relationship with Norman Rockwell, whose cover work became a hallmark of the magazine……
The artistic covers gave way in the 1960s to photographs of the Beatles, politicians, Klansmen and hippies. Fiction and poetry yielded to investigative reporting as the Post tried to compete with television and newsmagazines like Life and Look…..
The Post ceased publication in 1969, crumpling under financial pressure the TV-print war placed on parent Curtis Publishing. SerVaas' father, Beurt, revived the magazine in 1971 as a quarterly publication after Rockwell announced on television that Beurt SerVaas was considering bringing back the Post, generating broad interest.
The magazine, now published six times a year, has been in the family since, with Joan SerVaas becoming publisher in 2007. It is now owned by a not-for-profit group set up by the SerVaas family that also owns children's magazines Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty and Turtle.....
(By Charles Wilson, The Associated Press)

SEP December 1980
Credit: Darron Cummings / Associated Press

The arrival of The Saturday Evening Post magazine each week during the first half of the twentieth century provided a mirror for Americans to see themselves, their neighbors, and their country. More than any other feature, the cover image painted by the greatest illustrators of that Golden Age of Illustration told a story, brought back memories, celebrated an event -- and usually made one smile. These cover images helped readers identify with the shared values that had blended in the national melting pot of diverse ideas that was the United States.
The most dominating of the Post cover artists were two men who between them contributed over 600 Post covers – Norman Rockwell and Joseph Christian (J.C.) Leyendecker.....

From ToughPigs

As the oldest magazine in the United States, The Saturday Evening Post has entertained, engaged, educated, and inspired generations of Americans. It has also offered a premier platform for advertisers. With a history dating back to 1821, The Saturday Evening Post has earned an esteemed reputation for quality writing and celebrated art.....
Today, the Post continues its legacy. The magazine is drawing on its rich archives, which chronicle Americans’ ingenuity, perseverance, and spirit in adapting to the changing world. At the same time, the Post is tapping the creativity of America’s greatest writers, humorists, researchers, and illustrators to deliver a unique perspective on all aspects of American life: health, humor, fiction, DIY in The Country Gentleman, finance, and a range of topics that offer advertisers and readers the best of America!
The Saturday Evening Post is cultivating new, expanded readership. It will invest heavily to accelerate its growth and reinforce its editorial content with an advisory board of renowned experts in their fields. The Post will continue to celebrate the best of America—past, present, and future—by drawing on its archives and traditions, and continuing to be a focal point for the nation.

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