American Mass-Market Magazines

By Alan Nourie; Barbara Nourie | Go to book overview

PUBLISHER AND PLACE OF PUBLICATION

John C. Brasfield, 1920-1965; Cleon T. Knapp, 1965-present, Los Angeles, California.


EDITORS

John C. Brasfield, 1920-1960; Bradley Little, 1960-1965; Cleon T. Knapp, 1965- 1974; Paige Rense, 1974-present.


CIRCULATION

550,000.

Judith Bunker


ARGOSY

Frank Munsey, the future magazine publishing baron, arrived in New York City from Maine on 23 September 1882 with $40 in his pocket. Ten months later, using borrowed money, he started his first magazine, the Golden Argosy: Freighted With Treasures for Boys and Girls. Munsey described it as "an illustrated weekly paper for boys and girls [that] consisted of eight pages." 1 It was aimed at ten-to twenty-year-olds.

There were many children's magazines being published at that time including "Frank Leslie's Boys and Girls Weekly, St. Nicholas", and Munsey's model for his magazine, Golden Days, published in Philadelphia. However, Munsey was convinced that "there [was] an abundance of room for another publication of high moral tone." 2

The first issue, dated 9 December 1882, led off with a serial by Horatio Alger, Jr. , entitled "Do and Dare, or a Brave Boy's Fight for a Fortune." It also contained another serial, "Nick and Nellie, or God Helps Them That Help Themselves," three short stories, and a puzzle department.

The publisher of the Golden Argosy, E. G. Rideout, went bankrupt five months later and Munsey took over the publishing duties. Malcolm Douglas became editor at $10 a week. His primary task was to peruse English juvenile weeklies looking for stories suitable for reprinting in the Golden Argosy. Whenever this source of material gave out, Munsey, who had little money to buy original material, would write his own stories.

During his first five years of publishing Munsey was often broke and usually in debt. He spent thousands of dollars advertising his magazine and used traveling salesmen and the U.S. mails to distribute sample copies throughout the country. He increased the number of pages, decreased the size, decreased and then increased the price, but was always on the brink of economic disaster. In the fall of 1887 Munsey stopped his advertising campaign, realizing that "the trouble was with juvenile papers." 3 He decided to begin publishing for adults. The content of the Golden Argosy became more adult. In 1886 the subtitle referring to boys and girls was dropped. Two years later the title was shortened to Argosy. However, the magazine continued to languish.

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