Few people know that the true FIRST
was a weekly humor publication created by the Life Publishing
Company of Manhattan, New York City. It was known for
its cartoons, art, amusement, news, personalities, sport,
theater reviews, and more. The magazine seems like
a predecessor of The New Yorker, with similar use of
cartoons, poetry, jokes, cover art, and insights into
culture, politics, and high society. These Life magazines measure around 11" x 9".
The descriptions below represent a SMALL sample of the content of each issue - there is MUCH, MUCH more than I have listed.
Much of the content consists of brief opinions, quips, social commentary, notes on subjects that have appeared in other publications of the time, cartoons,and other short pieces, thus cannot be easily described. The issue title, e.g. "Air Ship Number" always reflects the subject of some of the art and other content inside. You can expect that every issue has wonderful art and ads inside and much more. A (?) means that the artist signature was nearly readable, but not quite. I do my absolute best to correctly identify major contributors.
Please note : These
magazines may be framed (of course) but are generally
not pristine enough to be what I grade as "framable.".
Covers typically have light soil and rubbing and often
have a central crease - some must have been folded when
mailed. Because they are so rare, I may list damaged copies for sale so that a usually-expensive issue is available at a much lower price to those who simply wish to read it.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FIRST LIFE MAGAZINE :
The first Life magazine was founded in 1883 by John Ames Mitchell, who ran the magazine until he turned it over to Charles Dana Gibson, the famous illustrator, in 1918. The magazine was published until the early 1930's, when the financial difficulties of the Great Depression caused it to fail.
Publisher John Ames Mitchell was a man with strong opinions and the perfect forum for voicing them. He was not shy about using his magazine to campaign on different social issues, with the result that he and his magazine were frequently cited in lawsuits. He was an habitual winner of the suits and this only increased his popularity and that of his magazine. In publishing the first Life magazine, Mitchell introduced the first humor magazine to find acceptance in respectable homes. It is possible to stay in the Original Life Publishing building, which is now the Herold Square Hotel - much of the Original Life magazine cover art is framed on their walls.
Mitchell brought together and often helped to introduce many of the artists and writers who later became well known American favorites. For example, Norman Rockwell's first cover for Life, Tain't You, was published May 10, 1917. Rockwell's paintings were featured on Life's cover 28 times between 1917 and 1924. Robert Ripley published his first cartoon in Life in 1908, later becoming the first publisher of Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame. Charles Dana Gibson sold his first professional pen-and-ink drawing to Mitchell in 1886, later creating some of the famous Gibson girls for their first appearance in print ... in Life magazine. The very popular John Held, Jr. contributed cover art with jazz musicians and flappers. Among many famous names between the covers, we find Dorothy Parker (poetry and prose), Franklin Pierce Adams (poetry), Robert E. Sherwood (silent film critic), and Robert Benchley (drama editor).
The name "LIFE Magazine" was purchased by Henry Luce, who used it for an entirely different kind of magazine published by Time, Inc. starting in 1936. We all are familiar with Time's popular photojournalism magazine, characterized by the ubiquitous Red and White logo. This SECOND LIFE magazine, which makes up the bulk of our website, was published continuously from November of 1936 until December of 1972, and intermittently after that. For more information on these Life Magazines.