Each of these precious issues from the first decade of publication is a delight and a surprise! They are packed with original pen-and-ink style illustrations
by a wide variety of artists, including a lovely two page center spread artwork in each issue (very framable)
. In fact, these early Life magazines are a treasure trove of early and little known works by illustrators and cartoonists who later became house-hold names. For example, Charles Dana Gibson was a frequent contributor to Life
, starting as early as 1887 when he was only 20 years-old. Historical Highlights from 1883 - 1889:
- Thomas Edison's first electric lighting system using overhead wires begins service in New Jersey.
- LIFE magazine is founded.
- Mark Twain publishes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
- The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor.
- Karl Benz patents the first successful gasoline-driven automobile.
- The Eiffel Tower opens in Paris.
- George Eastman patents his camera and registers the trademark Kodak.
- In Punxsutawney, PA, the first Groundhog Day is observed.
- The Pemberton Medicine Company, is incorporated in Atlanta, GA. Later becomes The Coca-Cola Company.
- The Wall Street Journal is established.
Early issues average 16 pages. I have listed only a fraction of the content, illustrations, and advertisements in each issue. It may be assumed that almost every bit of content of the earliest issues is short, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic humor and highly opinionated
. It makes for fun reading! Artists who signed their names legibly are most likely to be listed, artist names may be listed in full or abbreviated, e.g. Oliver Herford = O. Herford = Herford. While I often list an illustration as a "cartoon" if it is humorous, they are almost always highly detailed works of art.