Double Vision: Recycling Illustrations in 19th-Century American Magazines

[More examples]

Early periodicals often reprinted articles and poems that originally had appeared elsewhere: Fanny Fern’s success was assured when her first article was reprinted immediately in several other periodicals. Images were no exception.

The images on this page appeared in several venues. Cheap as wood engravings could be to produce, publishers made sure they got their money’s worth by reusing illustrations in various ways. Or pieces were written around illustrations already in the printer’s collection; Youth’s Magazine, of Cincinnati, Ohio, did this often late in its career.

A triple play

This illustration was used in three different publications—by three different editors of Robert Merry’s Museum.

Merry's Museum, 1848

Samuel Goodrich: Robert Merry’s Museum cover for 1848

Goodrich, founder of Merry’s Museum, was still its editor when this cheery illustration of children at play was used on the cover. The design didn’t last long; it was replaced later that year by an image emphasizing study.

Mother's Magazine

Stephen T. Allen: article in The Mother’s Magazine, 1851

Allen took over as editor of Merry’s Museum in 1850. He also published the Mother’s Magazine. The center image of the 1848 Museum cover must have seemed a perfect accompaniment for his piece encouraging adults to enter into their children’s play; and it allowed for a tiny advertisement for the Museum! Amusingly, the banner-bearing children still appear in the image, with the boy’s staff a ghost and the girl’s foot still visible in the grass.

Book of Puzzles

John N. Stearns: “Merry’s Book of Puzzles,” 1856

Stearns edited the Museum when puzzles from its puzzle column were collected into a little paperback offered as a premium to those paying in advance. In this version of the image, the word “SCHOOL” has vanished—perhaps because the implication that the children are going to or from school wasn’t in keeping with the recreational nature of the book.

A change of identity

Merry's Museum, 1844

Robert Merry

Peg-legged Robert Merry apparently found his old leg, in the 1844 cover image engraved by Hammatt Billings. In his small clothes, “Uncle Robert” here resembles Samuel Griswold Goodrich’s most famous creation, “Peter Parley.” It probably wasn’t an accident.
Forrester's Juvenile Keepsake, 1857

Mark Forrester

"Robert Merry" apparently became “Mark Forrester” when the illustration was used 13 years later on the paper cover of Forrester’s Juvenile Keepsake, a collection of pieces from the magazines that Forrester edited.

Mirror images

Little Gardener, 1833

Peter, the Little Gardiner

The (misspelled) protagonist of Peter Parley’s Story of the Little Gardener, by Samuel Griswold Goodrich, debuts in 1833 in a hand-colored wood engraving of delicacy and charm (though that hat doesn’t look quite secure on his head). The chapbook’s frontispiece also appeared in 1834, in the collection Parley’s Short Stories for Long Nights.
Little Gardener, 1837

(Simon) Peter the Little Gardener
W. N. Stevens, Variety Store, S. E. corner of Third and Arch Streets, Philadelphia.

This hand-colored wood cut advertised the W. N. Stevens Variety Store, at “S. E. corner of Third and Arch Streets,” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the store was at this address from 1837 to 1839. (The store is advertised in Philadelphia newspapers until at least 1845.) Apparently created from the earlier illustration by someone unconcerned that it would print “backward,” its lines are much cruder. (And that hat still looks ready to fall off.) The engaging little illustration was one of a pair of advertisements owned by Simon P. Weidman, who put his name where it couldn’t be missed.
Harvest Girl, 1837

The Harvest Girl
W. N. Stevens, Variety Store, S. E. corner of Third and Arch Streets, Philadelphia.

Simon P. Weidman also owned this advertisement. Each advertisement measures about 6 inches tall and 5 inches wide.

[Other examples]

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