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The Inland Printer

July 2024
1min read

was the first magazine in America to change its cover for every issue. And these covers may still be the best graphic art magazine has ever produced.


One of the most influential magazines in America before the turn of the century was The Inland Printer , one hundred years old this year and now known as The American Printer and Lithographer . Although primarily a journal for the trade, The Inland Printer displayed a powerful artistic imagination as it reported the printing industry’s coming of age. The magazine was the focal point of the first great period of American illustration, from 1890 to 1940, promoting the new ideas and! new technology that were influencing all the popular arts. Among the inventions perfected in those years were the high-speed rotary press, the linotype machine, and automatic inking; more important foils popular culture than these technological breakthroughs was the decision, made by The Inland Printer in 1894, to become the first American| magazine to change its cover with every issue—a commonplace today but a revolutionary move then.

The first of the great Inland Printer artists was Will Bradley: it was he who convinced the editors to soar beyond the standardized cover. Influenced by the art of Aubrey Beardsley and William Morris, Bradley’s early covers and advertising illustrations mark the beginnings of art nouveau in American graphic design. Today his Inland Printer covers sell to collectors for seventy-five dollars and more.

J. C. Leyendecker, creator of the Arrow Collar man, was probably the most famous of the artists whose work appeared on and in The Inland Printer . Such was his fame, in fact, that the young Norman Rockwell would stand on a corner to watch the great man being chauffered to work. From his student days in Paris, Leyendecker also brought art nouveau to the covers of the magazine, although he abandoned this style later in his work for The Saturday Evening Post .

The contents of The Inland Printer were produced with the same care as the cover. What began in 1883 as a twenty-four-page publication in Chicago became, by 1900, a two-hundred-page monthly packed with the latest news from the technological front and the art-world gossip of two continents. Printers, editors, and artists sent their material for review; in turn, the face and visual contents of American magazines were transformed by The Inland Printer ’s recommendations and example.

The American Printer and Lithographer is still published in Chicago. It continues to keep its readers informed of the latest improvements in the craft, but the graphics are now merely functional. In the covers reproduced here, we celebrate the glories of its past.


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