Think You Know Vanity Fair? Well, Think Again! The Media Kudos Celebrating A Great Weekly Vanity Fair Circa 1850.

January 13, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Brief…

Before there was a Condé Nast’s Vanity Fair magazine (in the 1920s and 1980s until present time), there was a weekly Vanity Fair magazine from the 1850s (yes, you read that right) that was published every Saturday. With issue 38, dated Saturday, September 15, 1860, Vanity Fair received rave reviews from a bevy of prestigious publications in that era of media. Check out a bit of nostalgia that Mr. Magazine™ dug out from his Classic Vault. You won’t be disappointed…

And to make it easier on the eyes to read, here is a retyped version of the 1860 “Opinions of the Press” piece. It’s absolutely worth the read.

Vanity Fair,
The New Illustrated and Satirical Journal

Opinions of the Press

“The Punch of America.” – N.Y. Herald, Jan. 19

“If such a work can succeed, Vanity Fair will and ought to do so. It has a good corps of writers, whose contributions promise to be set on a hill and shine accordingly.” – N.Y. Tribune

Vanity Fair is the best experiment of the kind yet made in the country. The paper has already contained many things worthy of Punch in his brightest days, nor is this surprising when it is known that some of the best wits and most graceful writers in the country contribute to its pages.” – N. Y. Evening Post

“There is a good deal in a name, and this name is, to our mind, better than Punch. The illustrations in Vanity Fair have been the best ever produced in a comic paper in this country. They are beautifully drawn, carefully engraved, and not so entirely spoiled in the printing as, in many illustrated papers, woodcuts are spoiled on the press. If this paper shall continue, as it has begun, to take a high moral tone, to keep its pages scrupulously free from the too common wit whose only point is its vulgarity, to attack fearlessly and conscientiously the follies of the times, there will be a fair chance of its pushing its way to success and fame.” – The Independent (N.Y.)

“The object of Vanity Fair is a good one, and the parties engaged in it, so far as we are informed, are admirably qualified for their work.” – N.Y. Saturday Press

“This new comic paper has passed the trying ordeal of success, and is most decidedly entitled to the support of all those who love pure wit, dashed off from the pen or pencil.” – N.Y. Daily News

“There is vim in Vanity Fair. Its illustrations are equal to those which have made Punch a power in the metropolis of England, and in fun, piquancy of manner, terseness and humor it equals its great trans-Atlantic contemporary.” – N.Y. Dispatch

“Especially creditable, both in matter and appearance.” – N.Y. Sunday Times

“Its illustrations are superior to any that have heretofore appeared. The literary portion of the number is varied and entertaining.” – Boston Courier

Vanity Fair promises life and usefulness.” – N.Y. Leader

Vanity Fair bids fair to become one of the ‘peculiar institutions’ of the day.” – N.Y. Sunday Mercury

“That would certainly be a very mild criminal code which should prescribe nothing worse to take than Vanity Fair. We wouldn’t mind being shut up ourselves, for a time, in such companionship.” – National Anti-Slavery Standard

“It greatly excels any similar American publication, and is quite equal to Charivari or Punch.” – American Republic (Macon, Ga.)

“Pungent and humorous, and shows much ability in its editorial management.” – Louisville Journal

“The whole affair is exceedingly clever.” – Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

“There is no small degree of smartness in Vanity Fair.” – Philadelphia Press

Vanity Fair is the most piquant of hebdomadals. We could wish that it might sweep out of existence every other comic periodical we have.” – Buffalo Daily Courier

“Far in advance of any similar publications which have heretofore appeared in this country.” – New Hampshire Gazette

“The original articles possess much greater merit than we usually find in journals of this class.” – Portland Transcript

“It bids fair to be very popular, and gives evidence of a high order of literary and artistic talent.” – Hunterdon (N.J.) Republican

“Though scarcely two months old, ‘It stalks the earth and awes the world around.’ Its illustrations tinge even the cheeks of Punch. Its onslaught on vice and folly makes it a terror to knaves and fools.” – Justice Whitley’s Circuit Judge

“We heartily welcome Vanity Fair to our literary repast, and shall look greedily for each weekly number.” – Architects’ and Mechanics’ Journal

“Capital and full of fun.” – Cincinnati Commercial

“Comes nearer the object than any of its predecessors.” Newark Daily Advertiser

“One of the cleverest and brightest papers of the kind. The wittiest writers and artists of New York contribute to it.” – Providence Journal

“This is the first really clever comic and satirical journal we have had in America – and really clever it is. It is both sharp and good-tempered, and not afraid to say that its soul is its own – which shows that it has a soul. Our readers will be glad to know where they can find native fun that has something better in it than mere patois.” – Atlantic Monthly

“This paper is excellent, remarkable for originality.” – N.Y. Traveller

Vanity Fair is conducted by a vivacious, witty and intelligent corps of journalists.” – Litchfield (Conn.) Enquirer

“Will wield as potent an influence as that of the London Punch.” – Boston Traveller

“Whoever finds himself laughing at the wit of Vanity Fair, and does not return a quid pro quo, is fit for ‘treasons, stratagems, and spoils.’” – N.Y. Crayon

Special Notice

And at the end of the page there was this ad, that needless to say has been running since June 30, 1850 without any updates.

The very marked and flattering success which has thus far attended the publication of Vanity Fair enables the publisher to announce that with the commencement of the Second Volume, issued this day, 30th June, New Features, both Literary and Artistic, will be introduced, which will increase the value and interest of the paper, and fully maintain the proud position unanimously accorded to it, as the leading Comic Journal of America.

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