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The Illustrated London News - The Pioneer of Pictorial Journalism
The Illustrated London News was a magazine founded by Herbert Ingram and his friend Mark Lemon, the editor of Punch. With Lemon as chief adviser, the first edition of the Illustrated London News appeared on 14 May 1842. Costing sixpence, the magazine had sixteen pages and thirty-two wood engravings. It included pictures of the war in Afghanistan, a train crash in France, a steamboat explosion in Canada and a fancy dress ball at Buckingham Palace.
Although 26,000 copies of the first issue were disposed of, there was a falling off in the second and subsequent numbers. Herbert Ingram, however, was determined to make his property a success. He sent every clergyman in the country a copy of the number containing illustrations of the installation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and by this means secured many new subscribers. Within a few months it was selling over 65,000 copies a week. High prices were charged for advertisements and Ingram was soon making £12,000 a year from this publishing venture. Encouraged by the success of The Illustrated London News, Ingram decided in 1848 to start a daily newspaper, the London Telegraph. When Andrew Spottiswoode started a rival paper, the Pictorial Times, Ingram purchased it and merged it with the Illustrated London News. In 1855 Ingram took over another rival, the Illustrated Times.
Ingram employed leading artists of the day to illustrate social events, news stories, towns and cities. The whole spectrum of Victorian Britain was recorded pictorially in The Illustrated London News for many decades. Special events were important to the success of The Illustrated London News. The magazine did very well during the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the edition that reported the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in 1852 sold between 150,000 or 250,000 copies, according to various accounts. Illustrations came from all corners of the globe. By 1855 Ingram was using colour and had artists in Great Britain and continental Europe racing to the scene of stories to capture the drama in print. The Crimean War caused a further boost to sales. By 1863, after Ingram's death, the Illustrated London News was selling over 300,000 copies a week. This was far higher than other journals. For example, newspapers such as the Daily News sold 6,000 copies at this time, and even the largest selling newspaper, The Times, only sold 70,000 copies. The publication was later a source of early informal artistic education for the Vincent van Gogh.
The magazine was published weekly until 1971, when it became a monthly. From 1989, it was bi-monthly, then quarterly. The magazine is no longer published, but the Illustrated London News Group still exists. It produces in-house magazines, websites and consultancy. It also controls the archive of the Illustrated London News.
Relief (Wood engravings) - used until c.1880.
This involved using wood as the material on which the image to be printed was created from the artist's drawing. The wood was cut away from the area which was not to be printed, leaving the image to be printed standing up from the 'block', as it was called. For larger illustrations, several smaller blocks were made and then joined to form a single, larger print.
Lithography (Surface printing) - introduced c.1880.
Although this process was invented at the end of the 18th century, it did not see common use until the latter part of the 19th century, when it was adapted to mechanisation. The design was drawn on to a flat stone surface, using a greasy ink, which was then 'fixed' chemically.
The paper used by the Illustrated London News and other papers of the day, was a wood pulp made using one the numerous chemical processes first developed around 1800. Early issues used unglazed papers, whilst later ones had a much smoother glazed surface, which presented the illustrations in a finer way. Typical weights of papers, in grams per square metre (gsm), used in the period were as follows:
1845-1865 70 gsm
1865-1875 90 gsm
1875-1902 100 gsm
Herbert Ingram "The father of pictorial journalism"
Herbert Ingram (27 May 1811-8 September 1860) was considered the father of pictorial journalism through his founding of The Illustrated London News. He was a Liberal politician who favoured social reform and represented Boston as an MP for four years until his early death in a shipping accident.
Ingram was born at Swineshead near Boston, Lincolnshire. After being educated at Laughton's Charity School and the free school in Wormgate (a street in Boston), he was apprenticed as a fourteen-year-old to town printer Joseph Clarke. When Ingram finished his training he moved to London where he worked as a journeyman printer.
In 1832 Ingram established his own printing and newsagents business in Nottingham, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Cooke. As a newsagent he noticed that when newspapers included woodcuts, their sales increased. He concluded that it would be possible to make a good profit from a magazine that included a large number of illustrations. However, it was to be a while before he could put this theory into practice. The newsagent business failed to make much progress until Ingram purchased the rights to a laxative known as Parr's Life Pills. The profits from marketing these pills provided the capital which enabled him to set up and publish The Illustrated London News.
Competitors of the Illustrated London News
The ILN held a commanding position in the market place, but The Graphic did seriously challenge its supremacy from 1870. Although never reaching the circulation of the ILN, it did take a good market share until the turn of the century. Compared to the ILN, prints from The Graphic are not that easy to find.
The Illustrated Times attempted to challenge the supremacy of the ILN in the 1850s, but it survived barely a decade and was purchased by Ingram in 1855. Prints from The Illustrated Times are fairly hard to come by.
The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News targeted a niche market, focusing on Theatre and Sports. In the 1870s and 1880s it enjoyed some popularity. Today, its pages are quite scarce and not commonly available. We have accumulated a modest stock over the years.