Fortunes made in the Depression

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Cover art by F. V. Carpenter

Conceived by Time Magazine co-creator, Henry Luce, as the “ideal super-class magazine”, during the very last moments of 1920’s prosperity, Fortune Magazine debuted in February, 1930, just before most people realized that the Wall Street slump was sliding down into a lasting economic depression. Fortune was a luxuriously produced, oversized (11 by 14 inches) magazine, that used fine, heavy grade, off white paper for the articles and glossy paper for advertisements, it was also a pioneer in its use of color photography.

 

At a time when the average magazine cost between 5 and 15 cents, each copy of Fortune was $1.00, which is the equivalent to $14.18 in 2015. Fortune was an instant success that had 30,000 subscribers even before publication of the first issue. By 1937 the numbers of subscribers had grown to nearly half a million and the magazine was showing a profit of $500,000 annually.

 

A socially conscious magazine, the staff of writers  included, James Agee and Archibald Macleish and featured photography (some in color) by Margaret Bourke-White and Walker Evans. Fortune was a magazine like no other. Below is another example of a typical issue, from June, 1933, that featured an article on the new Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

Today, 1930’s issues of Fortune are highly collectible. Individual copies can sell for between $50.00 and $100.00. But if you are lucky, some can still be found for between $10.00 and $20.00. Here are some from my collection that were found at the Golden Nugget Flea Market, in Lambertville, New Jersey.

 

 

I love these early Fortune magazines, from the magnificent art work of the covers, to the great articles and photographs and all the wonderful advertisements. They add an elegant Deco accent in a 1930’s style living room, den or bedroom.

 

Anthony

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