Before the National Enquirer, TMZ, Globe, The Star and other gossip tabloids, there was the National Police Gazette. Founded in 1845, it originally covered "highwaymen and suchlike malefactors, the thought being that the public would get on to the evil-doers and fix their wagons." Thirty years later a new owner transformed 'the oldest weekly in America' into a full-on tabloid covering "murders, Wild West outlaws, and sport... well known for its engravings and photographs of scantily clad strippers, burlesque dancers, and prostitutes, often skirting on the edge of what [was] legally considered obscenity." Some even consider it "America’s first popular men’s magazine." The Gazette shut down in 1977, but has now been resurrected. [more inside]
Libraries and commercial publishers have struggled with each other over the skyrocketing costs of academic journals for years. As costs have increased more rapidly than library budgets, the libraries have had to cut journal subscriptions and other acquisitions. The recent recession has necessitated further cuts. Against this backdrop, Nature Publishing Group told the University of California that next year subscription prices would increase 400 percent, with the average annual cost of a journal increasing to $17,479. UC Libraries fought back with a combative letter to UC faculty suggesting that faculty should consider boycotting the journals, and cease submitting or reviewing articles for these journals. NPG responds, saying that UC currently pays unfairly low rates, and that "individual scientists, both within and outside of California are already suffering as a result of [UC]'s unwarranted actions."
When the House of Commons required a portrait of outgoing PM Tony Blair, to whom did they turn? Phil Hale. [more inside]
Cover Art: The Time Collection [Flash] "In 1978 Time Magazine gave to the National Portrait Gallery some 800 works of original art that had at one time or another appeared on its covers." The gallery has created an online-only exhibition of the covers (the museum is closed for renovation until July 4, 2006). "And while one may normally imagine ornately framed oils of distinguished luminaries when thinking of the NPG, the Time covers offer a much closer to 'street level' survey of the prominent figures of any specific period." [via CSM]
James Gillray (1757-1815) One of the all-time great caricaturists, now extensively digitized by the National Portrait Gallery. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the links.) For other good collections, see the offerings from Bucknell and the Tate. Today, the most immediately recognizable Gillray is The Plumb-Pudding in Danger, although I'm quite fond of Promis'd Horrors of the French Invasion. A few of Gillray's famous French Revolution caricatures are featured at the Napoleonic Guide; for images with commentary, see this page by the Romanticist Duncan Wu. I've always wanted to own a Gillray, although I'm not sure that I'd want Presages of the Millenium--a particularly creepy Pitt as Death--on my wall.