Argosy (magazine)  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

(Redirected from Argosy Magazine)
Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Argosy was an American pulp magazine, published by Frank Munsey. It is generally considered to be the first American pulp magazine.

The magazine began as a general information periodical entitled The Golden Argosy, targeted at the "boys adventure" market. The first issue was published on December 2, 1882, (dated December 9, 1882, a common practice at the time) and came out weekly. The first issue was eight pages, cost five cents, and included the first installments of serialized stories by Horatio Alger, Jr. and Edward S. Ellis.

The first "pulp"

The first "pulp" is considered to be Frank Munsey's revamped Argosy Magazine of 1896, about 135,000 words (192 pages) per issue on pulp paper with untrimmed edges and no illustrations, not even on the cover. While the steam powered printing press had been in widespread use for some time, enabling the boom in dime novels, prior to Munsey, no-one had combined cheap printing, cheap paper and cheap authors in a package that provided affordable entertainment to working-class people. In six years Argosy went from a few thousand copies per month to over half a million.


Other authors associated with Argosy's early days include:

In late September of 1882, Munsey had moved to New York City to start Argosy, having arranged a partnership with a friend already in New York and working in the publishing industry, and with a stock broker from Augusta, Maine, Munsey's previous home. Munsey put most of his money, around $500, into purchasing stories for the magazine. Once he was in New York, the stock broker backed out, and Munsey decided to release his New York friend from involvement, since they were now hopelessly underfunded. Munsey then pitched the magazine to a New York publisher, and managed to convince him to publish the magazine and hire Munsey as editor.

Five months after the first issue, the publisher went bankrupt and entered receivership. By placing a claim for his unpaid salary, Munsey managed to assume control of the magazine. It was a very unlikely financial proposition; subscriptions had been sold which had to be fulfilled, but Munsey had almost no money and credit from printers and other suppliers was impossible to come by. Munsey borrowed $300 from a friend in Maine, and managed to scrape along as he learned the fundamentals of the publishing industry.

Munsey found that targeting children had been a mistake, as they did not stay subscribed for any length of time, since they grew out of reading the magazine. Additionally, children did not have much money to spend, which limited the number of advertisers interested in reaching them.

In December 1888 the title was changed to The Argosy. Publication switched from weekly to monthly in April 1894, at which time the magazine began its shift towards pulp fiction. It eventually published its first all-fiction issue in 1896. The magazine switched back to a weekly publication schedule in October 1917. In January 1919, The Argosy merged with Railroad Man's Magazine, and was briefly known as Argosy and Railroad Man's Magazine. This was followed in 1920 by a merger with All-Story Magazine, resulting in a new title, Argosy All-Story Weekly.

Later changes included a change to bi-weekly publication in November 1941, then monthly publication in July 1942. The most significant change occurred in September 1943, when the magazine not only changed from pulp to slick paper, but began to shift away from its all fiction content. Over the next few years the fiction content continued to grow smaller (though still with the occasional short-story writer of stature, such as P. G. Wodehouse, represented), and the "men's magazine" material to grow larger. The final issue of the original magazine was published in November 1978.

During its original 96-year run, it published works in a number of literary genres, including science fiction and westerns. Edgar Rice Burroughs published some of his Tarzan and John Carter of Mars stories in the magazine. Other authors who appeared in the original run included Ellis Parker Butler, Max Brand, and Robert E. Howard. Towards the end of its run, it became associated with the men's adventure pulp genre of "true" stories of conflict with wild animals or wartime combat, Erle Stanley Gardner's articles on The Court of Last Resort, and later was considered a softcore men's magazine.


  • The magazine was revived briefly from 1990 to 1994. There were only five issues published sporadically during that time.
  • A quarterly published "slick" revival began in 2004. It briefly went on hiatus before resuming publication in 2005 as Argosy Quarterly. The focus of this version was on new, original fiction. This appears to be out of publication, as its website has disappeared.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Argosy (magazine)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools