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Vintage Publications - Depositories of the Past

Vintage publications enjoy immense popularity among collectors as tangible pieces of history that can be stored, displayed and read, and that give a glimpse of the conditions of a time that has passed. Collected by bibliophiles, academicians, researchers and beginners alike, vintage publications are widely displayed and sold at auctions, exhibitions, markets and online platforms. This set of collectibles can include a series of prints including books, magazines, newspapers, comics, advertisements and other miscellaneous works such as puzzles, cartoons, maps, etc. Vintage publications are valuable collectibles and are extensively collected by people over the world because of the personal history and emotional significance attached with these prints. Interest in books can be traced back centuries, and was possibly commercialized with the creation of the printing press by Gutenberg, which allowed the publication and distribution of books on a massive scale across boundaries; today, there are millions of collectors across the globe who collect antique books, religious texts, biographies and other fiction and non-fiction books from various periods of time. Most sought after are first editions, although usually not attainable for antique books published before 1770, and they can fetch millions of dollars at auctions, such as the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare, which accrued $ 5.5 million at an auction in 2006. Some vintage books are also collected for their aesthetic appeal, such as leather bound books covered in calf skin, Levant leather and Moroccan leather, which exude a sense of antiquity and elegance, and are used extensively for decoration purposes; examples of the same include the 1859 On the Origin of Species, The Adventures of Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities.Vintage books containing inscriptions and signatures by the author are highly demanded by collectors, and equally popular are books that were previously owned by famous personalities, often termed as provenance. Magazines hold a wide interest for vintage publication collectors, who buy them for the cover, specific articles or the publication house, and often even as sports and movie memorabilia. The 1663 Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen, a literary and philosophy magazine from Germany, was possibly the first magazine, while the first general use magazine was The Gentleman’s Magazine, launched in 1731, and was what propelled the term magazine into popular use. Magazines are often highly valued if they have covers designed by famous illustrators like Harrison Fisher and Charles Gibson, if they feature iconic advertisements, which are bought by collectors to decorate their homes or if they promote vintage fashion and living styles in their articles. Since their introduction in colonial times, magazines have been very popular in India, with some important publications being the Oriental Magazine, the Hindutan Review, the Statesman Weekly, Thought and Akashvani. Newspapers can be considered the best examples of historical ephemera as their practical significance is short-lived, although they are treasured by collectors because of their intrinsic link to the past. Different articles, pictures and advertisements in vintage newspapers pique the interest of various collectors, who select portions of the paper as relevant and save the entire newspaper as tribute to the same; the relevance can be both global as a piece of news and personal as linked to family history or personal interest.The look of a vintage newspaper- monochrome, sepia or coloured with letters printed in various fonts- add to the appeal of collecting this publication, and storing them as personal possessions, which can then be passed to other hands. The first newspaper was a German publication called Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien, launched in 1605 as a weekly periodical, and was followed by other newspapers across the globe that started getting published as daily prints. India has a long history with newspapers, which started with the Bengal Gazette in 1780, and was especially emphasized during the 19th century when nationalists began spreading their message to the masses. Comics revolutionised printed publications with their quirky style and creative content, and they have a long history of artists and creators to their name.The first printed comic was created by William Hogarth as seven sets of sequential images, and subsequent improvements in this field of publications included the development of a narrative over a set of cartoons and the use of the speech bubble. The first comic strip was introduced in 1826 and contained all the elements of modern comics with the speech bubbles, captions stating continuation, satire and caricature, and by 1867, serialized comic strips were introduced in magazines and newspapers. The 20th century saw the creation of many of the widely loved comics such as Beano, Tintin, Archies, as well as the popular comic universes of DC and Marvel, which have various features like Superman, Batman, and X-Men to their name. India’s comic industry emerged in the 1960s, and many of the iconic comics include Batul the Great, Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha and the Times of India comic strips by R.K. Laxman. There is huge demand for these comics in the vintage publications market, with majority of the sales occurring online. The earliest print advertisements were published in newspapers in the 18th century, and they publicized a variety of commodities like books, medicines, food products, latest fashions and tobacco products, catering to the middle class of society. Alongside newspaper advertisements, there emerged posters and signs, made of various materials such as porcelain, which was very durable, and tin, a cheaper alternative to the former. Celluloid pinbacks, shaped like buttons, were advertising techniques worn on clothes, and other creative publicizing mediums were also introduced by various companies such as Coca Cola, which promoted thermometers, calenders, mirrors and clocks bearing its brand name. Apart from these items, other collectibles include produce crate labels, salesman samples, tobacco tins, beer trays and door push and pull signs. In India, advertising was initiated in the Bengal Gazette, and was later carried on by other agencies like B. Dattaram and Co., Ogilvy and Mater, and Hindustan Thompson Associates, who hired visualisers and illustrators to design advertisements that could reach the widest audience; the first major brand and marketing campaign was that of Dalda in 1939.
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