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Chapter IV. The Making of a Magazine McClure's Magazine was begun with $7,300 worth of capi­ tal, most of which came from John Phillips. McClure's assets, after eight successful years in the syndicate, amounted to $2,800 in cash and two thousand syndicate manuscripts in the safe.1 But the magazine, it was planned, would pay only for its own printing and paper, while all other expenses—those for administration, literature, and circulation—would be assumed by the syndicate or come from the minuscule capital. Most of the capital was imme­ diately expended when Albert Brady was hired as treasurer in January, 1893, at $5.°00 per annum.2 More money was urgently needed when the sudden stock market crash of May, 1893, sent the country into the worst depression since 1837. "Money," wrote McClure with one meager issue published, "cannot be borrowed on any terms."8 But by luck it was obtained. A stepsister died, leav­ ing Robert McClure several thousand dollars which he in­ vested in the magazine.4 Shortly thereafter, Professor Henry Drummond of Glasgow, who had an article on "Where Man got His Ears" in the first issue of the magazine, pro­ vided $3,000.5 In addition Colonel Pope, when called upon, agreed to supply $6,000, part of which was payment for future advertising. Dr. Phillips, John Phillips' father, mort­ gaged and rented the family home in Galesburg for further capital, and Arthur Conan Doyle, sensing a good invest­ ment, turned over a $5,000 lecturing fee for stock.® Tileston 1McClure, Autobiography, 208-209. zibid., 210; McClure to Hattie McClure, Jan. 2, 1893, McClure Papers. Brady reinvested much of his money in the magazine. 8 McClure to Hattie McClure, June 9, 1893, ibid. * McClure to Hattie McClure, Dec. 26, 1889, ibid.·, McClure1 Auto­ biography, 210. β Ibid., 212-213. β Galesburg Daily Mail, Jan. 14, 1894; McClure, Autobiography, 214, 217. M A K I N G O F A M A G A Z I N E and Hollingsworth, the Boston paper merchants, extended considerable credit.Still there was a scarcity o£ money. The magazine barely survived. Despite a page advertise­ ment run free by Dana in the New York Sun on May 28, 1893, the day the first issue of McClure's appeared, 12,000 copies of the initial 20,000 magazines printed were returned by distributing agents. The $600 realized did not even cover the first printing bill.7 A profit had been originally anticipated with a circulation of only 12,000, but when that figure was reached the magazine continued to lose $1,000 a month.8 Such was the inexact nature of McClure's calcu­ lations. But perseverance was to win. Within a year of McClure's appearance, the gradual re­ turn to prosperity stimulated publishing. The magazine went to press in November, 1894, a year later, with 60,000 subscribers and carried sixty pages of advertising.9 It was a good showing for a depression and compared favorably with Century's circulation, which had fallen from 200,000 to 75,000. At this point McClure's was making money, though "not a great deal to be sure."10 Undoubtedly, the most important ingredient in this success was the popular price of the fifteen-cent magazine. But other factors certainly contributed to the company's improved fortunes: wellwritten articles, engaging prospectuses designed by the wellknown Will H. Low, prolific newspaper advertising, an abundant use of pictures and color illustrations, and favorable reviews by other established journals.11 Establishing the magazine was not accomplished without severe competition and price cutting. No sooner did Mc­ Clure's appear than Cosmopolitan cut its price to twelve 7 Syndicate Scrapbook, "1892-1896," May 29, 1893, McClure Papers; McClure, Autobiography, 214. β McClure to Hattie McClure, Jan. 14, 1893, McClure Papers; Mc­ Clure, Autobiography, 215. 9 Syndicate Scrapbook, "1892-1896," Oct. 12, 1894, McClure Papers. 10 Ibid. 11 McClure to Hattie McClure, Jan. 14, 1893, ibid,.·, Syndicate Scrapbook , "1892-1896," Oct. 12, 1894, ibid. M A K I N G O F A M A G A Z I N E and a half cents per issue or a dollar and a half per year. A month later Munsey's went to ten cents a copy and a dol­ lar for a year's subscription.12 In May of 1895 McClure learned that Cosmopolitan was contemplating another price cut, which would have taken it down to a dime, the price of Munsey's, Godey's...


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