Caricature magazines first appeared in Britain during the mid-1820s and were firmly embedded within popular print culture by the end of the decade. The magazine of the Georgian era was not the substantial glossy publications that modern readers are familiar with, but rather single sheets of printed paper covered with small caricature vignettes. The array of images on offer in each edition was undoubtedly a key part of their success, as the typical caricature magazine offered thrifty Georgian consumers the option of buying a dozen or more smaller pictures for the same price as a single traditional caricature print. Evidence of circulation and consumption rates is sketchy, but if the publishers own claims are to be believed then successful magazines, such as Thomas McLean’s Looking Glass (1830 – 1839) and Gilbert Beckett’s Figaro in London (1831 – 1839), were able to build up substantial national followings which rivaled those of the major metropolitan newspapers.
The caricaturist C.J. Grant founded his own caricature magazine in 1834. Every Body’s Album & Caricature Magazine was published fortnightly and ran for a total of 39 editions before finally folding in 1835. The first 24 sheets were published by John Kendrick and printed by Dean & Munday of Threadneedle Street, after which Thomas Dawson seems to have assumed responsibility for financing the project. Each edition sold for a six pence, or a shilling if the customer wished to have colouring added. Dawson claimed the magazine achieved a circulation of 39,000 copies which, while still only about half the numbers Figaro in London is said to have achieved, constituted a substantial readership. The list of provincial retailers which appears at the foot of each edition also suggests that Grant’s audience extended right across England and as far afield as Dublin and Glasgow.
Every Body’s Album was different in both style and content to the penny political prints with which Grant’s name had previously been associated. The caricatures predominantly dealt with more whimsical social subjects, such as manners, fashion, and new technologies, as well as trading in the usual jokes at the expense of lawyers, doctors, priests and foreigners. And while political subjects still loomed large in Grant’s oeuvre, they were often presented in a far less confrontational style that presumably reflected the moderate tastes of the Album’s middle-class followers.
In January 1835 Grant produced an expanded variant edition of his magazine under the title Pictorial Companion to the Newspapers and Every Body’s Album. This new publication essentially consisted of two regular caricature magazines printed onto a single sheet of paper, which was folded in half and read like a conventional newspaper. It seems as though Grant and Dawson may have hoped that this larger and more expensive product would supersede the single-sheet edition of Every Body’s Album, as two weeks after the Pictorial Companion was published, a note appeared at the foot of issue number 25 of the Album to inform readers that in future it would “assume more the character of a periodical than hitherto”. However, sales evidently failed to live up to expectations because publication of the Pictorial Companion ceased after just one issue and the the Album retained its usual format until it too was brought to an abrupt halt later that year.