Newspapers and magazines are commodities. They are bought and sold. The businesses and organisations making and selling them need to make enough money to pay the bills and continue producing new issues.

Cover price is one way to generate income; subscriptions are another. However, income from single issues and from subscription do not necessarily cover all of the costs of production–writers, artists, office staff, cleaners, editors, printers, etc. In the nineteenth century, like today, advertisements are an important source of income for covering the costs of production. The British Workman and the Stationery Trade Review took very different approaches to advertising.

Both publications were launched after the elimination of some of the “taxes on knowledge” that made publishing expensive in part to limit the politically-dangerous radical press. Taxes on advertising were repealed 1853, the newspaper stamp duty in 1855, and paper taxes in 1861. Even before the taxes were repealed, however, advertising was common. The front pages of newspapers like The Times were filled with text-based ads.

Making Up Mr Mimpriss’ Quilts
British Workman, September 1876, p.88

The British Workman did not accept or print paid advertising (at least obviously). It was promoting ideas and beliefs, not consumer culture. At the same time, that does not mean that there was no marketing in its pages. The British Workman for example promoted quilts made from cloth printed with biblical mottos. The British Workwoman very often had tiny adverts for consumer products at the bottom of columns, almost as if it did not want to appear too commercial (the insertions were marked “ADVT” to show they were indeed adverts and not just endorsements by the magazine: see the bottom of these pages for example).

By contrast, the Stationery Trade Review openly relied on advertising both to promote the goods discussed in its pages and to cover production costs. No business records exist, so we do not know if advertisers paid the exact rates advertised in the periodical, or if they received discounts for bulk or repeat ads. What can say though is that, in line with advertising in general, the ads in the Stationery Trade Review became increasingly eye-catching over the course of the periodical’s run.