Look inside: Producing magazines at Street & Smith

Earlier we saw what happened to manuscripts when they arrived at Street & Smith. Now let’s see what happened when producing the physical magazine. Pictures taken from the December 1904 issue of The Popular Magazine, which included a self-congratulatory section on the magazine’s success.

Typing it out

These are linotype machines; the user types out text on a custom keyboard and lines of set text come out. To know more about how linotype machines worked, see this video (long, but worth watching in full. I did.)

Or if you have little time or attention span, watch this animation of a linotype machine in action:


The composers put together the columns, titles, headings and subheads, illustrations and ads. Watch this video to see the result of their work.

Melting point

Here the composed layouts were converted to plates that would print the magazine.

Roll it

The printing presses consumed tons of pulp paper, and produced large sheets of printed paper that each contained multiple pages.

Binding energy

The large sheets were cut and assembled into “signatures”, which were then bound. One machine could bind 1,600 copies an hour.

Selling the dream

Along with the magazine, S&S produced promotional material like newsstand posters.

The issue being advertised is the October 1904 issue, with this cover

The December issue also had a list of 100 contest winners, with the name of the city and state. I put them on a map to see where the readers were from

It’s easy to see that most readers were from the east coast and the midwest. The Pacific coast states and southern states had a few readers. States in which no readers won were:

South Dakota
New Mexico
North Carolina


  1. When I began working in the printing industry in 1963 it was all hot metal, Linotype and Monotype. By the time I retired I was using a computer and it was all digital typesetting.

  2. The Munsey Magazine also had a photo article about producing the magazine but I forget which issue had the article.
    Barry, I took print shop during my junior and senior years in high school and almost accepted a job that the instructor offered me at one of the big firms. Instead I went to college.

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