DIAGRAMS
ILLUSTRATION
PHOTOGRAPHY
COVERS, MISC.
COVERS, chronologyGY
MAPS
FEATURES

 

FORTUNE SURVEYS, A SELECTION
SURVEY PICTOGRAPHS (IRVING REIS)
BUCKMINSTER FULLER & FORTUNE

 

advertisers choose FORTUNE
SUBSCRIPTION SLIPS
FORTUNE advertises FORTUNE
July 1939 issue
VOLUME 1, NUMBER 1

 

FORTUNE ON PRINTING
packaging for individual issues
MARCH OF TIME

 

 

FORTUNE'S AMERICA

THE CATALOGUE

CORRESPONDENCE

THE EXHIBITION (ROCHESTER)
ANTONIO PETRUCCELLI
MAX GSCHWIND
RICHARD EDES HARRISON

WALKER EVANS

THE LAKESIDE PRESS, NOVEMBER 1984

 

 

FORTUNE'S KEY LAYOUTS

THE AMERICAN BAZAAR, NOVEMBER 1947

ASTROPHYSICS, JANUARY 1947 with Ezra Stoller

25 YEARS OF INDUSTRIAL PHOTOGRAPHY January 1955
THE FUNNY PAPERS 1933

 

 

FAMOUS FEATURES

THE 100 "BEST DESIGNED' PRODUCTS 1959
FUTURE magazine Vol III No 2 1948
WORLD AT WORK exhibition 1955 
THE ART DEPARTMENT, FYI 1948  
mis-FORTUNE, Vanity Fair spoof 1934

THOMAS CLELAND, graphic work before 1929

NEW YORKER CARTOON, CARL ROSE, 1937 ALBUM
FULLER'S HOUSE, APRIL 1946
AN ASTONISHING NEW THEORY OF COLOUR, 1959
THE DAWN OF ADVERTISING
A MIGHTY HEIR TO GUTENBERG NOV 1964
SIGNIFICANCE OF AMERICAN PERIODICALS 1939
Penrose 1949 ASSESSMENT OF FORTUNE

 

 

 FORTUNE AND ME

In the late ‘Seventies, the town of Hay-on-Wye had a reputation of being one huge Book Shop; the Cinema, the Fire Station and most available chapels devoted to heaps of books for sale, a few of them actually worth having. Those that weren’t were sold as slowing burning fuel for central heating. There were summer activities for our kids, Edie and Jack, in streams and pastures nearby. I could easily slope off with a carrier bag at any time of the day and night to start filling the car, a green Mini Estate with a decent sized boot with tailgate. One shop, we were told, was even open all night. You just left the money in a hole in the wall.

Mike Pidgley’s sister had access to an abandoned pub, the Badger, in the centre of the village . There we could camp for the week. Other people, transient guests, would appear, take breakfast, and then never be seen again. One was the actor Tim Spall, presumably observing us as part of his preparations for his next role in a Mike Leigh production.

I mused. What sort of book was it that could be bought at two in the morning? With a handful of loose change, when everybody was asleep, I scuttled out to find the dimly lit room in the nocturnal shop near the Fire Station. I was disappointed that there was no assistant in place. And no other customer. Disheartening at first.

The books were of course inferior to those in the very worst Charity shop, torn, stained, incomplete and unreadable. However the first thing I noticed at the threshold was the smell, a sharp, brittle and high gloss smell. This was not the usual whiff of extreme foxing, dampness or rodent droppings.  In the corner, underneath the wall safe, were three neatly stacked piles of FORTUNE magazines at 20 pence each, mint issues from the early fifties.  I found about a dozen issues with photographers I had heard of, mainly features by Walker Evans and Arnold Newman. With this yoke of purchases, I staggered back to the Badger and began to sift through what I had bought. Almost immediately, I developed a hunger for more that night. The nocturnal protocol allowed me regular clandestine visits during the night until the rest of the shop opened at nine.

The determining factor now was how many I could fit in the Mini Estate. The earlier magazines (from the war period) had a mark-up to 30 pence because of the whizz bang factor of armaments and men on the march. The rest of the holiday was a Paradise of gentle ambling through the rolling countryside, with June’s FORTUNE in the evening. I often wonder, by the way, the extent to which I have actually ever ‘read’  the magazine.  Just as I got going on some rascal of capitalism, or corporate wheeze, some new scintillating visual feature could be sensed around the corner and my concentration lapsed as I sped through pages in anticipation of excellence.
After a week we were perfectly loaded for the journey back to Norwich, with the purchase of most loose copies from the Night Room piled in the back. I drove with immense tact and care with leaden steering and a song in my heart. Only once did we risk disaster. Stopping suddenly for the traffic lights at a roundabout in Slough, the massive superstructure of magazines lurched forward trapping Edie and Jack in the jaws of the hinged seat. To this day (and she is visiting as I write) she remembers the smell and the darkness that engulfed her. I remember too the sharp look in Oriole’s eyes as I restacked my purchases in the next lay-by.

The hunger had however not gone away. Once back in Harvey Lane with its huge garage, I could unload, store and sort. Ringing up Richard Booth (Booksellers), I was desperate to track down any copies that hadn’t been rootled out for me.

“No, I think you got them all. But there are two containers coming in from the States next week.”

Developing a fiction that I was the reluctant mouthpiece of a large consortium of scholars and librarians (called the CABAL), I bought both containers unseen. I negotiated prices, explaining that the Cabal had unlimited storage but limited budgets. The Booth lorries delivered, and I sensed a profound relief at Head Office they had not been stuck with so many issues, bound and unbound, duplicates and inserts for the Night Shelter. Many were Library discards. Some were mint and unopened. A few disintegrated the moment I looked at them, their amber glue in flakes at my feet.

From the Garage, and reaching to the limits of the garden, came this intense brittle, glossy smell. Later I made finer sensory judgments on the paper characteristics of FORTUNE’s various decades, the antique laid paper of the thirties emitting a bouquet of beautifully ironed elderly linen, the musty twang of the war quality paper stock arousing an earnestness of purpose, the coated paper of the fifties that acted like a nasal de-congestent.

I never really put much store in checking complete runs. I seemed to have most of them, and there was a set for Phil Beard who joined me in the enterprise, and a set for breaking that would be the basis of studying and slide making. No gutters appeared in my teaching imagery, just the majesty of the pages, single and double.

Working as a visiting lecturer at the Norwich Art School I simply didn’t have the clout to develop an exhibition of the material under a wide institutional umbrella.  I can’t remember any member of staff at Norwich showing the slightest interest in FORTUNE. One ad-hoc exhibition I mounted in the foyer was removed because a Head of Department wanted to be able to complain the Gallery never showed material relevant to students of Graphic Design. His burly honcho advised me mafia-style that it would not be in my interests to leave the exhibition up despite the student enthusiasm.

Cashing in some shares my father had given me, and with the support of Professor Roy Church, head of the School of Economics at the University of East Anglia, I proposed  an exhibition in the University Library, agreed by the dour and suspicious Willi Guttsman, its worthy Chief Librarian. It was to be a tear sheet show but was expensive in glass and fixing. There had to be a catalogue. Penny Hudd, with the help of Sharon Hayles, generously shaped these aspects of the show.

We could now directly approach the contributors to the magazine. Letters received quick replies and the names of Phil Beard and Chris Mullen, that  exotic and unfathomable twin Limey research machine, were passed from designer to photographer, to illustrator and to the makers of maps. The delightful Jane Mull whose name and face graced so many FORTUNE Round Tables came over the visit us in Norwich. To my embarrassment she took Oriole and I out for a meal that must have cost as much as the flight over.

The show was much admired by those who stumbled over it and later, in Rochester, generated the interest it should have. Willi did everything he could to suppress knowledge of its existence at the University, even refusing to sell the catalogue on site. Paul Hogarth agreed to come to our private view, but we had decided to feature his reportage work on its own screens anyway. He was contented, giving only a secret smile when hearing about Jane Mull, his research assistant on several trips into the American interior.

To balance any monotony of scale in our world of FORTUNE, Penny Hudd had the Garretto unloading cover made into a ten foot banner, and splendid it was. Phil and I were thinking of making special pyjamas with some of the young Petruccelli’s textile designs in which to attend the Private View.

In its American incarnation in Rochester, the FORTUNE exhibition made a much greater impact. I delivered the contents in one carrier bag to the office of R. Roger Remington at the Institute of Technology. Roger had Frodo-like handed back the keys of power in the department to develop the digital archives at RIT. The display I left to him and his staff. What a trouper he was, and so professional. Oh the joy of seeing the beauty of the display and hearing about its reception by the visitors. You’ll find some pictures of the installation above.

At the time of the show Roger arranged a discussion panel featuring Tony Petruccelli, Walter Allner and Hans Barschel. I still have the tape.. Allner was eager to add to his international reputation, Barschel was wise, but Tony fizzed and laughed with no thought for the future. I told him I would commemorate the work we had done together in some AV mode. Trust me, I said. I do, he replied.

The story of the Summer party of the old hands at the Burcks house in Upper State New York is told elsewhere on my site as is the developmental work for the FORTUNE show Phil and I carried through with Tony. You’ll also find my own account of staying with Tony and Toby in Mount Tabor and documenting his life’s work.

I still have a run of the magazine from which to work. To this very day (May 17, 2010) I still find images and layouts beyond the anticipated. How, I berate myself, did I miss that sensational map, that Ricky Harrison spot illustration, that Portfolio of Factory Photographs? Returning to the material in the light of archival resources on the internet now re-awakens the joy of it all, what Linda Rubes today kindly wrote of as a ‘loving’ compilation. The Union Carbide features by Ansel Adams, say, are treated extensively in the body of interviews he gave to the Bancroft Library and now included as part of the oral history testimony in the Internet Archive.  

The internet has provided me with the opportunity to extend my compilation in a convenient and flexible way, integrating it with other contemporary magazines, and developments in other visual languages, and to do so  in ways no conventional publisher would tolerate.

No doubt one day, a study will be written that does justice to the achievements of this magazine, of this group of people, but until then you will get many happy hours wandering the labyrinthine structures contained within this menu. When that study appears Phil and I will feel insanely jealousy but will also experience a great satisfaction, and expect to be cited, even adored for our original brave and loving efforts.