The American Magazine

The American Magazine (Boston: Rogers and Fowle, 1743-46). 3 v., [Vol. 1] (Sept. 1743)-v. 3 (Dec. 1746). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Hamilton 22. Note the palm tree on the left.

The American Magazine (later called The American Magazine and Historical Chronicle) was launched in September 1743. It was the third magazine in the American colonies and the first published in Boston. This issue from July 1745 is headed with a view of Boston, printed from a metal relief plate engraved by James Turner (1722-1759). It is one of only twenty-five examples of work we can clearly attribute to the Boston silversmith and engraver.

One of the publishing agents for The American Magazine was Benjamin Franklin, and through his recommendations, Turner received a number of commissions. In 1754, Turner moved his shop to Philadelphia, where he continued to engrave maps, bookplates, and for Franklin, the brass stamp of the Penn arms to be used as the masthead for Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette. Martha Fales also suggests “the Franklin engaged Turner to cut the first American political cartoon—the segmented snake, with each section labeled to represent the various colonies, and below the sections the motto “Join or Die.” For more, see Martha G. Fales, “James Turner, Silversmith-Engraver,” Prints of New England (Wercester: American Antiquarian Society, 1991): 1-20.

While The American Magazine included advertisements in the back, it was not until Turner went to work for Franklin that they started using images within the advertsiements to draw attention to them.