09 Mar 2017 - Courtney Floyd

Tracking a Masthead Over Time

This week in the Print Culture blog series, we're taking a brief look at newspaper mastheads and how they change over time.

To do so, we'll look at Saturday supplements of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph from the early years of publication, and then take a look at what's changed or stayed the same every five-ish years after that until around 1894. As I noted in my last post, this blog series is possible because of The British Newspaper Archive, which is an amazing resource for periodicals and print culture scholars.

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph began publication in June of 1855. Because it is a fledgling publication at this point, looking at a number of mastheads from the first few years is important to see how they shifted before settling into something that would represent the newspaper with little to no change for the next 30 or so years.</p>

We can see here that the early numbers went with a Black Letter (Gothic) type face for the title, italicized publication information below, and included a motto:

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Seven months later, things have shifted slightly. Three is no longer a motto, but the type face remains the same. The publication information below the title is no longer italicized. The numbering system has also evolved.

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One year later, the type face has changed drastically, as has the information provided below the title:

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Two years after that,  we have what would serve as the masthead until for newspaper and supplement alike until 1884:

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In 1884, the supplement to the Sheffield Daily Telegraph has become a big enough deal to merit its own title and masthead. At this point, it becomes the Sheffield Weekly Telegraph:

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Two years later, in 1894, we no longer need the announcement that this is the supplement to the Sheffield Daily Telegraph. And, while the masthead itself doesn't change much, we get the addition of regular front-page illustrations. (Because this is digitized, it's hard for me to tell what kind of illustration this is, though the time period and the texture of the sky make me suspect this is a white-line [or wood] engraving.)

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One year later, the supplement has come into its own. Consequently, the "Sheffield" bit of the masthead is dropped:

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The British Newspaper Archive does not have any numbers between 1890 and 1893, but they do have them beginning again in January 1894. So, by 1894, the Weekly Telegraph masthead has changed immensely. It looks like a woodcut illustration, actually. The newspaper itself is also much more heavily illustrated (both in terms of content illustration and illustrated advertisements) at this time:

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When I've done a bit more research, I hope to return to these to analyze how these subtle shifts in typeface over time might have subtly shaped readers' perceptions and expectations of the newspaper.


All images in this post are © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD, and have been shared on my personal research blog as per the British Newspaper Archive's instructions for personal use here