Just like many other popular forms of entertainment the pin-up magazine, or men’s magazine, did not just appear at the newsstand overnight, but had a long way to go from secretly sold and distributed smut and photographic sheet collections (like the “French postcards”) to the now very common form of glossy magazine centered on naked beauties, but also featuring sports and lifestyle.
In this three volume hardcover edition editor Dian Hanson, famous for her other books on nudes, erotic photography and long-time producer of men’s magazines as Puritan, Juggs and Leg Show, takes us on a long journey towards the very beginnings of that sort of publication.
Being the editor of Taschen’s own Sexy Books edition, she stands out as an expert on this particular subject.
Much research and much more serious collecting went into The History of Pin-up Magazines, which starts out in the late 1890s basically in France and Germany in volume 1.
The beginnings of a nude culture, so to speak, were gravely forestalled in the United States, as was to be expected.
Little wonder, the publications there came in disguise of western stories, detective magazines, adventure tales and that volume centers on the beginnings of the genre, roughly covering the period from 1900 until WWII.
Volume 2 is devoted to the success of the magazines after WWII and provides many excellent title pages from the 1950s, the high-time of the genre. Naturally the publication that more or less started the boom, Playboy, is portrayed with much care.
The last volume is centered around the change in the market, due to a new obscenity law in the United States, nude bodies in connection with political stories and ambition in German publications and weird and “kinky” variations of the category in England.
Altogether a very nice approach to the genre with tons of pictures, excerpts and sketches that comes in three solid medium-sized hardcover volumes in a slipcase.
Review by Dr. A. Ebert (c) 2013
Dian Hanson (ed.) Dian Hanson’s History of Pin-up Magazines Vols. 1-3. Taschen, 2013, 832 p., ISBN 978-3836539708