National Police Gazette

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For other uses, see Police Gazette.
A 1922 cover page

The National Police Gazette, commonly referred to as simply the Police Gazette, was an American magazine founded in 1845. Under publisher Richard K. Fox, it became the forerunner of the men's lifestyle magazine, the illustrated sports weekly, the girlie/pin up magazine, the celebrity gossip column, Guinness World Records-style competitions, and modern tabloid/sensational journalism.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

The magazine was founded by two journalists, Enoch E. Camp, also an attorney, and George Wilkes, a transcontinental railroad booster.[7] It began as a chronicler of crime and criminals, intended for consumption by the general public. In 1866, Wilkes and Camp sold the Gazette to George W. Matsell.[8][a] The editor and proprietor from 1877 until his death in 1922 was Richard Kyle Fox, an immigrant from Ireland.

Ostensibly devoted to matters of interest to the police, it is a tabloid-like publication, with lurid coverage of murders, Wild West outlaws, and sport. It is well known for its engravings and photographs of scantily clad strippers, burlesque dancers, and prostitutes, often skirting on the edge of what is legally considered obscenity.

The National Police Gazette enjoyed considerable popularity in the late 19th century and early decades of the 20th century; but its popularity decreased during the Great Depression.[10] In 1932 the Police Gazettee ceased publication, and was sold at auction for a nominal sum. A year later it was revived under the ownership of the Donenfelds, who placed it in the editorial hands of Mrs. Merle W. Hersey, the ex-wife of Harold Hersey. The Donenfeld/Hersey regime did not last long and the magazine changed hands again within a year. The National Police Gazette continued on as a monthly publication for many years before ceasing print publication in 1977.

In its heyday it was immensely influential. In the first part of the 20th century, the United States became the centre for professional boxing. It was generally accepted that the "world champions" were those listed by the Police Gazette.[11] After 1920, the National Boxing Association began to sanction "title fights".

Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo[edit]

Record-setting Fox surf boat.

In 1896, the Police Gazette also allegedly offered a prize of $10,000 to the first to row across the Atlantic Ocean, though no contemporary source exists confirming a Police Gazette offer of any significant monetary prize.[citation needed] In the same year, George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen invested their savings in an 18-foot rowboat, which they named 'Fox' after the editor of the Gazette, Richard K. Fox. Despite crossing the Atlantic in 55 days (a record not broken until 2010, albeit by a team of four rowers) the Police Gazette never paid the men the promised prize money, though no contemporary sources exist showing the money was ever offered by the Police Gazette or that the men were expecting a substantial sum from the Gazette.[citation needed] Numerous sources report the men were expecting either no money or only whatever money could be raised from exhibitions following successful completion of the voyage.[12][13][14] Sources also show Richard K. Fox and the Police Gazette offered and provided towing of the 'Fox' to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn--the last outside propulsion used by Harbo and Samuelsen until reaching Europe; payment of expenses incurred by the American consulate in Le Havre for their food, clothing, and temporary shelter upon reaching the continent; two gold medals commemorating the achievement; and publicity within the pages of the Police Gazette.[15][16][17] The Gazette was also the only newspaper willing to attach its name to the endeavor as others considered it too risky.[18]

Entertainment coverage of the Vaudeville stage[edit]

On July 27, 1901 appeared as one of National Police Gazette headlines for reviews of popular entertainers, "Paragraphs of Interest Concerning the Stage Lives and Doings of Vaudeville People, Here can be Found Many Items Which Will Interest Performers as Well as Theater Goers, Professionals Requested to Send in Photos." On the list of favorably reviewed entertainers that included ventriloquists, minstrels, songsters, aerialists, and comedians was listed Pat H. Chappelle and his The Rabbit's Foot Company among other vaudeville shows. [19]


Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Other sources state that Wilkes sold the Gazette shortly after his purchase of the The Spirit of the Times in 1856, and that Matsell was the publisher of the Gazette through the American Civil War.[9]


  1. ^ Reel, Guy (2006). The National Police Gazette and the Making of the Modern American Man, 1879-1906.
  2. ^ Chudacoff, Howard P. (1999). The Age of the Bachelor: Creating an American Subculture.
  3. ^ Gorn, Elliott J. (1986). The Manly Art: Bare-Knuckle Prize Fighting in America.
  4. ^ Gabor, Mark (1984). The Illustrated History of Girlie Magazines: From National Police Gazette to the Present.
  5. ^ Smith, Gene and Jayne Barry Smith (1972). The Police Gazette.
  6. ^ Van Every, Edward (1930). Sins of New York as "Exposed" by the Police Gazette.
  7. ^ Bain, David Haward (1999). Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad. New York: Viking. , pp. 32-33.
  8. ^ Mott, Frank Luther (1938). A History of American Magazines 1741–1850. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 328, 418 and footnote 132. OCLC 1893743. 
  9. ^ Betts, John Rickards (Spring 1953). "Sporting Journalism in Nineteenth-Century America". American Quarterly 5 (1): 42. JSTOR 3031289. 
  10. ^ American Heritage article, 1972
  11. ^ Britannica. Police Gazette, Britannicaonline Online
  12. ^ New York World, 13 Feb 1896, p16.
  13. ^ New York Herald, 6 Jun 1896, p7.
  14. ^ New York Herald, 21 Mar 1897, p2.
  15. ^ True Log of the Fox at
  16. ^ National Police Gazette, 22 Aug 1896, p6.
  17. ^ National Police Gazette, 12 Sep 1896, p11.
  18. ^ New York World, 2 Aug 1896, p10.
  19. ^ "Paragraphs of Interest of Vaudeville People Concerning the Stage ..." National Police Gazette, July 27, 1901.

External links[edit]