The Meccano Magazine
A Brief History
The Meccano Magazine was published from 1916 to 1981. It was initially started by Frank Hornby as a promotional sheet for Meccano. It went on to become one of the finest boy’s magazines of all time with its finest period in the 1920s and 30s.
It initially covered only Meccano, however by the early 1920s it started to include other engineeering articles. These very quickly expanded so that by the mid 1920s, the Meccano Magazine had become a large magazine, with articles on a wide range of subjects that would interest boys with an engineering interest.
Initially it was only published about three times a year due to war-time conditions. However by issue 26, (September 1922) the magazine was being published monthly. Up to issue 35 (June 1923) each issue was numbered sequentially, with the pages in each issue, being numbered separately and they had no covers.
From the July 1923 issue there was a significant change, it was numbered as Volume 8, issue No.7 (not No.36) and the pages numbered sequentially throughout all issues in a volume. Therefore the July 1923 issue started at page 73. Also from this issue, the magazine had covers. Initially these were bi-colour covers.
The first full colour cover was the Dec 1923 issue, but the following January to April 1924 reverted to bi-colour covers. From May 1924 onwards full colour covers were used.
The Second World War had a big effect on Meccano Ltd as they were heavily engaged in War business and could not produce Meccano and other products. They managed to keep the Meccano Magazine going throughout the war although it went to a reduced size in January 1941. The number of pages also went down as the paper shortage got worse and a number of articles were repeated so that by the end of the war, the magazine was a shadow of its former self. Whilst it recovered to a certain extent after the war, it never regained its former glory.
From March 1964 to July 1967 (the period when Thomas Skinner & Co (Publishers Ltd. had the MM), the pages in each issue were again numbered independently. The new publishers tried to revitalise the magazine by including more articles that the modern boy was interested. It also started to include non Meccano constructional articles. The magazine was stopped after the July 1967 issue. In 1965 G. Maurice Morris started publishing the Meccanoman's Journal to cater for the adult Meccano enthusiast.
From January 1968 until December 1972 the magazine changed hands again. A notable feature of this period, was the increase in the number of balsa wood (non Meccano) model aeroplanes and other constructional models that plans were supplied for. Radio controlled models also featured. Battle gaming also featured strongly.
During the period 1973 to 1976 (when Meccano Ltd took over the Magazine again and issued it quarterly), the magazine again had no separate/colour covers, with the editorial being on the front cover. From this point onwards, it dropped all the general articles and covered just Meccano. This last period of the Meccano Magazine was the most Meccano rich in its period. During the 1973-77 period 'The Society of Henley Meccano Engineers' published the Junior Meccano Engineer/Meccano Engineer.
In 1977 Meccano tried again to get an outside publisher to produce the magazine (unfortunately only for only the January issue) and the magazine reverted to colour covers. In 1977, the Meccano Magazine also incorporated the Meccanoman's Journal and the Junior Meccano Engineer/Meccano Engineer. The final issue was the Spring 1981 as shortly afterwards Airfix Ltd (now the owners of Meccano) went into liquidation.
Printers and Publishers
For most of the life of the Meccano Magazine, it was published by Meccano Ltd themselves. However there were periods in the 1960s & 70s when it was put out to an external publisher. The printers and the publishers when not Meccano Ltd, are noted below:-
From Sep 1916 -- Printer – Taylor, Garnett, Evans & Co. Ltd.
(Because of war conditions, although it was intended to be published bi-monthly it initially only appeared about 3 times a year. From Sep 1920 it was issued bi-monthly.)
From Sep 1922 the magazine was published monthly
From Sep 1922 -- Printer – The P.P. Press
From Mar 1923 -- Printer – Stembridge & Co. Ltd
From Jan 1930 -- Printer – John Waddington Ltd
(The Aug 1959 issue was not published due to a printers strike.)
From Jan 1964 -- Publisher – Thomas Skinner & Co (Publishers Ltd)
Printer – John Waddington
From Mar 1964 -- Publisher – Thomas Skinner & Co (Publishers Ltd)
Printer - James Cond Ltd
From Aug 1965 the MM also incorporated the Tri-ang Magazine.
The publisher stopped the magazine after the Jul 1968 issue. Meccano Ltd then managed to find a new publisher.
From Jan 1968 -- Proprietors – Model Aeronautical Press Ltd (MAP)
Publisher – Argus Press Ltd
Printer – Electrical Press Ltd
From Sept 1971 -- Proprietors – Model Aeronautical Press Ltd
Publisher – Argus Press Ltd
Printer – Staples Printers Ltd
MAP stopped the magazine after the Dec 1972 issue.
Unable to find another publisher Meccano Ltd then took the magazine back and published it as a quarterly magazine. It dropped all the general articles and just covered Meccano and Dinky Toys
From Apr 1973 -- Publisher – Meccano Ltd
Printer – Meccano Ltd
For 1977 Meccano Ltd again offloaded the magazine, and an improved magazine was produced.
From Jan 1977 -- Published – Delta Graphics
Printer (B/W) – Sanderson Design & Print Ltd
Printer (Col) – Sackville Press Ltd
Delta Graphics gave up the magazine after only one issue. After some negotiations Meccano Ltd took over the magazine again. Consequently the April 1977 issue was published very late and was a combined April/July/October issue
From Apr 1977 -- Publisher - Meccano Ltd
Produced – Delta Graphics
Printer – Sackville Press Ltd.
From Jan 1978 -- Publisher – Meccano Ltd
Printer – Sackville Press Ltd
From Jan 1979 -- Printer – Mersey Mirror Ltd
The Jan, Apr & Jul 1980 issues were not published due to closure of Binns Road and the move to new premises.
From Oct 1980 -- Publisher – Airfix Ltd
Printer – Mersey Mirror Ltd
The Spring 1981 issue was the last issue, as shortly afterwards Airfix Ltd. (the owners of Meccano) went into liquidation.
Size of magazine (approx):-
- From Sep 1916 - 10” x 13” - (25 ½ x 33 cm)
- From Sep 1920 - 8 ¼” x 11” - (21 x 27 ¾ cm)
- From Jan 1942 - 5 ¼” x 8” - (13 ½ x 23 cm)
- From Jan 1961 - 7 ½” x 9 ½” - (19 x 24 cm)
- From Mar 1964 - 8 ¼” x 11” - (21 x 27 ½ cm)
- From Jan 1968 - 7 ¼” x 9 ¾” - (18 ½ x 25 cm)
- From Apr 1973 - 7” x 9 ½” - (18 x 24 ¼ cm)
- From Jan 1977 - 8 ¼” x 11 ¾” - (21 x 29 ¾ cm)
Cost of Magazine
Initially the Meccano Magazine was distributed free of charge. Then from the Nov 1917 issue readers were asked to pay 2d postage per four issues as under Government war regulations the magazine had to be requested. From Sep 1920 the magazine was sold at the following prices:-
- From Sep 1920 - 1d
- From Dec 1923 - 2d
- From Dec 1924 - 3d – Except Dec 1925 – 6d
- From Jan 1926 - 3d
- From Dec 1926 - 6d
- From Jan 1950 - 9d
- From Dec 1952 - 1/-
- From Sep 1957 - 1/3
- From Oct 1964 - 1/6
- From May 1966 - 2/-
- From Jan 1968 - 2/6
- From Dec 1968 - 3/- (15p)
- From Apr 1973 - 20p
- From Jan 1974 - 22½p
- From Apr 1975 - 30p
- From Oct 1976 - 35p
- From Jan 1977 - 50p
- From Apr 1977 - £1