A Sunday New Yorker Puzzler

A Sunday Puzzler

Going through one of our bound volumes of The New Yorker (the issues of February 22, 1936 – May 16, 1936), and looking specifically at the issue of March 14, 1936, I came across a few missing pages — the bound copy jumped from page 36 to 41. Curious as to what pages were removed I went to the online digital New Yorker archives, found the issue, and began “flipping” through the pages til I came across page 36, it’s headed by Lois Long’s column Tables For Two.  Here’s where the puzzle begins. The digital issue has Tables For Two on page 42, not page 36 –and as you see below, the ads are different.

Here’s the bound page on the left (partial of course, so we can focus on the page #) and the digital page on the right.

Here’s a further puzzle: the two issues are different lengths — have different #s of pages: the bound copy has 76 pages, the digital issue has 88.  I went to a different issue, randomly selecting April 11, 1936: and there too is a huge discrepancy in page #s. The bound issue has 80 pages; the digital issue has 96.  There are a number of pieces (as with Tables For Two) appearing on different pages. In some cases, ads (such as we see above) differ.

I did do a cartoon-by-cartoon comparison for the April 11th issue (print version & digital): all are present and accounted for in each issue (the page numbers differ for some, of course; the Hokinson on page 56 in the print copy appears on page 72 in the digital issue). What is missing will have to wait for another time. I’m not one who enjoys solving puzzles, so I didn’t try to sort out what is missing from the shorter issue(s). If anyone out there has an explanation as to why (what we would assume to be) identical issues are not identical, I’d love to hear from you ( the only time I’ve run into New Yorker editions being dissimilar are the the Armed Forces issues — the so-called “Pony” issues* — but they appeared years later, and are really in their own category).

For now, my concept of an issue of The New Yorker as one piece — a standard weekly issue identical from week-to-week, is taking a small hit.


  Above: on the left, the Pony edition of The New Yorker, February 16, 1946 & the regular edition on the right

*Pony Issues were smaller versions of the magazine, six by nine inches, given free to servicemen and servicewomen. The pony editions were not exact duplicates of the regular editions of the magazine — they carried no advertising and editorial content was juggled. One striking difference: the back cover was a full page cartoon. According to Thomas Kunkel in his Ross biography Genius In Disguise, these editions began appearing in September of 1943 and were discontinued shortly after the end of the war.


One comment

  1. Perhaps the magazine was experimenting with selling regional advertising. This could conceivably result in different page counts for different regional editions based on advertising. Maybe some local New York advertisers did not want to pay to advertise nationally or, far less likely, a West Coast business didn’t necessarily need to pay for the New York metropolitan market. Your bound copy might be a smaller regional edition. The gap in the page count suggests that this practice may have caused too many headaches to be worthwhile.

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