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James Hyman, magazine archivist

James Hyman, magazine archivist

When we invite people to contribute to our weekly Issues post we know they have a magazine collection of some sort. But not many have one of the scale of this week’s participant, James Hyman, whose collection has been recognised by The Guinness Book of Records as the largest in the world. Housed in a London warehouse, The Hyman Archive numbers over 90,000 magazines and continues to grow. James is planning to digitise the entire archive to be fully searchable


As usual, we asked James to select three magazines: a new one, an old one, and a special detail. Here’s what he selected.


A new issue: Evergreen
Bending the rules slightly for my choice of ‘new’. Of course, I adore and devour the latest, soon to be greatest titles that hit the newsstands in abundance, be it for a striking cover or specific feature but ‘new’ to me can truly be the act of discovery, even if the item is old.

Case in point, Evergreen magazines snapped up on a recent trip to my spiritual home, the Notting Hill Book & Comic Exchange (aka church), a TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone), I dig through the shop’s fast turnover of stock, discovering endless gems that I’ve never heard of or physically seen before. The shop’s manager Kirk Lake is a very cool guy who saves plenty of “new” stuff for me and his knowledge is sharp, matching his dry sense of humour. Evergreen’s covers grabbed me: simple, stark portraits and leafing through various issues I clocked an amazing array of counter-culture contributors such as William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski and Allen Ginsberg.


An old issue: Gebrauchsgraphik
I’m selecting the May 1928 copy of Gebrauchsgraphik for this category. It came in one of the most incredible donations to the Hyman Archive received to date from now retired graphic designer Lance Hodgson, who said his magazine collection ‘had served him well’.


What captivated me about this magazine was the fact I’d never seen or heard of it before and after 80 years it was still in excellent condition with inspirational illustrations jumping off every page. When I flicked through it initially, I clocked this Scheko Beize graphic (above) which undoubtedly must have been the source for Plastikman (aka Richie Hawtin)’s logo & identity.

I remember how this choice paralysed magCulture’s very own Jeremy Leslie and also Paul Harpin for about 15 minutes when they popped down to visit the Hyman Archive earlier this year in February.


And another thing: The New Yorker
I’d say with my broadcast background and research/ journalist mentality, what I tend to focus on in a magazine is a well-written story, that can hold interest even if the subject matter initially sounds dull. I've yet to find a better publication that does this better than The New Yorker, which is why it's one of my top three essential subscriptions.


I’ve read so many riveting pieces over the years (see appendix below), everything from deep profiles on celebrities, jaw dropping criminal injustices and many about art and culture that have shaped the direction of the Hyman Archive including Alec Wilkinson’s ‘Higher Faster Madder - Can You Be A Guinness World Records addict?’ which, in 2012 inspired me to pursue and secure the Guinness Record for ‘The World’s Largest Collection of magazines’.

Appendix: New Yorker links
David Grann ‘Mysterious Circumstances - The strange death of a Sherlock Holmes fanatic’
Adam Green ‘A Pickpockets Tale - The spectacular thefts of Apollo Robbins’
David Kushner ‘The man Who started the hacker wars’
Janet Malcolm ‘The Book Refuge- Three sisters keep a family business going’
Nick Paumgarten ‘Thirty-Three-Hit Wonder’
David Remick ‘Are We Alive - Bruce Springsteen at sixty-two’
David Shapiro ‘Ralph Nader’s Tort Museum
Peter Schjeldahl’s ‘A Painting A Day’
Lizzie Widdicombe ‘The Bad Boy Brand - The Vice guide to the world’
Daniel Zalewski ‘The Hours - How Christian Marclay created the ultimate digital mosaic’
Daniel Zalewski ‘Show The Monster - Guillermo del Toro's quest to get amazing creatures onscreen’

The archive relies on donations. Email

All photos @tobiroseofficial, except the portrait with Rolling Stone magazine by Doug Rimington/@daysinminutes

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