This photo appeared in a 1911 booklet the Post did for newsboys.
The Our Teams magazine, as it was called, contained selling tips and success stories to inspire the boys to sell enough issues to win prizes, like those below:
“Say, do you want one of those $1.25 Official, American League, Cork-Center Baseballs?” asks the May 1911 issue of Our Teams.
“And say, do you want one of those Regulation Finger-Gloves?” Just “make an average increase of thirty copies in your Saturday Eventing Post sales…” Incentives like these encouraged news boys to become top salesmen.
By the 1920s, The Saturday Evening Post was America’s top magazine, with a circulation in the millions. How did it get that way? In the days long before television, let alone the internet, reading was a popular pastime. With the most popular authors of the day, and the finest illustrators, it wasn’t unusual for an issue to run to 150 pages or more. That was a lot of bang for the buck. Or, the nickel, actually—the magazine was five cents. The January 9, 1926 issue (left) boasted fiction by such writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald and a Norman Rockwell cover and … 256 pages!
There was another reason for the success of America’s favorite magazine: a marketing strategy that recruited boys (and girls) to sell the Post one issue and one nickel at a time.
In 1971, Michigan attorney David G. Heilbrun sent a letter to the Post with a picture of himself as a Post News Boy. The cover of the issue young David is holding shows a soldier greeting his sweetheart and is from May 30, 1942.
“For about 2 years, aged 10-12,” David wrote, “I was fortunate to establish a route of about 25 regular customers.” Experience as a Post carrier was said to instill a work ethic and business experience. It must have worked: “I’ve sometimes wondered if this was such a good idea since I’ve felt invigorating being overworked ever since,” Heilbrun noted.
Former Post Boys include TV personalities Hugh Downs and Charles Osgood, department store founder Stanley Marcus, and oilman J. Paul Getty.
If you were a Post News Boy (or Girl), or one of your parents or a grandparent was, send Diana an e-mailwith their story. A photo of them at the time and/or a recent photo would be appreciated. Maybe we’ll feature you on our website!