GALLERY| Newspapers’ zenith: ‘The World on Sunday’

World“The World on Sunday,” a compendium of beautiful pages from the golden era of the New York World, is one of the great newspaper books of our day.

If you’ve ever visited our home, you’ve surely noticed the large coffee table in our den that’s stacked high with books and magazines. Among the titles that usually draws a lot of attention from our guests is “The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer’s Newspaper, 1898-1911.”

The compendium of pages from the golden era Pulitzer’s World was published in 2005 and was assembled by Nicholson Baker and Margaret Brentano, married journalists who live in Maine. The World, of course, can lay a claim as the greatest newspaper in American history. In the period between roughly 1895 and 1915, Pulitzer’s flagship fanned the flames of the Spanish-American War, raked muck on any number of subjects and, as Baker and Brentano point out, commanded the largest audience of any publication save perhaps the Bible.

The Sunday World, which the authors say weighed as much as a small roast beef, was Pulitzer’s greatest triumph. Disseminated from the World’s Park Row headquarters across the country, it was the foundation of the Sunday newspaper we know today. Pulitzer’s World carried comics, magazine supplements, classifieds and illutstrations that, 100 years on, make any person who’s every been near a paper drool and fuss with envy. Even if published today, many of these pages would be graphically revolutionary.

Sadly though, copies of the World and its supplements from the turn of the 20th century are very difficult to find. Baker and Brentano formed a non-profit corporation in 1999 to raise $150,000 to purchase more than 6,000 bound volumes of copies of the Sunday World printed between 1898 and well into the teens from the British Library, the U.K.’s equivalent of the Library of Congress. Their American Newspaper Repository, whose collection has since been turned over to Duke, assembled thousands of volumes of American newspapers. The book, the authors say, is an attempt to share the bounty of some of that collection. And what a bounty, indeed.

Here’s the Times review of “The World on Sunday,” and, to order it from Amazon.com, click here.

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