After leading the Arts and Crafts revival for more than 26 years, Style 1900 magazine is standing at a critical crossroads, its fate uncertain. Like many print publications, Style 1900 has been struggling to cope with falling advertising revenues and rising production costs. As a result, publisher David Rago has decided to suspend publication while he evaluates his options for the magazine.
"Once September 2008 hit," Rago explained, "advertising revenues for all print media nearly vanished, and in the ensuing years it didn't make enough of a recovery. The closing of the Borders bookstores [in 2011] didn't help, costing us valuable newsstand sales."
David Rago founded Style 1900 magazine in 1986 as an eight-page, black-and-white newsletter with a clear focus: present in-depth articles based on reliable research that would further the education of Arts and Crafts collectors. Known as the Arts & Crafts Quarterly for several years, the publication grew steadily, both in size and in stature, attracting major advertisers, a wide range of collectors and noted writers, all with a common bond: the widespread acceptance and appreciation of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Rago indicated that should someone be interested, he certainly would discuss selling Style 1900 and its companion publication, Modernism. "I'd certainly consider selling it," he stated, "or perhaps shelving it for a while so we can sort out possible future scenarios in our collective heads. It's not far from viable as it is. I am certain that someone with a bit of money and time, and a single sense of direction, can make it work."
He added, "As for the archives, they'll not go to waste, and I'll make sure either they are sold to a place that will make them all available or donate them to an institution that will follow in that tradition."
As word spread, collectors reacted.
Michael McCracken: "This is a great loss to the Arts and Crafts community. David Rago started his labor of love to disseminate information about the Arts and Crafts movement in October of 1986. The lead article in that first issue was entitled "The Last Ride." I am saddened to hear of Style 1900's last ride."
Ray Stubblebine: "It is heartbreaking. David Rago had the guts and commitment to try a magazine when the interest was barely there. It shaped and educated a whole generation of collectors and was in the forefront of the development of the revival of the Arts and Crafts movement. This is tragic news for all us who live for more and more education on the movement."
David Cathers: "I'm sorry to hear that Style is ceasing publication, but I imagine so much of the Arts and Crafts conversation has migrated to the web that it became increasingly difficult to keep a print publication viable. That said, I want to express my admiration to David Rago for starting this periodical and maintaining it for so many years; it was certainly one of the gathering places for the Arts and Crafts community."
David Rudd: "I am disappointed to hear that Style 1900 could not weather the economic storm we have been going through the last four years. They produced many fine issues reporting on scholarly topics and publishing research we all learned from. Style 1900 will be missed."
Fred Albert, Editor: "I'll really miss working on the magazine. I'll miss my colleagues and our wonderful writers and photographers. And I'll miss working with members of the Arts and Crafts community -- an incredibly devoted and well-informed band of folks across the country. When I took over the magazine three years ago, I felt like I had joined a family. Their welcome and acceptance meant a great deal to me then, and now."
ArtsAndCraftsCollector.com will continue to follow this story, bringing you news of any decisions regarding the future of Style 1900 and the hundreds of articles, columns and photographs that had appeared in the magazine over the course of more than 26 years.
For another perspective, see my "Little Journeys" column on the Home Page.