Le Petit Journal was a daily Parisian illustrated newspaper supplement magazine, founded by Moïse Polydore Millaud, and published from 1863 to 1944. The back and front covers were printed in bold and eye-catching colour, usually with prints or etchings of news-worthy events of the more sensationalist kind or patriotic allegories. The price was amazingly cheap and the print-run ran into more than a million copies for every issue. The inside pages consisted of text and at times pages of photographs or large-sized maps. Spanning almost a hundred years of history in the modern period, the illustrations on the covers of this attractive magazine provide a wealth of fascinating and insightful imagery.
From the outset the paper's management focussed strongly on circulation and organised various stunts and other promotional activities to that end. Paris–Brest–Paris cycle race in 1891, the Paris-Belfort running race in 1892 and the Paris–Rouen Motor Race, considered to be the world's first car race, in 1894.
Throughout the Anglo Boer War years many covers were dedicated to matters pertaining to the war. The emphasis was on sensation. Some cover pages were devoted to depicting various well-known and lesser-known commanding officers and heroes of the war. There were many covers which related to President Paul Kruger as he had a very strong following in France. Fortune Louis Meaulle (1844-1901) and Tofani Oswaldo (1849-1915) were the main artists of the prints and etchings relating to the Anglo Boer War. Copies of these illustrations are still very collectable and are for sale at many book stores and flea markets in France.
As the circulation figures of the newspapers grew, production costs started to fall because of the growth of advertising and technological improvements. Le Petit Journal was the first to aim for a mass audience, cramming their pages with crime stories, serialized novels, and human interest stories. The newspaper was extremely popular and at the height of its popularity it had a circulation of over a million copies.
Issues of Le Petit Journal can be viewed in Gallica, the digital library of the French National Library which digitized items dating from 1884 to 1920. http://gallica.bnf.fr/?lang=EN