A titillating look at the history of men’s magazines

A series of books published by Taschen approaches men’s magazines with a historical lens and also tracks the wider societal changes alongside their evolution. We talk to the series author about the value in examining this history

Dian Hanson’s The History of Men’s Magazines is a six-volume series from Taschen of nearly 4,000 full colour images from men’s mags from 1900 to 1979. Hanson, known as the publisher’s “sexy book editor”, produced men’s magazines from 1979 to 2001 including Puritan, Juggs and Leg Show so she’s well equipped for the job. “We have reached the point where men’s magazines have virtually disappeared, which makes them officially historical,” Hanson tells CR.

The series begins with the first nude magazines produced in France as souvenirs for patrons of music halls in the late 1800s, and ends in an array of niche mags in the late 1970s to satisfy every desire. The evolution of these mags is one of the most interesting parts of the series as shifts in what was created were often sparked by big societal changes, standards of beauty, and an enduring impulse to pacify fragile times of masculinity.