1930 Rotogravure Chronicle and Staff News Was 48 Pages of Local History
Harrison Taylor owns a prized scrapbook containing numerous family related documents as well as a sizable quantity of local history clippings. One item of interest is a Rotogravure edition of the Johnson City Chronicle and Staff-News dated April 20, 1930.
The publication consists of 48 pages - six full-size sections of eight pages - each having a halftone appearance. A complete copy of the paper is a bit of a rarity. Rotogravure printing originated in the early nineteenth century but did not become widespread until a century later. This technique made use of an etched cylinder as opposed to a flat plate. Unlike letterpress, which used raised or relief printing, Rotogravure employed intaglio printing in which metal is etched with recessed cells to retain the ink. This allowed the reproduction of high quality halftone photographs and artwork on a mass scale.
Unfortunately, the 70-year lapse of time since 1930 has rendered the publication very fragile, requiring extreme caution while turning pages to prevent them from tearing or separating.
The above page from the publication reveals eight churches from that era (l to r, t to b): Central Baptist Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, First Christian Church, First Methodist Episcopal Church (South), St. Mary’s on the Hill, Munsey Memorial M.E. Church (South), First Presbyterian Church and Soldiers’ Home Church. The photo caption for the latter house of worship reads, “This church is divided into two halves, each having an entrance as shown. One half houses the Protestant Church, the other half the Catholic Church. The hedge-row in the foreground divides the entrances.”
Another page contains photos of city schools and residences of well-known Johnson Citians (l to r, t to b): W.W. Miller home, “Preas Hill,” the New Martha Wilder Grade School (became Stratton School), A. B. Crouch home, The New West Side Grade School (became Henry Johnson School), Science Hill High School, E. Haynes Miller home, the new Junior High School, Boxwood Terrace and North Side Elementary School.
The Johnson City Chronicle and Staff-News, said to be the leading daily newspaper at that time of the Mid-Appalachian territory in circulation, advertising and prestige, advertised the paper’s special printing feature: “This Rotogravure edition is one of the largest most complete and artistic full-size papers ever published by any newspaper in the United States. Its 48 pages pictorially tell the story of Johnson City and the Mid-Appalachian territory (with) hundreds of pictures, photographs and illustrations. (It) has a special circulation of 8,000 copies in addition to the regular Sunday circulation of the paper. The section, containing approximately 5702 inches (79,905 lines) of advertising space is striking proof that it pays to advertise in the Chronicle and Staff-News. There are a total of 763 advertisers represented, 296 of them being in Johnson City and nearby cities. Also included are 467 of the largest and most progressive foreign and national advertisers.”
The paper stated that the new printing technology had met with much success and cooperation from the cities of the Mid-Appalachian territory as well as the local and national advertisers. It promised future Rotogravure editions.”
Another item in the April 20 paper was a photo of the Chronicle and Staff-News building located at 204 W. Main (same address at today’s Johnson City Press) with the description: “The new $150,000 building of the Johnson City Chronicle and Staff-News; Guy L. Smith, publisher; The Chronicle (morning) and Staff-News (evening). The new building faces Main Street and extends through to Market Street, making it the largest and finest newspaper plant in this section of the South.”
Some of the vintage ads displayed in the paper include ET&WNC; Johnson City Mills; American Bemberg Corp.; American Glanzstoff Corp.; Treadway Feed & Seed Co.; Office Supply Co.; Empire Chair Co.; Morris Funeral Home; Southeast Paving and Construction Co; Sears, Roebuck & Co.; Southern Pottery (Erwin); John Sevier Hotel; Hannah’s Inc.; The Clinchfield Railroad Co.; Carr Brothers; Tennessee Eastern Electric Co.; London Hardware Co.; Colonial Drug Co.; Campbell’s Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat Hospital; Johnson City Business College; Washington County Gas Co.; El Mirador Farms; H.E. Hart Jewelers; and Security Investment Co.
One interesting section displayed the photos of 103 men and 9 women under the heading, “Who’s Who, Rotogravure Portraits of Well-Known Men and Women” (the subject of a future article).