The tools for zine making have been around since 1850 when a small and inexpensive tabletop printing press came along as a toy. This brought about "amateur journalism" especially among young boys. Using etched copper plate engraving, even Todd Lincoln produced one out of the White House.
The mimeograph (a stencil duplicator) was then introduced around 1875 by Edison. It quickly became a common office item around America. In the early 1900's, Dadaist took advantage of this medium to self-publish writings and drawings.
Then in 1929, science-fiction readers began communicating through mimeographed 'fanzines'. As novel publishers became swamped with fan mail they began publishing full letters with addresses and all. This led to a network being created by fans mailing each other, and concreted through fanzines of diverse and specific topics of interest.
The art on many of these vintage sci-fi zines speaks to a whole lost subculture and DIY ethos. These have been revived through-out recent history in different movements, the Punk culture of the 70's and 80's especially.
Lenny Kaye, guitarist of the Patti Smith group, has a collection of about 1,500 of these mimeographed science-fiction zines ranging from the 1940's to 1970's. Last year she had her extensive collection on display at the New York Art Book Fair.
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