The Hobby Horse
The Hobby Horse was a quarterly Victorian periodical in England published by the Century Guild of Artists
Century Guild of Artists
The Century Guild of Artists was an English group of art enthusiasts that were active between 1883 and 1892. It was founded in 1882 by Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo. The Century Guild aimed to preserve the artistic trade and the authenticity of the craftsmen behind it. The members were forerunners...

. The magazine ran from 1884-1894 and spanned a total of seven volumes and 28 issues. It featured various articles not only on arts and design but other subjects including literature and social issues as well. It also featured artwork such as sketches, plates, photographs, engravings, wood cuts, lithographs and reproduced paintings.

The Hobby Horse started publication in 1884 as the first high quality magazine committed solely to the visual arts. . The Century Guild Hobby Horse "was one of the last (and in many ways the ultimate) versions of the literature and art
journal, a genre born with the Pre-Raphaelite Germ
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti...

 in 1850. Unlike its successors,
The Yellow Book and The Savoy, The Hobby Horse was not solely committed to an elite aestheticism. Its pages were filled with essays arguing for recognition
of the vital social role of art and artists." The Century Guild Hobby Horse was a magazine for the most dedicated of art enthusiasts at the time, a magazine that helped cement what purpose art served in the English Victorian community. The contributors looked at art from a scholarly perspective, one which set the blueprints for how art is seen today. The magazine was an idealistic vision to create unity in the arts.


The Century Guild of Artists was an English group of art enthusiasts that were most active between 1883 and 1888. It was founded in 1882 by Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, and was influenced by the likes of William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

, John Ruskin
John Ruskin
John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political...

, Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold was a British poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. He was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and brother to both Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Delafield Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator...

, Walter Pater
Walter Pater
Walter Horatio Pater was an English essayist, critic of art and literature, and writer of fiction.-Early life:...

. The Century Guild also drew many of their ideas from the growing Arts & Crafts Movement, the Pre-Raphealites
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti...

, the Decadent movement
Decadent movement
The Decadent movement was a late 19th century artistic and literary movement of Western Europe. It flourished in France, but also had devotees in England and throughout Europe, as well as in the United States.-Overview:...

 and the new Aestheticism
Aestheticism was a 19th century European art movement that emphasized aesthetic values more than socio-political themes for literature, fine art, the decorative arts, and interior design...


The Century Guild aimed to preserve the artistic trade and the authenticity of the craftsmen behind it. In 1884 the Century Guild created a journal called 'The Century Guild Hobby Horse' to publicize their views. The magazine was titled 'The Century Guild Hobby Horse' during its publication from 1884-1892, but in its final years in 1893 and 1894 it was simply "The Hobby Horse". The Hobby Horse served as a way of sharing the views of the Guild and promoted crafted art as opposed to mechanical industry. The Century Guild disbanded once members Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, Herbert Horne and Selwyn Image became busy with their individual work. Though The Hobby Horse managed to exist longer after the Guild fell apart (and was even titled as just The Hobby Horse), it ultimately was soon to cease production without the Guild in force.

Roughly 20 people had been involved with the Guild but it's only members were Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo (founder of the Century Guild), Herbert Horne
Herbert Horne
Herbert Percy Horne was an English poet, architect, typographer and designer, art historian and antiquarian. He was an associate of the Rhymer's Club in London...

 (editor of the Hobby Horse), and Selwyn Image
Selwyn Image
Selwyn Image was a British clergyman, designer, including of stained glass windows and poet....

 (co-founder of the Century Guild and co-editor of the Hobby Horse). Contributors to the magazine also included William de Morgan, Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

 and Charles Francis Annesley Voysey.


All forms of art and design at the time were addressed in the magazine, including but not limited to classical painting, classical sculpture, literature, poetry, architecture, furniture, and decoration. The magazine also disseminated sensory values of Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

. This kind of high-end selective art was prominent in the Hobby Horse.

The Hobby Horse aimed to champion the philosophy and aims of the Century Guild and was carefully produced under the tutelage of Sir Emery Walker
Emery Walker
Sir Emery Walker was an English engraver and printer.Born in London, Walker took an active role in many organisations that were at the heart of the Arts and Crafts movement, including the Art Workers Guild, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Arts and Crafts Exhibition...

 (1851-1933), the renowned printer and typographer at the Chiswick Press.. "The exceptional quality of
Hobby Horse accounted for the relatively high cost of each issue. Its paper was
rag and its binding of the finest quality. Technological innovations in the
printing trade, particularly in the areas of photography and reproduction of
art and illustrations, were applied. Hobby Horse used the photogravure
Photogravure is an intaglio printmaking or photo-mechanical process whereby a copper plate is coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which had been exposed to a film positive, and then etched, resulting in a high quality intaglio print that can reproduce the detail and continuous tones of a...

to reproduce everything from Italian Renaissance woodcuts to Pre-Raphaelite
painting." The fine production values correlated to the academic writings in the magazine.

The Hobby Horse was crafted using handmade paper and printed lithographs
Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

. But the production of The Hobby Horse was not only concerned with design but also typography
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...

, layout, and margins. The Century Guild addressed typography as an art form as well. Important to the typographic design was the kerning
In typography, kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result. Kerning is the adjustment of the space between individual letter forms vs. tracking which is the uniform adjustment of spacing applied over a...

, leading between lines, and typeface choice. An example of a typeface in the journal was Caslon
Caslon refers to a number of serif typefaces designed by William Caslon I , and various revivals thereof.Caslon shares the irregularity characteristic of Dutch Baroque types. It is characterized by short ascenders and descenders, bracketed serifs, moderately-high contrast, robust texture, and...

 old-face. It is a medieval typeface that is not found on commercial machine presses. Wide space was used around text to stress the blank white space around the text. Everything about the book was made to look beautiful, this was not meant to be a disposable journal, but rather one to be kept and cared for. It was a book created as an object- the quality of it emphasized the importance of what it represented.


The Hobby Horse was "the first 1880s periodical to introduce the British Arts & Crafts viewpoint to a European audience and to treat printing as a serious design form." The Hobby Horse was revolutionary- the printing techniques that were used were ahead of their time and were what helped art enter, survive and even flourish in the industrial world. Despite the desire of many contributors in the Century Guild to keep art distinctive and alive on its own, the Hobby Horse's state of the art production instead helped transition art into the age of mechanical reproduction
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
"The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" is a 1936 essay by German cultural critic Walter Benjamin, which has been influential across the humanities, and especially in the fields of cultural studies, media theory, architectural theory and art history...


The Hobby Horse was "the harbinger of the growing Arts & Crafts interest in typography, graphic design, and printing."

The Hobby Horse helped set the blueprints for how art is seen today. The contributors majorly attributed to the Arts & Crafts Movement- which influenced almost all art forms at the time. The design of the era incorporated simple motifs to express a more dynamic product. Through this, print design became recognized as a fine art status. Print started to show itself as more than a form of easy production and advertisement, it was also artistic. Print art design gained an intellectual following starting with contributors of the Hobby Horse.

The Hobby Horse was succeeded by magazines like The Yellow Book and The Savoy
The Savoy (periodical)
This article is about the former British magazine, for other uses, see Savoy The Savoy was a magazine of literature, art, and criticism published in 1896 in London. It featured work by authors such as W. B. Yeats, Max Beerbohm, Joseph Conrad, and Aubrey Beardsley. Only eight issues of the magazine...

. These are both quarterly periodicals from London in the vein of the Hobby Horse.

Just like the Hobby Horse, The Yellow Book discusses artistic aestheticism. It even has some of the same contributors as the Hobby Horse, as well as the same publisher. The Yellow Book in a way replaced the Hobby Horse, because publishers invested in favor of the Yellow Book.
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