|The Umbstaetters’ cat ’zine|
It’s hard to imagine now, but decades ago there were literally hundreds of monthly magazines featuring short stories. In the era before movies, TV and radio, ﬁction magazines were a prime source of entertainment. One of the most popular ones was The Black Cat, begun in 1895 by Herman Umbstaetter and illustrated by his wife, Nelly.
The covers featured Nelly’s illustrations of a black cat in various human poses—painting, playing a ﬂute, sailing a ship and so on. The cat’s face also appeared in the initial letter of each short story. Many of the ads in the magazine also used a black cat image. By the time the Boston-based magazine ceased publication in 1923, it had featured some noted writers, including Jack London. The covers were and still are considered collector’s items.