In 1850 Harper's launched Harper's New Monthly Magazine. This magazine has been continuously published since that time. Beginning with 7500 copies, the magazine reached a circulation of 50,000 within six months. After the first 15 years of publication Harper's began their December 1865 issue (Vol. XXXII, No. CLXIIIVII) with a long illustrated article entitled "Making the Magazine."
This 31-page article was an expansion and update for an adult audience of the account of their book production processes that they had published for children in 1855 entitled The Harper Establishment, or How the Story Books are Made. In publishing the 1865 article Harpers made use of the some of the same images they had used in 1855, but added several new ones. Most significantly the 1865, article was ostensibly about producing the Monthly but it also discussed production of Harper's other magazine, Harper's Weekly. Since 1857 Harpers were also publishing Harper's Weekly, A Journal of Civilization. By 1860, circulation of Harper's Weekly had reached 200,000. Production of these magazines required facilities rather different from the relatively short run book production facilities discussed in How the Story Books are Made.
Besides production of the magazines, the article discussed and illustrated the bindery facilities at Harper's as they sold many copies of the magazines as bound volumes with a wide variety of binding styles offered. At least in the early decades, Harper's printed the New Monthly Magazine on paper of relatively high quality, with the result that paper was most expensive component in their production process.
To print the magazines Harper's used three Taylor Cylinder Presses which could print 1200 sheets per hour. They also used what R. Hoe & Co. called a "Four Cylinder Type-Revolving Printing Machine". It is probable that this press, which became available in 1847, made it possible for the Harper's to increase the circulation of their monthly to 50,000 copies, and 200,000 copies of the Weekly. The anonymous author of the article pointed out that Harper's required higher quality printing for their magazine than was required by newspapers, which were the typical customers for these presses, so Harpers operated their Hoe "lightning" press at half its maximum speed- 5000 impressions per hour. On p. 9 of my 1867 R. Hoe & Co. catalogue the company rates the speed of the various versions of this machine as follows:
"The speed of these machines is limited only by the ability of the feeders to supply the sheets. The Four cylinder machine is run at a rate of over ten thousand per hour, the Six cylinder machine fifteen thousand an hour, the Eight cylinder machine twenty thousand, and Ten cylinder machine twenty-five thousand. This system combines the greates speed in printing, durability of machinery, and economy of labor"
The catalogue also states that the largest version of the Four cylinder machine must be driven by a 3 horsepower steam engine.