The Strines Journal: A Monthly Magazine of Literature, Science, and Art was edited, written and illustrated by John M. Gregory and Joel Wainwright, two employees of Strines Printworks, and was dedicated to the 'Gentlemen of The Strines Printing Company'. The Journal was produced in a single, handwritten and hand-decorated copy, which was circulated amongst employees of the Printworks, the editors' friends and associates.
Each number contains essays on a wide variety of historical, biographical, literary, scientific and geographical subjects; articles on science and art, including accounts of lectures delivered at Strines Institution; accounts of travels in Britain and occasionally further afield; the editors' monthly observations; original poetry; and miscellanies, including references to contemporary events such as the Crimean War and the Indian 'Mutiny'.
The Strines Journal was illustrated from the outset, but a major innovation occurred in 1853 when the editors began to include photographs. This was only nine years after the publication of William Henry Fox Talbot's landmark work, The Pencil of Nature. In 1853 the use of photography to illustrate books and periodicals was still exceedingly rare; Gernsheim's Incunabula of British Photographic Literature records that only twenty-three photographically illustrated books had been published up to the end of 1853. The Strines Journal is therefore of exceptional important for the history of photography. This innovation was largely due to Joseph Sidebotham (1824-85), senior partner in the Strines Printworks and a pioneer of photography. Sidebotham moved in the elite mercantile and intellectual circles of Manchester, and he was able to elicit articles for the Journal from James Glaisher (1809-1903), of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and the engineer James Nasmyth (1808-90), another pioneering photographer. Thus the Journal contains an extremely rare example of one of Nasmyth's 'moon photographs', 'taken from a large drawing by James Nasmyth', as well as a photograph of a Nasmyth steam hammer.
The Journal is also profusely illustrated with a variety of other artistic illustrative techniques, including ink drawings in imitation of engravings and etchings; watercolours; drawings in ink and coloured or monochrome washes. The illustrations are either pasted in, or applied directly to the page. Many are highly accomplished and the artistic ambitions of the editors evidently expanded after the first relatively modest numbers. In the preface to the first volume, they note that 'Hitherto, the illustrations have been drawn by ourselves, but we rejoice to tell our Readers that several drawings of surpassing merit, have been kindly sent to us by Amateurs of undoubted ability, to embellish our second volume, which is in course of preparation.' There are numerous ornamental initial letters and the title pages are decorated in imitation of contemporary printed journals.
In addition to the unique set of the Strines Journal, the collection also includes a copy of Joel Wainwright's published work, Memories of Marple: Pictorial and descriptive Reminiscences of a Life-time in Marple, Leisure Hours on the banks of the Goyt, the Tame and the Etherow, with stories of old and new of byegone days (Manchester: privately printed by Chorlton & Knowles, 1899), which contains Wainwright's own account of the history of the Strines Journal (Eng MS 1422/7). The copy is inscribed by Joel Wainwright to his son Richard, 17 July 1899.