State Library of South Australia logo SA Newspapers
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

Monthly almanac and illustrated commentator
Title : Monthly almanac and illustrated commentator Monthly almanac and illustrated commentator
Add To My SA Memory
Source : Monthly almanac and illustrated commentator, No. 1 (February 1850)
Date of creation : 1850
Format : Newspaper
Dimensions : 230 x 145 mm
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :


Social comment

Rival newspaper companies

Adelaide personalities


Aboriginal depiction



This, South Australia's first comic magazine, the Monthly Almanac and Illustrated Commentator, was established in 1850 by the prominent early newspaper man James Allen, editor of the Adelaide Times, as a magazine offshoot of his newspaper ventures. Allen was also the instigator of South Australia's first magazine, the South Australian Magazine. His publican turned journalist William Akehurst, was apparently the main writer of parodies and puns in the Monthly Almanac, while the engraver Samuel Calvert was resposnible for the cartoons. Akehurst subsequently worked as a journalist and writer of burlesques in Melbourne, before returning to London.

 Content Each issue of the Monthly Almanac contains an almanac for the month, with phases of the moon, historic dates and the weather reports for the previous month. The rest of the content is humorous, although occasionally more serious articles appear. A slightly sentimental description of an 'old colonist' not only paints in glowing terms the character of a hardy farmer and his family, but is interesting for its general desciption of afternoon tea in a farmhouse of the period. (April 1850, p. 47-51) A 'series' of articles describing new arrivals travelling on the 'Port carts' from Port Adelaide to the city includes fascinating drawings of these once well-known vehicles. (March 1850, p. 23 and May 1850, p. 71)

 Social comment Various character types were satirised by Akehurst. Almost every issue contains disparaging comments about 'new chums,' who are portrayed as snobbish and impractical, unable to cope with the constraints of life in a young colony. 'News from Yorkes Peninsula' purports to be the story of the misadventures of two new chums working as shepherds, who have no clue about bush life and lack any practical common sense. (March 1850, p. 42-44) 'Miscellany for the month' includes an early reference to the notorious inhabitants of Rosina Street - in this case an imaginative story describing them learning to swim at the City Baths (April 1850, p. 46). There is a suggestion that paper currency for the colony should illustrate typical Adelaide character types, who Akehurst suggests were all keen drinkers, 

Let there be faithfully portrayed, the two men who have had a nobbler ... the two who are going to have a nobbler, the two who are thinking of having a nobbler, the policeman who longs for ditto ... (April 1850, p. 52)

German men are depicted as keen to kiss one another. (May 1850, p. 76 and June 1850, p. 105) An interesting send-up of the Government House annual levee describes it as a vaudeville concert with distinctly political overtones, and again alludes to Germans kissing. (June 1850, p. 104-105)

 Rival newspaper companies There are many derogatory references to the reporting of James Allen's newspaper rivals at the South Australian register. Allen and George Stevenson, the editor of another rival, the South Australian gazette and mining journal, are depicted as crossing sweepers with opposing views during the Goolwa railway debate. (July 1850, p. 123)

 Adelaide personalities Although many of the figures in the Almanac cartoons are difficult to identify, they are clearly based on real people, with some figures appearing several times, and many are probably political figures of 1850. The Almanac singles out South Australian judges as particular targets for satire. (April 1850, p. 64-66) A so-called fashion article in the first issue describes 'Aboriginal fashions' as well as the usual attire of prominent men such as Charles Mann and Judge Henry Jickling. (February 1850, p. 12-13) Policemen Tolmer, Berkley and Litchfield are subjects of an article and cartoon. (February 1850, p. 13-14) William Giles of the South Australian Company is mentioned often. A series 'Mrs Primer's maternal advice' seems to refer to William Giles, Charles Mann (April 1850, p. 53-54), Captain Freeling (May 1850, p. 88) and others. Edward Stephens also is named at various times, including an uncomplimentary reference to his relations with Governor Young, with a cartoon of Stephens as a juggler and referring to the unpopular dray tax. (June 1850, p. 104-105) Stephens is depicted as the 'Colossus of Roads' in a later issue. (July 1850, p. 128) The many talents of FS Dutton are commented on. (June 1850, p. 105) Sir John Morphett is depicted in the June issue as a knght (wearing a top hat) outside his home 'Cummins.' (June 1850, frontis.) A cartoon including Charles Mann, the Advocate General, appears in the last issue of the Almanac. (July 1850, p. 135)

 Cartoons Various cartoons are included in the magazine, even a depiction of James Allen himself. (May 1850, frontis.) Each issue of the magazine generally contained one full page cartoon and a number of smaller drawings. Gold rushes and the Burra mines were favourite topics in early cartoons. A cartoon of Currie Street roadmakers suggested they did not over-exert themselves. (May 1850, p. 70) Many of the cartoons depict well known men of the time under the heading 'Adelaide personalities.'

 Aboriginal depiction Possibly the earliest published cartoon incorporating South Australian Aborigines appears in a story sending up new chums. Two young British gentlemen immigrants without any practical skills, end up working as shepherds on Yorke Peninsula and losing even their trousers in the process. This is assisted by the local Aboriginal population, who are depicted with spears and head ornaments, carrying away the new chums' belongings. (March 1850, p. 44)

 Advertisements Each issue includes short advertisements for Adelaide businesses on the outer coloured wrappers. Interesting advertisements for chemist George Sloper of Rosina Street describe his 'fly destroyers,' 'bug tinctures,' and 'Lemon Kali' drinks. The last issue includes a two page advertisment for a 'monster concert' in aid of the new German and British Hospital. This not only lists individual performers, and names the two choirs (the Adelaide Choral Society and the Deutsche Liedertafel) but also names all members of the orchestra. (July 1850, p. [142-143])

 Printing Thomas Strode was the printer of the Almanac, and regular advertisements for Penman and Galbraith suggests connections with this well-known colonial firm.

Related names :

Allen, James, 1806-1886

Jickling, Henry

Mann, Charles, 1799-1860

Rosina Street (Adelaide, S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1850
Place : Adelaide, S. Aust.
Further reading :

Marquis, Len. South Australian newspaper histories from notes by Len Marquis, Adelaide: State Library of South Australia, South Australian Collection, 1995

Sowden, William. Our pioneer press [manuscript], 1926, PRG 41



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on