The Old Farmer’s Almanac has served as witness to the triumphs and tragedies of this great nation. We thought that you would enjoy a look back through the evolution of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, noting the Almanac covers that reflect specific historical events.
Do the covers look familiar to today’s edition? We find it amazing to see how little has really changed over the years.
Click each cover image to enlarge it for a better view.
Click image to enlarge Our first edition, published in 1792, declared to be “new, useful, and entertaining.” Founder Robert B. Thomas charged six pence (about nine cents) each and sold about 3,000 copies. Although almanacs abounded at the time, our second edition outpaced the first, with its circulation nearly tripling!
Click image to enlargeAfter 39 years, Robert B. Thomas’s Farmer’s Almanac had outlived all the competition, so he added the word Old to the title (though meekly, in parentheses). Three years later, he inexplicably dropped the word. In 1848, then-Editor John H. Jenks returned Old to the title, securing our place in publishing history.
Click image to enlargeLook familiar? The depiction of the four seasons was introduced in 1851 and has been on the cover of every edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac ever since. Today, most people recognize us when they see this illustration on a yellow background. The tradition of the yellow cover, however, didn’t begin until more than two decades later!
In 1851, the portrait of Benjamin Franklin, the “father of modern almanacs,” appeared opposite the portrait of founder Robert B. Thomas. read more about the 1851 front cover engraving.
Click image to enlargeAs World War II raged, The Old Farmer’s Almanac showed its support by featuring an image of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This was the first and only time in the history of The Old Farmer’s Almanac that anyone else has appeared on the cover other than Robert B. Thomas and Benjamin Franklin (who is believed to be the father of the modern almanac). This cover is significant, also, for the first appearance of the phrase “weather indications.” Following the capture on Long Island of a German spy who had landed from a U-boat and had a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac in his pocket, the U.S. government issued a mandate against publishing weather forecasts. The fear was that the enemy would use the predictions to their advantage. Rather than halt publication, Editor Robb Sagendorph added that alternative phrase, saving the Almanac’s record of uninterrupted publication.
Click image to enlargeThe first edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac was published just 16 years after the United States declared its independence from England (thus starting on the path to becoming the country that we call home). So when America celebrated its bicentennial, we joined the party by preparing a special edition. This year, the price of the Almanac was 75 cents.
Click image to enlargeNow in living color! In our 196th year, we added color to our venerable cover design. Although we had been known as “the little book with the familiar yellow cover” for some time, this marked the beginning of our full four-color cover design.
Click image to enlarge To mark an amazing milestone—200 years of continuous publication—we released an expanded version of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, complete with a vibrant red, white, and blue banner.