Scientific American Relaunches Website

Items stocked in the online store date back to 1845.

Framing the relaunch of scientificamerican.com, the magazine’s editor in chief Mariette DiChristina hits some familiar notes. The new site, crafted with the help of New York agency AREA 17, is designed to be more responsive and look especially good on a smartphone.

ScientificAmericanIssue1Since Scientific American is the longest continually publishing magazine in the U.S., the site’s new online store features some rather more unusual artifacts. Starting with the very first issue, published in 1845 and available for purchase at $7.99.

The Aug. 28 newspaper-like debut issue is made up of four pages. The front is dominated by a report about “Improved Railroad Cars” and also features a list of agricultural patents issued the previous year, starting with a Virginia man’s Improvement in Bee Hives.

On Page 2, there is a column of more than two dozen tidbits, “Variety.”, which starts off with this:

A correspondent of the St. Louis Republican having been bitten by a mad dog, was cured by drinking a decoction of the bark of the common black ash.

And later, includes this:

A slave in Charlestown, S. C., recently, at the imminent risk of his own life, plunged into the rapid current of the river, and saved the life of a small white boy, who had fallen in and was drowning.

On the fourth and final page, there is a vintage ad from biographer Robert Sears, who trumpets $2.00 book The Pictorial History of the American Revolution and explains that he is looking for young men of “strictly moral and business habits” to help sell it. And all this barely scratches the surface. If there’s a history buff on your Christmas shopping list, the debut issue or any other from the early years of Scientific American is sublime stocking stuffer.

Check out the new website here.