Many of them faltered as the 20th century progressed, thanks to the First World War and changing social habits, and the titles are now largely forgotten. Yet to sporting historians the periodicals - such as the Badminton Magazine, Sporting Mirror and Baily's Magazine - are packed with intrigue and information. They cast a light on an era when sporting pursuits looked very different to what they do now, with invaluable first-hand accounts of people, events and techniques.
Now, thanks to the renowned sports historian Chris Harte, they have become accessible and searchable thanks to his extraordinary work in indexing a range of these titles. Not only that, he has written the history of each title, with biographies of the editors and contributors, and reproduced a vast number of the illustrations that made them so attractive. Although his books are aimed at academic researchers, and are printed in limited numbers, the pricing makes them accessible to anyone.
Chris's work is, without doubt, a labour of love which will benefit sports researchers around the world.
Baily's Magazine of Sports and Pastimes (1860-1926). A monumental book which covers 796 monthly issues, 380 pages. £30.
The Badminton Magazine of Sports and Pastimes (1895-1923), 406 pages. £19.95. There is also a volume entitled Strange Stories of Sport (508 pages) which are extracted from the Badminton Magazine, £12.95.
The Sporting Mirror (1881-86), 162 pages. £7.95.
Fores's Sporting Notes and Sketches (1884-1912), 200 pages. £9.95.
The Captain (1899-1924), 394 pages. £10.99.
Currently in preparation is the history and index of CB Fry's Magazine of Sports and Outdoor Life.
The books can be ordered online from major retailers including Waterstones and amazon. They can also be found on ebay.