Publishing History > Partworks


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A partwork is a "written publication released as a series of planned magazine-like issues over a period of time. Issues are typically released on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis, and often a completed set is designed to form a reference work on a particular topic." (source: Wikipedia).

Each issue of the partwork is often accompanied by a cover-mounted item. For example:
-- a CD, an audio cassette or a vinyl record with each issue of The Great Composers (so that the purchaser can listen to a musical work);
-- a model car with each issue of the Franklin Mint Cars of the Fifties; or
-- a sample rock, gem or mineral with each issue of Precious Rocks, Gems & Minerals.

Prominent partwork publishers have included:

Australia: Bay Books
Italy: De Agostini; G E Fabbri; Fabbri and Partners; Del Prado; Panini/Centauria
France: Hachette
Spain: RBA Coleccionables
Sweden: International Masters Publishers
United Kingdom: AmerCom; BBC; Eaglemoss Publications; Fabbri and Partners Ltd.; IPC; Marshall Cavendish; Orbis; Purnell & Sons; Sampson, Low
United States: The Franklin Mint; Time-Life

Well-known partwork series have included:

AmerCom: Fighter Aircraft Collection (2010-2012)
Bay Books: Two Hundred Years (1988)
BBC: Classic Drama (DVDs of BBC TV series with magazines provided by Fabbri)
Eaglemoss: Draw It! Paint It!
G E Fabbri: Discovering Great Painters; Discovering Opera
Fabbri and Partners Ltd: The Great Musicians
The Franklin Mint: Franklin Mint Cars of the Fifties
International Masters Publishers: Masterpiece
IPC: International Encyclopedia of Stamps
Marshall Cavendish: Carrier's Kitchen; Great Artists; Great Composers; Great Writers; Nice'N'Easy; Times Past (1987).
Orbis: All About Science; Blues Collection; Complete Cook; History of Rock; The Movie; Talking Classics
Purnell & Sons: Discovering Art (1970); Discovering Art (1964-66); History of the English Speaking World (1971); History of the 20th Century (1972); Knowledge (1962); Man, Myth and Magic (1970); The Masters (1965); Purnell's History of the Second World War (1966)
RBA Coleccionables: Precious Rocks, Gems & Minerals (2010; 2015); Everything is Mathematical (2012)
Sampson, Low: Understanding Science (1962-65)

Some sample partwork series in more detail:

Two Hundred Years. Bay Books (61 Anzac Parade, Kensington NSW 2033, Australia), c. 1988. 48 issues. Published weekly. An exploration of the 200 years of Australian history to 1988.

Author of this page: David Paul Wagner

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