Finding cycling magazines from the 1920’s and 30’s is difficult but not impossible. In fact there are a number of web sites offering back-issues that go back that far.
In my opinion the jump back to this era moves the reader into a different world. The 1960’s might seem vaguely familiar even if you are a child of the 70’s but looking at the images from the 1920’s really does seem like a trip into cycling history.
The style of dress, the primitive motors, the sepia tones and most of all the road conditions combine to make a picture that even the toughest Paris-Roubaix could not recreate today.
The magazines deteriorate and disappear - but trying to find the sources for their original photos (negatives or plates) is a challenge that even I would rate as highly speculative. Perhaps one the sports photographers of the day hid his collection of historic images at the start of the war and never returned. Perhaps they still lie hidden in some Italian or Belgian cellar. Perhaps some current publisher has original content from the period gained through the takeover of magazine in trouble - laying in some forgotten archive.
Certainly vintage images like the “Gates of Verdun” from 1922 have proved to be very popular as modern day reproductions. There is certainly a strong appeal for the available images from this period.
Journaux-Collection offers a broad range of magazines; almost totally of French origin and La Bibliotheque du Souvenir covers a very similar range. Also Retromag covers a vast range of magazines that includes vintage cycling editions from - Miroir des Sports, Miroir du Cyclisme, Miroir Sprint, But et Club and But Miroir des Sports.
For really early racing pictures from the start of the 20th century then it is worth looking for copies of “La Vie Au Grand Air” or “L’Actualite” even though this later magazine did not concentrate on cycling (or even sport).
Going back even earlier into the 19th century means that very few illustrations will be photographs - and even if they are then the printing processes will eliminate much of the detail.
It is possible, with regular searches, to come across early cycling magazines on eBay given the huge number of private and small-scale sellers. Many prices seem over ambitious but then what are the alternatives?