The observer published the first illustrated crime story in 1820 (Williams, p.37). Although its "editorial aspirations were proposed in lofty tones— 'To every rank and order will The Observer . . . Breathe invariably, the spirit of enlightened freedom, decent toleration, and universal benevolence' . . . The editor's idea of what exactly might 'conduce to the Happiness of Society' proved a curious one, finding expression substantially in the reporting of 'rick-fires, stage-coach accidents, rapes, and abductions' " (Williams, p.38). Some historians credit The Observer with "having invented the crime story" (Williams, p.38).
"The all-seeing eye (nunquam dormio) of the early masthead of the Observer, a powerful masonic emblem that was also to be found situated between the classical-republican figures of liberty and justice (invidia cum auctoritate), was, incidentally, reintroduced into that paper in 1995" (Jones, p.31).