#18 – America’s first newspaper… Check your attics. (*revisited)

April 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 
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The very first newspaper printed in the American colonies was published in Boston in 1690 and titled “Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick”. It was a little paper with three pages of text. The fourth page was left blank for others to write handwritten pieces of news before being passed on to others. It was published by Benjamin Harris who had experience in publishing another newspaper in London several years prior to his arrival in the colonies, titled “Domestick Intelligence, Or News Both from City & Country”.

His Boston effort focused on local news but it also included gossip and unflattering reports. One account notes it contained: “…affections of a very high nature: As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports…”. The mixture of doubtful and uncertain reports, as well as a ban on printing without a license which Harris did not have, caused his first issue to also be his last. Reports note that the royal governor had the printing press destroyed and all known issues of that one date of September 25, 1690 confiscated.

To this day only one genuine issue of the newspaper is known to exist, and unfortunately it’s not in the United States: it is in the Public Records office in London. Some years ago it was loaned to The Newseum in Washington, D.C. (then located across the Potomac in Virginia) for a period of time, but I believe it has been returned to London.

The intriguing part of this story is that “all known issues were confiscated and destroyed”. But exactly when did this happen? Was it done several hours since it was printed, or a few days later? It was intended to be a monthly publication. Certainly the possibility exists that a few issues were not found & confiscated, and with the owners knowing of the search they may have purposely hidden them away.

Could an issue or two still exist in a Boston attic somewhere? Is there a private library where an issue was hidden among the pages of a book in hopes of not being confiscated? Could a renovation project to a Boston area home reveal an issue tucked within its walls over 300 years ago? It is fascinating to think that some examples could be found so long after being published. But to this date none have surfaced.

Speculation runs wild as to the value of an issue should it surface. It’s America’s very first newspaper, and none exist in America. What sort of price could be set on such an issue? What should be the future home of an issue should it be found?

Feel free to comment!

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*The Fall of 2013 marked the 5th anniversary of the History’s Newsstand Blog by Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers. We are grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the newspaper collecting community, and appreciate those who have participated through guest posts, comments, and readership. This year (2014) we are revisiting the top 25 posts (measured by activity), with the number 1 post being re-posted during the first week of 2015. Please enjoy. If you would like to contribute a post for consideration of inclusion on the blog, please contact Guy Heilenman at guy@rarenewspapers.com.

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An unusual two issue set… a disaster and a massacre…

April 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 
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The Set: FRANK LESLIE’S ILLUSTRATED NEWSPAPERS, New York, both dated May 3, 1873.

The Intrigue: A two issue set of the same title with the exact same date? Yes. In regards to standard daily newspapers, especially those printed for major city distribution, it was not uncommon for there to be multiple editions of the newspaper printed on the same day – perhaps a morning and evening edition. However, we have yet to discover a weekly illustrated newspaper who printed more than one version of an issue on the same day. It is this lack of discovery to-date which makes this two-issue set rather interesting. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated apparently printed two nearly identical but different issues for May 3, 1873… each having a different cover. One might think they accidentally reprinted a cover from a previous week for some of the issues, but we have had the other issues surrounding this date, and none of them have either cover in question. Additionally, while the inner pages are almost all the same, there is also another page (pg 125) which is different. Everything else is identical.

If anyone is aware of the background concerning this set, please share.

Note: Additional (and quite interesting) information concerning both front pages may be found at Colfax Massacre and Richmond Switch Disaster (Rhode Island).

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The Traveler… Leo Frank… “Watchful, Waiting”…

April 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 
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Blog-4-7-2014-Leo-FrankToday I traveled through Atlanta, Georgia by the way of The Atlanta Constitution dated April 7, 1914. There I found the defense attorneys for Leo Frank had come into possession of a large number of new affidavits which would be made public shortly. Also coverage of the war in Mexico between Carranza and Pancho Villa. This also has the reporting of the Fall of Torreon with the reporting of the expulsions of the Spaniards.

“Watchful, Waiting” policy is how Lloyd Brown was dealing with his 14-year marriage as he was bringing a divorce suit to court. He said shortly into the marriage  his wife “began to take a violent dislike to him… She had not only left the house, but had taken all the covers off the bed before so doing. I borrowed some more from a neighbor and, when my wife came back in the morning,…I explained to her that to her that things couldn’t go along that way much longer… I just sat there and said nothing. Well, that made her madder and madder, I just sat still and kept quiet. Finally she hit me over the head with a fire shovel.”  She left that night and never returned. Divorce granted.

~The Traveler

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Why historic newspapers? Time travel… raw emotion…

April 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 
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I remember the first time I held an authentic Civil War era newspaper and was struck by the concept of holding history in my hands. As I read through the detailed battle reports, raw emotion welled up within me as I pondered the possibility of a loved one’s tears falling upon the very newspaper I was holding – as he/she discovered the name of a close relative… even a spouse listed among those killed in battle. As I continued to peruse the paper, the prevalence of ads, birth and wedding announcements, local news reports, etc. communicated a truth that hit me like a ton of bricks: Despite the carnage of war, and the tears of many who had just learned of the loss of someone they loved, life continued to move forward. Anyone who has lost a dear friend or family member knows the emotion: “Hey world – What are you doing? STOP! Don’t you know what’s just happened?” But the train of time rushes forward – ignoring our desperate cry for just a few more minutes…

At this point I took a breath – carefully closed the newspaper, and returned to the present – convinced I had discovered the greatest hobby of them all; one that enables anyone who would dare, to go where Orson Wells, Jack Finney, and others could only dream of going: back in time.

A collector recently sent a related note stating:

Like many people I’m sure, I have over the years fantasized many times about being able to go back in time. I realize now that this hobby has enabled me to get just a glimmer of that feeling inside, as I hold such old papers, reading the words and seeing the engravings and old photos. Touching the history in such a physical, tangible way evokes a feeling as close to time travel as we can probably ever come…and is a unique experience utterly lacking in the high school history textbooks I originally studied, or merely looking at images on a computer monitor these days. -Actapublicurist

Yet another, upon discovering the Bobby Kennedy Assassination Report issue shown in the image wrote (in part):

I will never sell this newspaper…  I will be 60 in November and lived in Brooklyn when Senator Kennedy was killed.  I still shed tears when I think about it all these years later.  He left nine children (and a tenth on the way) and a wonderful wife, and we will never know what a difference this magnificent man with a huge heart would have made in the White House.  I grieve for him as if he was close friend.  I will treasure this newspaper and others in my ample collection of the RFK assassination.

What an incredible hobby!

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#19 – Coffee House newspapers: a brief history… (*revisited)

March 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 
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A number of titles on our website are referred to as “coffee house newspapers” with little explanation as to what they are. I think we owe our customers a bit of history on this interesting era.

During most of the 17th century newspaper publishing was very heavily regulated. All printing offices in England were under the control of the Surveyor of the Imprimery, or Press. Roger L’Estrange held the position in the latter half of the century and had the sole privilege of writing, printing & publishing newspapers, being involved in the “Intelligencer”, “The News”, the “City Mercury” and the “Observator“. His monopoly was broken in 1665 with the creation of the “Oxford Gazette”, renamed the “London Gazette” when it removed there after 23 issues in Oxford.

With the arrival of William of Orange in 1689 came a reduction of state control over the press. This new-found freedom gave the independent press a real impetus. Readers’ interests widened. Politics & religion were no longer everyone’s cup of tea, for it was in the post-1689 years that the coffee house as a meeting place for exchanging merchandise & ideas came into its own. Newspapers provided stimulus for conversations and gossip & entertainment became accepted & then demanded.
The London coffee-houses provided a gathering place where any man who was reasonably dressed could smoke his long, clay pipe, sip his coffee, read the newsletters of the day, or enter into conversation with other patrons. At this period when journalism was in its infancy and the postal system was unorganized and irregular, the coffee-house provided a center of communication for news and information. Runners were sent round to the coffee house to report major events of the day, such as victory in battle or political upheaval, and the newsletters and gazettes of the day were distributed chiefly in the coffee house. Most of the establishments functioned as reading rooms. In addition, bulletins announcing sales, sailings, and auctions covered the walls of the establishments, providing valuable information to the businessman who conducted much of his business from a table at his favorite coffee house.

During this era, particularly the early years of the 18th century, newspapers such as the “Tatler“, “Spectator“, “Guardian” “Athenian Mercury” & “Rehearsal” among others were very much in vogue in the coffee houses, and were more dialogue in format with back & forth discussion of a specific topic rather than reporting of news of the day.

By the latter half of the 18th century coffee house culture had run its course, but left in its wake much interesting literary work by some notable names including Daniel DeFoe (wrote for “A Review Of The State Of The Nation“, Joseph Addison & Richard Steele among others. Newspaper format tended more towards reporting news events of the day with presses being established outside the boundaries of London as well as increased activity within the city. One of the more successful titles which flourished in the latter half of the 1700′s was the “London Chronicle“, many issues of which we offer on our website, catalogs and supplements.

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*The Fall of 2013 marked the 5th anniversary of the History’s Newsstand Blog by Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers. We are grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the newspaper collecting community, and appreciate those who have participated through guest posts, comments, and readership. This year (2014) we are revisiting the top 25 posts (measured by activity), with the number 1 post being re-posted during the first week of 2015. Please enjoy. If you would like to contribute a post for consideration of inclusion on the blog, please contact Guy Heilenman at guy@rarenewspapers.com.

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Edward Cave Junior, and his Gentleman’s Magazine…

March 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 
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A few months ago we wrote about what is considered by many to be the most successful literary magazine of all time, The Gentleman’s Magazine. While RareNewspapers.com continues to offer many original issues of this title from the 18th and early 29th centuries, few know of the magazine’s or its founder, Edward Cave, Junior. A collector friend recently came across a wonderful posting by The Society of 18th-Century Gentleman which goes into considerable detail concerning both. An excerpt includes:

“…Edward Cave eventually purchased a small print house and shortly after began The Gentleman’s Magazine. The first issue appeared in January of 1731. Cave quickly became a highly respected publisher and businessman, and “a multitude of magazines arose” all over the world. The magazine was soon the most well-known and highly respected publication in the English language. It is widely believed that Mr. Cave was the first person ever to use the term “magazine” to describe a monthly publication of this type…”

(view the entire post)

If you’ve never perused this little gem, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with its detailed coverage of events of the day.

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#20 – Thoughts on the most historic 19th century report… (*revisited)

March 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 
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A few weeks ago we had some interesting comments on what collectors thought was the most historic 20th century newspaper report. Let’s try the same with the 19th century. But given the tremendous diversity of events from 1801 thru 1900 I’m going to break the century into three parts: pre-Civil War; the Civil War; and post-Civil War. Let’s work our way backwards and discuss the post-Civil War era first.

There are many ways to approach “most historic”. My approach will be the most life-altering event with emphasis on “event”. One could argue that the second Industrial Revolution dramatically changed the world but it cannot be pinned down to a single date or event.

Several items come to mind: the first successful Atlantic cable in 1866 was a major step in causing the world to be much smaller–a trend which continues to this day; the completion of the transcontinental railroad in the United States was a major step in the westward expansion & settlement of the United States which changed the country in many ways; and then there is the Battle of Wounded Knee which was the last battle in the American Indian Wars and the official end of the Old West. Not to be omitted would be the invention of the automobile by gentlemen in Germany in 1889.

I’m going to go with the completion of the transcontinental railroad. In thinking of the multitude of events which played off this event and how it changed the fabric of America (pardon the ethnocentrism) I’ll vote for it as the most historic event of the 19th century post-Civil War era.

What are your thoughts?

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*The Fall of 2013 marked the 5th anniversary of the History’s Newsstand Blog by Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers. We are grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the newspaper collecting community, and appreciate those who have participated through guest posts, comments, and readership. This year (2014) we are revisiting the top 25 posts (measured by activity), with the number 1 post being re-posted during the first week of 2015. Please enjoy. If you would like to contribute a post for consideration of inclusion on the blog, please contact Guy Heilenman at guy@rarenewspapers.com.

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The Traveler… the verdict… the change… yeah, yeah, yeah…

March 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 
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Today I traveled back in time through The Detroit Free Press of March 15, 1964. The issue featured a banner headline “How Dallas Jury Reached Verdict of Death for Ruby” in which “…the four women and eight men jurors reached the decision — one of four possible verdicts open to them — after just two hours and 20 minutes of deliberation…”. Ruby was on trial for shooting to death Lee Harvey Oswald, who killed President John F. Kennedy. Ruby did appeal the case but died from a pulmonary embolism as the date for his new trial was being set.

Just a few weeks prior, Cassius Clay had defeated Sonny Liston in the world heavy weight boxing match. “‘Cassius X’ Says He’s a ‘Prophet’” said “…his Muslim name is ‘Muhammad Ali and I’m a true follower of Elijah Muhammad. I face east five times a day…”. This is when he started using Muhammad Ali as his known name.

And just for fun, “Happiness is a 40-ft. Beatle”… yeah, yeah, yeah!!!

-The Traveler

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The Battle of Los Angeles…

March 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 
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The Los Angeles Times–Extra” of February 24, 1942 has one of the more dramatic, screaming headlines to be found in any newspaper: “L.A. AREA RAIDED ! ” with a smaller head noting: “Jap Planes Peril Santa Monica, Seal Beach, El Segundo, Redondo, Long Beach, Hermosa, Signal Hill”. The report begins: “Roaring out of a brilliant moonlit western sky, foreign aircraft flying both in large formation and single, few over Southern California early today and drew heavy barrages of anti-aircraft fire–the first ever to sound over United States continental soil against an enemy invader…” (see).

The Battle of Los Angeles, also known as The Great Los Angeles Air Raid, is the name given to this rumored enemy attack and subsequent anti-aircraft artillery barrage which took place from late February 24 to early February 25, 1942 over Los Angeles. The incident occurred less than three months after the United States entered World War II as a result of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

Initially, the target of the aerial barrage was thought to be an attacking force from Japan, but speaking at a press conference shortly afterward, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox called the incident a “false alarm.” Newspapers of the time published a number of reports and speculations of a cover-up. Some modern-day UFOlogists have suggested the targets were extraterrestrial spacecraft. When documenting the incident in 1983, the U.S. Office of Air Force History attributed the event to a case of “war nerves” likely triggered by a lost weather balloon and exacerbated by stray flares and shell bursts from adjoining batteries.

Air raid sirens sounded throughout Los Angeles County on the night of February 24-25, 1942. A total blackout was ordered and thousands of air raid wardens were summoned to their positions. At 3:16 am the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began firing .50 caliber machine guns and 12.8-pound anti-aircraft shells into the air at reported aircraft; over 1,400 shells would eventually be fired. Pilots of the 4th Interceptor Command were alerted but their aircraft remained grounded. The artillery fire continued sporadically until 4:14 am. The “all clear” was sounded and the blackout order lifted at 7:21 am.

Several buildings and vehicles damaged by shell fragments, and five civilians died as an indirect result of the anti-aircraft fire, three of them killed in car accidents in the ensuing chaos and two of heart attacks attributed to the stress of the hour-long action. The incident was front-page news along the U.S. Pacific coast, and earned some mass media coverage throughout the nation.(credit to Wikipedia)

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The peaceful transfer of power…

March 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 
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As we approach President’s Day, there is a part of me which is somewhat sentimental about my childhood memories surrounding Washington’s Birthday. I sure do miss it as a stand alone national celebration. I fondly remember my father bringing home a cardboard version of an ax (with a chocolate-covered cherry hidden within) to present to each of us to commemorate the holiday, and without fail, reminding us to be just like George Washington – that is, to never tell a lie. Was there a bit of lore surrounding this sacred event? Sure. Did it teach us a valuable lesson? Absolutely. Somehow we’ve lost the innocence and value of oral tradition, and I wonder if we are the better for it.

Perhaps Washington never chopped down a cherry tree… and my guess is he probably told a lie at some point, but I challenge anyone to name another political leader who, in the face of such power, tradition, and popularity, was willing to hand over the reigns of power with such humility and grace.  The Massachusetts Spy, Or Worcester Gazette for March 15, 1797 records much of the proceedings of this momentous event. The link provides access to considerable details. Of particular note is his response to the Massachusetts’ Representatives of Congress who basically asked him, “What now?”  His response is precious (see below). Please enjoy!

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