The Traveler… must have been a slow news day…

August 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I journeyed today to London, England via The Post Boy dated August 8, 1717.  I found in the news from Paris that “On Wednesday last, about blog-8-7-2017-king-fallsNine o’Clock at Night, a small Accident befell the King, who being gone to be, tumbled off of it, upon the Floor… And tho’ he receiv’d no other Hurt, than rubbing the Skin off one of his little Fingers, the whole Court was put into a Fright… The Physicians were sent for, who could find no Hurt, but order’d him however, to be chased with Spirit of Wine…”

It must have been a slow news day if falling out a bed and receiving a skinned finger makes the big news! Hmmm, maybe the King had some of the “Spirit of Wine” prior to his going to bed as well? Food for thought!

~The Traveler

Mid-18th century math challenges found in Gentleman’s Magazines…

July 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Two weeks ago, as we were exploring the varied content to be found in 18th and 19th century Gentleman’s Magazines, we took time to focus on the monthly mathematical challenges the publisher would serve up to the subscribers. At the time we provided our readers with a set of challenges from an issue dated May, 1768. Admitting they were a bit difficult, the following week, along with the available solutions which appeared in the August issue, we provided yet another set of mathematical exercises. The results to this 2nd set are shown below. Whether it is content covering the (now) historical events of the day, book reviews, obituaries, poetry, maps, plates (diagrams), and yes, even mathematical challenges, 18th and 19th century Gentleman’s Magazines never fail to deliver on a truly contemporary experience. As we’ve often said (slightly revised): “History (and poetry, and book reviews, and discoveries, and ____) are never more fascinating than when read from the day they were first reported.”

Solutions to the May, 1768 Gentleman’s Magazine’s math exercises…

July 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week we posted a set of math exercises which were provided in the May, 1768 issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine. Today we post the solutions (see below). Understanding that the set of problems were a bit cryptic to the 21st century mind, the bottom of the solutions below provides yet another set of problems to explore – which appear a bit more straight-forward. We’ll post the solutions to these next Thursday. Before you throw in the towel, don’t forget the famous words of W.E. Hickson: “If at first you don’t succeed…”

The Traveler… the loss of a first…

July 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I traveled today to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by the means of The Pennsylvania Gazette of July 16, 1767. Within the issue I found the report blog-7-17-2017-william-pennabout the death of the first child ever born in Philadelphia. “At Kennet, in Chester County, the 5th Instant, died JOHN KEY, in the 85th Year of his Age, and the next Day was interred in the Burial Place belonging to the People called Quakers, in the Township, attended by a large Number of reputable People, his Neighbours, and Acquaintance, —- He was born in a Cave, long afterwards known by the Name of Penny-Pot, near Race-street, and WILLIAM PENN, our first Proprietor, gave him a Lot of Ground, as a Compliment on his being the first Child born in this City… His Constitution was very healthy till about 80, when he was seized with the Palsy, and continued weakly till his Death, —- About 6 Years ago he walked on Foot from Kennet to Philadelphia in one Day, which is near 30 Miles…”

He sounded like a very remarkable man.

~The Traveler

Are you smarter than a 18th century 5th grader? Math exercises within Gentleman’s Magazines…

July 13, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

As we continue to explore the diversity of content found on the pages of 18th and 19th century Gentleman’s Magazines, our attention was drawn to the abundance of Mathematical challenges found within many issues – particularly those from the 1700’s. Rather than opining on the difficulty level of the quests as opposed to what might be expected of the average reader of a common (blog) post or publication of the 21st century, especially since we have no idea as to the intended target audience. Instead, let’s just enjoy the challenge as if we were living just prior to the American War for Independence.

The challenge: On a somewhat regular basis the publisher would provide a set of Mathematical exercises and invite their subscribers to submit solutions. These responses would then be printed (along with the names of those who submitted them) within a future magazine – typically 1-3 months later. The set shown below is from an issue dated May, 1768. Go ahead and give the problems a try. As an act of 21st century kindness, next Thursday I’ll post the solutions which were submitted in 1768. Are you bold? Go ahead and reply with your solutions prior to next Thursday and allow the collectible world to observe your mathematical genius – or at least your ability to rival the math-prowess of a 17th century 5th grader – or mathematics professor of the period. Enjoy.

“A self-worth reality check… Isaac Newton edition”

May 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“How valuable am I?” “Am I indispensable?” “Will I be remembered when I’m gone?” Truth be told, if our value, degree of indispensability, and/or staying power in regards to remaining in the forefront of people’s minds is what determines our ultimate worth, we’re all in big trouble. This point was recently brought home when our staff discovered Isaac Newton’s burial report in a London Gazette dated March 30, 1727. As is typical, once discovered, we began to search the issues surrounding it for additional mentions of him, and quickly unearthed an article in the very next issue which hit us like a ton of bricks. By the time this follow-up issue went to print, Isaac Newton’s position and office had already been filled! No multi-week vigil. No adherence to mourning-etiquette before filling his shoes. No appreciation for his abundance of contributions to humanity through the claiming of his “space” as a memorial. No tour-bus route altered to include the very office where he likely pondered, explored, and then detailed some of the greatest thoughts of man. No! Within less than a week his position and office were filled, and life moved on. Quite sobering isn’t it. I don’t know about you, but this tandem of events reminds me of my own mortality, and the need for a worth which reaches beyond life’s veil.  Please “enjoy” both reports shown below.

There are “snowflakes”, and then there’s Donn Fendler…

March 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

We recently became familiar with Donn Fendler, who in 1939, at the age of 12, survived 9 days (article says 8) in the remote mountains of Maine after becoming separated from his family. The account of his “adventure” certainly provides a strong contrast between “snowflakes” and those who have the fortitude to look extreme difficulty square in the face and move forward. His tale reminds us of Knute Rockne’s (or was it Joseph Kennedy’s?) well-worn words: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” And, as for “snowflakes”? When the heat gets turned up…

Please enjoy the coverage of Donn’s day of rescue found in The New York Times, July 26, 1939.

The Traveler… digging up skeletons…

March 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

blog-3-20-2017-black-assizeI journeyed today to Gloucester, England, through The Glocester Journal dated March 23, 1767. I found an interesting article “Last week the skeleton of a man in setters, with one jaw and some of the large bones perfect, was dug up in removing some ground in our Castle Green, eastward of the ruins of the old County Hall, memorable as the place wherein was held the fatal black assize, in the year 1577… upwards of 500 other persons were infected by a gaol disease, and died between the sixth of July and the tenth of August. This skeleton is by some conjectured to be the remains of one Rowland Jenkes, the person condemned at the assize for for sedition, and who was at the bar when the dreadful catastrophe befel the court…”. This was pertaining to the “Black Assize”.

As per wikipedia: The Black Assize is a name given to multiple deaths in the city of Oxford in England between July 6 and August 12, 1577. At least 300 people, including the chief baron and sheriff, are thought to have died as a result of this event. It received its name because it was believed to have been associated with a trial at the Assize Court at Oxford Castle.  A 19th-century account is more sure of the cause: ‘The assize held at Oxford in the year 1577, called the “Black Assize,” was a dreadful instance of the deadly effects of the jail fever. The judges, jury, witnesses, nay, in fact every person, except the prisoners, women and children, in court were killed by a foul air, which at first was thought to have arisen out of the bowels of the earth; but that great philosopher, Lord Bacon, proved it to have come from the prisoners taken out of a noisome jail and brought into court to take their trials; and they alone, inhaling foul air, were not injured by it.’

~The Traveler

*Error headlines make interesting collectibles…

March 14, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

Headlines of events that never happened offer a fascinating focus in the world of newspaper collecting. Unlike radio or television broadcasts where errors can be corrected in minutes, and without any “physical evidence” of the mistake, once ink is on the paper it cannot be retracted.

Certainly the most notable and desirable would be the famous Chicago Tribune mistake of November 3, 1948 which proclaimed in its early edition: “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” with issues in nice condition now extending well beyond the $1000 mark. Even in a later edition they continued the error but softening the headline by proclaiming: “G.O.P. WINS WHITE HOUSE!“, which I believe to be more rare than the more famous earlier edition.

One error newspaper which recently surfaced from our inventory comes with an interesting story, growing from the hysteria created by the surprise attack upon Pearl Harbor by Japan, which helped to usher in the U.S. involvement in World War II.

The Los Angeles Examiner “War Extra” of Feb. 25, 1942 proclaimed in large letters across its front page: “AIR BATTLE RAGES OVER LOS ANGELES“. Puzzled by the headline, as I wasn’t aware of any WWII battles reaching the shores of the United States, I did a bit of investigating.

The short answer is there was no air battle over Los Angeles. Just some hysteria run amuck. During the night of February 24/25, 1942, unidentified objects caused a succession of alerts in southern California. On the 24th, a warning issued by naval intelligence indicated that an attack could be expected within the next ten hours. Probably much of the confusion came from the fact that anti-aircraft shell bursts, caught by the searchlights, were themselves mistaken for enemy planes. In any case, the next three hours produced some of the most imaginative reporting of the war: “swarms” of planes (or, sometimes, balloons) of all possible sizes, numbering from one to several hundred, traveling at altitudes which ranged from a few thousand feet to more than 20,000 and flying at speeds which were said to have varied from “very slow” to over 200 miles per hour, were observed to parade across the skies. These mysterious forces dropped no bombs and, despite the fact that 1,440 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition were directed against them, suffered no losses. There were reports that four enemy planes had been shot down, and one was supposed to have landed in flames at a Hollywood intersection. Residents in a forty mile arc along the coast watched from hills or rooftops as the play of guns and searchlights provided the first real drama of the war for citizens of the mainland. The dawn, which ended the shooting and the fantasy, also proved that the only damage which resulted to the city was such as had been caused by the excitement (there was at least one death from heart failure), by traffic accidents in the blacked-out streets, or by shell fragments from the artillery barrage. Go here to read the full text of this fascinating “battle” as provided by the “Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco”.

Do you have any interesting error headlines in your collection? Feel free to share with others.

*Note: This post was originally posted on 11/11/2008.

Breaking down stereotypes… Al “Marian” Capone…

February 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Detroit Free Press for August 14, 1935 appears to be one of the few newspapers (perhaps only) which uncovered Al Capone’s ultimate career aspiration: that of a librarian. His life of crime may have disqualified many from pursuing such a dream, but once again he proved his mettle and determination by becoming the librarian… of Alcatraz prison. Some may sense a degree of sarcasm, however, I would like to point out the article does indicate this was a “promotion.”

Note: We have been unable to verify whether or not this report is accurate. If anyone has information which can verify or dispute this claim, please let us know.

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