My collecting story… L.H. in Williamsport, PA…

July 23, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.

My name is Laura, and I probably have come to this collectable with a rather unique perspective.  In 2002, my husband and I moved our 6 children to the Williamsport area.  Leaving extended family and friends behind, we uprooted and headed north for Guy to begin a new career as president of Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers.  As you can imagine, it took some time to settle a family of eight into a new life and homeschooling, but after a bit I began to frequent the archives to see what all his excitement was about.  Having a natural love of history, was soon smitten with all I saw … amazed to hold a paper from Ben Franklin in my hands or see a first report from a Civil War battle.  I loved hearing nightly stories of the new discoveries from that day and new searches planned for the next.  What I once saw as a mere intriguing career move for Guy and an unsettling family move (to unfamiliar surroundings) for me soon became so much more! Over the years each of our children have worked at the “History’s Newsstand” and have developed a deep appreciation of history and all it’s lessons.


Jump ahead eighteen years…


All our children have now graduated high school and so my homeschool days are done.  I began to look for new things to fill my time and fortunately there was an opening at Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers. Perfect timing !!!!!  I have now been working here for just over a year and although my enthusiasm for the more dramatic papers has not waned, I have developed a deep appreciation for the subtle beauty many of our other papers display.  This last week I prepared to ship the papers in the picture and was astonished at the attention to detail found in these covers.  The charming fonts that were drawn to reflect the color and style of each image was beyond creative and hearkened back to what would seem to be a gentler time.  Today at least, I truly appreciate both the lessons from history I find daily in our papers and the beauty and emotions elicited by pictures in some that say more than a thousand words.  Hopefully, you too will find something lovely in each paper you own to balance the more serious lessons of history.

As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY. We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.

My collecting story… J. W. in Stow, MA…

July 20, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.

Why do I collect rare/historic newspapers? How did I get started?

In 2004, shortly after the Boston Red Sox won World Series, I received a January 7, 1920 copy of the New York Times as a gift from my wife. After not seeing any significant headlines in the paper, my wife said, “Check out the sports page”. There on page 22 was the trade of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, the legendary “Curse of the Bambino”. This inspired my interest to assemble a collection that epitomizes what it meant to be a true Red Sox fan including the 1918 World Series victory (Christian Science Monitor dated September 12, 1918), the aforementioned sale the legendary slugger to the Yankees, the subsequent 86 years of agony including the ’46, ’67, ’75, and ’86 World Series defeats, and finally the breaking of “the curse” by beating the Yankees and Cardinals to win the World Series that I had just secured in my October 2004 copies of the Boston Globe.

During my efforts to find these papers at and on eBay, I found a 1791 copy of the Middlesex Gazette, Middletown, CT announcing that Vermont has become the 14th state of the union and the FIRST to enter under the terms of the new federal Constitution. My wife and I were married in Vermont (where her parents lived for 35 years and where her ancestry has been traced to one of Ethan Allen’s brothers and the “Green Mountain Boys”) so it was of some personal interest as well. For only $30, I thought this paper was amazing and my wife suggested that I try to collect papers announcing statehood for each of our 50 states. With the prospect of searching for another 49 papers seeming a bit overzealous, I decided instead to focus on finding papers announcing statehood of the original 13 colonies.

It took a couple of years to secure all these statehood ratification newspapers and in the process, I found a paper with Maine becoming a state in 1820. Although this was beyond the scope of my original search, I remembered that Maine’s statehood was a part of the Missouri Compromise. So certainly, I had to search for a Missouri statehood paper! This was what is equivalent to today’s Google searches are on so many levels … one piece of history leads to another to another to another! And with this, my affinity for newspaper collecting had begun.

At the same time, by reading books such as David McCullough’s “1776 “and “John Adams”, “The Founding Brothers” by Joseph Ellis, and James Madison’s notes on the Constitutional Convention, my interest in U.S. history was further awakened and my interest began to shift to 18th and 19th century papers. These papers provide primary source documentation described in rich and colorful language that is not experienced in academic settings. As my appreciation of the hobby grew, I began to assemble groups of papers that are linked together by a particular event or series of events that “tell the story” in real time by those who were living at the time. It is with this mindset and approach that I have continued to be an avid collector to this day.

As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY. We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.

My collecting story… T. S. P. in New York, NY…

June 12, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.

When we were kids my dad gave my older brother Some old paper money preserved between pieces of glass from colonial days and an old facsimile copy of a newspaper from the day that Lincoln was shot. It made a big impression on me. So when I started collecting old newspapers for the book it was that newspaper that inspired me to start a collection of my own. I remember how I felt when I picked it up and looked at it and realized that people of the time were reading these words that they were holding this paper and seeing the news for themselves. You could hear them saying how they felt about what was going on. And so not too long ago I made a point of going through your online catalog looking for some of these old Lincoln newspapers. I spent hours and days pouring over these and picking out from all those that were published on that day. I look for papers that were poignant or well illustrated or published in towns near where earlier generations of my family had lived. I looked for illustrations that showed the American spirit the way people felt at time and the events of the day. I wanted to find the illustration of John Wilkes Booth leaping to the stage from Lincoln Sparks at Ford theater. I wanted to show him laying in state. I wanted to show the crowds lining the railroad tracks as his train with his coffin Road by. I wanted to show those allegorical illustrations that show the country in the morning. But most of all, I wanted to show future generations of my family a paper that might’ve been the one that our own ancestors would’ve read that day. I was collecting all of this to make a record of the world that my family had lived in here in North America since the early 1600s. I wanted to future generations to know the story of what it took to build the life we now enjoy. I wanted them to see the uncertainties We faced, the tasks that were set for us as events as unfolded And the choices we made.

The other day I was watching some old movies in honor of Easter and Passover and among them was the 10 Commandments. At the end of the movie Moses is told by God that he is not going to be crossing the river Jordan. He was not going on with the people here the lead to the new land. The story of Lincoln‘s death is much the same. He had brought us through the Civil War and set down for all time on a document that ended slavery and freed a people. And then when peace was only moments away, he died and did not cross over into that time with the rest of us. I’m trying to remember at the moment whether or not FDR died before peace was declared at the end of World War II. He had brought us through the great depression, the dust bowl and World War II. And then there’s Martin Luther King and his “ I have a dream “ speech that was so prophetic. None of these men crossed over into the peace that they saw coming and into the land that they had envisioned and fought for — but they saw it on the horizon.

And so I am going on collecting these papers. I’m showing that events are not as simple as they are written in the history books we read in school. I’m showing the dialogue in the arguments that went on before decisions were made. I’m trying to show that not all people took the same side and then each had their own arguments and their own point of view. They chose their own paths and fought for them. And now when my family closes the book I plan to leave for them to read I want them to choose for themselves a path that will take him into the future. They may not cross over into the future is that they plan but I want them to think about the course and make a choice.

As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY. We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.

Still Learning… Harper’s Monthly Magazine & Disaster…

June 8, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

These past few months have been characterized by intense focus.  I wonder if we are all concentrating fiercely on the task at hand, since everything else seems a bit too immense.  Whatever the reason, I have thoroughly immersed myself in systematically working through volumes of titles in search of particular dates of interest as if this is the most important job in the world.  Since publications in view are from the 1800’s, I am glimpsing snippets of similarities and of differences to our modern era.

While shelving Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, I read the following:

“Harper’s Magazine has now reached the close of its Tenth Volume.  During the five years of its existence, its prosperity has been constant and uninterrupted.  It has not been checked even by the disaster which fell upon the establishment of the Publishers, or by the period of general depression from which the country is now emerging.”

I didn’t know about this time of economic difficulty that Wikipedia describes as “lasting [from the Great Panic of 1837] until the Great Panic of 1857.”  From where we stand it is easy to lose a historical perspective, but the December 1854 issue — sandwiched between two economic trials — provides that opportunity.  The editor’s note at the front claims the magazine even flourished through the difficulties.  At 144 pages, with 64 illustrations, this Harper’s devotes the first two-thirds to literary offerings ranging from an account of Napoleon’s exile to an installment of fiction by William Makepiece Thackeray.  Following that are an extensive listing entitled “Monthly Record of Current Events”, three categories of editorials (Editor’s Table, Editor’s Easy Chair, and Editor’s Drawer), two pages of political cartoons, and the illustrated hoops and flounces that comprise those “Fashions for December.” This is a comfortable compilation that seems to provide a wealth of distracting entertainment that was as surely craved then as it is now, situated alongside a factual depiction of the nation and world.

From the current events section I extracted a nugget of reporting that mirrors modern newscasts.

“It may be stated generally, however, in reference to all of them, that partisan divisions have been less rigid than usual — that old party lines have been broken down.”

Somehow, shared disaster still seems to have that unifying effect.


My collecting story… B.D. in Thornhill, Ontario…

June 5, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.

Some years ago, maybe fifteen, I purchased a London Chronicle newspaper from Timothy Hughes newspapers. This was mainly for the fun of having an old newspaper from ‘the old country’. I have purchased quite a few since then and actually got round to reading some for the fascinating items that the contain. One such item concerns the creation of the chronometer by John Harrison in the 1700s. I had seen his chronometers displayed at the observatory in Greenwich, produced by Harrison in response to Queen Anne’s contest offering a huge reward for a successful timepiece but I could not find out for certain if Harrison was ever paid by the British Government.

LONDON CHRONICLE, London, 1765. Volume XVIII from Saturday, November 2 to Tuesday, November 5, 1765. Contains, on page 436, A Copy of the Certificate of the Commissioners of the Longitude … relating to Mr John Harrison’s Time Keeper, authorizing the payment to him of the 7,500 pounds, less the 2,500 already paid out. According to Wiki, Harrison received 8750 pounds in 1773 when he was 80 years of age but the “official award (from year 12 of Queen Anne’s reign) of 7,500 pounds was never given to anyone”. Dava Sobel in her wonderful book Longitude (London, Fourth Estate, 1995) says that Harrison’s son, William, sought the king’s intervention (George III) resulting in a payment to John Harrison of 8,750 pounds in June 1773, noting that ‘this amount nearly totaled the remainder of the prize due to him, but that it was a bounty awarded by the benevolence of Parliament – in spite of the Board of Longitude, instead of from it.’ Elsewhere, I have read that his son received this after his father’s death but I cannot recall in which newspaper (one in my collection, I think). This seems to set my questions to rest. It would appear that he was and he wasn’t, depending on how you look at it! He received the cash but not the ‘prize’.

Making the effort to read the newspapers is extremely rewarding but not without it’s difficulties. Some of the older papers, before 1700 are not so easy, especially those using ‘old English’ but it is very rewarding to plunge into the atmosphere created by ‘on the spot reporting’. Some of the items are quite extensive and take a while to plough through. I recently came across the item shown below:

The Supplement for the Year 1793 (to The Gentleman’s Magazine), London, includes on page 1208 an extract of a letter written by an Officer of the Agamemnon of 64 guns, Captain Horatio Nelson, and dated at Tunis, November 8, 1793 (see below). I have had this item for several years and only just spent some time (during this pandemic) reading it properly. I have hundreds yet to scrutinize! Perhaps I will find something that leads to a great historical revelation, or perhaps I will just enjoy reading about history from the pens of people who lived that history!


As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY. We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.

My collecting story… OHPC, Virginia…

June 1, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.

Why do I buy rare old newspapers?

My reason may not match those of others, but it may be of interest to some.  I have an ancestor who played an important role in the War of 1812.  Several years ago, for its bicentennial, his descendants had a large family reunion.  Research and coordination for this event put us in contact with numerous people and institutions around the world.  We discovered that although many  had various artifacts handed down through the generations; no place or person had a collection of newspapers specifically mentioning the ancestor and his contribution to history!  When we asked who would want such items, we were told that they would be more useful to posterity as a single centralized collection than as individual items scattered in multiple archives.

Over the years, I have acquired about two dozen such papers, mostly through Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers.  So, this is now the largest such collection, worldwide.

As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY. We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.


My collecting story… Z.C. in Solvang, CA…

May 15, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.

I wanted to decorate my courtroom when I had an active trial schedule, and finally hit upon the way to do it and make it meaningful: I would create collages of famous trials in American history. I found there was a whole cottage industry of autograph dealers. I also discovered this bounty on Rare & Early Newspapers and searched the internet for whatever images of the trials might be available. Twenty six collages were the result, starting with the Salem Witch Trials (signature of the chief judge, Samuel Sewell, a 1692 London Gazette, and reproduction of the painting in the Massachusetts State House, and plaques) Trial of John Peter Zenger (signature of Andrew Hamilton, a 1735 Zenger newspaper, a copy of a painting of the trial and explanatory plaques). Proceeding through the Boston Massacre Trial, The Writs of Assistance case, The Trial of the Amistad Mutineers, The Dred Scott Case, The Trial of Dan Sickles, The Scopes Trial, to the Army/McCarthy Hearings.

The civics and American History classes in the local high schools would come and visit. Santa Ynez High School, where I live, would assign a particular trial to a group and each group would write a report after coming up to the courtroom for an afternoon of my presenting the collages to them and answering their questions. After a couple of years and as a courtesy, the high school assigned a student to build a website for extra credits He made the collages interactive so that a viewer could click on any section and bring that part up for closer reading. It became apparent to him that the archivally correct framing and non-glare glass made the written plaques I had created from quotes in various books blurry and difficult to read. To correct this, he carefully re-typed the plaques, which, of course was very time consuming. He finished eight of them before he went off to college. Then, I lost my free web host and was unable to get the disks on which the student had written the interactive program. I paid another fellow to re-create the website, and although I thought it was interactive, he was unable to accomplish that. There are simply photographs of the collages with the plaques recreated in a display unrelated to their place in the collage and photos of some of the parts. Sorry for that. I will try to get it interactive again just as soon as I can find the affordable technician. I also have enough material for ten more collages. Of course, now I know to photograph them in the cut mat before the glass is installed in the frame.

As retirement loomed, the question arose of “What now?”. Luckily, I had an opportunity to be interviewed by C-SPAN’s Yellow Bus tours of interesting sites and it was viewed by the assistant dean of Pepperdine’s law school in Malibu, where the collection is now on permanent loan. I created an educational website which used to be quite popular judging from the emails I received with questions about the cases. It is still up and running even if not interactive at the present. It is: www.historictrials,com That site contains a link to the C-SPAN archives where the twenty minute Interview can be found.

As I say in the website’s introduction: “Here are the stories, then, of lawyers who took up the cause of their clients in adverse circumstances and used their talents and skills to achieve what seemed just at the time. Let us hope there will always be learned men and women of the profession that will rise to the challenges”.

As an aside: I recently created collages of Civil War events, but haven’t yet framed them as they are really rather large which means rather large framing costs and I have yet to find a place to house them. I just finished a collage of a friend from high school who got to Vietnam in time for Tet, and within four months was awarded a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart. Such courage is more than remarkable. It’s on the website even though it has nothing to do with lawyers or trials. He is looking for a place to display it. Perhaps our high school; perhaps one of the military museums.

Thank you for tolerating this long exposition. Lawyers are worse when it comes to conciseness, and retired ones are the worst.

As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY. We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.


My collecting story… Z.H. in Benton, Missouri…

May 11, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.

My favorite issue is a September 1820 publication from the Niles’ Register. This specific issue contains one of the earliest non-archived and complete printings of the Missouri Constitution that I know to exist. I am a judge for the State of Missouri, so its personal value to me is beyond words. While there have been a total of six constitutions adopted for the State of Missouri in the last 200 years, to hold a complete copy of the original, published immediately after ratification and adoption, is quite something.

This issue is displayed on a bureau in my office just behind my courtroom. Talk about a conversation piece! But much more than that, seeing this piece of history every morning helps to reaffirm a sincere admiration for those who, for better or worse, have formed our respective governments. To establish government is no small feat. This document breathes inspiration as much as it tells a story of immense cooperation. The writers of this document, much like our Founders, united together in common principles of representation, enforcement, and justice. As a judge, my job is to protect this document, and to make sure everyone has equal access to its privileges and protections. Quite simply, it’s humbling, and owning this copy as part of my collection has been a treat to say the least.

So thank you to everyone at Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers for making this piece available. It really is a treasure!

As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY. We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.


My collecting story… M.R. in Singapore…

May 8, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.

My fascination with antiquity generally and old publications specifically began when I was a young child, although I clearly didn’t have the means to acquire them way back then. I have always been fascinated with history, and thus old publications (newspapers, magazines and books) accord one a precious opportunity to come face-to-face with the very publications people read contemporaneous to the events of the period, be they revolutions, a civil war, a presidential inauguration or assassination, or a whole host of other events of historical import. There is even a ‘tactile sensation’ that gives much pleasure in knowing that you are actually leafing through pages originally perused by others up to 300 or even 400 years back! In the case of newspapers in particular, there is also that intellectual joy of reading what are basically primary historical sources, thereby relishing the very


‘flavour’ of the reports of the times and the sometimes strong or biased opinions put forth by editors or letters published from readers.

It is exceedingly difficult to identify the one publication that I would value the most, over any other. In my case it is a tie between two very different historical periods: the 1760s and 1770s, in which one finds myriad accounts of the events leading up to the American Revolution; and the newspapers of April 1865, which came out in the wake of the assassination of one of America’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln. What makes the former category especially interesting in both British and American papers is the fact that on neither side of the ‘pond’ was opinion monolithic by any means with respect to the stirrings in the colonies which ultimately led to revolution. There were British political leaders and merchants who were strongly in favour of letting the Americans have their independence. One in particular was highly prescient in that he foresaw that one day America would emerge as a great power and that it was therefore best to cultivate good relations with was to become a new republic sooner rather than later. At the same time, there were American loyalists who could not envisage a total break with the Crown and thus regarded the revolution as an unwanted tragedy. What makes the newspapers subsequent to Lincoln’s assassination especially interesting is the fact that one can feel a palpable sense of grief and anger in the immediate aftermath – regardless of what they may have been saying about President Lincoln when he was still alive! I feel teleported back in time and place to the scene of the crime as well as to the intense mourning that followed as Lincoln’s funeral train wound its way from Washington back to Illinois, with outpourings of sorrow all over the nation.

Finally, there was indeed a most pleasant surprise awaiting me in an entire volume of ‘The Gentleman’s Magazine’ for 1776, which I happened upon in an antiquarian shop in my part of the world (Singapore) many years ago. I acquired it for an amount so small that I considered it insignificant. While I felt sure there would be many articles of interest with regard to the outbreak of the American Revolution, I was absolutely beside myself with joy to discover that the American Declaration of Independence had been reproduced in it! I certainly hadn’t expected that. Interestingly, the following month’s issue had some sharp critiques of the rationale upon which the Americans had clamored and then declared their independence of Britain. The condition of the whole collection was uniformly good indeed, and the binding appeared to be original as well.

For these reasons and many more, collecting old publications is a hobby – or perhaps I should say a *passion* – that brings unending joy!

As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY. We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.


My collecting story… D.L. in Cranbury, NJ…

May 4, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.

I have always been a collector, I guess it is in my genes. It started with coins when I was very young, I think it was when I was in the second grade. Like most collectors, I migrated within a category, from coins to error coins, to U.S. paper currency, to foreign currency, then to U.S.error currency, and so on. Next came the migration from category to category, from numismatics to scripophily to autographed manuscripts and then rocks & minerals (including arrow heads and meteorites). Finally, about 40 years ago, I stumbled across historical newspapers. Specifically, I collected newspapers concerning the stock market (panics and crashes), as well as news stories concerning the Robber Barrons (people like Jim Fisk, Jr., Daniel Drew, Commodore Vanderbilt, Jay Cooke, and the Rockefeller’s to name a few).

My mother was interested in the women’s movement and I decided to make her a nice presentation piece which included, a historical newspaper (“The Revolution” which was created and published by Susan B Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton), along with their autographs and a picture of Susan B Anthony, (presentation piece picture shown below).

So after I had purchased all the items to be framed, I started looking through the Revolution newspapers and was stunned by the quantity but especially the quality of the Robber Barron coverage in the newspaper. It was extraordinarily detailed and insightful as can be seen by some of the commentary I have attached. Their ability to dig up scuttlebutt on what shenanigans the key players were up to and the intimate detail with which it was reported was extraordinary. Well, I had no idea that information was in those newspapers, and it delighted me beyond what words can express. Old newspapers are pieces of history you can keep, they are time machines which allow us to look back in past. They also make you think. You can hold them in your hand and learn from them, and sometimes they move you and end up not just in your, hand and brain but also in your heart.

As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY. We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.

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