I’m New Here… Week One

February 15, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a daunting world — Rare & Early Newspapers — and at first it can feel like being in a foreign country, overhearing a few words that sound familiar in a vague sort of way.  At least, that’s my sense.  But I suspect it appeared that way to many collectors at the beginning.  With that in mind, my plan is to share some of my observations, discoveries and even mistakes over the coming weeks, months and years as I learn to navigate this universe of newsprint.  If you have never even held an old paper, much less thought to purchase one, perhaps my adventures will pique your own interest and you’ll find yourself browsing the titles and descriptions of the details of life in a bygone era.  Having “met” a few of you veteran collectors and scholars, I suspect you might enjoy a little reminder of the early days when you turned that first purchase over in your hand, skimmed the columns, and then settled in for a read.

I began and then discarded multiple versions of this initial post — there’s no way to convey the immensity of standing in a treasure trove that is more than three times my height, wider than my house, and filled with papers.  Without moving my feet I can examine the headlines from Harper’s, published every Saturday in the first half of 1869.  1869.  That is not a misprint!  The proper title is “Harper’s Weekly”, subtitled “A Journal of Civilization”.   It is astounding that one hundred and fifty years after these rolled off the printing press, were cut and bundled and delivered to 100,000 people living in a completely different world (regardless of our shared geographical location), I am able to hold an original issue in my hands.  It’s a rag paper, so the pages can be turned without any fear of damaging it.  I verified this before opening an issue; gloves aren’t even required.  The details of manners and battles and grocers and treasury debt emerge and bring the inevitable conclusion.  Life in a different time –even with dramatically changed fashions, altered lifestyles, and varied circumstances– is still life.  Civilization is after all the story of people.  Sometimes it’s seen in broad strokes, sometimes in classified advertisements.  I found the following in an 1861 publication, “When families send for ‘Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce’, observe if it is the genuine JOHN DUNCAN & SONS…”   I am amazed the condiment has been around so long (and wonder, who was making fake Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce?).  Others might be more interested in the 15″ map of Major-General McClellan’s Operations Along The Potomac.

Anyway, the Harper’s Weeklies section is a good place to stand and introduce myself and tell you I am privileged to be here.  Please check in and see the “progress” part of my experience.  Also, tell me what I should look for if you’ve been around a while.  And if you’re new, feel free to ask any questions.  If I don’t have the answer (which is likely, as I am new here) I have recently met some brilliant people who probably do.

Stephanie

 

Where have we been?

January 31, 2019 by · 1 Comment 

In case you hadn’t noticed, those of us at RareNewspapers.com who write and manage the History’s Newsstand Blog have been on a hiatus the last month as we’ve negotiated the changing of the guard within our staff. Doreen Mileto (pen name “The Traveler”), who has served as our office manager for 15 years, is retiring on January 31st. We wish her the best as she and her husband seek to spend more time with their children (and grand-kiddos), and pursue adventures formerly inhibited as a result of being tethered to an ongoing work schedule. Good for her.

As of this Friday, our new office manager will be Stephanie Williams – a lover of both history and literature. Once settled, our blog posts will resume.

Thank you for your patience.

Guy Heilenman

Co-owner, Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers

They put it in print… Fairfax County, Virginia reacts to The Intolerable Acts…

October 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

How did Fairfax County, Virginia, the home of George Washington, react to The Intolerable Acts? Thanks to The Virginia Gazette dated August 4, 1774, we don’t need to guess – after all, they put it in print:

Thanks to the Virginia Gazette dated May 5, 1774 for putting the following in print in print.

John Hancock appointed… The Traveler…

June 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

I traveled today to Boston, Massachusetts, by the way of the The Boston Chronicle dated June 6, 1768 where I found an announcement had been made “His Excellency the Governor have appointed John Hancock, Esq; to be first Major of the independent company of Cadets, and William Coffin, jun. Esq; to be second Major of the said company.”

~The Traveler

The magic of old newspapers, in 1844…

May 24, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

An 1844 issue of the “Adams Sentinel” (Oct. 14th) from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, has an interesting front page item concerning the fascination of reading old newspapers, noting in part: “…few preserve them…brings up the very age, with all its bustle…marks its genius & its spirit more than the most labored description of the historical…” with more (see). An interesting perspective on the value of collecting old newspapers, written 174 years ago.

Sometimes it’s what’s missing that catches the eye… Alaska…

December 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the greatest hobby-related pleasures experienced by those who collect rare and early newspapers is finding previously unidentified content within an issue. While not on the same scale as finding gold, “mining” a newspaper for reports that were missed by the seller is certainly rewarding. Time and time again collectors tell us they purchased a newspaper for under $30 for a relatively minor report only to find a hidden gem buried deeper within the issue. Such discoveries, at times, can be financially rewarding, but in a world where the unexpected is often tethered to bad news, such relatively common incidents in the newspaper collecting hobby are a sweet salve to the weary soul (okay – perhaps a little overstated). Still, it certainly is to a seller’s advantage to keep such incidents to a minimum. Prior to offering a newspaper for sale, we compare it to various historical databases and our 40+ year chronological record of findings to help us estimate when a report of historical significance might be found. Since news traveled a bit more slowly in previous centuries, even our best intentions are left wanting.

This being said, there are times when, as we go through the process of searching for historical content, what surprises us most is what we are unable to find – or the minimal coverage which is present. Its not that we miss the coverage, rather, its that what we now see as noteworthy events – often buoyed up by movies, history books, etc., were mere blips on the screen at the time they occurred, and the contemporary coverage only serves to confirm its position in the coverage food-chain of the day.

The purchase of Alaska from Russia, finalized on March 30, 1867, is such an event. After spending over an hour searching for a mention in a set of Springfield (MA) Republicans from 1867, coverage finally showed up on page five of the April 10th issue (see image). Perhaps this is why the purchase, promoted heavily by and signed by the U.S. Secretary of State at the time, William H. Seward, became known as “Seward’s Folly.” Of course just because many of his contemporaries thought paying 2 cents an acre was foolish doesn’t mean he was wrong. Sometimes the masses simply don’t get it right – as time would reveal.

 

 

19th century Harper’s Weekly reviewed…

December 11, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

Over the years we have made several mentions of Harper’s Weekly, one of the most beloved illustrated newspapers of the 19th century. This title is also one of the most sought-after collectibles through our website,

RareNewspapers.com. Although I’m sure many others exist, I was pleasantly surprised to find a contemporary review of this publication on the front page of the Springfield Republican dated February 13, 1867. Even more pleasing was my discovery that, unlike It’s a Wonderful Life, the works of Vincent Van Gogh, and Thoreau’s Walden, along with a host of other now-popular people, songs, products, books, etc., which initially  found it difficult to gain traction, at least in one journalist’s opinion was seen as an unrivaled, gem of a publication. Their review stated, in part:

 

“The Harpers offer their Weekly in bound volumes for the year 1866 for $7. As a record and illustration of the times, it has no rival; its pages are history, literature and politics, all of the safest and soundest sort. Good as are the Harper’s pictures for America, valuable as its record of passing events, and interesting as are generally its sketches and stories…” (view entire article).

The link RareNewspapers.com will take you to our website where nearly every Harper’s Weekly has been photographed and described for your reading and viewing pleasure. Please enjoy.

Headlines of History… The St. Louis Mercantile Library…

November 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are in the St. Louis area in the near future, you may want to stop by the St. Louis Mercantile Library to view their new exhibit: “Headlines of History: Historic Newspapers of St. Louis and the World Through the Centuries at the St. Louis Mercantile Library Association.” A few related links are as follows:

Library An exhibit on the history of newspapers is now on display at the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Coverage via Facebook

Posted Interview Regarding the Exhibit

Political bias no stranger to today’s newspapers…

October 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It seems the polarizing of day’s media is greater than ever, but it is certainly nothing new under the sun. Practically since the creation of the first newspaper political opinion was a focus the publisher, supporting or opposing the efforts of those in power. And as popular as we view Abraham Lincoln today (he consistently ranks among the top three in scholarly polls) he was not liked by all during his time in office.

The World” newspaper from New York City was the leading democratic organ at the time, while Lincoln was a Republican. In their issue of March 6, 1865 which reported his inauguration & inaugural address the editorial page contained at least two biting commentaries.  One includes in part: “It is with a blush of shame and wounded price, as American citizens, that we lay before our readers to-day the inaugural address of President Lincoln…But we cannot hide the dishonor done to the country we love by withholding these documents from publication…The pity of it…that the life of this Chief Magistrate should be made precious to us by the thought that he at least excludes from the most august station in the land the person who defiled our chief council chamber on Saturday with the spewings of a drunken boor…”.

The other can be seen in the photos.

“Texas Made A Nation” was the result of Operation Longhorn…

August 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Occasionally an “odd-ball” newspaper comes into our inventory, and our “Lampasas Dispatch” is certainly one. With a dateline of “Juvember 33, 1969” (not a typo on our part) and a banner headline announcing: “TEXAS MADE A NATION” we knew this wasn’t a legitimate newspaper. The masthead also includes: “For Maneuver Purposes Only—This Publication Created for Operation Long Horn–Not Intended For General Distribution.” So with a bit of searching on the web we soon learned of the story behind this newspaper.

See this website for much more on “Operation Longhorn“. The site begins: “In the spring of 1952, as Cold War tensions heightened, Lampasas Countians’ worst fears seemingly materialized, as “enemy troops” stormed the area, “captured” Lampasas and declared martial law. The U.S. military simulation, dubbed “Operation Longhorn,” was just a test…One of the largest peacetime military exercises ever implemented in the United States, Operation Longhorn took place in March and April 1952, and cost an estimated $3.3 million“.

This is just a single sheet with the reverse being page 8 of the “Lampasas Dispatch” April 3, 1952, coinciding with the date of Operation Longhorn. A fascinating fictitious newspaper from a long-forgotten event in American history.

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