All Things Nautical… 1773…

October 18, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

In our thoroughly modern world, many of us chuckle when we see photos of Bigfoot or The Loch Ness Monster gracing the front of a supermarket tabloid. However, in 1773, Gentleman’s Magazine, a more reputable publisher, featured several seafaring articles including one which stated: “…a most hideous sea monster was seen”. Not to worry, they did balance out this salacious coverage of all things nautical with a more noble seven page article on : “Capt. Wallis’s Voyage round the World”. Pick your passion, sea monsters or great explorers. Both awaken the imagination and draw our interest.

Beer and electricity had a common admirer…

October 11, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

All of the Founders are worthy of a great deal of respect however, some grab your attention more than others.  From George Washington’s noble bearing to Jefferson’s nation building writing.  I would argue none capture the imagination more than Benjamin Franklin.  Larger than life, with his bifocals and kite in a lightning storm, he makes a great historical figure for kids to study while inspiring adults with his witty wisdom such as, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Among the many issues  we have at Rare Newspapers covering Franklin is one which is described as follows:

”The earliest account of the electrical experiments made by Benjamin Franklin, at Philadelphia (where he was then the post-master) appeared anonymously in ‘The Gentleman’s Magazine for January, 1750‘.”

This article mentions several of Franklin’s important discoveries, including: “…that it will live in water…that it is more strongly attracted by slender sharp points than by solid blunt bodies…that bodies replete with this fire strongly attract such as have less of it, and repel such as have an equal quantity…”.

Beer, electricity, bifocals and chess –  take a look at this brilliant, yet quirky Founder with new eyes by reading about him in the papers of his day.

“Things I Never Knew”… Fredrick Douglass Edition…

October 7, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s amazing how one can work intimately with history for years-on-end and still find so much you don’t know – and I’m certainly a case in point.  I find that after 2 years of exploring (technically called working) at RareNewspapers, I am still surprised & delighted on nearly a daily basis.  Just yesterday, as I began to dig into the background of one of America’s heroes, Frederick Douglass, I discovered he had served as U.S. Marshal –  a fact which may have been known to many of the readers of the History’s Newsstand blog, but was new(s) to me:

“When Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was elected president, he named Douglass as United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, the first person of color to be so named. The Senate voted to confirm him on March 17, 1877.[147] Douglass accepted the appointment, which helped assure his family’s financial security.[51] During his tenure, Douglass was urged by his supporters to resign from his commission, since he was never asked to introduce visiting foreign dignitaries to the President, which is one of the usual duties of that post. However, Douglass believed that no covert racism was implied by the omission, and stated that he was always warmly welcomed in presidential circles.” (Wiki)

I love how I get to spend my days!


Hurricane Season… ALREADY???

September 27, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Each year as the beginning of June rolls around, some of us who live near or have trips to the Eastern Coast of the United States begin to watch the hurricane trackers. By late August through September they are really on our minds as we plan for impact on our homes or vacation destinations.  For Virginia Colonists in 1668, even June would have been too little too late to prepare as Virginia had already been hit by a destructive hurricane which would eventually be covered in the April 13, 1668 issue of THE LONDON GAZETTE. So, for the storm trackers out there who have an interest in the past, accounts of tropical storms through Category 5 monsters often appeared in rare & early newspapers.

A Thankful Heart from the Mouth of Babes…

September 20, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes an image perfectly captures an emotion or a moment in time. Sometimes that moment is in the present but sometimes it won’t be noticed for decades. Recently, as I was putting together issues for one of our collectors, I came across an image on the front of a Harper’s Weekly dated January 4, 1902 which was that perfect snapshot. Our culture seems to have gotten murky and a bit hard to decipher at times., but on the front of the photo of a little boy captured the simplicity of his life. He was thankful for a man who had sacrificed greatly to make his life better. Perhaps, as a way to cut through the muck and mire of our time, a thankful heart is just what our culture… what we… what I need.

Special Moment: Father and Daughter – A Handshake for the Century…

September 13, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Hiking with kids can teach LOTS of life lessons, not the least of which is: “Don’t forget the snacks”.  However, a more obscure lesson is more impacting for the long term. Hiking often leads us down a path to a moment we never saw coming…  maybe the sunlight is dappling the trail ahead as we turn a corner or a mother deer lifts her head to check on her fawn as we step into a quiet glen. Life can mimic like these treasured moments. Perhaps we make a choice without much thought one day which leads to hidden treat a year or two down the road or hobby we start with our loved one can pay undreamt of dividends at a perfect future moment in our lives.  Such is the story below.  Take the few minuets to watch as it is uplifting and encouraging and honestly,  isn’t that what we could all use right now at this moment in time? Here at RareNewspapers, our small part of the story came about as the father of this remarkable young girl contacted us to see if we had the April 19, 1946 issue of The New York Times which contained this priceless image.  After some research, our success elicited the only appropriate outcry: HOMERUN!!!!!!!!!!!  We are always grateful for moments like these when history leaps off the page and touches our hearts. ENJOY!!!

Handshake for the Century



One More Reason to Love Collecting Historical Newspapers… Revisiting 9/11…

September 10, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

A wise man once said: “There is nothing new under the sun“, which is typically accepted as valid. Today, however,  the headline, “Everything Changed, Nothing Changed” (page A10 of a September 11, 2016 Los Angeles Times) caught my attention. As I read the corresponding article covering the 5th anniversary of 9/11,  I was struck by the varying perspectives which exist concerning an event I personally thought was cut and dry, and in so doing, realized this “wise man” may not have captured the whole story. While it is true that history repeats itself (over and over and over again), it’s also true each person has their own unique human experience and paradigm – their own lens through which they interpret events from as little as a five-year window. Thus, any historical event can impact people quite differently and for some people, certain life events, although in the past (recent or otherwise), may seem new.  Fortunately for us, as collectors of historic newspapers, we have the opportunity to read a vast array of perspectives covering a wide range of situations as presented the day they were first reported, and are provided with a much broader scope of humanity than what we merely see around us.  Just one more thing to love about this hobby!

It All Depends On Your Paradigm…

September 6, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Recently, while in Cancun, Mexico I was struck by a small yet complicating life perceptive… one man’s villain may very well be another man’s hero. Here at Rare Newspapers, we see varying sides of news stories on a daily basis… from American Revolutionaries vs. the British perspective to The Confederate troops vs. The Union soldiers. This day, however, as I stood in the Mexican sun, talking history with a young man who was the age of my children, I realized there was a new paradigm I had not considered. As he questioned what I did back in the states, his eyes lit up as he asked if we had any issues covering Pancho Villa. I quickly responded, “Oh, I’m sure we do. Let me check and I will get back to you.” Later as I scrolled through our inventory, I realized I would be hard pressed to find an issue that would excite him since the American perspective of this controversial figure was very different from my new Mexican friend’s view. I determined to find something to show him and finally settled on a rather benign Harper’s Weekly image without a splashy headline. He seemed pleased enough. My take away was a reminder to analyze my own heroes more carefully and to be sensitive to other people’s paradigms. There may only be one truth however, our paradigm can make it hard to distinguish at times.

Daniel Webster – “Defender of the Constitution”…

August 27, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Daniel Webster, “Defender of the Constitution,” needs no introduction to the collectors of Rare & Early Newspapers.  A search of his name on the Rare & Early Newspapers website brings up over 25 active listings (select “view details” to see the Webster content), including an illustration of his residence, the text of his, Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable! speech, and the black-bordered notice of his death.

Among these, however, there is no mention of the six page biography contained in the August 1867 Harper’s New Monthly Magazine.  Prompted by the publication of The Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster, this unsigned submission reflects on the character of the great man.  Of greatest impact to me is the refrain that Webster was the same refined, organized, gentleman in private as he was in public.  And, it seems it was his self-proclaimed standard.  “So rigidly had he adhered to the rule he frequently avowed in his lifetime–never to write anything which he would not be willing to see in print the next morning — that scarcely was there a letter which even delicacy could withhold from the public eye.”

I was fortunate to read this account firsthand, to fill in many details in this larger-than-life figure of American history.  His impact covered three presidencies, and his correspondence –saturated with wisdom and reason– was prolific.  That said, I feel compelled to share a larger than usual portion from the actual text.

No view of this man is at all complete unless regard be had to his love of the grand and beautiful in nature…It has been said: “his face warmed to a fine tree as to the face of a friend.”  The most noticeable feature, it may be, of the Correspondence is the general silence that pervades it concerning the author’s own efforts.  While all other tongues are sounding of his exploits, his is still. Or if he breaks the silence, he does so with such moderation and modesty that refinement even could not torture the allusion into a ray of vanity.

Note: Many of his speeches were printed within contemporary newspapers and are often available upon request.

A Federal Government by Careful Design…

August 23, 2021 by · 2 Comments 

Anyone who studies the founding of our country and has peeked beneath the surface of how our Founding Fathers structured the United States of America’s Federal Government, must stand in awe of the delicate intricacies and broad sweeping stabilities the Founders instituted to keep us balanced. As a lover of American History, I am delighted when I find individual examples of their well oiled machine at work… when I see branches of our government “gird their loins” and bravely step into the role they were given. Such an incident occurred on June 2, 1952 when the Supreme Court decided Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co vs. Sawyer, also commonly referred to as the Steel Seizure Case or the Youngstown Steel case.
“[This] was a landmark United States Supreme Court decision that limited the power of the President of the United States to seize private property. The case served as a check on the most far-reaching claims of executive power at the time and signaled the Court’s increased willingness to intervene in political questions.
In the midst of the Korean War, the United Steel Workers of America threatened a strike, for higher wages, against the major steel producers in the United States. As President Harry S. Truman believed that a strike of any length would cause severe dislocations for defense contractors, Truman seized control of steel production facilities, keeping the current operating management of the companies in place to run the plants under federal direction. Though the steelworkers supported the move, the steel companies launched a legal challenge to the seizure on the grounds that the president lacked the power to seize private property without express authorization from Congress. “ (Wikipedia)
I wonder if sometimes our Founders smile to each other and say, “I love it when a plan comes together”. Here at RareNewspapers,we have great issues covering Supreme Court decisions. I find they make for a fascinating read.  May there always be brave warriors to take up the mantles our Founders designed.

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