They Never Saw it Coming… The Sinking of the Titanic.

December 9, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

We may at times wonder what happens to a person as they experience a traumatic event. What drives them to react as they do? My brother-in-law, who served as a Marine, once told me that people rarely rise to a higher level of nobility when faced with crisis. They are either overcome by terror, or they default to their training.

As I read through an article covering testimonies of Titanic survivors printed in the Evening Tribune (San Diego) from April 23, 1912 (shown below), while I have no life experience to know firsthand, I had to admit he may be right. After considering the quotes of a lifeboat captain who was being questioned by Congress, it was clear he was surrounded by two types of individuals: your average everyday citizen and ship hands who had been trained to follow orders. Pondering this type situation, I would like to think I would respond differently, but perhaps I should put a bit of preparation alongside of my hope. Of course, how does one prepare for such a calamity?

“It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”…

December 5, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

I saved this post for today because I realize the “official start” to the Christmas Season can, on occasion, cause a degree of family angst. However, once Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror and December has arrived, few can argue against fully embracing all things Christmas. So, here we go…

Top on my list this year is a hope I’ll have a series of lightbulb moments which reveal the perfect gift to get for each of my loved ones. Inevitably, each year there are always a few whose selections cause me distress since I don’t want to merely check the box next to their name on my gift list; rather, I want the unboxing to cause them to smile from ear to ear. I’m sure it is no surprise that I find gift-buying for older relatives the most difficult. After all, what can you get for the person who has had a lifetime to collect all the things they want? Thankfully, last week I found my answer in a Motion Picture Daily from December 10, 1954. These quaint issues are full of movie news of the day and are often chocked full of high gloss vintage movie ads. Take a look for yourself at those we’ve already listed on our website… and, our archives hold many more.

Merry Christmas to all with a wish for successful gifting.

Our obsession with “firsts”… History gives us plenty – including John Rock…

November 28, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

We are a people enamored with firsts: our 1st kiss … finishing in 1st place…  1st to fly… 1st to discover “The New World” (still up for debate)… When I study Scripture, I love using something called “the law of first mention” which says, we best understand a particular word or doctrine by finding and then learning all about the first place in Scripture the word or doctrine was revealed. We also love the 1st man on the moon, the 1st rock opera – and the list goes on and on. Speaking of 1sts…

On February 2, 1865, THE NEW YORK TIMES gave us another first to appreciate, and then later, on February 25, 1865, HARPER’S WEEKLY put a face on this first: that is, John Rock becoming the first African American attorney admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. The New York Times stated in part: “J. S. Rock, of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, was to-day, on motion of Senator Sumner, admitted an Attorney and Counsellor in the Supreme Court of the United States.” Quite historic!

Whether we are reading or collecting “early” newspapers, history provides us with a fascinating list of 1sts which can be celebrated and studied… 1st shut out in baseball… 1st Hispanic Supreme Court Justice… shall I go on?

Time-Lapse… Frederick Douglass (1834) to Henry Garnett (1865)…

November 24, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

As I continue to slowly devour every word of the autobiography, “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass”, I was recently moved to as close to tears as I come as I pondered his retelling of the crushing hopelessness he felt after having been beaten to a whisper of death:

“I have often, in the deep stillness of a summer’s Sabbath, stood all alone upon the banks of that noble [Chesapeake] bay, and traced, with saddened heart and tearful eye, the countless number of sails moving off to the mighty ocean. The sight of these always affected me powerfully. My thoughts would compel utterance; and there, with no audience but the Almighty, I would pour out my soul’s complaint in my rude way with an apostrophe to the moving multitude of ships.”

‘You are loosed from your moorings, and free. I am fast in my chains, and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip. You are freedom’s swift-winged angels, that fly around the world; I am confined in bonds of iron. O, that I were free! O, that I were on one of your gallant decks, and under your protecting wing! Alas! betwixt me and you the turbid waters roll. Go on, go on; O, that I could also go! Could I but swim! If I could fly! O, why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute! The glad ship is gone: she hides in the dim distance. I am left in the hell of unending slavery. O, God, save me! God, deliver me! Let me be free!–Is there any God? Why am I a slave? I will run away. I will not stand it. Get caught or get clear, I’ll try it. I had as well die with ague as with fever. I have only one life to lose. I had as well be killed running as die standing. Only think of it: one hundred miles north, and I am free! Try it? Yes! God helping me, I will. It cannot be that I shall live and die a slave. I will take to the water. This very bay shall yet bear me into freedom. The steamboats steer in a northeast course from North Point; I will do the same; and when I get to the head of the bay, I will turn my canoe adrift, and walk straight through Delaware into Pennsylvania. When I get there, I shall not be required to have a pass: I will travel there without being disturbed. Let but the first opportunity offer, and come what will, I am off. Meanwhile I will try to bear the yoke. I am not the only slave in the world. Why should I fret? I can bear as much as any of them. Besides I am but a boy yet, and all boys are bound out to someone. It may be that my misery in slavery will only increase my happiness when I get free. There is a better day coming.’

I shall never be able to narrate half the mental experience through which it was my lot to pass, during my stay at Covey’s. I was completely wrecked, changed, and bewildered; goaded almost to madness at one time, and at another reconciling myself to my wretched condition.”

All bound by the common thread of having been given the breath of life by the same Creator, how could one “brother” treat a fellow sojourner with such abject cruelty? This goes beyond black and white as the relationship between slave an owner has played out similarly since the dawn of time, however, will it never end? Would ”The Almighty” hear his cry?

Fastforward approximately 30 years. Frederick Douglass is now free, residing in the North, and is living a life of gratitude expressed by his exhaustive efforts for the cause of abolition. Slaves are on the cusp of being emancipated, and for the first time in the history of the United States, a former slave of African descent, Rev. Henry Garnett, was permitted to preach (a common occurrence for whites) at The Capital. The article below regarding this event was printed in the New York Tribune, dated February 13, 1865. There would still be many obstacles to overcome before former slaves (or their descendants) would be viewed as “equal under the law”, and some might (rightfully) argue additional progress still needs to be made, but in this moment in time, with the Frederick Douglass quote fixed firmly in my mind and weighing heavy on my heart, I am grateful for the hope provided by the gains which have been made through time.


Help needed to understand – Rev. J.W.C. Pennington’s correspondence…

November 21, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

While reading the autobiography “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass” a few days ago, at one point Douglass mentions his marriage to Anna Murray being presided over by Rev. J. W. C. Pennington, a “highly respected” pastor who was himself a former slave. To go from being a slave to a free, admired, New York City pastor certainly perked my interest. As is typical in the world of Rare & Early Newspapers, I immediately dug in to see if any newspapers mentioned this “highly respected” pastor. Thanks to the online database of The New York Times, I found an article in the NYT for June 2, 1854, which provided an exchange of letters between the pastor and two others in regard to the purchase of a slave. To be honest, after reading through the correspondence multiple times, my lack of knowledge of such things is currently winning the day. Is this related to the underground railroad? Was the potential “purchase” of this slave a means of emancipating him? If so, was this common? Although I am (slightly) embarrassed to admit it, I do not understand this exchange – but do not want to remain uninformed. If anyone can enlighten me, please email me at If appropriate for the History’s Newsstand Blog, with permission I would like to add anything which might be helpful to readers of this post. Thanks in advance. The article:

The Battle of Gettysburg… an intimate look…

November 7, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

I would imagine, as a journalist, an eyewitness is the “rare pearl”. Research is all well and good but interviewing someone who saw it with their own two eyes will most often give the very best information. So it was for the journalist who wrote for the DAILY RICHMOND EXAMINER, July 17, 1863 issue.  The article…

“The Invasion of Pennsylvania–The Battle Of Gettysburg–The Retreat To Hagerstown” features an eye-witness account of the retreat and is prefaced with: “…the only connected, intelligent and intelligible account that has yet been given to the public of the movements of General Lee…after the Battle of Gettysburg.” This lengthy & detailed accounting by one of the soldiers begins with the Confederate advance from Virginia into Maryland on June 18, then continues with: “On Friday, 26th, we took up the line of march through Chambersburg on the Harrisburg road. The splendid band in the 4th Louisiana brigade…proceeded the column playing ‘Dixie” and the Marseillaise…We passed through Shippensburg to the sound of martial music again & went on to Carlisle…Harrisburg was in a panic…”.

A report from a soldier who was more than an eyewitness of the battle; rather, one who experienced it first-hand… From a journalist’s point of view, it just doesn’t get any better.

It’s All About the Headline…

November 5, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Some of our collectors are drawn to a poignant political speech and some are passionate about 17th – 19th century maps. More than a few seek reports of famous battles while others can’t resist death reports of notable generals. When it comes to the Rare & Early Newspapers collectible, breadth of interest runs from the heart-wrenching past (illustrated slave ads – lest we forget), to the lighthearted (a recent issue containing an ad & review of a favorite movie. However, regardless of their interest, for a majority of collectors it’s all about the headline – the more frameable and dramatic, the better!

With this in mind, may I submit as an example the banner headline of Hearst’s Boston American for April 23, 1906: “SAN FRANCISCO SUFFERERS GO MAD! “, followed by: “Crazed By Horrors They Roam The Streets”. Can we all agree… even the tabloids of today can’t touch this! So, whether you are drawn to the macabre, the triumphant, or merely the historical, for many it’s all about the headline. After all…


Exploring an Introductory Lot of Ten 19th Century Newspapers…

November 4, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

What can one find in the Introductory Lot of 10 issues from the 1800s offered at – especially considering the cost is under $30?

To explore this from the perspective of a novice we asked the newest member of our staff, who knew absolutely nothing about “rare & early” newspapers prior to joining our family, to select a random set and start digging through the set. To make the “exploration” as honest an endeavor as possible we asked her to video herself as she explored. Not polished, a bit rough, unrehearsed…  but in our opinion the video provides a fresh look at how a young adult who is new to the collectible might react to receiving such a lot. If you have ever purchased this lot, feel free to share your “finds”.

The Sounds of Summer and the Crack of the Bat…

October 28, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

What makes summer feel like summer? Hazy evenings where light still lingers until after 9… Fireflies flitting across the grass… Children laughing as they romp in the neighborhood yards or… the crack of a bat at the local little league field? We at RareNewspapers have a particular fondness for baseball – not only because our Phillies made it to the World Series… or that our founder (Tim Hughes) has served for decades on the board of Little League International… or that the Little League World Series is played each year within a few blocks of our archives in PA, but also because baseball captures the essence of summer, America and apple-pie (with vanilla ice-cream), and we each have a fondness for all three.
To join our baseball enthusiasm a bit, take a look at some of our best baseball issues including one from the current catalog … a CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE, Sept. 29, 1920 covering the Black Sox Scandal. Even America’s pastime has a skeleton or two in its closet.

A Fly on the Wall at the Constitutional Convention of 1787…

October 17, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

It is not uncommon these days to hear people discussing The Constitution.  How they discuss this crucial founding document may differ radically and the accuracy with which they discuss it may vary as well. As you can imagine, those of us at Rare Newspapers fall into the “Perhaps the best secular document ever written” camp. So, I am sure it will not surprise you to know that I have always longed to have been “a fly on the wall” during the Constitutional Convention. Given the writings of the Founders, I have to imagine we would all be blown away by their passionate discussions. Just the other day I heard someone discussing various states’ desire to hold a Constitutional Convention… to make some changes. His comment went something like this (paraphrased)…

– I have been in favor of a current day Constitutional Convention in the past however, as I look at where we are today as a nation, I do not think we can be trusted as a people to open this precious document and leave it vulnerable to changes made by this culture. –

He went on to say (again, paraphrased) … -I believe the day may come in the future when we could be trusted with such a sobering task, but today is not that day. –

For now, we will just need to content ourselves with protecting this amazing document as is until/if that day comes.

Note: The image shown above announcing a quorum had finally been reached at the Constitutional Convention was taken from THE INDEPENDENT GAZETTEER; OR THE CHRONICLE OF FREEDOM, Philadelphia, May 26, 1787.

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