I’m New Here…Weeks Nine & Ten

April 19, 2019 by · 1 Comment 

Since my entries are personal perspective, and this is a significant week in the Christian calendar, my post carries a tinge of my own religious convictions.  Please skip reading if such things offend you.  After today I’ll endeavor to quash my worldview until a similar time next year…

There are newspapers inventoried in this facility that are so old they preceded the term, and are referred to by those in the know as a newsbook or a “coronto”.  At least, that is my sketchy understanding.  This week I am thinking about things that have survived generations, inventions, wars and cosmic changes.  The listing that caught my eye was a title from 1629, banned in 1632 –but then given special license to continue six years later.  Wikipedia says, “In 1638 they were granted a patent from King Charles I for the publication of news and history, in return for a £10 annual donation toward the upkeep of St. Paul’s Cathedral…”  And, of course, I wanted to see this for myself.  The small volume sold in 2015, just days after it was made available, but I was able to find a German newsbook from 1607 that I could look at. It wasn’t in a vault, but neatly cataloged and filed with all the other items in the seventeenth century inventory.  There are so many treasures, I suppose a vault would have to be the size of a warehouse — which indeed it is.  AUSSFUHRLICHER BERICHT was accessible, and I was able to pull the folder, open it on a surface, and even lift the clear archival cover in order to take a photograph without the obstruction of a reflected glare.  Not many people have the privilege of holding a publication that is over four hundred years old, and I know myself to be ridiculously undeserving.

But this week Paris has superimposed itself on my mental wanderings.  As for much of the western world, images of flames engulfing an icon that has stood for eight hundred years are incomprehensible.  At a certain point old things seem to become everlasting.  Particularly, stone cathedrals are expected to survive history itself.  Invasion, famine, revolution and disease have moved around that block work for nearly a millennium.  But we have records here at History’s Newsstand of many seemingly immovable things that have eventually yielded, and those accounts are interspersed with all the common themes of humanity that seem unhampered by the passage of time.

This is the week that Notre Dame burned.  It is also the week before Easter — the darkness and mourning of “Good Friday” so closely  followed by the joyful resurrection of Easter Sunday.

There is destruction and devastation, but there is also redemption.  It’s the common cycle of the accounts told within these pages of history that are so neatly sorted, labeled, and shelved for retrieval.   Obituaries and birth announcements.  Demolitions and groundbreakings.  Political structures that rise and fall, and new ones that rise again.

“A time to every purpose under heaven.”

Brokenness and healing.

 

I’m New Here…Week Eight

April 5, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Perhaps the most significant thing I have learned in my weeks here is that I don’t know much.  And, as that sinks in I feel an urgency to get to work, because there is so much lost ground to cover!  Even if Time stopped right now, it’s too late to catch up on the designations within mechanics, medicine, entertainment, science, culture, and everything else.  Yet, I am optimistic of gaining a bit of yardage as I spend my days surrounded by thin slices of information, accumulated at such quantities that facts could be (by someone math-minded) measured in cubic feet.

“What kinds of things are collectors searching?”  That was my early question, and I see now how gracious everyone was with their oft-repeated, non-committal replies.

People are looking for issues concerning as varied a range of topics or content as there are human beings. Early motorcycle polo matches had me perched fifteen feet skyward, balancing five volumes — each of which is half my height and wider than I can put my arms around.  The issue I was seeking had some key content of wide appeal:  Capone and his gang.

Mobsters are popular.  So are serial killers and crime sprees.  I skipped right over the portions of The Devil in the White City that dealt with the monster Henry Howard Holmes, and was instead caught up in the achievements of the human mind as exhibited in the Chicago World Fair.  Here in our annals we have issues of Scientific American that feature Thomas Edison’s inventions, as well as multiple innovations of the 19th century — some of which were presented at that 1893 event!  My mental censorship was so complete that I forgot  the gruesome killings described in Erik Larson’s book altogether.  But many people, for a myriad of reasons, are fascinated by details of historical mayhem.  Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger and Jesse James‘ headlines still hold mass appeal.

But in this case, the Detroit Free Press of 1928 contained something more valuable to some than the headline “Capone Pal Slain”.  The back page photograph of a group from Yonkers was the treasure I unearthed for a research request.  Scheduled to ship today, that paper will replace a photocopy in a transportation museum — which seems a very appropriate destination for a Michigan publication.

Motorcycles, motion pictures, mobsters, and murder…those are a few things that interest collectors, and after this week things of which I now know a very little bit more.

Post Script:  And, as I was reminded by email, there is a world to observe beyond the “m” words — including last week’s glance at suffrage -SRW

I’m New Here…Week Seven

March 29, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

  • This week I decided to spend some of my hard-earned money on an old (& rare) publication.  I’d already processed searches for sports figures and jazz singers and mobsters and indentured servants — so many interests that whizzed past me as I was busy with phone calls and emails and web orders.  The only way I could think to appease my conscience about taking a pause to look around a little bit for myself was to become a customer.  There is an entire collection — shelves of bound volumes — of publications by women.  I want to dig through and “see what’s what”, as my grandmother always said.  But that would probably take more research time just orientating myself than I feel easy about spending.  Still, that inclination narrowed the scope of this first quest a bit, and a search through notable dates in history led me to the NYC women’s suffrage march of 1912.

“THE REMARKABLE DEMONSTRATION IN NEW YORK LAST WEEK WHEN 15,000 WOMEN OF ALL STATIONS IN LIFE MARCHED THROUGH THE STREETS OF THE METROPOLIS TO EXPRESS THEIR DEMAND FOR THE VOTE”.  The headline itself seems shocked by the occurrence, with subsequent captions numbering the onlookers at 500,000.  It’s a grand photo spread highlighting the oldest, the youngest, and crediting 619 men with “heroically joining their womenfolk upon the march.”  This is the purchase for me.

The Women’s Suffrage movement is just one of the stories for justice and equality well documented through historic publications.  Whether an account of invention, discovery, narrative or relationship, these papers are jam-packed with the details of the human experience.  Sometimes there is an encouraging perspective of what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown.  One hundred years after the push began, the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote.  But, this week I also found an eyewitness account of mob riots in Baltimore — including casualty listings — from  1812.  Evidently, much remains to be learned.

My selection (Harper’s Weekly, May 11, 1912) was on the very top shelf, stacked tightly and bound into a volume with Titanic events and many illustrations of William Taft.  I chose an issue with a damaged front cover since I am not very interested in then Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee “…whose proposed amendment to the Constitution will limit the President’s tenure of office to one term of six years.”

The cover price of 10 cents doesn’t hold, but since the average age-expectancy has drastically increased as well, it’s a modest expenditure.  Taking it home with me, opening it up, and dawdling over the columns as much as I like, seems an indulgent treat.  I might even ask the shipping department if they will package it for me…

I’m New Here, Weeks Five & Six…

March 22, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a great day when you locate an issue that someone is wanting, particularly when they really want it.  Usually the request begins with, “There’s probably no chance you have this title, but…”  Because of our significant database I can now ascertain the general direction a new search will go, and have learned to further diminish expectations with words like, “Well, you are correct — that is a highly desirable date…”  Occasionally, my computer will display little notes or other indicators that this is possibly something I (with assistance) can find.  Without raising hopes I mention that it doesn’t look promising but there is something I want to double-check before I give a definitive “no”.

This morning’s call from one of our cheery customers delivered a query for a Harper’s Weekly from 1863.  He was looking for Emancipation Proclamation content, although many collectors want that particular issue for the full page Winslow Homer print or the double-page Thomas Nast “The War in the Border States”.  I reverently turned the pages to investigate the text in question, and found it free of foxing or damp stains or tears.  And then I found something else.

Just beside the historical, monumental words, the Harper’s editor placed or approved a first installment of Wilkie Collins’ No Name.   Although I have read his fifth book, I didn’t know that Collins was another contemporary of Dickens and Whitman.  I didn’t even know that “Wilkie” was a man.  And these little rabbit trails clamored for my attention and had me skimming the assertion by William Makepeace Thackeray on The Woman in White:  that it had him “transfixed” – a book that I’d found lengthy and melodramatic upon personal encounter.

I particularly enjoy this multi-layered discovery aspect of collecting/perusing early newspapers, and I grin over the notes back from purchasers describing the bonus treasures.  One that came this week included an exclamation over a Gentleman’s Magazine:  “R is over the moon as we discovered a paragraph about an intercepted letter from Alexander Hamilton complaining about congress and money! It’s just stunning to read these things as contemporary accounts.”

So, feel free to join the conversation and comment about the amazing things you unexpectedly have in your collection that you never intended to purchase. My own W.C. search is ongoing, as all the commentary I can find is that Collins was serialized in Dicken’s “All The Year Round”, with nary a mention of the great Harper’s.  Incidentally, if you are new to this world it might either interest or frustrate you to know the brand encompasses “Harper’s Weekly”,” Harper’s Monthly” (which is also sometimes called “Harper’s New Monthly”), and then the non-newspaper titles of “Harper’s Bazaar” and the various Harper’s books.  The Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspaper inventory contains the first two titles and it is there I will be searching for Chapter Two.

At least, that is how it will begin.

I’m New Here…Week Four (!)

March 8, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

I had begun to think that interest in my little contribution to this blog was waning enough that I would be able to slip right past the post in which I had promised to elucidate my multiple disasters.

Most of the veteran collectors ask for Guy, and yesterday I had to answer that Guy was not available, could I possibly be of any help?  Just before I completed a phone call with Mr. W., he asked me (in the classic gentlemanly manner of many from the southwestern states) for a preview.  Of my calamities.

And so, with a nod toward Arizona, I am sitting down to recount a few of my more unfortunate escapades.  I have called the same person with the same information twice, and neglected ever calling an important other. Through the first ten days I went fuzzy every time I needed to pull a title and date because I couldn’t even begin to locate the identifiers amidst all the fancy, scrolly banner headings. But many such moments were never known to any of the rare newspaper community because the group of people here at Timothy Hughes is absolutely splendid, and they countered most of them before anyone even noticed. I sent the skylift up to the shelf under the roofline, lowered it, maneuvered the 20’ row and parked. I was back at my desk before someone casually reminded me that the unwieldy volume had to be returned to the same location. Friday I answered the phone, forgot the business name, and then just began to laugh — because what else could I do?  It’s hard to be new, but it’s downright ironic in a place so full of old things. Surely the papers yield evidence that I am not, by far, alone in my muddles.

Still, the most colossal so far — including my omission of eBay tracking numbers, which potentially plummeted our heretofore stellar ratings — was the rare paper that I sold to two different people. In case you were wondering, there was only one. We didn’t have a second issue anywhere in the roughly 12,000 searchable square feet. I don’t know enough to help with the hunt, but everyone capable tried any space or collection that could possibly contain this gem. And, remarkably, they looked at me with something akin to regret when each location had been exhausted. Somehow, to their chagrin, they had not saved me from my own folly.

Mercifully, the fellow that I had previously introduced to the paper (I  used the word “stunning” as I described it to him) was very gracious when I called.  But in all sincerity, while I seldom make the same error too many times, I am working to meld all this newness into the well-oiled machine that is Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers …without excessive further ado.

So, if Guy isn’t available, one of these days I really will be able to help.

I’m New Here…Week Three

March 1, 2019 by · 2 Comments 

These last few days have been highlighted by fascinating rare newspaper excursions that touched on Johnny Appleseed and hot air balloons and genealogy searches and gold ink newspaper editions and even “mourning rules” (a post-worthy ramble in itself).  As this week closes, I find myself musing on all things literary.

I recall my first encounter with Walt Whitman’s poetry as being somewhat controversial.  Compiling an anthology for a sixth grade project I stumbled across “Song of Myself” and laboriously copied it out onto its own page — carefully fitting text to margins and indents that defined, despite lackluster rhyme or rhythm scheme.  Abruptly, I was the focus of adults pontificating on the perils of the modern age and the coming doom symbolized by artists throwing off established norms and strictures.  In college, I was perplexed to find that Whitman wrote his grieving “Lilacs” four months after the eloquently detailed sixteen hundred mile funeral procession for Abraham Lincoln.  From all the squawking, I had assumed the poet lived in my time, or my parents’ time — not contemporaneously with the sixteenth president.  I’m keen on Frost and Dickinson and Oliver and all the greats, but Whitman broke the lingering nursery rhyme cadence of Robert Louis Stevenson with a clear voice of plain-speaking, beauty filled, heartwrenching truth.  And so, with ten minutes of unscheduled time this week, I delved into the directories of perhaps the largest Civil War newspaper collection in the world, to see what we might have within our archives.  Three years after Lincoln’s assassination, the popular New York Herald was the first to publish the words  “…to all cut off before their time, Possess’d by some great spirit of fire Quenched by an early death.”   It is signed in block type, “WALT WHITMAN”.  And, yesterday, I held it in my very own 21st century hands, looking at this poem irreverently  sandwiched between complaints against Kansas senators and the connection of the Minneapolis/Montreal railroad.  In 1888 Walt Whitman’s words were taken at face value, distinct from any of the acclamation or aspersion that would come with the passage of time.  Reading them, this way, is a little bit like traveling back two hundred years to look at things from a completely different view.  Many of you who call or email or write or browse online in search of particular subjects, dates and people are reaching for the insight from the immediate context of newsprint columns, to hear what was once merely words in print, chronicling the events of the day.

At any rate, no one can live by poetry alone, so next Friday I am honor bound to tell you of one or two colossal mistakes I have made, and balance this week’s ponderous tone with a humorous tale or two.  Things around here are often funny and deep — a little bit like those old, modern poets.

I’m New Here…Week Two

February 22, 2019 by · 5 Comments 

For the next day and a half I’ve been left in charge of a small portion of things in the Rare and Early Newspapers world, which must mean I’m learning something.  Still, I am going to rattle off this week’s post between all the responsibilities as I am fiercely resolved to not let anyone down.  If you’re disappointed with my submission, please check in again next Friday when I have a little more time to reflect.  But I do want to take a momentary glance at this recent week before it is forgotten in the next discovery.

Requests for birthday papers are a regular occurrence here, and it’s a good excuse to go hunting in the racks, exploring the mazes of columns and rows.  To me, the best thing about searching for these issues is that they frequently hold a hitherto unknown element that increases the value beyond “a regular NYT from 1959”.  However, I am learning that content is in the eye of the beholder.  Yesterday I climbed and crouched (and crawled at one point) pulling every volume that might still contain the specified date.  When at last I laid it flat on one of the twenty(?) portable viewing surfaces, I felt a surge of confidence that I had found something exceptional and I cornered the closest newspaper veteran to verify my discovery.  “Winston Churchill,” I pronounced, “shaking hands with Harry Truman, on the front page above the fold.  Is that special content?”

It turns out that it was not.  It turns out Churchill and Truman were “getting together like that all the time.”  Those were the very words used to burst my bubble and I couldn’t help wondering a bit about these giants of recent history — one with an abrupt ascension to the highest office in the land, and the other whose stirring oratory inspired hope in hopeless times — who were nevertheless real people with routines and commonplace interactions and details of living, even as they went about setting their mark on everything that came after.  Newspapers are crammed to bursting with so many important people, so many consequential events and so many seemingly insignificant things, as well.   Regular treasure hunters already know this; the novices might just discover it in a birthday paper.  At any rate, this week I learned that there are at least two quests involved when I head out into the rows, coordinates in hand: the thing I know I am looking for, and the thing I didn’t expect to find.

I hope today you uncover a bit of treasure yourself.

 

I’m New Here… Week One

February 15, 2019 by · 10 Comments 

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.

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