Flawed Greatness…

April 9, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

A very, very, very, very… wise Man once said, “Let any one of you who is without sin cast the 1st stone.”  As was often the case, this Sage was addressing the situation at hand as well as the next 2000+ years of human history.  Fast forward to today when we all feel as if we are in a constant state of ducking as stone after stone whizzes past our heads.  Sometimes they are aimed at us… sometimes at the person next to us… sometimes at our favorite podcast host… sometimes at the history pages from 250 years ago.  With this in mind, may I share a few inspirational words from one of those among us who was, like us all, flawed and with sin but, in moments of divine inspiration, lead with greatness as so many of our Founding Fathers did.

On March 4, 1797, John Adams, 2nd president of the United States, took up the mantle of George Washington and penned the words below as part of  his Inaugural Speech.  At such a pivotal moment in our countries history, with the transition from our 1st President to our 2nd, everything was on the line … freedom, democracy and our nation’s ability to continue grow and throw off any national “sins that so easily entangle”.   What began with our Constitution would make a giant leap forward 100 years later and continue to progress for the 100 years after that.  Listen to John Adams as he shares the passion of his heart for this country.

“… Employed in the service of my country abroad during the whole course of these transactions, I first saw the Constitution of the United States in a foreign country. Irritated by no literary altercation, animated by no public debate, heated by no party animosity, I read it with great satisfaction, as the result of good heads prompted by good hearts, as an experiment better adapted to the genius, character, situation, and relations of this nation and country than any which had ever been proposed or suggested. In its general principles and great outlines it was conformable to such a system of government as I had ever most esteemed, and in some States, my own native State in particular, had contributed to establish.

…With this great example before me, with the sense and spirit, the faith and honor, the duty and interest, of the same American people pledged to support the Constitution of the United States, I entertain no doubt of its continuance in all its energy, and my mind is prepared without hesitation to lay myself under the most solemn obligations to support it to the utmost of my power.

And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence.”

Inspiration from Days Gone by…

April 5, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

I heard an interesting quote the other day: “Long after the medals go into a box and the trophies have a layer of dust on them, will your speech still be having an impact on the audience you gave it to?” (Heather Neumann) Ironically, Heather’s statement had the impact it appears she wanted. As I contemplated her statement as I wrote this post, I was curious about who had made a lasting impact on this day throughout the ages, hoping to glean a bit of inspiration for myself. Here are a few that caught my eye.
Having been raised by a mother who took our health seriously, I was encouraged from a very young age to” take Vitamin C at the 1st sign of a cold”. Who do I have to thank for this bit of wisdom besides my mother? On 4/5/1932, the New York Times covered research done by Charles Glen King. Prof. King isolated the compound for Vitamin C for the 1st time… over 30 years before my mother began her diligent training. Charles’ work continued in the nutritional field to help any with open ears to a step into a healthier life… continuing to positively impact the bodies of mankind.
On April 5, 1990, the LA Times covered the death of legendary jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughn. The University of Central Florida’s website asserts … music impacts the brain by “reducing stress, pain and symptoms of depression as well as improving cognitive and motor skills, spatial-temporal learning and neurogenesis”. Perhaps the phrase, “music calms the savage beast” is not just an old wives saying enabling Sarah’s music to bring a sense of peace and wellbeing to the many who continue to listen to her, bringing far more lasting impact than her 4 Grammy’s and lifetime achievement award… continuing to positively impact the minds of mankind.
In April of 1985, USA Today covered Michael Jordon’s work with Special Olympics. Most of us can only imagine how hard it must be for someone famous and in the perpetual limelight to tear the focus off of themselves and place it on others. Often times we judge the motives of these people even when they are trying to do a good thing. Perhaps we should take their good deeds at face value and appreciate the fact that when we do good for others, both the giver and receiver are uplifted. In this case, Michael’s efforts to reach out to others has a lasting impact on the his life, the lives he touched and all of us watching if we can put our skepticism aside… continuing to positively impact the souls of mankind.
While I am sure I will never sing like Sarah Vaughn or discover a great scientific breakthrough, I do have daily opportunities to bless others. I am sure these will never make it into USA Today or the LA Times and that is okay however, if by chance they would, sometimes those trophies in a box can inspire the next person.

“A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words” rings true in the world of newspaper collecting…

March 22, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

When discussing advertising in 1921, Fred R. Barnard coined the phrase: “A picture is worth a 1000 words”. Perhaps he copied a bit from the Chinese Proverb: “Hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once” however, it is no less true concerning the written word as it is true of the spoken word. The images our brains receive immediately elicit an emotional response which can range from horror, to delight, from sadness to warmth and security.

This truth is no more prevalent than in the world of newspapers. Daily, here at the RareNewspapers office, our work is arrested for moments as we pause to appreciate those pictures that speak the loudest. Here is a link to our website that will take you to issues we define as “displayable”. Some of these are beautiful color images that bring a deep sense of nostalgia, some are a simple masthead that will amaze you with it’s intricacies. Some images are snapshots of a tragic time when people were called upon to rise up and show the best side of humanity. If you choose to spend a few moments walking this path of images, I think you will appreciate their power in our lives to shape both a nation and each individual.

Sedentary? Perhaps all you need is a little Jolt to get you going…

March 15, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

When we think of life in the 19th century (and prior), many adjectives come to mind but “sedentary” isn’t one of them. However, couch potatoes (minus the couch since few could afford them) must have been somewhat prevalent as to inspire an entrepreneur to come up with a solution: The JOLT! Whereas advertisements for such “inventions” were quite common in Scientific American, we recently discovered this one on the back page of a May 9, 1885 Harper’s Weekly. Although the contraption may not have been much of a financial (or health-generating) success, the mantra, “if at first you don’t succeed…”, merged with humanity’s proclivity for rest and relaxation, has served manufacturers and designers of exercise equipment for quite some time.

It’s interesting to note this ad occurred in May – long past the expiration date of most New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps making and then breaking annual promises to one-self is more of a recent pastime.

A Fly on the Wall at Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech…

March 11, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

How often have we all said, “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.”? This week, as I helped a customer with an order, I was struck again with how often that statement is uttered here in our RareNewspapers office. This gentleman was beside himself over an issue we had obtained covering Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Speech (see image below). Hearing him excitedly describe the content soon grabbed my imagination as well. As I finished his order and set the phone back into the cradle, I dug in to find any additional issues we may might still have highlighting this historic speech. Reading aloud (yet quietly to myself), I was transported to the scene. Follow me for a few moments to this history defining moment in time, picking up at the end of William Cullen Bryant’s (American poet & editor of the NEW YORK EVENING POST) introduction of this great American Hero…

“‘I have only to pronounce his name to secure your profoundest attention’ [Prolonged applause, and cheers for Lincoln]. Mr. Lincoln advanced to the desk, and smiling graciously upon his audience, complacently awaited the termination of the cheering and then proceeded with his address as follows…”. What followed was the speech that triggered Lincoln’s famous quote: “Another Republican Orator on the Stump.”

So many current phrases could be used to describe this moment in time: “A Star is Born”, “For Such a Time as This”… but for me, all I could think of was, “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall”, and I’m so grateful to the THE NEW YORK TIMES reporter who helped me to be one on February 28, 1860.

Lincoln & Whitman … it’s all in the perspective…

March 8, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”… The concept of polar opposites has always been fascinating to me and as I perused issues we have dated March 8 across the decades, the following two contrasting events caught my eye:

On March 8, 1865, Abraham Lincoln gave his 2nd Inaugural address. The country had spent the last several years in despair as brother killed brother, parents grieved and wives desperately tried to determine how they would survive without their husbands. The Civil War was the darkest period in our young countries history, arguably, even to this day. President Lincoln bore this heavy mantle with grace and dignity when it may have killed a man of lesser conviction.
Simultaneously, Walt Whitman was taking the epic that was the American Story and transforming even it’s dark and ugly pieces into a more palatable and poetic form.

On March 8, 1888 the New York Herald printed another of Whitman’s works titled, My Canary Bird. Publishing his works in the newspaper put Whitman’s perspective of America in the hands of the common man which is exactly where he would have wanted it. Beauty from Ashes, the American Story had a devotee in Walt Whitman. He had a way of making “The worst of times” into “The best of times”.

Recalling Paul Revere’s ‘midnight ride’…

March 4, 2021 by · 2 Comments 

As newspaper collectors we relish the opportunity to find newspaper accounts of the intriguing moments in American–if not world–history.
But many events simply did not make it to print.
An account of the pealing of the Liberty Bell in 1776, a detailed account of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, Nathan Hale’s boast ‘I only regret I have but one life to lose for my country’, and Patrick Henry’s bold pronouncement ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’ are but a few.
Accounts of Paul Revere’s midnight ride rank among them. In our 45 years in the hobby we can recall only two newspapers having but a very brief reference to the ride. It was not until Longfellow’s poem ‘Paul Revere’s Ride’, written in 1860, did the world become familiar with the daring and patriotic mission.
We recently discovered a fascinating nugget on Revere’s ride.
A 1795 issue of the Boston newspaper Columbian Centinel (December 5, 1795) has a supportive letter from when Paul Revere was running for the vacated post of Town Treasurer. The writer makes rather derailed reference to the event in 1775, far more detailed than any account previously found despite being 20 years after it happened. See the photo for the full report.
Such little gems, typically buried inconspicuously among the political reports, advertisements, and varied notices of the day, are what thrill those in the search of notable events in history.

Is this the earliest Presidential portrait in a newspaper?

February 4, 2021 by · 5 Comments 

We recently discovered the November 23, 1844 issue of the iconic “Illustrated London News” from England, featuring on the front page portraits of James K. Polk and Henry Clay, both candidates for the Presidency.

Knowing this was a very early of a portrait of a President in a newspaper, I did a little digging to see if it might be, in fact, the earliest.

I could not confirm an earlier one. Research did note that the issue of April 19, 1845 of the same newspaper has a print showing the inaugural ceremonies and the procession to the Capitol, but that was 5 months later.

Given that most of the illustrated newspapers would not begin until the mid-19th century (Gleason’s Pictorial began in 1851), none of the more well-known American illustrated periodicals existed in 1844. Even Harper’s New Monthly, which had a wealth of small prints in each issue, did not begin until 1850.

Any collectors out there aware of an earlier print of a U.S. President in a periodical? It would be great to document the earliest, whether it’s this Nov. 23, 1844 issue or another.

The Woman’s Journal & Education, Law and Depression…

January 28, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

On the front page of a late 1800’s issue (Vol. XVII) of The Woman’s Journal three different topics caught my eye — and studying those prevented me from even opening up the issue.  Not included in my collection is the second entry of the column on the far right, entitled “Concerning Women”.  It reads, “Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe has just passed her seventy-fifth birthday.”  One of the most appealing things about old newspapers is that they put human details on the outline sketches of history, as with President Lincoln’s “little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

Of the more substantive things reported on June 26, 1886, a third of a column is devoted to the passage of legislation in Massachusetts that made it illegal for a man to seduce a woman, even if he was under 21 years of age.  With a bit of research I found that the crime described, “the making of a false promise of marriage as a way of luring a previously chaste unmarried woman into having sex.”  It baffles me that senators argued to keep this form of fraud legal for younger men since, “they did not think it is wise to punish a minor who might commit an offense in a moment of indiscretion.”

In the medical arena, Dr. John B. Gray addressed a group at Utica and focused on the malady we currently term postpartum depression.  He classifies this as a “preventable cause of insanity”, and urges the organization of private support for women after they have delivered babies, to take the form of home and personal care.  He claims that the burdens of “toil and worry” overwhelm a new mother, in some cases to the point of losing their sense of reason.  The article concludes with his plea, “I have heard the wail of sorrow come up from too many households to keep silent.  I have looked into the meaningless eyes of too many, lost by neglect, to stay my voice.”

Finally, I will let the first editorial note speak to the frustration that fueled the fire to grant women the right to vote in this country.  And, as always, I calculate the length of time over which this energy had to be sustained until the final passage in 1919 of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

College degrees are just now being given to men and women without any public outcry against the fair sex, or even a hint that they are out of their sphere or usurping the rights of the other sex.  So much is gained.  But these young women, who in the world of letters hold B.A. and M. A. and even LL.D., are under the law held as equals of lunatics and idiots, and of male felons in prison.  Such men and such women are alike denied the right to vote!

My collecting story… M.M. in Freeport, NY…

January 25, 2021 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 2020-2021.

I have always loved history from as far back as the 8th grade. My teacher started teaching us about Abraham Lincoln [during our unit on] the Civil War. Then one day I went to a garage sale [in upstate New York] with my brother. He knew I loved history, and he found an old school house picture of George Washington. So, I started reading about George Washington. Finally one day my friend called me and told me that he had a gift for me. When I got there he give me my gift – a November 23, 1963 New York Times. I couldn’t believe I was holding a newspaper older than me – and especially a newspaper on the assassination of JFK. From that point on I have never stopped buying [historic] newspapers. Thank you Rare & Early Newspapers for helping me have great collection of newspapers.

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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