My collecting story… J.R. in Ipswich (UK)…

April 7, 2020 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.

In 1945 at the end of the war I was eight and saw my father save the Daily Telegraph proclaiming VE (victory in Europe) Day. I was already an avid newspaper reader (no television then) and decided to add newspapers I found interesting – VJ Day, Nuremberg Trials, Princess Elizabeth wedding, Dakota plane lost in the Alps etc. Soon people gave me old newspapers they had – an aunt gave me Edward/ Mrs Simpson abdication papers and my grandparents two 18th century ones.

This slow rate of collecting continued until the mid 1980s when my income allowed me to spend on myself as well as a wife and the children. I found book shops in London, where we lived at the time, where I could fill the gaps in years which were blank and have reference to most historical events, particularly those relating to improvements in social well-being. By this time I had all years from 1661 and references to most riots, bread marches, demonstrations for improved parliamentary representation, and suffragettes.

The children having long departed and my wife having died I found I had more time (and money) and now am collecting titles as my main interest. This means I am acquiring and understanding how newspapers were able to develop and change their format and means of attracting customers.The growth of size, number of pages, type change, introduction of illustrations and then photographs. Also the relationships of one newspaper to another and the takeovers, combinations and title changes. Now of course I am monitoring their decline.

By collecting different titles I have been able to acquire many short lived extreme left and right wing newspapers and also Irish Republican ones.

After 75 years collecting I now have over 3600 newspapers going back to 1642 and 1900 different titles. What am I going to do with them? None of my family wants them although I am still working on one son-in-law, so they are being offered to my local museum in Ipswich- after many more years of my collecting!

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.


My collecting story… R.P. in Boise, Idaho…

March 31, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

As an attempt to make good use of the extra time many of us now have as a result of the current restrictions on mobility, about a week ago (from this post) we sent out an email asking collectors to submit their collecting stories. Three topics were suggested:

  • Which newspaper within your collection do you value the most and why?
  • Have you ever found something you consider special within an issue you’ve collected that you did not know was present prior to your decision to obtain it? If so, what did you find?
  • Why do you collect rare/historic newspapers? How did you get started?

The response to-date has been overwhelming (and new entries are welcome – just email them to me at Over the next few months our plan is to post 1-2 per week. Today we begin with a contribution from R.P. in Boise, Idaho. Enjoy.

In response to your request for posts regarding your customer’s collections I would like to answer a bit of all three suggested topics. 

I have been a rare book collector for over 45 years.  I am a native Oregonian who lives in Idaho.  As a Northwesterner with an interest in history, early on I began to collect first editions of accounts of early expeditions and travels to the western United States.  Because Lewis and Clark reported the first overland expedition to the Pacific across mostly territory controlled by the United States, I needed to begin adding their expedition items to my collection.                                               

In my early collecting days, Lewis and Clark first editions were beyond my means.  However, accounts of their expedition exploits, and President Jefferson’s early messages to Congress, were available in newspapers and some magazines.  So I began collecting as many newspaper recordings about the expedition as I could find.  My collection isn’t huge, but it provides an immediacy which even first edition books don’t provide since all books (even Congressional Journals) were printed well after the activities being reported.  The close proximity of a newspaper account to the actual event occurrence is a primary reason why I collect newspapers and 18th Century American magazines.

Your second suggestion asks about surprises.  From your last catalog I purchased a newspaper from 1848 which contained a Congressional recording of three votes made by Abraham Lincoln while he was in the House of Representatives.  Although I am not a Lincoln collector, I thought this was interesting  and worth owning.  Also, the price was right.  When I perused the Newspaper, I saw two articles regarding the soon to be completed establishment of a new Oregon Territory.  The writers of both articles (one was a Georgia senator and the other was South Carolina’s John Calhoun) advocated that immigrants to Oregon be able to bring their slaves to the territory with the retention of their slave status.  Happily, Oregon did not become a slave territory nor a slave state.

These articles fit well with my reasonably large collection of books, maps and ephemera related to the Oregon Territory which encompassed the present states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and parts of Wyoming and Montana.

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.

Website Discoveries: History of Rare Newspapers in Video

February 14, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

One day Mr. Timothy Hughes pulled out some photographs to show me the first stage of renovations here where the majority of our papers are housed.  I say majority, because some travel around to various museums and government buildings, exhibits and showings.  But most are here, and “here” used to be a small workshop building that was gutted, extended and eventually became the anchor for the two warehouses.

I liked seeing the faces that are vaguely familiar (if a bit younger), and being reminded again that this is a close-knit, family group that has been working on all aspects of this endeavor for a long time.  Anyway, I thought the general collecting public might be interested to know that our website links much more than a few photographs from thirty years ago.  It’s well-stocked with professional videos ranging in topics from the history of this business, to insight into collecting and evaluating and caring for old newspapers.

So, browse a bit, and please let me know if there was any one in particular that caught your interest.  Once a month I am going to peer into the nooks and crannies of our website; check in to see what else I find.

Happy Friday!

I’m New Here: Still Learning… Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

February 7, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.   Winston S. Churchill

This is an appropriate enough quote to summarize my perspective at the close of a year of many new lessons – and not all of them pleasant at the time of learning.  It’s tough to be new, but it feels great to be not-new.  Since I find myself in a “next stage” here at Rare Newspapers, as of this week I am transitioning the title(s) of my blog.  Once a month I will continue to pass along something new I have learned, under the heading “Still Learning.” In the other three weeks I will focus on different aspects of this wonderful place.

My most recent orientation was a byproduct of searching the wide world of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.  It seems these treasures, similar in size to Harper’s Weekly, are located in a completely different collection of Civil War Era papers.   Although our titles are meticulously indexed and cataloged, the facilities could not possibly be rearranged with each new collection acquired.  Consequently, the front warehouse has its own area of 1861-1865 issues, while the annex has a separate one.  It’s so funny to still be discovering a nook packed full of Historical Relevance (in capital letters).

Within a publication from 1862, I located a four-panel, tipped-in centerfold. It’s a beautiful illustration that measures 20″ high by 32″ wide, folded inside the magazine, with no binding holes or glue lines within the image margins.  The top half is titled “The Second Day of the Second Battle of Bunker Hill”, and depicts a lovely landscape in which lines of marching men wind along hilltops and alongside lanes of trees.  Even the award winning photography of later wars doesn’t compete with the impact of this intricate rendering.

Note that this is not a double-page centerfold, as I originally described it to Guy, but a more extravagantly sized and highly desirable four-panel, tipped-in centerfold.  I have recently been taught the difference.

Anyway, I have much more to learn, but in case you were wondering, I am ready for more Leslie’s requests — particularly Civil War issues.

I’m New Here: A Few Changes…

January 31, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

This week has gone by in a blur.  The (exciting) new catalog ships out tomorrow, and all the attendant hoopla has filled our schedules.  It’s always a juggling act to maintain regular work around special projects, because there is plenty of the latter to pack our days.

A seasoned collector was filling gaps prior to an approaching exhibit, and he called to have me check a New York Times obituary in 1898.  We didn’t have the date it ran, and I exhausted all the other major papers.  However, the deceased was an abolitionist who also contributed to the effort to gain the vote for women.  As a last ditch effort I pulled a volume of the Woman’s Journal from Washington DC, and found a lengthy tribute to Robert Purvis.  Mr. G was quite pleased, and I felt triumphant with my find, particularly as it led me to delve into my favorite category – publications in which women played an important role.  Although much content pertains to suffrage, there seems to have been an effort to provide a platform for intelligent discussion that encompassed many other aspects of life in the 1800’s.  These journals are a valuable resource for a look into the 19th Century, and I am always glad to fulfill an order with one of these gems.

As I begin this second year here at Rare & Early Newspapers, I am planning to dedicate my last post each month to a look at our titles, beginning with the Woman’s Journal.  Hopefully, I can unearth enough nuggets that you will all start to consider that a collection cannot possibly be complete without containing at least an issue or two from the Woman’s Tribune, The Woman’s Journal, The North Shore Review, the Ladies Magazine or Womankind.

Thank you for the kind comments and encouragement in this first year.  I beg your continued forbearance as I wade more deeply into the water.


I’m New Here: January 23, 2020

January 24, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

History’s Newsstand/ Rare & Early Newspapers has a well-deserved reputation for excellence and integrity; and procedures and processes are regularly evaluated to incorporate the highest quality systems available.  Our website is undergoing some upgrades, most of which will be indiscernible to the average collector/follower.  But in order to be certain things will indeed remain in order, I have been given the assignment to spend some time logging in and out and creating orders from an objective perspective.

As such, I have perused our web inventory – reading through descriptions and looking at photographs.  I have completed numerous purchases the budget of my reality would never allow.  And it has been great fun.

I learned two notable things.  The first is that our website is an amazing tool to navigate the extraordinary inventory here.  I searched date, title, topic, item number with successful outcomes.  But most interesting to me was the list available by clicking the orange oval button “View All Categories”.  This index of more than sixty topics, while not exhaustive, is a fabulous research resource.  For those who regularly meander through online topics and items of interest, I encourage the home page of Rare Newspapers as a springboard for many happy hours of informative browsing.

As a second point of interest, I tagged the strangest report I encountered in my wanderings.  It seems some of the earliest plastic surgery occurred in India and included rhinoplasty (although not identified as such).  Through three separate avenues I arrived at the same description from The Gentleman’s Magazine, published in London, October of 1794.

Included is a fascinating–and extremely early–account of what we would call plastic surgery, being a letter from the East Indies which notes in part: “…the following very curious, and, in Europe, I believe, unknown chirugical [archaic spelling of ‘surgery’] operation which has long been practiced in India with success; namely affixing a new nose on a man’s face…” followed by the various details. Accompanying this is a full page plate of it, with 5 images (see).

Ironically, all these features and items are available on our website in its current state.  I just hadn’t taken the time to look.

Have you?

I’m New Here: One Year In

January 17, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

This week I made two different forays into a subject I only visited once before — The Wild West.  Thankfully, when you are dealing with a forty-four year old company that specializes in items printed hundreds of years ago, twelve months is not a long time.  And that is good for me, because even when I tally up the number of days I have been here at Rare & Early Newspapers I still feel like a novice.  Today I had back-to-back victories using the organizational system efficiently.  Harper’s Weekly from 1912 is not in the front warehouse (designated “W” on location maps) with issues published through the end of the 19th Century, but in the annex (“A”) along the right wall, almost to the very end.  Better still, as I confidently strode through the front building with an inward chuckle over my early bumbling efforts to determine what happened after December 30, 1899, I recalled the clipboard hanging in that area.  Rather than maneuver the lift across four rows and down a 15′ column in order to ascend to the appropriate decade, I checked the sheet.  There, recorded after exhausting all potential volume locations, was the notation, “August 17, 1912 — no cc”.  So, a disappointing answer for the collector inquiring, but a resounding victory for me as the entire search took a total of three minutes.

Every time I can locate an issue someone is seeking, I feel victorious. But the worst thing is spending a lot of time (which is always needed elsewhere) without having anything to show for it.  Today’s glance at the inventory tally reminded me that even a negative result can be useful, if not to me then surely to someone else.  Anyway, I am finally reaching the stage where I am wasting less time when I head into the back in search of whatever someone has called, emailed, written or web queried about.  In theory, the more time I save, the more I have to search out another Titanic issue (665700) for the collector in Germany or a Jay Gould cover portrait for the fellow in Minnesota.

And, for those of you who continue to read these posts, I will always make time to follow up on your requests.  I might even write about them…

I’m New Here: Week Forty-Three…

January 3, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Recently, a collector asked me to verify the presence of a continuing report within the Gazette of the United States – the Davila Discourse, which discusses political implications of a republican form of government, as perceived by John Adams in the early days of the young country.  Mr. K offered the information that the section title printed within the sub-heading was not accurate, but a misidentification on the part of the publisher.  Instead, he referenced an outside scholarly source to identify the sequence of text.

My son was old enough during the 2000 presidential election to be fascinated with the process.  At his request, his grandmother kept every newspaper from the week before, through the many days following that strange Tuesday in this nation’s history.  Most notable in his collection, however, is the issue that proclaimed Al Gore as the winner.  This week I began thinking about the erroneous publication of “news” at historically crucial times.

Various reports of death have been “grossly exaggerated” – in fact, Wikipedia has alphabetically indexed 14 pages of such premature obituaries.  In the Rare and Early Newspaper world one of the most well-known gaffes is the Chicago Tribune Dewey Defeats Truman.  As I am new and just learning of these,  I am appalled to find yet another winding road away from the details I am supposed to be taking care of during my working day.

Ultimately, a thing is not true just because it appeared in print.  However, an editorial error can be quickly identified by reviewing the publishing context.  Those of this community who have a more seasoned perspective might enjoy sharing some favorite errors with me via this blog, in case an opportunity arises to do a little wandering in my second year…

Happy New Year!!!

December 31, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all…

December 26, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

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