Rare Newspapers’ monthly offering of collectible newspapers, Catalog 256, is now available. This latest collection of authentic newspapers is comprised of more than 350 new items. Some of the noteworthy content includes: a 1643 newsbook, the sale of Coca Cola in 1919 (in an Atlanta newspaper), a “Royal Gazette” from Charleston (1782), Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox, the British plan for conquering America, a rare Confederate newspaper (Jackson, Mississippi), and more. Key items which include the remaining items from the above may be viewed at: Noteworthy Catalog 256
Whereas the entire catalog is shown at Catalog 256, the following links are intended to aid in quickly finding items from the catalog based on era:
To view items from both the current and the previous catalog, go to: Combined Catalog
Note: The links shown above will expire in approximately 30 days.
Rare Newspapers’ monthly offering of collectible newspapers, Catalog 253, is now available. This latest collection of authentic newspapers is comprised of more than 350 new items. Some of the noteworthy content includes: Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, the Olive Branch Petition, the Battle of Bunker Hill, several nice Nast Santa Claus prints, the Battle of Gettysburg in a Confederate newspaper, a 1775 map of Boston, and more. Key items which include the remaining items from the above may be viewed at: Noteworthy Catalog 253
Whereas the entire catalog is shown at Catalog 253, the following links are intended to aid in quickly finding items from the catalog based on era:
To view items from both the current and the previous catalog, go to: Combined Catalogs
Collectible 1600s & 1700s Newspapers
“History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”
It might not be your first thought, but newspapers from the 1600s and 1700s are very similar content-wise to modern newspapers. Early newspapers contained reports on wars, natural disasters, listed items for sale, and published death notices. Sound familiar? Newspaper content hasn’t changed drastically in 300-plus years. It is interesting to read accounts from this era and realize how similar we modern folk are to our ancestors. It seems that people at their core are mostly the same, and to this day, want to read news covering similar topics. That being said, some aspects of newspapers definitely have changed.
What has changed are the dimensions (smaller then, larger now), the number of pages (fewer then), paper quality (higher quality rag linen then), and the format. Newspapers of this period typically had an inflexible format, meaning that if page three was dedicated to foreign news, even if the most amazing foreign event occurred, it would appear on page three, not page one—period.
Due to the time it would take to typeset and print an issue, breaking news of major events would often be printed on a separate sheet called an “Extra” or an “Extraordinary” that was delivered with the daily issue or sometimes was not distributed until the following day.
Much more can be said regarding newspapers from the 1600’s and 1700’s, but for now, please enjoy the Rare Newspapers dedicated page dedicated to original and historic issues from this era:
Catalog 250 is now available. This latest offering of authentic newspapers is comprised of nearly 350 new items. Some of the noteworthy content includes: a printing of the Constitution of the United States, an issue of The Royal Gazette from Charleston (1782), a 1659 newsbook we’ve never offered before, Winslow Homer’s famous “Snap The Ship”, an issue with the British response to the Declaration of Independence, coverage of Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, and more. Key items which include the remaining items from the above may be viewed at: Noteworthy Catalog 250
Whereas the entire catalog is shown at Catalog 250, the following links are intended to aid in quickly finding items from the catalog based on era:
To view items from both the current and the previous catalog, go to: Combined Catalogs
As our last discussion point on the most historic event to have in an early American newspaper collection we’ll consider the pre-Revolutionary War era.
What a period of time, from the mid-1600’s thru 1775. Keep in mind that the only newspapers to be had with American content thru 1704 would be British, most likely limited to the Oxford/London Gazette. The “Boston News-Letter” as America’s first successful newspaper began in 1704 but it can be exceedingly difficult to find any American newspaper prior to 1730. In any case let’s consider the event & not the rarity of the newspaper itself. Remember, we’re dreaming here anyway.
Dig out your history books and give thought to what single historic event in American history from this period you would like to have in your newspaper collection.
Much of the late 17th century was dealing with settling the “New World” and territorial issues not just with the Native Americans but the various European countries, all trying to establish a foothold, and increasing it at that. The early 18th century saw the creation of colonial governments and continuing territorial problems, leading to the French & Indian War, which in itself created financial problems in England which led to greater taxation in America to pay for related expenses. Of course the colonists were not keen on tightening controls and increased taxation levied by a government 3000 miles away and before long there was a revolution.
My choice would be the “Pennsylvania Journal & Weekly Advertiser” issue of Oct. 31, 1765. Known as the “tombstone edition” because of the great graphics, it signaled the beginning of the Stamp Act in America, the most hated of the taxes up to that point, only to be following by more from Great Britain. The Stamp Act was the catalyst for a disintegrating relationship with the mother country. This newspaper (see photo) is both visually dramatic and historically significant in presaging the biggest event in 18th century America history.
What’s your thought?
*The Fall of 2013 marked the 5th anniversary of the History’s Newsstand Blog by Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers. We are grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the newspaper collecting community, and appreciate those who have participated through guest posts, comments, and readership. This year (2014) we are revisiting the top 25 posts (measured by activity), with the number 1 post being re-posted during the first week of 2015. Please enjoy. If you would like to contribute a post for consideration of inclusion on the blog, please contact Guy Heilenman at email@example.com.
I thought it might be fun to take a look at historic newspapers from a different perspective – the month of January through time. The issues have been arranged in chronological order, most recent first. It is interesting to see the varied events which have made the news to start the year over the centuries. Please enjoy.
Over the past 10 years we (RareNewspapers.com) have put together a series of videos designed to help educate novices about the hobby of collecting historic newspapers. While some may be a smidge old (compared to today’s high-tech standards), the information within is still pertinent. Pick a topic of interest, turn up the volume, and enjoy our perspective on the collectible.
One of the biggest surprises–and a pleasant one–novice collectors of newspapers discover is that the oldest newspapers they purchase, those from before 1870, are in much better condition than the more recent “old” newspapers of the late 19th or 20th centuries. How could this be?
It’s all in the paper. and I literally mean in the paper. Prior to the 1870’s, newsprint was primarily made of cotton & linen fibers. It was handmade and very dependent upon the raw ingredients being available, which was not always the case. It was common to find newspaper advertisements seeking “rags” for the printer, to be used to make the paper upon which the newspaper was printed. Equally as common would be a note from the printer that an issue would have fewer pages or be skipped altogether due to the lack of newsprint. “Rag” paper, as it is called, was not an inexpensive or easily made commodity.
Typically, the older the newspaper, the better the quality. It is not uncommon to find newspapers from the 1680’s which are very white, relatively thick, and extremely pliable. They can be bent, folded, creased, wrinkled and no harm will be done. Do the same to a newspaper of the 1890’s or early 20th century and it will crack and crumble. I recall some years ago a novice customer returning an issue of the London newspaper “The Observator“, 1683, because he claimed “it looked to new to possibly be over 300 years old”. I could not convince him otherwise. Newsprint of 300 years ago simply does not yellow. We occasionally receive similar feedback from similar titles: The Spectator, The Post-Boy, and more. Even a select number of 20th century papers were printed on rag linen as well, typically for use in institutions.
Such handmade paper, particularly that used in the 17th and 18th centuries, can be distinguished from paper made later by holding it up to a light and looking for “chain-lines” which are left from the wires in the paper mold. With this method, fewer fibers accumulate directly on the wire, so the paper is slightly thinner and more transparent to light. This pattern is usually very apparent and appears as lines that run about an inch apart, with several horizontal short lines connecting the long wire lines. Some modern paper has artificially-applied chain lines, and is usually referred to as “laid” paper, which is the name given to handmade chain-line paper.
The handmade chain-line paper made of cotton and linen rags which were soaked in liquid until the fibers broke down into very small bits. Paper was formed by hand by dipping a paper mold into the fiber suspension, and then lifting and shaking off the excess water. The paper sheet was then partially dried before being removed from the mold. Modern handmade paper (used in fine printing of small editions by private presses, as well as in artists books) is basically made by the same process.
The high quality of newsprint was an expensive process & caused newspaper subscriptions to be beyond the means of the average citizen. Consequently holdings of newspapers are relatively small. They were never printed in huge quantities because they cost too much to be widely purchased by the populace. And keep in mind that the percentage of literate people in the 18th and early 19th centuries was not what it is today.
The use of “rag paper” for the publishing of early newspapers is one of the great joys of this hobby. Early newspapers–including issues dating back to the Revolutionary War and beyond–need very little care to maintain their state of preservation. We keep such issues on open shelves where they have been for years to no harm. They can be handled & read from beginning to end without risk of damage or harm. Truly, a collector can hold history in his hands, enhancing the tactile experience this hobby enjoys beyond others where “do not touch” is more the norm.
Another benefit of rag paper is that it allows for easy detection of reprint or facsimile newspapers. A common question crossing our desk is “are you sure it is a genuine newspaper?” or “is my newspaper genuine or not?” When I authenticate newspapers one of the easiest determinants is the quality of paper. If the newsprint is browned or yellowed and fragile to the touch, chances are exceedingly good it is not a pre-1870 newspaper (although there are exceptions). Newspapers from the Revolutionary War should not crack when folded or creased.
The vast majority of reprint or facsimile newspapers on the market were never meant to deceive the collector but rather were anniversary issues, done 50, 100 or 200 years after a significant event, or in celebration of the very first edition of that title. They were often give-aways to subscribers. The “New York Herald” of April 15, 1865 is perhaps the most commonly found reprint newspaper, and most fail the rag paper test; they are much to browned or fragile to have been printed in 1865.
It was the industrial revolution of the latter half of the 19th century which resulted in the technology to create newsprint from wood pulp and chemicals. It was a welcomed innovation for publishers as newsprint become much less expensive to make, but it began the downfall for long-term preservation. But then, newspapers were never intended to last more than a day. Another issue would be on the streets for the consumer the next morning, to the delight of publishers across the country.
A genuine collectible, over 300 years old, for $60 or less. Is there a field of collecting today which has items of such age– in nice condition–for $60? The hobby of collecting rare & historic newspapers likely sits at the top of what must be a very short list. And such prices, along with tremendous availability of titles & content, are part of the intrigue of this fascinating hobby which remains unknown to almost everyone. And this, in large part, is the reason prices are outrageously low in comparison to the relative rarity of other collectibles. While issues do run the gamut price-wise from newsbooks (at the upper end) to coffeehouse newspapers (typically at the lower end), it is a fascinating field for the historical hobbyist on a budget ($20 and under).
The ‘London Gazette‘ is the world’s oldest continually published newspaper, having begun in 1665 and is still publishing today. With such historical depth you would expect to find virtually every major event in world history within its pages, and you would be right. The Great Plague and Great London Fire, William Penn being granted land in the New World, the death of noted pirate Captain Kidd, the battles of the French & Indian War and Revolutionary War and so much more are found in not only this title but other newspapers of the era. First reports of such notable events can sell in the thousands of dollars, but an interesting facet of this hobby is that follow-up reports of a few days later can fall well within the comfort level of the average collector.
Both age and graphic appeal come together in the London ‘Post-Boy‘ newspaper, with issues from the 1718-1725 period featuring two ornate engravings in the masthead in addition to a very decorative first letter of the text. Add to this the relative small size of this single sheet newspaper and you have a terrific item for display for under $55.
With American newspapers not beginning until the first decade of the 18th century (one title was published in 1690 but lasted just one day), and most American newspapers through the Revolutionary War being very rare, British titles are an excellent source for collecting all the notable events not only in American history, but in world history as well. And the reporting was often extensive, for remember that the colonies were part of Great Britain through 1776.
The ‘London Chronicle’ was a popular British newspaper which documented amongst its pages virtually all American events since its founding during the French & Indian War. Yet another periodical, the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine‘, is an excellent source for period reports of American events since its beginning in 1731, and one of its features was the printing of maps of all corners of the globe, many of which show North America and specific colonies. From James Oglethorpe’s settling the colony of Georgia, to Ben Franklin‘s famous kite experiment, installation of the Liberty Bell, the enactment & repeal of the hated Stamp Act, all events of the Revolutionary War, to the mutiny on the Bounty & so much more, the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ offers a terrific repository of American and world history at very affordable prices. Plus, there are reports of Colonel George Washington from 1754 when he was just 22 years old and relatively unknown, and for the music buffs there are works by the composers Hayden, Handel, and death reports of Mozart and Beethoven within its pages. The early battles of Napoleon & other European reports are logically found in this title as well.
While American newspapers of the Revolutionary War and before are generally pricey, ranging in the $400 – $1000+ range, two notable exceptions exist being the ‘Boston Chronicle’ and the ‘Pennsylvania Chronicle’, both from the 1768-1769 years. Because their circulation was widespread they are among the more commonly held colonial titles by institutions, & consequently come on the market when libraries convert from hard copy to microfilm or digital. They detail the entire spectrum of American life from just before the Revolutionary War while providing an interesting perspective on American politics during those critical years. Complete, genuine issues are typically available for under $200.
American newspapers from after the American Revolution become more available and at dramatically lower prices while still containing a wealth of notable content on the founding years of the federal government. The ‘Pennsylvania Packet’ of Philadelphia was one of the more successful titles, and was the very first to print the Constitution of the United States. While that issue, September 19, 1787, ranks well into six figures, dates surrounding it are typically found in the $45 – $80 range and offer a perspective of life in the city where and when the Constitution was being created. The ‘Columbian Centinel’ from Boston was perhaps the most successful title in 18th century America and its pages document the complete scope of America politics and life from 1785 thru Washington’s election and inauguration to his death just weeks before the end of the century.
Other 18th century American titles which are within the budgets of even the most modest collectors are the ‘Connecticut Courant’, ‘Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser’, ‘Gazette of the United States’, the ‘Massachusetts Spy’, and ‘The Herald, A Gazette For The Country’ and others. Nice issues from the formative years of the federal government can be had for under $50 each.
While first reports of the most historic events of the 17th and 18th centuries will always command top dollar among the most savvy of collectors, the hobby of collecting rare newspapers offers a tremendous wealth of issues at surprisingly low prices, while at the same time offering fascinating content on life only known to others through history books. And this hobby is one that offers the entire spectrum of political, economic, and social history to every collector. What other hobby can make that claim? But perhaps most importantly, this hobby let’s you hold—quite literally—history in your hands.