From Waco to Brooklyn…

February 8, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever been thinking one thing and a moment later your mind has completely carried you down several rabbit holes and back up into a field far away? As you try to retrace your steps, you are utterly amazed at how you ever ended up where you did. I find history to be much the same. I may begin my historical trek in a tiny town in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania, but before long I find I’ve meandered to the center of New York City. Such is the journey I took this snowy afternoon.

Every day I drive past an old industrial complex in my mountain town Of Williamsport, PA.. The signage says, “Williamsport Wire Rope Company” and the factory yard is filled with enormous spools stacked about … a photographer’s fantasy for possible black and white images. This picturesque scene is what originally caught my attention on those many drives home. This particular day a rabbit trail led me to an exploration of what the wire cable produced in this factory would have been used for which quickly lead me to an engineer named John Augustus Roebling (1806 – 1869). John had owned the very first wire cable company, similar to the one in my town. Not satisfied to just produce these cables, his mind dreamt of the many, yet be discovered, uses those wires might  have … Voila ! … Suspension Bridges. As a suspension bridge designer and builder extraordinaire, he  was instrumental in creating the beautiful city of Pittsburgh which became known as “The City of Bridges”. From Pittsburgh to the Niagara River … from Waco to Brooklyn NY, this man took spools of wire cable and transformed each area he touched into a practical work of art. My rabbit trail reminds me that my local history can be the start of the very best future road trips. Whether your interests lie with new scientific discoveries, historical biographies or works of art, much of history can satisfy almost any inquisitive mind. I see a historical bridge excursion coming this spring… perhaps even from Waco to Brooklyn.

Snapshot 1886… Mark Twain – yet another hidden gem…

January 7, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

This forum has often been used to highlight one of the unique benefits of the hobby of collecting Rare & Early newspapers – that is, collecting a newspaper for one purpose, only to later find a more precious item hidden within its pages. Such is the case with the Harper’s Weekly for September 29, 1866. For 40+ years we offered this issue with a spotlight on a variety of the interesting illustrations found within its 16 pages. However, we recently discovered yet another hidden gem: an article accompanying the popular print: “Burning of the California Clipper ‘Hornet'”. What’s so special about this uncredited article? It was written by Mark Twain – making it the first time an article written by him received national attention. What a find!

If you happen to be one of the lucky one’s to have purchased this issue without knowledge of the Mark Twain contribution, you now possess an issue of significantly greater notoriety (and therefore value) than what you previously had thought. Good for you.

March through the years via the lens of Rare & Early Newspapers…

March 6, 2020 by · 4 Comments 

Walk with us back through time to see what noteworthy, historic and collectible events occurred during the month of February. In so doing, we hope you’ll agree: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”

March Through Time

February through the years via the lens of Rare & Early Newspapers…

February 10, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Walk with us back through time to see what noteworthy, historic and collectible events occurred during the month of February. In so doing, we hope you’ll agree: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”

February Through Time

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…

January through the years via the lens of Rare & Early Newspapers…

January 13, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Walk with us back through time to see what noteworthy, historic and collectible events occurred during the month of January. In so doing, we hope you’ll agree: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”

January Through Time

I’m New Here: Week Thirty-Four…

October 18, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s post is a bit harried because Guy was away for a few days.  There is nothing like his absence to bring home to me how much I still have left to learn.  Thankfully, he has returned and no one was irrevocably distressed by my continued ineptitude — which was blatantly apparent without his buffering.

That said, I juggled as successfully as I could, and in the process found a sphere of knowledge of which I have somehow remained ignorant.  The covers of Harper’s Weekly publications are often pen and ink constructions that are balanced and aesthetically appealing.  Many collectors purchase these to frame and subsequently decorate walls and offices.  An issue from 1859 passed under my gaze while fulfilling a request that had been paired with a name unfamiliar to me.  The collector was searching for Garibaldi reports.  As I was completely unfamiliar with the name, my shipping room buddy brought the June 18, 1859 Harper’s to my desk before commencing his painstaking shipping process.

Clearly, I have been missing out.  This “famous Italian patriot whose exploits on the slopes of the Alps are at present in every one’s mouth” was featured on the full front page, and continued onto one inside column.  His visage is coldly angular, and his narrowed eyes appeared to find me across the length of my desk.  My reaction must have been noteworthy, because an hour or so later Mike brought me a different date for that same title.  “This artist had a kinder interpretation,” he said as he carefully placed another Garibaldi side by side with the first.  And, the difference was so pronounced I spent a bit of time looking for the minute changes that dramatically influenced the whole.

Then I thought of all the people who search out issues containing Lincoln portraits, or a date among the seemingly unending eight years of Teddy Roosevelt covers.  How funny it is to realize that our collective views of historically foundational people have been based on the interpretation of artists!  Based on the shape of Joseph G.’s eyes, I suspect that some of them had a distinct bias that has unconsciously colored our perspective.

Even with my reasoning braced against my imagination, I find the introductory paragraph to the report does nothing to soften the aggressive life chosen by this commander.  “Joseph Garibaldi is the type of gallant soldier of fortune, to whom the excitement of war is a necessity; but when his country’s opportunity arrives, is never found wanting among her defenders.”

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…

Did you know? Elections and Inaugurations…

March 26, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

You may already know U.S. elections and inaugurations have always fascinated citizens of the United States – which is probably typical throughout the world, but Did You Know the reporting of these historic moments within newspapers has traditionally been quite extensive, with most issues containing multiple articles surrounding these events – often including the entire text of the winner’s election and inauguration speeches? Many of these are available through our regular website, RareNewspapers.com. We’ve arranged these in chronological order for readers/explorers to enjoy: Inaugurations and Elections

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.

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