Pinterest has certainly become a wonderful forum for sharing favorite pictures, recipes, ideas, and more. While most historic and rare newspapers are known more for content rather than images, illustrated newspapers, especially from the 19th and early 20th centuries, are quite striking. Below please find a link to a collection of such original newspapers centered around a New Year’s theme. 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.
When most think of newspapers, while flashy headlines and occasional dramatic images may come to mind, for the most part small black text on pale newsprint is what is imagined. However, there was a time when the images printed within newspapers verged on the cusp of being considered art. Woodcuts prints of the mid-19th century and the early color images are still highly sought after for framing. While the former typically receive all of the attention, we’ve recently put together a Pinterest board showing a number of wonderful prints which appeared in newspapers from 1850-1875. Please enjoy: Decorative Prints [1850-1875]
One of the passions held by many is sports, and each season provides a new opportunity to cheer on one’s favorite teams as they follow their efforts through to a hopeful championship. It is not coincidence that “fan” is a diminutive form of the word “fanatic”. The hobby of collecting early newspaper adds an opportunity to broaden support for a team by including an historical perspective possible only through all this hobby has to offer.
Baseball, football, basketball, tennis, golf, horse racing, soccer, and on and on. You name the sport and reports can be found in newspapers going back to the very beginning of the sport, or the beginning of newspapers. We once offered a newspaper from Springfield, Massachusetts—where basketball was founded—reporting the very first public game ever played. It is the holy grail of newspaper reports on basketball, and now resides in the archives of the Library of Congress. Similar gem items can be found for other sports as well.
If a report cannot be found on the very beginning days of a sport, finding reports as old as possible is a quest which never ends. Baseball traces its history back to 1839 (although exactly when & how it was founded is up for some discussion) so finding a newspaper with a bonafide baseball report as close to this year is a worthy goal. We have some issues back to 1855 on our website, and game reports become more frequent during and just after the Civil War.
But with baseball it’s often the golden era that attracts the most attention, from when Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and other standouts from the 1920’s and 1930’s were making headlines. Just following Ruth’s standout career can create a formidable collection, from early mention of him in the majors (how about 1914?), his first Major League game appearance, his first home run, a report of him being sold to the Yankees, and then his stellar career as a home run record-setter. All were reported in newspapers.
And there was a host of notable ball players from a generation before, including Nap Lajoie, Branch Rickey, Henry Chadwick, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, & Christy Mathewson to name a few. In fact baseball had its own daily newspaper from the 1880’s titled the “Official Record” which chronicled nothing but baseball reports of the day.
Illustrations of baseball players are a special treat and add a graphic & displayable dimension to any collection. The popular illustrated newspaper “Harper’s Weekly” (and other well-know illustrated issues of the day) had many issues which featured half page or full page baseball prints, as well as a few doublepage centerfolds and front page prints which are particularly desirable.
There are some ancillary items which are intriguing, several found in the scientific-themed periodical “Scientific American”, which featured a new electric scoreboard dating back to the 1800’s, and a novel invention of a “mechanical baseball pitcher”. There are baseball reports of Jim Thorpe, who, although was more famous for his Olympic and football prowess, was a notable baseball player as well. Newspapers with reports involving Jesse Owens are equally noteworthy. And just a focus on World Series games would result in a sizable collection, with the goal of owning the championship report for every World Series from 1903 to the present. The “Black Sox” scandal of 1919, which involved members of the Chicago White Sox team being accused of throwing the Series, made headline reports for the next two years as the case was investigated and brought to a painful conclusion.
Although the most collectible of sports, baseball is by no means the only. Football reports became common in the 1890’s and into the early 20th century. Again, “Harper’s Weekly” did much to provide a graphic account of the sport, with both illustrations and photos of players and action, showcasing the minimal amount of protection that was worn in comparison to what’s found in the game today.
Collecting by team makes for even more focused collection. Among the more popular would have to be the Yankees in baseball, and Notre Dame in collegiate football. But any team name for any sport can be searched out of our website, whether it be collegiate football, the NFL, or nearly any other sport you can think of. Even something as obscure as pre-1800 boxing reports and ballooning can be found within collectible newspapers. Give it a try.
With golf it was Bobby Jones who gave the sport some prominence with his accomplishments which culminated in the “triple crown” victory, after which he left the sport to pursue a movie career. But again “Harper’s Weekly” put many golf themed prints in its pages, several done by noted artist A.B. Frost, which make for displayable items for any golf enthusiast.
Tennis was another sport which made the pages of “Harper’s Weekly” and those that are framed make great display items for any den. Track and field, bowling, bicycling, curling, fishing (with prints by A.B. Frost and Frederic Remington), hunting, sailing (including the America’s Cup), skiing, automobile racing, archery, and even surfing are a portion of a lengthy list of sporting events found in newspapers of the day.
Whatever sport you follow and whatever the era, the world of rare & early newspapers has much to offer. Add an historical dimension to your hobby. There is much from which to choose.
Could there be a period in American history which fascinates and intrigues more than the Civil War? As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the battle between the North and the South, collecting interest in genuine newspapers which reported the news as it was happening, remains strong among the relatively small number of rare newspaper collectors. Any visit to a Civil War collector’s show will give evidence to the high prices of genuine memorabilia, from guns to uniforms to every bit and scrap of war-related material a collector might desire. But newspapers remain a very welcomed low-priced option, perhaps largely because they have yet to be discovered by majority of Civil War collectors.
But that has always been the case with this hobby, regardless of the time period. Rare newspaper have always remained relatively unknown in the world of historical collectables—a reality which continues to amaze—but its consequence has provided one of the benefits of those who enjoy the hobby: low prices. Across the entire spectrum of collectables, be they coins, stamps, furniture, books, autographs, toys—you name it–items of comparable age to newspapers are much higher than newspapers.
And what a world is available to the Civil War collector who discovers rare newspapers. You name the battle or political event that happened from 1861 to 1865 and it will be found in a newspaper of the day. And this hobby allows a collection to showcase not just the events of the war but the lead-up to the conflict between the states, as the issue of slavery and the troubling relationship between the Northern and Southern states making news for more than a decade before the outbreak of war.
From the Battle of Fort Sumter to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a collector can create a notable collection of newspapers as large or small as their budget will allow. Some might focus on the top ten most significant battles of the Civil War (see previous post) and include newspapers with accounts of Fort Sumter, First and Second Bull Run (Manassas), Hampton Roads (the Monitor vs. the Merrimac), Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing), capture of New Orleans, Antietam, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, fall of Atlanta, Savannah and Richmond as well as the surrender of General Lee to U.S. Grant. Wikipedia offers an excellent and very inclusive list of all the battles of the Civil War which can be used as a checklist for the collector seeking the most notable events of the war.
Typically daily newspapers have war reports on the front page with additional news on inside pages as well, and a select few included graphics. The “New York Times”, “New York Tribune” “New York Herald” and the “Philadelphia Inquirer” are—in my opinion—the “big 4” titles of the war, as they more than most printed Civil War maps and other war-related graphics on their front pages. Such issues remain favorites for framing and display.
Not to be overlooked are the political events and speeches which were perhaps more significant than the battles, including the election and inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. All events appeared in newspapers within a day of their happening.
Yet another area of focus for various collectors is the gathering of contemporary reports surrounding certain historic figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, “Stonewall” Jackson, George Meade, James Longstreet, William Sherman, Jefferson Davis, Ambrose Burnside, Nathan B. Forrest, Colonel Robert Shaw, John Hunt Morgan (and his raiders), to name a few. Textbooks simply cannot capture the essence of these noteworthy individuals in the same way newspapers can.
Some collectors might focus on the Civil War from the Confederate perspective as newspapers from the Southern state are available, albeit more rare, and offer an interesting perspective on the events of the war. Issues from Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, offer some of the best coverage of the war as all news eventually found its way to Richmond. And the editorials offer fascinating reading in the “Daily Richmond Examiner” or the “Daily Dispatch”. Charleston newspapers also offer great coverage, after all the war began in its harbor. The “Charleston Daily Courier” was one of the best, and one of but a few Southern newspapers which printed in the masthead “Confederate States of America”. Venturing beyond the more “common” of the Confederate titles, newspapers from other states are available, a few of the more accessible being the “Daily Progress” (from Raleigh) and the “Louisville Daily Courier” from Kentucky. The “Daily Memphis Appeal” is an intriguing title, as during its Civil War history it was chased by the Yankees out of Memphis and published in 8 other Confederate cities before succumbing in the final weeks of the Civil War.
A “Confederate” newspaper from the North might seem like a oxymoron, but “The Crisis” from Columbus, Ohio, was an intriguing newspaper by a copperhead publisher who was very much opposed to the Lincoln administration and strongly supported the Confederate effort believing that slavery could not be prohibited by law.
One cannot mention newspapers of the Civil War without discussing “Harper’s Weekly”, the illustrated newspaper which put all the action, drama and cruelty of war into the homes of every American. For the first time, citizens were able to see what their leaders looked like, as an abundance of portraits of the Civil War officers appeared throughout the war years, not to mention the great wealth of battle scenes and city views not found elsewhere during the Civil War. Not to be outdone by the Yankees, the Confederates created their own version of “Harper’s Weekly”, titled the “Southern Illustrated News” published in Richmond, but it was a poor imitation at best. It’s lack of success resulted in a considerably smaller circulation and obviously more rare title for collectors today.
Whatever your interest in the Civil War, collectible newspapers have much to offer. With prices relatively low for 150 year old items and containing virtually every event which happened during that fascinating era, a notable collection can be amassed which can be enjoyed and admired without breaking the bank. A fascinating world awaits those who discover this interesting collectible.
Few eras in the broad range of American history have the appeal as that of the “Wild West“, a romanticized period following the end of the Civil War thru the end of the 19th century. It was a time when America was healing from the wounds of war and the adventurous were pushing the American boundary further West. It was the 1849 California Gold Rush which sparked interest. Now with the war over, new adventures were sought by many.
Those of the Baby Boom generation grew up on western movies and cowboy & Indian television shows. Even Disney’s hugely popular Mickey Mouse Club and the newly minted Disneyland had the Wild West as a popular theme. What we remember are battles with Native Americans, saloon brawls, gunfights, and a multitude of other events which seem to define the era. And to the delight of collectors, all are found in newspapers from the Old West.
Geographically our “Old West” definition would be any from west of the Mississippi. Some 25 years ago we were fortunate enough to purchase a sizable collection of Old West newspapers which were deaccessioned from the Bancroft Library, including many titles which existed only there, then only in our inventory. With some regret many have long since sold out, but most remain available.
Ways of collecting this era are many. Some might pursue one of as many different titles as are available. Content is a lesser concern; they just want one of everything. Some might collect one from every state from before the 20th century. Many states would be easily found but others can be challenging, particularly Arizona, New Mexico & perhaps Idaho. Others might be more specific and collect only titles from before statehood, typically known as “territorial newspapers” (note: Arizona & New Mexico joined the Union in 1912 so early 20th century issues are “territorial”). Again, many can be easily found while others are more of a challenge. California became a state in 1850 (interesting how quickly Congress can act when a pile of gold is found in the backyard) and the number of titles which existed in the Golden State before 1850 were very few. For the best of collections, finding an early issue of the first newspaper to publish in each state can be a special challenge. But of course this is the fun of collecting.
Then there is a larger segment of collectors who pursue content, whether it be the iconic events of the Old West such as Custer‘s Massacre, Killing of Jesse James, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, capture of Sitting Bull, or just mundane reports of iconic events such as skirmishes with Indians, barroom brawls, bank & railroad robberies, and general reports of lawlessness. Yes, they are all found in Western newspapers of the day, and the search can be exciting.
As a subset of an Old West collection is Mormon content, as the story of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is part & parcel of the westward expansion. Many titles from Salt Lake City are available and contain a wealth of Mormon content from shortly after their settlement in Utah. Another subset might be popular Western towns. Yes, 19th century newspapers are available from Tombstone, Sacramento, Deadwood City, Tucson, Albuquerque, San Francisco, Laramie, Reno, Los Angeles, San Diego, Leavenworth, and on and on. Of special intrigue is finding newspapers from ghost towns. Bodie, California is a great example of a once booming mining town which is currently a California State Park and popular ghost town attraction. Many of our titles from Northern California are from towns which are today a fraction of their size in the 19th century.
The world of Old West collecting is endless, and to the surprise of many prices for most newspapers of the era are unexpectedly low. Explore this interesting era of American history and discover a new facet of collecting!
Thomas Nast ranks as one of the most successful, powerful, and prolific artists of the 19th century, and is a name linked closely to one of the most successful, powerful, and prolific newspapers of the 19th century. Through their successes, both Nast and Harper’s Weekly gained sufficient power to influence American politics in the second half of the 19th century and help shape the political climate of America during the industrial revolution.
Thomas Nast was German born, moving to America in 1846. Skilled as an artist, he first went to work for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in 1859, but within 3 years he began working for its competitor, Harper’s Weekly. His work continued to appear in Harper’s thru 1886.
It was a symbiotic relationship for the two. Circulation of Harper’s Weekly grew as Nast drawings were found in more and more of its pages, and Nast‘s notoriety and popularity grew in large part to the increased circulation of Harper’s Weekly. Nast‘s powerful pen in support of the prosecution of the Civil War was honored by President Lincoln when he called Nast “our best recruiting sergeant”.
With original artwork by Thomas Nast commanding prices far beyond the pocketbooks of most collectors, prints found in Harper’s–and only in Harper’s–remain a popular way to assemble a collection of this famed artist’s work at relatively low prices given the current availability of genuine issues.
For today’s collector, interest in Nast falls into three categories:
1) His portrayal of battles & events of the Civil War, which often featured human interest themes & the effect of the war on those back home, remain as some of the best and most heart-felt scenes of the Civil War. Daily newspapers only provided written text; Harper’s Weekly and the prints of Thomas Nast provided a visual representation of the reality of war.
2) Perhaps most noticed as a political cartoonist, his work did much to expose the graft and corruption of William “Boss” Tweed, the powerful Tammany Hall political machine of New York City. In fact it was a Nast cartoon which caused Tweed to be arrested following his escape from jail and flight to Spain. A customs official recognized him from his many appearances in “Harper’s Weekly”. Nast has been credited with doing much to cause elections of all in the hands of those he supported (Grant’s two Presidencies), and cause to fail those he disliked.
It was Nast who created the caricatures of the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant to represent those parties, political icons which remain to this day. Desired among collectors are the first donkey to appear in the pages of Harper’s Weekly (January 15, 1870) and the first elephant to appear (November 7, 1874), as well as the first time they appeared together (December 27, 1879). All three command premium prices due to their desirability, but collectors are encouraged by the inexpensive prices for other genuine issues of Harper’s which include Nast illustrations of both.
3) Santa Claus prints. It is Thomas Nast who is credited with creating the modern version of Santa Claus, the jolly, rosy-cheeked, rotund purveyor of gifts in the uniform as we know him today. Nast’s first Santa Claus to appear in Harper’s Weekly was titled “Santa Claus in Camp” from during the Civil War, appearing on the front page of the January 3, 1863 issue. Yet it is the January 1, 1881 issue which has the Santa Claus centerfold which still appears in many Christmas advertisements and is perhaps his most famous rendition. There are many issues of Harper’s Weekly which have Santa Claus prints, all very desired among collectors.
True to any symbiotic relationship, with Nast leaving Harper’s Weekly at the end of 1886, he lost his forum to reach the masses, and in losing Nast, Harper’s Weekly lost its political importance. Nast continued his work in other publications, none being very successful, until his death in 1902 to yellow fever. Harper’s Weekly never regained its success from the Nast years, and it ultimately ceased publication in 1916.
Harper’s Weekly issues with Nast prints are very displayable, particularly those which feature Nast images on the front page, or notable icons such as popular politicians, Santa Claus, Uncle Sam and Abraham Lincoln. A very famous Nast cartoon featuring Lincoln is the “Long Abraham Lincoln A Little Longer” cartoon which is in the November 26, 1864 issue, signifying his successful second Presidential election.
All issues offered by Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers are genuine & complete in 16 pages, save for a few described otherwise. In many cases two or three Nast prints appear in one issue.
A few year’s ago we posted an article which is worthy of a revisit. It regards the interaction of enemy troops on Christmas Eve from during WWI. Some stories are worth repeating (see link below). We’ve also created a Christmas-themed Pinterest pinboard we believe will be worth your time to view. Please have a wonderful Christmas. As for our Jewish friends, thanks for providing us with the reason for our season. Happy Chanukah to you as well.
Pinterest: Viewing Christmas thru Historic Newspapers…
Christmas Eve – WWI: A Christmas thought… loving our enemies…
Some of the better & more fascinating items found in old newspapers are not the most historic or significant, but rather the casual appearance of seemingly innocuous reports which excite collecting interest beyond the historic headline or dramatic presentation which are the more usual draw.
Much of what intrigues collectors can be lost within the body of reports, yet they tell a story of their own, such as the patriotic fervor of some colonist during the Revolutionary War. I recall an issue of the Edinburgh Evening Courant of June, 1776 reporting on American soldiers: “…Their uniform is a dark grey coarse linen frock, which covers the whole body…with the words, ‘Death or Liberty’ marked in large red letters on the right sleeve; and many of them are so enthusiastic as to have them marked with their own blood…”. This report is almost lost on page 3 yet its message is very telling of the spirit which caused the Americans to win the war against a world power despite insurmountable odds.
Some reports are fascinating by their bias. A Richmond newspaper of July, 1863 reporting on the Battle of Gettysburg notes: “…The Confederates did not gain a victory, neither did the enemy. He succeeded in defending himself & we failed in some portions of an attack…We killed more of the enemy than we lost; we took very many more prisoners than lost. The Confederate army did not leave the enemy until it had tried every link of his armour…” Another newspaper notes: “ ..Information, certainly authentic, is in the hands of the Government, which leaves no doubt of the safety & triumph of the noble army. General Lee was victorious in all the combats which have taken place. He has been engaged with the whole force of the United States & has broken its backbone…”, Perhaps the most extraordinary example of optimism appeared in the Richmond Examiner of July 25: “…The result was not a defeat, it was not a loss; it was only not a victory…It was little else than a disappointment of extraordinary expectations…”. What a precious statement as an example of Confederate optimism.
Other little gems were very prophetic in their reporting, particularly when read with an historic perspective. A Scottish newspaper from 1775 sensed a lasting war with America as it reflected on the Battle of Bunker: “…The mischiefs which have already arisen & the greater calamities which are threatened from the unnatural war excited in America…It is impossible we can see, without the utmost alarm, preparations making for the prosecution of an expensive & ruinous war with our own Colonies…”. Some can be very recent, like the New York Times comment on rookie Mickey Mantle in 1951: “…Mantle, who gives every promise of developing into an outstanding baseball star, was ordered to report to his draft board next Wednesday…” An editorial comment in the Army & Navy Journal just after the Gettysburg Address opined: “…a dedicatory speech by President Lincoln, which we give in full, as decidedly the best feature of the occasion, as well as one of the most felicitous utterances of its author.” How true.
Some were prophetic even when the reports were simply wrong, like the Illustrated American article of 1898 reporting on “A New Flying Machine That Flies”–five years before the Wright brothers–when it said: “…It is impossible to imagine without terror the day when these mechanical birds, these flying apparitions, will be able to rain upon armies, hostile towns and escalating parties most deadly and most destructive explosives…”. How true it would become.
There can be much to be found in newspapers beyond the headline. What a thrill it is to discover such hidden gems; reports that have escaped hundreds of years of history only to rediscovered with new-found relevance today. Such are just some of the joys of collecting early newspapers.
Please enjoy: “Newspapers that shaped the world…“