Campaign newspapers: a hobby within a hobby…

January 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Before the days of television, radio and certainly the internet, how did Presidential candidates get their platforms across the the electorate? Daily newspapers could not be counted upon as most were politically aligned with one of the parties so reporting had an obvious bias.

“Campaign newspapers” were one vehicle for candidates. Rather than rely on the ethics of the local publisher, parties produced their own newspapers during the campaign with the emphasis on the platform of the candidate. Logically such newspapers were short-lived and are relatively rare today as a result.

William Miles did a book titled: “The People’s Voice: An Annotated Bibliography of American Presidential Campaign Newspapers, 1828-1984” which lists chronologically and by party over 700 titles. The following is excerpted from his Preface:

“Every four years since at least 1828 the campaign newspaper, like the campaign biography, song, poster, and similar election paraphernalia, has reappeared as a familiar part of the American presidential electoral process. Unlike the general party or partisan newspaper, these sheets were published specifically to support the cause of an aspiring candidate or an officially nominated ticket. Usually issued only during the period of the campaign itself, they were the campaign documents that emphasized the strengths and the importance of political organization at all levels; and to attack, generally in vitriolic language, the opposition. No matter if established and issued by party committees or by committed private individuals, or as “extras” and subsidized papers by already established partisan journals, the purpose was the same: organize the party faithful to work on behalf or electing the national, and by extension, the state and local tickets.”

Such elusive titles do provide an interesting array of titles including “Hickory Sprout” “Coon Hunter” “Harry Of The West” “Rebel Youth” “Hickory Tree” “On Our Way” “Rail Splitter” “Sober Second Thought” “Soup-Spiller” “Magician” “Grape Shot”  “Rough & Ready” “Barnburner” “Dirty Shirt” “Kickapoo” and “Straight-Out Harrisonian” to name but a few.

Collecting campaign newspapers can be a fascinating hobby within a hobby, if only for the variety of titles available. Do you have any great-named campaign newspapers in your collection? Feel free to share.

Rare Newspaper Collections Within Collections…

January 14, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

From our guest contributor, *Morris Brill:

A significant segment of my newspaper collection is American and International Politics. This segment focuses on Presidents, World Leaders, Wars, Treaties, and Legislation.

Recently, while reviewing my collection of historic newspapers, covering the span of the past two centuries, I noticed I owned numerous newspapers referencing one world leader whose exploits spanned twenty-two years and whose name is one of the most recognizable in world history.

His fame is owed not only to his charismatic leadership but to the specific historic events with which he is associated.

Few world leaders can lay claim to a greater body of history than this leader, and collecting newspapers about this one man, alone, could occupy a collector’s time and interest for many years.

The story of this leader starts in 1789 with events leading up to his assumption of power on November 9, 1799 and continuing thereafter until his death in 1821.

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE stands monumental in history and the events he is associated with are among the most famous in military conflict.

My collection starts in 1791 when King Louis XV1, and his Queen Marie Antoinette, attempted to flee Paris dressed as servants to free themselves from captivity during the French Revolution. (The Mail; or, Claypoole’s Daily Advertiser – August 24, 1791)

This event is followed by the beheading of King Louis XV1, as reported in the Gazette of the United States of March 10, 1793.

The following year Queen Marie Antoinette was beheaded as reported in the Courier of New Hampshire of March 6, 1794. This newspaper contains one of the most tender reports I have had the pleasure of reading in any newspaper of any event, and I attach it here for your reading pleasure.

The Boston Gazette of December 26, 1805 reports on the Battle of Trafalgar fought between the naval forces of England against the combined naval forces of France and Spain. It was during this battle that Horatio Nelson, England’s most revered naval commander, lost is life and left to posterity his famous words, “England expects that every man will do his duty.”

On March 9, 1813, as reported in the Salem Gazette, we read of Napoleon’s Retreat from Russia representing one of the most lethal military operations in world history. “Its sustained role in Russian culture may be seen in Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the Soviet identification of it with the German invasion of 1941-1945.”

The Weekly Messenger of June 6, 1814 tells the story of Napoleon’s Exile to Elba. This is followed by Napoleon’s Return From Elba as recorded in the Daily National Intelligencer of May 2, 1815.

On August 25, 1815 the Weekly Messenger reported on what has become synonymous to a ‘final undoing’ The Battle of Waterloo. The Duke of Wellington, in reference to Napoleon, is quoted as saying: “I consider Napoleon’s presence in the field equal to forty thousand men in the balance.”

The Vermont Intelligencer of August 27, 1821 tells the final chapter with its report on The Death of Napoleon Bonaparte.

My collection of Napoleon Bonaparte related newspapers is certainly not comprehensive. I have used this example to illustrate that within a collection the collector can find eras that are worthy of a collection of their own.

Perhaps you have a collection of George Washington, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Robert E. Lee or any of numerous other leaders whose names have been recorded in the annuals of history.

Please share with us your special interest and collection.

Morris Brill

*  Background:

Morris Brill has been collecting newspapers for 45+ years with an emphasis on Political History, Air and Space, Famous and Infamous People, and Americana.

Morris possesses a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and History.

During an interview conducted by his hometown newspaper Morris was asked “What have you learned by collecting newspapers.”

Morris replied with the following:

“In essence I have learned that joy and sorrow walk hand in hand and that which we celebrate today may be the cause of our tears tomorrow, and yet, while we weep, the future is ready to bring us further elation.”

Thank you Morris. Your insight and contributions to the hobby are greatly appreciated.

Ways to collect: beautiful mastheads…

January 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

When I started collecting early newspapers many years ago, beyond the intrigue of something printed hundreds of years ago I was struck by the engravings found in the mastheads of many newspapers. I am still intrigued today, and I’ll admit that many of the newspapers found in our private collection are there because of their masthead engravings, not for their historic content. As a dealer one of my frustrations in the early years was publishing a catalog which did not accommodate photos. Later editions had a select few (most still do) but now many of our pricier catalog issues can be viewed online. And of course any newspaper we sell on our website or our eBay Store has multiple photos, allowing us to share the beauty of masthead engravings of centuries past.

Eagle engravings are a favorite of mine and the variety available from the 18th & 19th century has to number well into the hundreds. The photo shows an issue of the “The Eagle”, the title apparently so obvious that the words never appeared in the masthead (but see the top of the first column). This is a rare title from Castine, Maine which lasted for only two years.

Themes in masthead engravings have been a focus of many of our customers. One man only buys newspapers with engravings of people shaking hands, and surprisingly I was able to find several for him.

What masthead engravings intrigue you? Do you have a favorite?

From the private collection: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”

December 22, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

Sometimes historical content in newspapers takes a back seat to seemingly innocuous items found which, in time, resonate through our culture without the slightest impact on history. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address could be one example. And such was the case with an innocent letter written to THE SUN newspaper of New York City in 1897.

Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial in their Sept. 21, 1897 edition. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps. It has unquestionably become a part of Christmas culture over 110 years later.

At this special time of year we feel it appropriate to share not only the inquiring words of Virginia O’Hanlon but the timeless response just as it appeared in the newspaper in 1897.

May all of you allow the spirit of the Christmas season as beautifully expressed by Mr. Church find a special place in your heart and home this week.

Headline was ready: regardless of who won…

December 11, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Among the many curious newspapers we’ve encountered the last 32 years is a pair of the “Publix Opinion” newspapers from New York, both dated September 22, 1927. This was essentially a promotional newspaper done by the Publix Theatres Corporation which owned various movie houses across the country.

The curiosity of this pair is that they both report on the famous Jack Dempsey – Gene Tunney boxing match fought the date of this issue. Obviously they had two editions ready to hit the streets depending on who won: “TUNNEY WINS” with subhead “Champion Retains Crown” was the one newspaper, and: “DEMPSEY WINS” with subhead: “Ex-Champ Regains Crown” read the other newspaper. Somehow both editions were bound into the volume of issues for the year, but I suspect none of the “Dempsey Wins” issues were offered on the street, as Gene Tunney won the fight.

This was the famous “long count” match during which there was some controversy as to whether Tunney, when knocked down, was actually down for 13 seconds versus 9 seconds before standing up and coming back to defeat Dempsey.

The text was written generically enough–or so they thought–to satisfy any reader of the newspaper. Or at least they didn’t care about inaccuracies, as there was no mention of Tunney hitting the canvas, nor the controversial long count. And they report the crowd was 160,000 when in fact it was 104,000.

Ultimately the report was just a lead-in to promote the showing of the film “Underworld” in the Publix Theatres (see last paragraph). An ad for the movie appears on page 3. Not surprisingly the contents of pages 2, 3 and 4 are identical in both issues.

Enjoy a fascinating curiosity!

Curiosities are fun to collect…

December 4, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The strange and the unusual make interesting additions to a newspaper collection, not only in the reports within the newspaper but the newspaper’s appearance as well.

One issue from our private collection is significant for not only being a desirable title from Deadwood City in the “Black Hills” as noted in the dateline, but the front page and back pages have the columns printed alternately in red and blue ink. From what I can gather by the front page text they seem to be celebrating Washington’s birthday in a very creative way. It certainly makes for an unusual presentation.  We have found that many newspapers from the Old West included unusual formats, likely due to the difficulties of printing so far from the metro areas of the East Coast.

Have you found some similarly unsual newspapers which are now in your collection?  If so, what might they be?

Likely a one-of-a-kind newspaper from the private collection…

October 9, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

One of the thrills of collecting newspapers is coming across one which has never been discovered before nor since. Such is the case with our issue of the Civil War newspaper titled “The Red River Rover”, which I discovered at a Civil War Book Fair in Gettysburg many years ago.

This newspaper was “Printed on board Steamer Des Moines” and is dated March 21, 1864. It is a most fascinating and possibly unique little newspaper printed on lined, blue ledger paper. This is the first issue (and possibly the last) as the front page contains the “Salutatory” which explains how this paper came into being:

“We present to-day this little sheet to the citizens of Red River country and the soldiers who are now threading their way among the intricate bayous of this part of Louisiana, with the hope that it may be beneficial to those who follow the ways of treason, and entertaining to the brave boys who are now vindicating the integrity of the Federal Union even at the cannon’s mouth. It is printed upon the material of the Louisiana Democrat, of Alexandria, the last number of which was issued on the 15th of March, the day before the Stars and Stripes were raised upon the Court House, though it contained not one word of warning to its readers that the army of the United States was moving upon the waters of the Red River–but was brimful of blustering secession news, all favorable for success to the Confederacy…”

There is other interesting reading on pages 1 and 4, with the blank pages 2 & 3 being taken up with a handwritten letter of a soldier to his wife dated March 31.

Nice that it references where it received its paper (taken from Louisiana Democrat) with some comment on the Yankees moving in and capturing the town.

Themes in collecting…

October 7, 2008 by · 3 Comments 

Perhaps the best aspect of collecting early newspapers is the endless ways one can collect. Although there are those who collect a great variety of dates, titles, or events, the opportunity to focus on a specific era or topic can provide an exciting collection which is much more diverse than one might guess.

Displayability and dramatic appeal are of interest to many, and the 1920 – 1945 era provides a tremendous opportunity for some “screaming” headlines typically not found prior to or after these dates. Within this era one can focus on various topics: politics, sports, economics, discoveries/inventions, and gangsters to name a few.

The gangster era intrigues many and some dramatic headlines can be found if one devotes the time to the search. Just one example from our private collection is the PALESTINE DAILY HERALD newspaper from Texas, dated May 23, 1934 which features a banner (from edge to edge) headline which reads just as a collector would want: “BARROW AND BONNIE PARKER RIDDLED WITH BULLETS”. And nice to have this report in a Texas newspaper as Bonnie & Clyde were killed near the Texas/Louisiana border. More typically this report was not much more than a column or two in most newspapers, and often found on an inside page rather than as a front page feature. Finding a banner headline can be very exciting. Banner headlines on Al Capone, “Baby Face” Nelson, John Dillinger and the host of other notorious names from the gangster era surface upon occasion and become choice additions to the collections of those who appreciate their rarity.

What “theme” in collecting do you enjoy? Are you a “generalist” with newspapers crossing over the broad spectrum of dates, titles, and events, or have you been intrigued by focusing upon a much more narrow theme which others may not have thought of? We’d love to hear of your collecting interest….feel free to share your thoughts.  Note:  Please focus on themes rather than specific issues within your collection.

April 15, 1865 New York Herald Reprints

September 30, 2008 by · 97 Comments 

Quick note:  If you have an April 15, 1865 New York Herald and it has either an illustration of Lincoln on the front page, or, if it is the “Extra 8:10 AM” edition, it is a reprint. Other reprints exist, but these are the most common. Additional information can be found below and via the Library of Congress’ website.

From our guest contributor, Rick Brown:

Authentic April 15, 1865 New York Herald

I have been collecting Lincoln assassination ephemera for 43 years now. Since I am listed in several directories, I average 2 to 3 telephone calls a month from people wanting to know the value of their old newspapers. In the past 43 years I have been offered the April 15, 1865 New York Herald perhaps as many as 10,000 times and only once was it an original. I’ve heard many a story like  “It can’t be a reprint because my great grandfather fought in the Civil War and bought it in New York and brought it back home.” One of the strangest responses I received when I informed the owner their specimen was a reprint was: “Producing a reprint is against the law. Therefore it HAS to be an original!”

To add to the confusion, the first reprint was produced in 1871 and the last about 1908. (This does not include the reprints printed on parchment – those are still being produced today.) Thus, the reprints DO look old because they are old.

In 1995 I did extensive research into newspaper reprints including the April 15, 1865 New York Herald. At that time I documented 32 different versions. The only Herald reprint produced on rag linen was a single sheet printed on both sides. The back page has a large ad for Grain-O-Coffee (who later became the originators of JELLO) and was produced in 1871.

Due to the nation’s centennial in 1876, interest in major events in American history was high. Publishers produced literally a hundred different newspaper reprints of various titles.

Starting in 1890, Kitchel’s Liniment, a patent medicine company, produced an annual version of the April 15, 1865 New York Herald. The front and back page remained the same. Pages 2 and 3 were testimonials for Kitchel’s Liniment. At the top of page 2, centered in the margin, was the phrase “Use Kitchel’s Liniment (1890) and Forever.” Each subsequent annual reprint changed the year in the phrase. The last Kitchel’s Liniment reprint version I have found is 1908. Another patent medicine company that produced New York Herald reprints was MA-LE-NA liver pills. They, too, produced annual reprint versions but with no date indicated like with Kitchel‘s Liniment.

The assassination of President Garfield and McKinley also saw reprints of the April 15, 1865 New York Herald produced. Ford’s Theater and various museum gift shops also sold these reprints and still do today.

Authentic Left Column Heading

While very few actually indicated on the paper itself that is was a reprint, it is important to note that NONE of these reprints were meant to deceive. In the case of the patent medicines, people were hired to give the reprints away at county fairs or other places where a large quantity of people would be gathering. The reprints were a marketing device. It was reasoned that having the Lincoln assassination news on the front and back page, people would not throw them away like they would if it were just a flyer advertising their product.

In the 1930s, however, the height of the American depression, there were a few scam artists who went door to door selling a “valuable relic of American history” – An old April 15, 1865 New York Herald reprint they had obtained in quantity. Unknowing people would take what little cash money they had and purchase it for $1 or so (big money in those days.) They were hoping to sell it for much more. Meanwhile, the scam artist had moved on to another city.

Of the 32 versions I have documented, only one was printed on rag linen; the Grain-O-Coffee one. Four of the versions were single sheet and printed on both sides. All four of these have the date April 15, 1865 on the front page and April 14, 1865 on the back page. Three were printed on parchment paper and the other one on wood pulp paper. The rest of the reprints were 4-page editions. Of the 32 reprint versions, all but 6 of them have printed on the front page in the forth column from the left and about six inches down the phrase EXTRA 8:10 AM is printed. There were NO original 8:10 AM EXTRA editions produced. Originals have eight pages and were printed on rag linen.

One of my continual searches on Ebay is “April 15, 1865 New York Herald.” Currently, on average, there are 3 to 4 of these placed on Ebay on a weekly basis. Very few correctly state that they are offering a reprint. Most claim to be originals. From time to time I will send an email to the seller pointing out that their specimen is actually a reprint and referring them to my site for further information. –  Of each ten sellers I send the email to, on average, four thank me for pointing it out to them but seldom edit their listing to point out that it is a reprint; four do not respond at all; and, shamefully, two reply back with something like “You know it is a reprint, and I know it is a reprint, but THEY don’t know it’s a reprint.” In the past 12 years I have used Ebay, only ONCE was an original offered. Fortunately, very few of the April 15, 1865 New York Herald’s reprints actually sell.

Authentic Page One Report

Recently, yet another Herald reprint was offered on Ebay that made me snicker. The photo showed one of the single sheet reprints so badly deteriorated that it was in four pieces. The seller stated that he would not normally sell this family heirloom, but for the right price he would sell it. The minimum bid was $100,000!!! I didn’t have the heart to break his bubble.

Rick Brown
A Nonprofit Organization

Editor’s Note:  The Library of Congress also provides a great web page which discusses this commonly reprinted issue:  NY Herald Reprints

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