In celebration of its 20oth anniversary the American Antiquarian Society published a beautiful exhibition catalog titled “In Pursuit Of A Vision – Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society”. Featured are a fascinating array of books, documents, maps & other paper ephemera, as well as several very rare & unusual newspapers we felt worthy of sharing with our collectors (with permission from the A.A.S.).
As a member of the family which controlled the Boston Globe,and as the newspaper’s treasurer from 1893 to 1937, Charles Henry Taylor avidly collected publication on the history of American printing and journalism. He generously donated to AAS anything it lacked. Among his gifts were runs of many important American newspapers, including this issue — the second earliest at AAS — of The New-England Courant.
Only the third newspaper to be printed in Boston, The New-England Courant was published by James Franklin from 1721 to 1726. During the Courant’s first two years, its popularity was bolstered by the publication of fourteen letters from one “Silence Dogood,” the nom de plume of James’s younger brother and apprentice, Benjamin Franklin. But the Courant had a contentious history, as James was often at odds with the provincial government, the powerful Mather family, and other influential Bostonians. In 1723 James was imprisoned by the Massachusetts General Court and ordered to suspend the Courant, a ban which James circumvented by issuing the paper under his brother’s name. Even after Benjamin ran away to Philadelphia in October of that year, the Courant continued to appear under this imprint until it ceased publication.
The front page of this issue contains an extensive article on the smallpox inoculation controversy then raging in Boston. While Cotton Mather and other clergy supported inoculation, many Bostonians disagreed. James Franklin opposed the practice in this and many subsequent articles.
The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the HERALD EXPRESS–EXTRA, Los Angeles, May 19, 1942: “DOOLITTLE DOOD IT”
The best headlines need no commentary – they speak for themselves. However, sometimes they communicate the wrong message. Let’s hope the LOS ANGELES TIMES – EXTRA for November 22, 1963 was such an instance and not wishful thinking: “ASSASSINATE KENNEDY“
“The Pennsylvania Magazine” was one of only two American magazines which published during the years of the Revolutionary War, including a June, 1775 issue containing a great coverage of Battle of Bunker Hill and Washington’s appointment as Commander-In-Chief, and ending with the July, 1776 issue which included the Declaration of Independence.
For most of its 19 month life, which began in January, 1775, it was edited by the famed Thomas Paine, employed by the publisher Robert Aitken. Aitken was often frustrated by Paine’s procrastination in providing material, as mentioned in Isaiah Thomas’ “History of Printing in America”:
“…Aitken contracted with Paine to furnish, monthly, for this work, a certain quantity of original matter; but he often found it difficult to prevail on Paine to comply with his engagement…Aitken went to his lodgings & complained of his neglecting to fulfill his contract…insisted on Paine’s accompanying him & proceeding immediately to business & as the workmen were waiting for copy. He accordingly went home with Aitken & was soon seated at the table with the necessary apparatus, which always included a glass, and a decanter of brandy. Aitken observed, ‘he would never write without that.’ The first glass of brandy set him thinking; Aitken feared the second would disqualify him, or render him intractable; but it only illuminated his intellectual system; and when he had swallowed the third glass, he wrote with great rapidity, intelligence and precision; and his ideas appeared to flow faster than he could commit them to paper. What he penned from the inspiration of the brandy was perfectly fit for the press without any alternation or correction.”
The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the LOS ANGELES TIMES, June 29, 1933: “‘FATTY’ ARBUCKLE DIES“
One of our more recent purchases was a sizable collection of newspapers from the West Coast which included many 20th century issues covering the deaths of famous movie stars or entertainers. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles newspaper gave much coverage to the passing of some of the more iconic names of stardom from the “golden era”. Those of a certain age well remember many of famous names of the 1930’s-1950’s (totally unknown to the millennial generation) and I count myself among them, so it was with a certain amount of nostalgia that I read the reports as I was writing up the newspapers for future catalogs.
If I had any common reaction to the reports I read it was to the age of many when they died. When I think of such stars I always presumed they were in their late 60’s or late 70’s when they were still acting & much older when they died. But that was when I was in my teens and 20’s, and anyone who had been “around for awhile” seemed like they were much older than they actually were. I was struck by the ages of many when they died, and perhaps you might be as well. Here is a sampling:
Humphrey Bogart 57
Rudolph Valentino 31
George Gershwin 38
Nat “King” Cole 45
Clark Gable 59
Jean Harlow 26
Cary Cooper 60
Mario Lanza 38
Jayne Mansfield 34
Steve McQueen 50
Judy Garland 47
The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the DAILY NEWS, Los Angeles, November 16, 1954: “LIONEL BARRYMORE, STAGE GREAT, DIES“
The Los Angeles “Herald Express” newspaper of August 5, 1938 honored the interesting exploits of Douglas Corrigan with a rarity in the newspaper world: a headline printed backwards.
This was one of the fascinating tidbits of aviation history. Corrigan flew from Long Beach, California to New York & wanted to fly to Ireland but was denied. So he filed his flight plan to return to Long Beach but flew instead to Ireland, stating “navigational errors” due to heavy cloud cover, etc. (see hyperlink for details). He was given a ticker tape parade in New York City with the banner headline reporting: “N.Y. Millions In Bedlam of Noise and Tons of Confetti Greet L.A. Air Hero” with subheads and a large photo of the parade.But the fascinating part of this item is the banner headline at the very top of the ftpg: ” ! NAGIRROC YAW GNORW OT LIAH” and with a small note below it stating: “If You Don’t Know, Read this the Way Corrigan Flew–Backwards!“
The April 27, 1881 issue of the rare “Elk Mountain Pilot” from the ghost town of Irwin, Colorado, has 3 interesting and unusual tidbits concerning the recent death of the noted outlaw, Jesse James: “Jesse James has climbed the golden stairs, (?) to interview those he has sent before.” and: “The papers throughout the country are publishing the picture of Jesse James and no two of them are alike.” as well as: “We have not heard of any one taking up a subscription to erect a monument to the memory of Jesse James.” Yet another tidbit mentions the death of Charles Darwin – making these mentions an interesting tandem.
The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the Los Angeles Examiner, June 20, 1953: “Atom Spies Executed For Aid To Russians”