The May (2017) Newsletter from Rare & Early Newspapers…

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Each month the staff of Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers sends out a newsletter to our members which includes special offers, discounts, alerts to new inventory, and information related to the rare newspaper collectible. Our most recent newsletter may be viewed at:

MAY (2017) NEWSLETTER – RARE & EARLY NEWSPAPERS

Final editions of newspaper publications…

October 14, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

We are frequently asked to appraise final editions of newspaper titles which have gone defunct. Sadly, much like the specific publications themselves, collectors rarely find these final editions to be blog-10-14-2016-chicago-daily-newsattractive. Some might suggest the lack of interest in current newspapers (in general) might have a negative impact on the hobby of collecting historic newspapers, but our experience has shown no such correlation. Alternately, the decline in readership of current titles and the corresponding abundance of newspaper publications going out of business seems to be directly proportional to the ease and speed for which information can be had at a minimal (if any) cost. In most instances, by the time a newspaper hits a subscriber’s doorstep, much of the news is already outdated. One journalist of such a “final edition” had their own thoughts on the matter, and interestingly enough, whether you agree or disagree with his bitter-pill-tainted analysis, some of the social issues mentioned seem as appropriate for today as they did when the article was written in 1978. The article may be read in full at: Chicago Daily News, March 4, 1978 (see images 4-10).

 

More on printing newspapers in the 1700’s (revisited)…

June 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

This article is primarily taken from the April, 1996 edition of “Collectible Newspapers” edited by Rick Brown, whom we thank for this contribution. It offers some interesting insights into the printing & distributing of newspapers in the colonial and post-colonial era of the United States.

printing_pressNewspapers from the latter half of the 18th century were relatively scarce. One factor was that early settlers were busy clearing the land & otherwise making the land habitable & sustaining. Plus only a small percentage of the population had reading skills beyond that of the basic rudiments. Although most towns of any size by 1715 had tracts of land set aside for schools, few actually had schools built & in operation.

Nearly all 18th century newspapers were edited & published by printers that had a general printing business and also printed pamphlets, books, broadsides, lottery tickets, etc. Many also sold merchandise, groceries, patent medicines, and a variety of other goods. Rags, which were used to make the paper , were scarce in the colonies so most of the paper was imported from England.

Newspapers were printed on wooden hand presses with each application of ink to paper requiring a pull of by lever and screw. It was not until around 1816 that the new iron Columbian press came into general use. Instead of a screw it used a series of compound levers that multiplied the pull of the operator. But still, all hand presses were slow & laborious. The forms had to be laid by hand and the ink was poor and of uneven quality. Types were frequently old and worn.

After the newspapers were printed, distribution difficulties were encountered. Circulation was confined, for the most part, to the towns in which they were published. They were distributed to the rural areas by post-boys on horseback and by stagecoach drivers. The roads were bad & the postal system was slow. Subscribers were few & the cost of an issue relatively expensive so newspapers were typically handed around from one to another so that a single copy was ready by many. Even those who subscribed often failed to pay for their subscriptions.

It has been estimated that the largest circulation of a single newspaper during the earlier colonial period was about 350 and that only a few reached this high of a number of circulation. By the 1750’s circulation for larger city newspapers reached upwards of 600 of each issue printed and during the Revolutionary War some newspapers boasted circulations in excess of 2000. By 1790 most newspapers were printing less than 1000 copies but the very popular “Columbian Centinel” from Boston was printing over 4000 copies of each printing date.

Despite poor equipment, limited circulation, nonpaying subscribers, poor distribution facilities & the general unprofitability of publishing a newspaper, the number of newspapers being published continued to increase as the years went by. There were numerous failures, but new newspapers were established to replace them. From 1704 to 1820 about 1634 newspapers came to life and died. Of that number only two-thirds of them lived beyond three years.

(originally posted in 2009)

Newspaper circulation in the 1700’s (revisited)…

June 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

columbian_centinelWe often get queries as to what the circulation numbers were of colonial and later 18th century newspapers. Clarence Brigham, in his book “Journals & Journeymen” provides some helpful information.

The earliest comment on newspaper circulation in America was by publisher John Campbell in his Boston News-Letter of 1719. He notes that “…he cannot vend 300 at an impression, tho’ some ignorantly concludes he sells upwards of a thousand…”.

Famed publisher Isaiah Thomas remarked: “In 1754 four newspapers only were printed in New England…weekly, & the average number of copies did not exceed 600 from each press.”

Circulation gradually grew as the days of the Revolution approached. Rivington’s New York Gazetteer of Oct. 31, 1774 boated his weekly impressions “… increased to 3600…”, and Thomas noted in his Mass. Spy of Dec. 21, 1780 noted he had a pre-Revolutionary circulation of 3500 copies, then was driven out of Boston by the British invasion & established the Spy in Worcester. In 1775-6 circulation was 1500, in 1778-9 it was 1200, and in 1781 it did 500 impressions. He also noted that: “It has always been allowed that 600 customers, with a considerable number of advertisements, weekly, will but barely support the publication of a newspaper.”

Later Thomas noted that the famous Connecticut Courant of Hartford had a circulation which exceeded his Mass. Spy, that: “…the number of copies printed weekly was equal to, if not greater, than that of any other paper on the continent.”

In the last decade of the 18th century the number of newspapers increased, but circulation did not keep step & in generally averaged from 600 to 700. A few papers from larger cities were exceptions such as the Maryland Journal of Baltimore which claimed a circulation of near 2000. And the very popular Columbian Centinel would top the list of all 18th century newspapers in circulation with over 4000 per issue. Other popular late-18th century titles & their circulations included the Aurora with 1700; the Farmer’s Weekly Museum with 2000 and Porcupine’s Gazette with over 2000 in circulation in 1799.

But given these numbers, how many copies of any single date survived? A good question as certainly the vast majority were read and discarded. Outside of those held by institutions in bound volumes those which exist in collectors’ hands today almost assuredly came from deaccessioned institutional holdings and likely will be the only issues to see the light of day for many years to come.

(originally posted in 2009)

Obtaining the Value of a Newspaper or Collection…

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

We do not monitor requests concerning the value of newspapers through this venue – but we would be glad to assist. If you have a newspaper or a collection for which you are seeking an appraisal, please contact us directly at info@rarenewspapers.com. Please include as many details as possible. Thanks.

Lincoln Assassination Newspapers Atlas…

January 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Rick Brown been collecting Lincoln assassination newspapers for over 50 years. He has also been a historic newspaper dealer and bought, sold, or brokered in excess of one million historic newspapers. Currently he has in about 200 original Lincoln assassination newspapers – Both Union and confederate. In that same time he been setting aside reprints of the April 15, 1865 New York Herald as he came across Blog-2-18-2016-NY-Herald-Reprintsthem. In 1992 he self-published “An Atlas of Known April 15, 1865 New York Herald Reprints.” In that work, all pages of 17 different reprint versions were shown. With concentrated efforts in 2015 he contacted a few major institutions and has now discovered 48 different/variants of this edition. His online version of the current atlas that shows all pages of 45  different variants. Also included in this online atlas is background information about the reprints – who published, when, how many pages, etc. The URL for his online Atlas is: http://www.historyreference.org/newspapers/assassination/

An average of three April 15, 1865 New York Herald’s are listed on eBay EVERY WEEK – that’s over 150 per year. Almost all of these listings claim there’s is an “authentic,” “original,” or “genuine” edition.  In the past 15 years he has been conducting weekly searches for “April 15, 1865 New York Herald” on eBay. There have been approximately 2,250 listings for this edition on eBay and ONLY TWICE the listings were actually original editions! Also, since he has been going to estate sales and auctions for over 20 years, he has seen a few hundred of these editions offered – NOT ONE OF THEM were an original!! Over 95% of these reprints were produced over 100 years ago so they LOOK OLD, Looking old does not necessarily mean it is an original. Buyer beware – Collector value for these reprint editions is $10-$20 depending on condition.

If you have a Lincoln-related Web site or know someone that does, please have them add a link to my online atlas.

Rick Brown
http://www.historyreference.org
A Nonprofit Organization

Noteworthy newspapers – one person’s view (part I)…

October 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

At Rare Newspapers, the most difficult to answer yet common question our staff is frequently challenged to answer is, “Do you having anything new to offer that’s interesting?” While some newspapers would certainly rise to the top of the heap and make the answer a no-brainer (Lincoln assassination, Declaration of Independence, an Oxford Gazette, a great Stock Market crash report, etc.), these issues are few and far between – and do not come along very often. What about the periods when no “best of the best” has come our way? Selecting great issues is often quite subjective – and ends up being heavily Blog-10-22-2015-Joe-Paternoinfluenced by one’s own interests and knowledge base. This truth makes answering this question nearly impossible. However, just for fun, from time to time we’ll ask the Rare & Early Newspapers’ staff to take turns looking at the issues listed month-to-date to select their choice for the most interesting new item.

I’ll get things started by taking a look at September (to-date), 2015. In my opinion, there are several good issues to choose from: The New York Yankees acquire Joe DiMaggio, the very 1st King Kong advertisement,  the announcing of the creation of a Jewish homeland, the execution of the Rosenbergs, and the death of William Randolph Hurst – to name a few. However, as a graduate of Penn State University, my selection of the month is an issue announcing Joe Paterno becoming a starter at Brown University. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’m confident my selection may not be the same as yours.  You can weigh in on your own thoughts by looking at the first page of our Recent Listings. Enjoy.

Next stop: October, 2015.

Post-Boys from London… A collector asks…

June 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The following is a guest post from a collecting friend. Feel free to weigh-in on any of his questions or comments:

“While I have been buying newspapers for 10 years [from Rare Newspapers],  I have yet to see numbers of estimates printed for the popular London Post-Boy (most of my collection is the Post-Boy). Over the years, I have not found any numbers on the web until just this week! I was again urged on my watching Art and Coin TV, in which the 1899 Morgan Silver Dollar for sale, was mentioned to be very rare, with only 300,000 minted! Ha!

In the publication ‘Publishing Business in Eighteenth-Century England’, by James Raven, he states surviving records list the thrice-weekly printing in 1704 was 9000 a week, so 3000 per date!  Quite a bit less then Morgan dollar for sure. But what of the total numbers that survive today?

My best guess would be at most, 1-2 percent of any one date, under 100 copies held in intuitions and private hands? Any one here found any estimates published on surviving copies?  As an off-set pressman by trade, I enjoy showing off the Post-Boy at work, to the delight of all.”

Lawrence Garrett

Follow-up from Lawrence:

“I know a phrase from a London Gazette I have  been trying to fully understand, without success. {It is found within] a September 24, 1666 issue you have. It states a ship ‘struck on the sands of the riff-raffes’. This sounds like a Sandbar, but I have seen sandbars called just that in these old newspapers. Despite much research, I cannot find any slang term for sandbars from any time period, let alone 1666. It would be nice to find published information confirming these Riff-Raffes are indeed sandbars. Is it possible these sea/lake/river bottom features were called Riff-Raffes  BEFORE land use for rough trouble making people? Any other readers found this in other newspapers?”

Yet another discovery… I love this hobby!

March 27, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

From time-to-time we (Rare & Early Newspapers) talk about one of the joys of the hobby being the unearthing of unexpected “finds”. A few weeks ago this was played out in spades as

Guy Heilenman, President, Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers

we learned that the same issue we had sold for under $50 sold at a well-known auction house for well over $5,000 – the price driven by content we did not know was present. While we do our best to discover such hidden gems before offering issues, the reality is, it is nearly impossible to find everything of historical interest and/or collectable value. Some wonder if hearing about such events bothers us. Quite the contrary. This is one of characteristics of collecting old newspapers which make the hobby so enjoyable. While not all “finds” bring financial reward, it is rare to read through a rare newspaper from cover to cover without finding something unexpected beyond the original reason for purchasing – an interesting ad, the mention of a noteworthy name, contemporary viewpoints which add depth to the key content, etc. What fun!

While we won’t mention the exact date or title (that would be too easy), we will say the issue was from the 1760’s and was not American. 🙂

Prices of newspapers… How have the changed?

February 20, 2015 by · 10 Comments 

One of the questions we often receive at Rare Newspapers relates to the Blog_Guy_11_2012collectible investment value of newspapers over time. Most indicate they do not collect for investment reasons; rather, they do so for the love of “History in your hands.” The embrace our motto: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.” Newspapers provide glimpses of history in the context of both the exciting and mundane of the era in which it was reported. Still, the question remains. How has the value of Rare & Early Newspapers progressed over time? We posed this question to our founder, Tim Hughes, and the following was his response:

We have to keep in mind that this hobby is a very small one, and when I began 39+ years ago there essentially was no established market, nor any sort of price guide which offered a baseline of values based on content, condition, etc.

I came from the coin collecting hobby and knew from it that the more rare the item, the more values increased through the years. Common date pennies were selling in the 1970’s for about the same prices as from a decade earlier, while the rare dates/coins had increased substantially. I took this information with me when I opted for a hobby which had yet to be exploited by an established collecting industry such as coins, stamps, books, etc. Although I purchased veraciously during my earlier years, always fearful the supply of 150+ year old newspapers would dry up, I have found that the common, generic material was always plentiful—and still is today. What has not been plentiful are newspapers with historic reports, and newspapers which are themselves very rare. The “less plentiful” issues have appreciated considerably over the last 39 years, while generic issue values are really not much different today than they were 39 years ago. Example: I always offered a 10-issue wholesale lot ever since my first catalog, then priced at $19.50. The same lot today is $24.95, and I suspect some of that increase is more to help offset increased shipping costs. And I think we have a virtually unending supply.

How much have values of historic & rare issues increased? It can be difficult to say as we have never made a point to keep comparative records as it seemed a bit meaningless for our purposes. But in general I would say they have increased 5-fold to 10-fold in the post 30 years. I’m not going to consider my first 9 years in the business as any sort of gauge as I was still feeling my way thru the hobby; raising & lowering prices as my customers would react (or not react). An anecdotal story: early on in my enterprise I purchased a bound volume of a Santa Fe, NM newspaper from 1881. Amongst the 150 or so issues was a run of, perhaps, 40 issues each having a little reward ad for the capture of Billy the Kid. Figuring a novice such as myself coming across the volume, and the fact that there were so many issues with the ad, I logically presume it was not very rare. I think I sold those issues for $35 or so each. If I would have those issues today I think we could get $700 each. That Tim_2010doesn’t mean the value has increased by 2000%. It speaks more to my ignorance of what they should have sold for 35 years ago. Unfortunately that incident wasn’t my last such learning experience.

Perhaps one of the more “common” of the very historic issues would be the Gentleman’s Mag. with the Declaration of Independence. We sold it for under $2000 ten years ago, and now we sell them for $4000. So this document in this title has doubled in 10 years, and I could never say that it is “rare” as we encounter this issue perhaps twice a year. It is extremely historic, but not truly rare. Truly rare items would have increased much more dramatically. In fact truly rare items don’t come on the market any more. I have few qualms offering a truly rare event/newspaper for 4 or 5 times our last price if we only had it twice in 39 years.

As is always the case–and as it truly should be in a free market economy–the collectors ultimately determine the prices of our material. There have always been high-income collectors who have kept the rare items rising in value at a consistent rate, while more common items have languished in value because collectors are not taking them off our shelves.

I cannot say that there has been any period over the last 39 years when the hobby was either “hot” or “cold”. I think whether values have rising nominally or dramatically, they have done so in a rather consistent curve, unaffected by the economy or stock market ups & downs.

I still believe the hobby is very much in its infancy. The vast majority of people have no idea that our hobby exists, and I have always felt the time will come when that will change. I don’t have to tell you that in a comparative sense with other collectables, our hobby seem dramatically undervalued.

Tim

People collect rare newspapers for various reasons – investment purposes being one of them. Finding hidden historical gems, preserving history, immersing oneself in an era and/or event, as a companion collectible to another collectible interest, etc. What a great hobby!

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