Contrasting pairs of historic newspapers: another way to collect…

November 11, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

The recent election, reflecting the great strides made socially & politically by the African-American community, brought to mind another opportunity in newspaper collecting not thought of by most. In preparing issues for a future Supplement the “Detroit Free Press” of June 12, 1963 struck me as a interesting contrast to the election of just a few days prior. The headline proclaimed: “NEGROES ENROLL AT ‘BAMA”, noting the struggles African-Americans had just to enroll in universities across the country during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Zoom forward just 45 years and the headline of the “USA Today” read “America Makes History – OBAMA WINS” noting America’s first African-American president. (We have this pair listed on eBay. Click here to view.) I don’t believe it’s a stretch to say that in 1963 the thought of an African-American president in any person’s lifetime was considered a serious possibility, yet it happened, and indeed America did make history.

Carrying forward with this “contrasting pairs” idea, a fascinating collection of newspapers could be built around this theme. How about a December, 1903 issue report on the Wright brothers’ first flight alongside an issue of July 21, 1969 announcing man landing on the moon? How about an 1844 newspaper on the first successful telegraph transmission alongside an issue announcing the launching of the Telstar satellite, noting the achievements in distance communication? How about a 1920 newspaper reporting the ratification of the Suffrage Amendment giving women the right to vote, along side an issue just 64 years later reporting Geraldine Ferraro as the first female Vice Presidential candidate representing a major American political party? Consider the contrast in perspectives of having both a Yankee and Confederate newspaper for the same Civil War date. The advantage that newspapers offer to this interesting theme is they offer physical evidence of achievements & accomplishments…one can display such headline issues side by side.

What other “contrasting pairs” do you believe would be intriguing additions to an historical newspaper collection, and why?

Obama election victory : a follow-up…

November 10, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

I commented previously on the most desirable issue or issues to have on the November presidential election. My thought being a newspaper from the victor’s hometown and/or a newspaper from Washington, D.C. being among the best. Plus, how desirable are presidential election newspapers in the scope of the historical newspaper hobby?

To most collectors, election reports are desired. But this election was different. More than just another presidential election, history was made. The first African-American will be heading to the White House in January and it’s interesting to speculate on how this makes a 2008 election newspaper more desirable than any previous election report.

It has been interesting following the eBay sales over the past six days. Not surprisingly thousands of newspapers have been listed and many have been sold, including at least one lot of over 600 issues of the Chicago Tribune (sold for $1799). The highest sold prices I’ve noticed have been the New York Times, and being one of the more famous & prestigious newspapers in the world I’m not surprised it would command some attention among bidders. I saw bona fide sale prices for individual issues of $400, $300, $265, $255 and another dozen sales above the $100 mark.  Curiously, the highest Chicago newspaper sale price I noted (Tribune) was for $115. Most of these prices were achieved the day after the election as savvy sellers took advantage of the expected post-election euphoria to achieve what seem to have been the highest prices of the week.

Although I have no statistics upon which to base this thought, I don’t believe past election newspaper sales resulting in so many $100+ final sales. I suspect the added historical appeal this election provided had much to do with both the demand and the prices achieved. We are selling election issues from 2004 for $28 (interesting pair from Florida: see listing) and $50 for the Washington Post.

But how will prices be affected going forward? As is the case with all collectibles, buyer demand will set the mark. The degree to which collectors recognize or appreciate this election as being different from most, and the shear quantity of issues hoarded last week–and which come on to the market over the next ten years–will determine whether prices will languish in the $10 to $25 range or whether $75 might be a typical sale price. Time will tell.

What’s your thought?

The vast majority of Chicago issues and the New York Times sold the past 4 or 5 days seem to be in the $10 to $25 per issue range although there are exceptions at both ends of this range. Looking forward ten years… will they be considered bargain purchases? Again, time will tell. It’s part of the fun of collecting! 

All this being said, please note:  When the potential investment value of a newspaper becomes the primary motivation for purchasing historic newspapers rather than the intangible value of holding history in your hands, the joy of the hobby may well be sacrificed. Keeping true to the hobby, we urge “collecting” and not “investing”.

Golden Nugget Contest Winners… Thank You!

November 7, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Two weeks ago Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers… …History’s Newsstand ran a contest asking contributors to share their story of a time when they had purchased a newspaper (for one reason or another) only to discover upon reading the issue that it also contained key historic or highly interesting content that they did not know was present when they initially obtained the issue.  Many responded with their tales of discovery, and one of the hidden joys of the collectible was made known to all.  Thanks to everyone who participated.  Your participation made for great reading and certainly added to the community at large.

Never did I imagine selecting the three top “winners” would be so difficult.  All of the tales were fascinating, making the decision nearly impossible.  However, without explanation other than to say the decision process was based more on a gut feeling as opposed to any sort of highly defined selection process, the winners are:

Third Place (three-way tie) ~ $25 Rare Newspapers Gift Certificate: Joe Rainone & Andrew Robinson, for the shear quantity of contributions with interesting content – any of which easily could argue a higher placement, and Paul Sarna, for finding an article written by Lieutenant John F. Kennedy (with a picture of the youthful future President), in a May 7, 1945 (historic) Boston newspaper

Second Place ~ $50 Rare Newspapers Gift Certificate:  David Sounik, for finding the printing of the Northwest Ordinance in a nondescript period newspaper.

First Place ~ $100 Rare Newspapers Gift Certificate:  Alan Pollack, for finding the execution of Jack McCall (murderer of Wild Bill Hickok) in a n extremely rare old west title “The Black Hills Pioneer”.  Wow!

As a thank you to all those who participated, and acknowledging that the most “beautiful” story is likely to be found in the eye of the beholder, all participants will also be receiving a 10% discount coupon for use on a future purchase (some restrictions apply).  All discount coupons and certificates will be mailed on Tuesday, November 11th.  To view all entries, please go to:  Contest – Share your best “golden nugget discovery” with the world!

Obama Wins… What newspapers provide…

November 5, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

Regardless of your view on the recent U.S. election, one thing is for certain: Barack Obama’s victory was a very significant and historic event! If you collect historic newspapers you’ve been able to follow the progression of African Americans – from slavery, through the early rumblings of the abolitionist/anti-slavery movement, into the struggle for emancipation (both officially and pragmatically), to achieve the right to vote, followed by the struggle of the civil rights movement, and finally, to the top and most honored position of all – The President of the United States.  It has been a long and hard-fought struggle, but thanks to all that has made our country great, it was a struggle with hope.  The realization of this hope has set the stage for a new era in this great experiment in self-government.  The melting pot is working, evolving the United States into a country where there are no African-American, Latino-American, Anglo-American, Mexican-American, etc. citizenry, but rather, one united citizenry poised to return to the great American Dream founded on the principles wisely set forth by our forefathers and supported by the many men and women who have given their lives in the cause of this great hope…  And it has been and will continue to be chronicled passionately in rare and historic newspapers.

Note:  To all those who have African American and/or slavery/anti-slavery newspaper collections:  Don’t forget to obtain a USA Today, Washington Post, or similar newspaper containing the election results. Although it may not have siginificant financial value at the moment, my guess is there are many who have gone before us whom would declare it “PRICELESS”.  🙂

Where have all the real men gone?

November 3, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

A life surrounded by rare newspapers helps provide a tether to the past as a stronghold against the prevailing winds of revisionist history; a hidden advantage the hobby provides which would be difficult to find within the list of benefits offered by any other collectible.  Case in point:

Tomorrow’s U.S. presidential election has caused many of us to ponder the past, the present, and the future of our country, and to grapple with the decision concerning how we might vote.  This reflection has led me to  wonder how we have come to be where we are in this beloved country of ours.  One side-bar of being surrounded daily by “history… as reported from the day it occurred” is that the contrast between our forefathers and ourselves is laid bare.  Old newspapers reveal harsh and sometimes violent differences in opinion, partisan politics, and hostile political verbal exchanges in the public square.  Sounds like today.  So what’s the difference?  Although there were extreme differences in political ideology, there were absolutes which rarely faltered.  Regardless of their differences, our forefathers, for the most part, were united in their belief that:

1)  the Constitution was designed to be a document to be interpreted through the eyes of “what the country was not permitted to do to its citizens” rather than “what the country should do for its citizens”.

2)  the “pursuit of happiness” meant that citizens should be able to flourish through determination, a strong religious mooring, and the sweat of their brow.  Class and specific religious affiliation were not to predetermine one’s socioeconomic status… future… hope.

3)  regardless of religious affiliation, the Judeo-Christian ethic was essential in providing the foundation for the Republic – and the degree to which its citizens and leaders embraced this ethic would largely determine the long-term success (or failure) of this experiment is self-government.  Even the deists embraced this thinking!

Most importantly, they were united in their desire to create, nurture, and protect a government which would provide a better world for their children, and their children’s children.  No one had a sign on the back of their gold plated carriage which stated:  “I’m spending my children’s inheritance”.  Rather, they would have denied themselves everything if it could in some way make a better tomorrow for future generations.  They gave their very lives for this cause… and would do it again if able.  And they weren’t the only ones who grasped the principles of hard work, solid mooring, and self-denial.  How many millions more left everything, risked death on the open sea, and passed through the mass of humanity at Ellis Island, all for the opportunity to kiss the dirt of a country which they knew would give them the hope of providing a better future – not for themselves, but for their families as they progressed through future generations?

Now, partisan politics is paramount – voting our conscience is what we claim, but the voice from within has long been silenced by our pursuit of self gratification.  Queen, one of the many flamboyant bands of the 70’s and 80’s, described us well when they sang “I want it all… I want it all…  I want it all, AND I WANT IT NOW!”

However, it’s not too late.  We can still be “…the champions my friends…”, but we need to return to the dream of our forefathers, gather our moorings, break a sweat, and start thinking of our children’s children.  With the election at hand, why not examine yourself, seek truth, awaken the voice from within (or even better, the VOICE from within), and vote your conscience rather than simply the party line or for what is expedient?  It’s time to sacrifice.  It’s time to be men!

What other collectible would have solicited such reflection?

Note:  This post is focused intentionally on men.  I’m convinced most women still have their natural God given “motherly instincts” intact.  Even if subdued for a time, their desire to do right by their children is poised to leap into the future like a roaring lion.  Thanks women.  🙂

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Harper’s Weekly with Thomas Nast’s 1st Republican Elephant: November 7, 1874

Harper’s Weekly with Thomas Nast’s 1st Democratic Donkey:  January 15, 1870

Harper’s Weekly with both images as shown above:  September 19, 1908

Anything from the election worth saving?

November 2, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

A question came to me thru email which is worthy of a thought or two. The writer asked “…what newspaper from the election would be worth saving?”.

There are a couple of thoughts as to what–if anything–is worth saving. Some believe a newspaper from the victor’s hometown would be best. Some think a Washington, D.C. issue because of it being the nation’s capital. Some might try for the winner’s town of birth, particularly if it’s a small, obscure town rather than a major city. I would offer a few thoughts:

1) I don’t believe any issue will be particularly scarce or rare as people are very collector savy today and tend to hang on to issues much more so than was the case 50 years ago. Particularly in this eBay era many even buy issues in large quantities hoping to make a killing in the on-line auctions several years later. So I don’t believe any issue will be particularly scarce, which will be a major factor in future value.

2) As collectors I believe we should collect what strikes our interest or fits our collection rather than focusing on potential value years later. If one has a collection of election issues from Washington, D.C. then certainly a Washington Post would fit nicely into such a set. If one has a collection of newspapers from the winners’ home towns, or issues with the largest headlines, then those would be best for such a collection.

3) I would argue that the unusual or bizarre issue will have greatest appeal in years to come and such issues might not be from any major city, D.C., or the victor’s home town. I’m reminded of the interesting issue from the towns of Rock Island and Sterling, Illinois, which jointly published a newspaper which had a screaming headline: “WAR!” in red letters taking most of the front page, issued at the beginning of the Iraq war in 1991. It was a non-discript newspaper from two somewhat small towns but the headline beat anything I’ve seen from any of the major cities.

And then there are the clever headlines such as the pair of issues from Florida during the controversial election of 2000 with headlines proclaiming “BUSH ELECTED” on Nov. 8 and then “BUSH ELECTED II” on Dec. 14. They are an unusual pair from an unusual election, and published in Florida which was at the center of the controversy.

This is the fun of collecting–finding those obscure, fascinating newspapers which have an interesting or clever visual appeal; issues not commonly found within collecting circles.

What’s your thought on collecting newspapers from the election?

Golden Nugget Discovery Contest…

November 1, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The Golden Nugget Discovery Contest winners will be selected and posted by Friday, November 7th.  In the meantime you can view the entries at:  Golden Nugget Contest

Good luck to the participants!

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