Numbering an issue….how was it done?

April 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

numbering_issues_11The numbers noted at the top of the front page of a newspaper, typically at the far left and right of the dateline, may seem a bit confusing so I’ll try to explain what they mean.

Most newspapers had two sets of numbers: 1) the issue & volume numbers, and 2) the whole number.

The issue & volume number often appear such as “Vol. 5 num. 237” which means this is the 237th issue from the fifth year of the newspapers existence. Newspapers would assign a volume number to their publication which would increase by one on the anniversary of its beginning, so if a newspapers published it’s first issue on March 5, 1837, volume two would begin with the first publication after March 5, 1838. The issue number notes the issue from within that volume, meaning that issue “Vol. 5 num. 313” might be followed by issue “Vol. 6 num. 1” if the newspaper published 6 days a week (365 days less 52 Sundays = 313 published issues in the year).

numbering_issues_21But to many the more mysterious number is the “whole number”. Essentially it indicates how many issues have been published since the founding of the paper, and can be a very large number if the paper has been in publication for many years.

Using the above example of “vol. 5 num. 313” the “whole number” of this issue would likely be 1565 (313 issues per year x 5 years = 1565). And the very next issue, noted as “vol. 6 num 1” would be whole number 1566.

numbering-_issues_31The tricky thing is that when some newspapers were sold, reorganized, changed their name, or merged with another they might begin a “new series” and the volume/issue numbers would begin afresh, and the whole number may or may not start over with number 1, depending on the whim of the publisher.  So these numbers cannot be depended upon to give an accurate reflection of how old the newspaper is, nor the number of issues that were printed since its inception. Niles’ National Register did this at least twice in its 40 years’ existence.

Don’t tell the Chamber of Commerce…

April 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

santa-feA brief piece in the “Niles’ National Register” newspaper of Baltimore, January 14, 1843, obviously came from a disgruntled visitor to the West:

“Capt. Kendall, in describing Santa Fe, says it is a little mud-built city, that stands between civilization and the jumping off place.”

If you’ve visited Sante Fe, New Mexico recently, you can certainly attest to the significant improvements which have been made since 1843.

Red (British) tax stamps… They appear to be random…

April 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

red_ink_stamp_2Recently a member inquired as to why the red-ink British tax stamps seemed to appear randomly within an issue – sometimes on the frontpage, sometimes on the backpage, and at other times somewhere within the issue. Although we had our thoughts on the subject, we called upon a collector of red-ink stamp issues, Randall Burt.  His thought substantiated our “hunch”:

“These newsprint publishers bought their stock from the
paper makers, and then were required by law to pay the paper tax on it at the gov’t
house where the paper was taxed at current rates.   The stamp was applied on
the blank sheets [pre-printing], then taken to their newspaper office where the news was added.

red_ink_stamp_1These tax stamps were not always in a desirable place for the collector. J.H. Chandler & H. Dagnall wrote extensively on this subject in their “Newspaper & Almanac Stamps of
Great Britain,” as did several other noted revenue writers.”
Randall Burt

Thanks for your insight Randall.

If you have additional questions you would like to see addressed through the History’s Newsstand Blog, please comment to this post of send your questions to

Collectible Magazines… Rich West… Periodyssey…

April 1, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Although Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers’ archives contain nearly every issue of Gentleman’s Magazine, Harper’s Weekly (actually an illustrated newspaper), Harper’s Monthly, The Sporting News, and a selection of others (Liberty Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Scribner’s, etc.), including many of these and others beyond what is posted on the Rare & Early Newspapers website, the Timothy Hughes of magazine collecting is Rich West of Periodyssey.  He operates with integrity, has an incredible inventory of magazines to offer, and is the most knowledgeable resource in the field of magazine collectibles.  Lou Kahn and his daughter Tammy Kahn Fennell recently interviewed Rich for Collectibles Corner TV.  Feel free to enjoy the entire video or advance to the 5 minute mark to catch only the portion of the show containing the interview with Rich.  Rumor has it they’ll be doing a follow-up interview with Rich West shortly.  Please Enjoy:

Episode #9 – Occupied Japan, Provenance, Antique Quilts, American Periodicals, Rich West of Periodyssey

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