Collecting rare and historic newspapers is a hobby with a personal flair. Although an individual may begin collecting random issues covering a wide variety of topics, eventually they typically settle on a specific area of interest. Perhaps it will be one of the war eras, the Old West era, or issues with Presidential signatures, acts, or addresses. One might derive pleasure from collecting Civil War battle prints or issues with decorative mastheads. Others may like to collect issues from each decade of the last few centuries or issues from each President's administration. Yet another way to collect newspapers is to use them as a companion collectible for another area of collecting interest - images of sewing machines, inventions, railroading, early flight, dentistry, slave ads, from the year of each coin's release within one's collection, with a box score for each major baseball card held, etc. We've even known a number of collectors who have spent years focusing on a particular era (perhaps Civil War), who then migrate with a focus through time (perhaps moving on to the Revolutionary War and then Colonial eras). The possibilities are endless. In the end, one thing is for certain, like an heirloom violin, no two collections are exactly the same. Feel free to either share your areas of interest by commenting to this post or send us your collecting story (see more details below).
Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers continues to maintain and add to their own private/personal collection. The focus has been on one-of-a-kind/rare titles and major historic events. Even what one considers to be historic is somewhat subjective. Below is a video which was done a number of years ago which features Tim showing some of the Private Collection. Please enjoy!
If you would like to share your story of how you became interested in collecting rare and/or historic newspapers, e-mail it to email@example.com and place “My Story” in the subject field. Although not necessary, feel free to include an image. Please do not include your e-mail address or a personal website as part of the text of your story. We will post collector stories every few weeks and will send you a notice when your story appears. Thank you for your contribution to the community.
I've been interested in the Lincoln assassination ever since I was thirteen years old. The 19th century images really grabbed me, and continue to give me a sense of what took place. As a New Yorker, my interest expanded to Lincoln's N.Y.C. funeral, Lincoln's prior trips to NY, Mrs. Lincoln's NYC shopping sprees, and John Wilkes Booth's activities in the city. In the course of all of this, I also became interested in 19th century NY photographers, theaters, hotels, and department stores. It has become obvious to me that period photographs convey and impart just so much. The old newspapers turned out to be the missing ingredient. There is nothing like holding an old NYC newspaper in my hand (or a weekly like Harper's, Leslie's, Gleason's, etc;). Turning old pages that someone had turned in 1865 doesn't just provide research information; it takes me back in time and shows me what life was like. It's a wonderful experience to re-capture the sense of immediacy and news-gathering that someone had experienced back then when he or she turned those very same pages -- whether it's reading the details of Lincoln's 1861 arrival in the city, reading the details of such events as his assassination, his funeral, finding out what parades took place in town the previous day, or what shows are currently playing in town. Old newspapers are time machines!
Thanks for sharing your story Richard. If you would like to share your story of how you became interested in collecting rare and/or historic newspapers, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and place "My Story" in the subject field. Although not necessary, feel free to include an image. Please do not include your e-mail address or a personal website as part of the text of your story. We will post collector stories every few weeks and will send you a notice when your story appears. Thank you for your contribution to the community.
The Library of Congress has a wonderful collection of original newspapers along with an extensive digitized database of American titles. An informative website is maintained in an effort to provide useful information related to rare and historic newspapers. They describe themselves as:
"The Serial & Government Publications Division maintains one of the most extensive newspaper collections in the world. It is exceptionally strong in US newspapers, with 9,000 titles covering the past three centuries. With over 25,000 non-US titles, it is the largest collection of overseas newspapers in the world. Beyond its newspaper holdings, the Division also has extensive collections of current periodicals (70,000 titles) comic books (6,000 titles) and government publications (1 million items)."
Some of the features to be found at their Newspaper Division's website are webcasts, a searchable data base, full text versions of many newspapers and periodicals, and a link to their ongoing project "Chronicling America". Although we at Rare Newspapers maintain an extensive list of common reprints (thanks to Rick Brown at HistoryBuff.com) the Library of Congress also has an abbreviated list of common reprints with descriptions as to how one can determine whether their issue is authentic... or not.
Thanks L.O.C. for your ongoing efforts on behalf of historic newspapers.
"The Alaska Times" newspaper from Seattle, W.T. (Washington Territory), May 14, 1871, contains a very colorful front page article with a simple heading: "Alaska" which reports a census for Sitka. Enjoy reading how the inhabitants were categorized.
The world's oldest continually published newspaper was begun in 1665 and still prints today, a staggering 345 year history which likely will never be broken by any other single title. Indeed, the newspaper still publishes today so it sets a more unbeatable record as each year passes.
The newspaper is titled "The London Gazette", but collectors have occasionally seen issues of "The Oxford Gazette" and wondered about the connection.
First, the most convincing derivation of the term "gazette" is from "gaza", the Greek word for a treasury or store. That newspapers are a "treasury or store" of information would allow for a plausible adoption of the term "gazette".
In 1665 the Royal Court had been removed from London due to the Plague which had been ravaging the city. The smaller towns in the country seemed less susceptable to the contagion. So with a newspaper serving as a mouthpiece of the Royal Court it was logical that it would set up shop in Oxford, calling itself "The Oxford Gazette".
But when the affects of the Plague seemed to have abated sufficiently for the Court to return to London, so did the newspaper. Twenty-three issues were published in Oxford, and with issue number 24 was the first with the title "The London Gazette", a title which has remained unchanged for over three centuries.
So there might be a bit of a debate as to what the earliest issue is of "The London Gazette". The earliest with this title would be issue #24, dated February 5, 1665 (1666 by today's calendar), but argument certainly could be made that the first issue of "The Oxford Gazette" would qualify, it dated November 16, 1665.
Given its short life under the earlier title of "The Oxford Gazette", such issues are extremely elusive. We have sold many over the past 33 years but rarely find them today.
In conversations with people about how I started this business, a common question is, "How did you know how to prices newspapers back then?" Well, the short answer is I didn't.
This venture started as a hobby with no thought of it turning into a business. But when I started getting too many of a similar title or date, selling off the "unwanteds" became a more common occurrence. My simple thought was, if I had $3 for it, try to sell it for $5. If I did, the price stuck for future issues; if it didn't, the price dropped to $4.
But this became trickier years later when I was buying for resale but didn't have enough experience to know what to pay, nor what to price them at. Nor did anyone for that matter, as there were no price guides, nor sufficient auction records to offer a clue.
I was flying by the seat of my pants. If I thought an event was historic, say a major Civil War battle, I would pay the $5 price and increase it by 50% or so. If it sold, then the next time I inched it up a bit more. If it didn't, I reduced the price a bit. Never knowing how high customers might go for an event, I might have "inched up" the price of an event 15 times over the coarse of 4 or 5 years until there was some resistance. I was careful to keep records of sales through the years--even in the pre-computer days--which was a tremendous assistance in assigning values to the myriad of historical events covering 300 years of history.
Did I sell some great material too cheaply in the early years? I sure did. Looking at some of my earlier catalogs I gladly pay five times the selling price of many items I sold. But it was part of the process. I remember nce having a volume of a Las Vegas, New Mexico newspaper from 1881. There must have been 30 or 40 issues with a small "Reward" ad for the capture of Billy the Kid. I think I sold those issues for less than $20 each. If I had 40 of them how rare could they be? Certainly I've learned through the years, and became smarter as well.
But we are still challenged today with some items. As we continue to find truly rare, almost unique issues it becomes difficult to assign values with no history or prior sales. But these are the fun challenges. As much as you may enjoy finding interesting items in our catalogs, I enjoy finding the unusual to offer.
Although this is a business, I have always gotten more joy from buying newspapers than selling them.
The report shown appeared in the "Staunton Spectator" newspaper of Virginia, May 5, 1836. Accuracy in reporting the news certainly wasn't any better back in 1836. Have you ever found similar inaccurate reporting?
For me, I love history and the first time I came across an old paper (I think it was the coronation of George V in 1911), I was smitten. I loved reading the headlines as they were years ago.
In the 80's I also began collecting antique maps (also my love of history and discovery), and these took over for a while. Now I have antique maps and newspapers!
What gets me excited about the old news is to enjoy the personal connection that people make with the various stories. For example I used to keep a number of the front pages framed in my office at work. One day, a colleague came in and told me how he had admired the "Titanic Sinking" headline. This fellow, originally from Northern Ireland, told me that his father worked at the Belfast shipyard that built the ship, and that he had actually worked on the building of the Titanic. After thinking about it for a while, I gave him the paper. It meant a lot to him, and we all had a few tears in our eyes.
On another occasion I was talking to a friend and discovered that his father had been a soldier in the Canadian Army and had participated in the ill-fated Dieppe Raid in 1942. His father was captured by the Germans and spent the rest of the war in a Prisoner Camp. When I showed his the newspaper from a few days later, mentioning his father as "missing in action" it was also a very moving moment. I decided that I can live without it, and gave it to him.
Yet another time I mentioned to someone in the Salvation Army that I had a paper describing the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in 1914. The ship was on it's way to an international congress of the Salvation Army. Most of the 150 members of the Army on board were drowned as was the Salvation Army Band. This was a difficult time for the Army (in fact the band was not reconstituted until 1969). I donated the paper to the Salvation Army museum, where more people can appreciate the story.
I also amaze my family from time to time. A few months ago, my teenage daughter was doing a history project on the London Blitz of 1940. I offered to loan her a front page describing the German first bombing assault on London. She originally wasn't sure that people would be interested in an old newspaper. The fact that everyone thought it was "so cool" also gained me extra points with my daughter...
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Thanks for sharing your story Carl. If you would like to share your story of how you became interested in collecting rare and/or historic newspapers, e-mail it to email@example.com and place "My Story" in the subject field. Although not necessary, feel free to include an image. Please do not include your e-mail address or a personal website as part of the text of your story. We will post collector stories every few weeks and will send you a notice when your story appears. Thank you for your contribution to the community.
A customer was requesting a newspaper with a report of Nap LaJoie, one of the more notable names in baseball in the early 20th century, ending the 1901 season with a .422 batting average. He was one of only a few to do so in the 20th century (there's been a 67 year dry spell since Ted Williams was the last to do so, in 1941).
Finding reports of batting averages in 1901 is very difficult, but I did find a report at the end of the season which notes: "Lajoie...took part in 131 games. He was at bat 554 times, made 226 singles, 48 doubles 12 triples and 13 home runs...".
Never mind that the numbers are slightly off from the official record book, which notes 543 games, 229 singles, 48 doubles (only one correct), 13 triples and 14 homers, as such errors might be understandable. But even given the accurate numbers, in calculating his average one comes up with a sum of 304 successful at bats, divided by the number of games (543) giving an average of .560. But curiously, if you just took his 229 singles divided by 543 the result is exactly his recorded batting average: .4217, rounded out to .422.
Should I surmise that the term "singles" actually means "hits" by today's terminology ? Was this the common practice back then, to call any type of "hit" a "single"? If so, when did they make the switch?
Thanks for your help !
The Gazette of the United States from Philadelphia, Nov. 24, 1790, includes an interesting item on a treatise of King James I, who was way ahead of his time in opposing smoking.
He considered it a: "...heinous sin..." and those who used it were: "...guilty of great vanitie & uncleannesse--of sinful and shameful lust...". He considered it: "...harmfull to the brain--dangerous to the lungs--and in the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible stygian smoake of the pit that is bottomlesse."
See the photo for the full text.