Many people think of a newspaper as ephemera, something to be thrown away after you read it or to be used to wrap fish or make silly hats. I never looked at it that way. After college graduation in 1969 I began to get an interest in antiquarian books, maps, prints and other collectibles. It wasn’t until I saw an ad in the paper for historic and antique newspapers. I sent away for the catalogue and notice a reference to a baseball game with line and box scores in a New York paper from 1865. I was curious and spent $2.00 to purchase it. Well, that got me hooked. Being an avid baseball fan, I lost all control and purchased dozens of those early papers with accounts of baseball games. In those early days (1970’s) it was relatively inexpensive to buy 19th century newspapers. There were only a few dealers and I became a regular customer. Timothy Hughes was one of my very first suppliers. I was never disappointed with the condition and the authenticity of my purchases.
When I first started collecting these papers, I had to learn about their fragility the hard way. I try to keep my collection pre-1870’s because those newspapers were printed on rag cloth and can be preserved a very long time. The technology to print newspapers on pulp had been around since the mid-nineteenth century but really picked up by the later`part of the 1870’s. My collection includes late 19th-century and twentieth century issues. Most of them are crumbling to the touch because of the sawdust-composite nature of newsprint. My bound volume of the NY Herald from 1877 is turning to dust. I do have a unique bound volume of the New York Times from early 1940’s printed on silk for archive storage. I picked that up at an auction in the early 1980s. To this day it looks brand new! My 20th-century collection is becoming brittle with each day, even after taking precautions to preserve these cherished papers. They are discolored and disintegrating. That’s why libraries have placed all their collections on microfiche.
I just don’t have the discretionary cash to have a professional paper conservator preserve my entire collection. I use the standard acid-free buffered boxes and folders (careful to keep the newspaper unfolded), storing my collection in a dark environment with a stable temperature between 65 and 70 degrees.
Most of my collection consists of mostly 19-century New York City papers – Sunday Mercury, Herald, Tribune, World, Sun, Times, Daily Star, Daily Graphic, then into the twentieth-century with Herald-Tribune, World, Telegram and Sun, Journal American, Mirror, Daily News. Then I branched out to Colonial and Revolutionary period, with titles like Dunlap and Claypool American Daily Advertiser (1790s – I have about four issues), The Aurora (Benjamin Franklin Bache – 1790s), Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser from 1793 [the forerunner to Dunlap’s paper].
I also have some sporting magazines, Porter’s Spirit of the Times, Wilke’s Spirit of the Times, and of course, Harper’s Weekly and others. Today I concentrate on specific issues of interest for me, like early reporting on rapid transit in New York City [the New York Daily Graphic has some terrific illustrations of the early elevated lines, like the Gilbert Elevated RR, sporting events, Civil War accounts etc.
Some rare titles: Day's New-York Bank Note List, Counterfeit Detector and Price Current. published 1826-1859 [I collect bank notes and coins also]… Demorest's New York Illustrated News…a couple of 1864 copies. Greenleaf’s New-York Journal & Patriotic Register (late 1790s) – I have a couple of these. On and on and on. They are too numerous to list here. I’ve been collecting for over 30 years, and am still fascinated with every issue I have in my collection.
I am on mailing lists and receive constant updates on what is available. The prices have gone up, but still reasonable. What copies I can’t obtain, I can see at the New York Public Library where I go to access their microfilm department to read and photocopy some of the rarer issues. There is nothing like reading history as it happened, by eyewitnesses as the events unfolded. With the future of newspapers in question, collecting them is even more important. Yesterday’s newspapers are not dead, not irrelevant, but still alive:
This is what really happened, reported by a free press to a free people. It is the raw material of history; it is the story of our own times. -Henry Steel Commager, preface to a history of the New York Times, 1951
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Thanks for sharing your story Gregory. 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.Life" magazine of June 28, 1894 would seem appropriate. Newsletter (sent to members on July 14, 2009) Dear Friends of Rare Newspapers, Welcome to the July 2009 edition of our monthly newsletter. In an effort to counter (or at least soften) the pervasively negative economic/political tone which seems to be swirling about from every direction, we'd like to offer a few diversions (see items 1, 2, and 6 below). Please enjoy! 1. A New Scavenger Hunt - The History's Newsstand Blog exists to serve those interested in the rare newspapers collectible. For the next 7 days we would like to encourage our members to go "scavenger hunting" at the blog. We've placed an image (see below) at the bottom of one of the posted articles which includes a discount code below the image (as a caption). This code may be entered at checkout at www.rarenewspapers.com to receive 20% off any website order, no matter how large or small. The code, if found, may be shared with friends, but it may only be used toward website listings (not eBay or custom quotes), and it may not be used in conjunction with any other discount code (new customer, new member, premium member, etc.). Have fun! Read the articles. Enjoy!!! The image to be "unearthed" is:
(the contest image looks identical to the above image)2. Blog Posts from History's Newsstand with a humorous edge may be accessed at: http://blog.rarenewspapers.com/?cat=116 3. The Most Recent Offering - Catalog 164 (just released) - Over 300 newly listed hand-picked issues may be viewed/purchased at: http://www.rarenewspapers.com/list?code=supplement 4. Discounted Items - From now until July 31st, we have a selection of issues which have been discounted by 20% (price shown reflects the discount). The "theme" of these items is 20th century "Displayable" issues. They may be viewed at: http://www.rarenewspapers.com/list?code=Discounted+Issues 5. Timely eBay/website listings:
Moon Landing (on eBay) Stock Market Crash (on the website) Abraham Lincoln (on eBay) Public Enemies, Gangsters, etc. (on the website)6. Food for Thought - Concerning Our Current Economic and Political Environment (source: wikipedia):
"This too shall pass" (Hebrew: גם זה יעבור, gam zeh yaavor) is a phrase occurring in a Jewish wisdom folktale involving King Solomon. The phrase is commonly engraved on silver rings. Many versions of the folktale have been recorded by the Israel Folklore Archive at the University of Haifa. Heda Jason recorded this version told by David Franko from Turkey:Best wishes, Guy & The Rare Newspapers Staff If you'd like to become a member of "Rare Newspapers" (free), you're invited to sign-up at: http://www.rarenewspapers.com/memberships [/caption]“One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiah Ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, "Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkot which gives you six months to find it." "If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty," replied Benaiah, "I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?" "It has magic powers," answered the king. "If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy." Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility. Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day's wares on a shabby carpet. "Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?" asked Benaiah. He watched the grandfather take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity. "Well, my friend," said Solomon, "have you found what I sent you after?" All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled. To everyone's surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, "Here it is, your majesty!" As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words "Gam zeh ya'avor" -- "This too shall pass." At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendo us power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.”The phrase "This too shall pass" and the associated ring story were made popular by Abraham Lincoln in his 'Address Before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin' on September 30, 1859. “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!
Headline: Treaty of Peace - Pennsylvania Packet - 11/08/1783
Quote: "What a free society offers to the individual is much more than what he would be able to do if only he were free." - F.S. Hayek
Headline: Death of Benjamin Franklin - The Gentleman's Magazine - 06/01/1790
Quote: "It is sweet to serve one's country by deeds, and it is not absurd to serve her by words" - Sallust
Headline: Death of President Washington - The True American - 01/01/1800
Quote: "A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government" - Edward Abbey
Headline: Queen Victoria Coronation - Main Farmer/Journal of Useful Arts - 08/07/1838
Quote: "Uneasy is the head that wears a crown" - William Shakespeare
Headline: This "Flying Machine" Flies - Philadelphia Press - 12/19/1903
Quote: "I think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right" - Albert Einstein
Headline: Life Terms in Prison for Leopold and Lobe - Los Angeles Evening Herald - 02/04/1924
Quote: "Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing" - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Headline: Death Takes Stalin's Reign - Syracuse Herald-Journal - 06/06/1954
Quote: "O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength! But it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." - William Shakespeare
Headline: Eichmann Convicted - Los Angeles Mirror - 12/11/1961
Quote: "The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness." - Joseph Conrad
Headline: A Lonely Life Ends on Elvis Presley Boulevard - Memphis Press Scimtar - 08/17/1977
Quote: "It is loneliness that makes the loudest noise. This is true of men as of dogs." - Eric Hoffer
Thank you for attention and interest. Morris Brill
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Thanks for sharing your story Brendan. 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.