Atmosphere versus Events – which newspaper-collecting path to tread?

May 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The following is a guest post by blogger Chee Seng:

Newspaper-collecting is something of an oddity in the collectibles and antiques scene. That’s because it’s not the printing house – or the paper/ink – which makes a newspaper valuable to the collector. It is something more ephemeral. It’s the very words that are printed on those yellowing sheets (or not so yellowing for pre-1875 issues), and how they connect to the unfolding story of the times. In other words, it is content, not the vessel, that can elevate one newspaper above all others, in the eye of the collector.

It’s also true to say that, because that collection of news-stories, articles, pictures and adverts are a snapshot of the very essence of an historical epoch – its life-and-times, its mores and outlook – that collectors can be looking at the same newspaper with very different eyes. Some want plenty of local interest, some are fixated on a great news story, some collect certain types of coverage religiously – and some are even looking for specific writers or illustrators.

But while no two-collectors are alike, you can split approaches to newspaper-collecting into two great camps. Those who are chasing after ‘events’, and those who want to steep themselves in the ‘atmosphere’. If you want to understand the sorts of newspapers you should be collecting,
you’d do well to try and understand the different viewpoints of these two camps. It’s not just a philosophical point – chasing ‘atmosphere’ versus ‘event’ can help decide whether a paper is worth one dollar, or a hundred.

It’s fair to say that ‘event’ collectors are hanging their collecting coats, first-and-foremost, from those real big hooks in the historical calendar. Those unforgettable and universal events that are remembered long after they have happened – and often very far from their point of origin. Good examples of these mega-events include the assassination of John F Kennedy or Abraham Lincoln,
the landing on the Moon, or the sinking of the Lusitania.

The reason these big events are so important is that, for many people, who would otherwise not come close to buying a historic newspaper, they resonate a strong chord with them. Having such a bold historical headline, framed and on the wall, is a way of displaying this strong emotional connection. And because so many people are seeking out these original ‘event’ newspapers, the pent-up demand drives up the value.

And of course, much of the interest in collecting newspapers, then, inevitably follows this money. Indeed, many people are drawn into the hobby purely to see if if they can reap big rewards from the ‘events’ held in that stack of newspapers, found stored in the attic. There is nothing wrong with taking such a monetary-influenced path – after all, it sustains many collectible hobbies. But it would
be sad if your newspaper-collecting was restricted to only these mammoth events – which can be counted on fingers and toes for most countries.

This is where the second path of newspaper collecting may be found to be ‘enriching’, on a different level: collecting for ‘atmosphere’. The starting point for the atmosphere collector is usually a personal interest in a particular era. Some people are drawn to the life-or-death drama of the World Wars – where even local news-stories are set against a backdrop of that wider struggle. Others are
find the moral contrasts of Prohibition-era America, for example, with its gangsters and raids and flighty fashions, irresistible.

Following this atmospheric path gives you a lot more scope to learn a little from history’s lessons. However, this is not the history taught in the dry words of the history text books – but in the often vivid and colorful language of the local news-hack. You may also find nuggets of historical interest that other collectors may also find fascinating – and so another route to a higher-than-normal
valuation can open up.

For example, there was a particular buzz, recently, over ‘frontier rags’ – newspapers that rolled out across the frontier, as the West was opened up. Some of these papers had short printing runs, and even shorter lives, as towns boomed and bust. That makes them pretty rare and exotic, and so a lively market grew up around these.

Of course its impossible to predict trends in atmospheric collecting such as these. Far better is to follow your instincts, and build a collection around what interests you. That way a labor of love will provide its own rewards, and any financial boon will come as a pleasant surprise. And that motto makes sense whichever path – event or atmosphere – your choice to take.

Frederic Remington Prints on Pinterest…

May 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Frederic Remington is known for his work depicting the American Wild West.  Many of his prints made their way onto the pages of Harper’s Weekly, the premier illustrated newspaper of the 19th and early 20th centuries, along with a handful of other publications of the period.  Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers has posted several of these on Pinterest for everyone to enjoy.  They may be found at:  Frederic Remington Prints – Harper’s Weekly

The Traveler… a presidential nomination… a bit buggy…

May 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s travels took me to Baltimore, Maryland, through The Weekly Register (Niles”) of May 23, 1812. There I found the “Presidential Nomination” had occurred “…For JAMES MADISON, 82 — No other person being voted for… On motion of Mr. Campbell of Ten. it was then Resolved, As the sense of this meeting, that JAMES MADISON, of the state of Virginia, be recommended as a proper person to fill the office of President, for four years from the third day of March next:…”. Additional information is within that article as well as additional articles pertaining to “The Nomination” and “Presidential Election”.

“The Locusts of Africa” article is interesting as it states that that “…when they visit a country it behooves every individual to lay in a provision against a famine; for they are said to stay three, five, or seven years…”. I can’t begin to image dealing with those bugs for a portion of a day let alone for years!

~The Traveler

Security taken for Kennedy’s visit to Dallas…

May 18, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

One of the interesting opportunities newspapers present is the ability to read news with hindsight. The early edition of the Dallas Times-Herald” newspaper of Nov. 22, 1963 (see below), the edition prior to the later edition reporting the assassination, has much coverage of JFK’s visit to Texas and the excitement around his planned visit to Dallas later that day. One ironic headline on the front page reads: “Secret Service Sure All Secure” with the article providing much detail on the security efforts to make for a safe visit to Dallas.

The reprint issues of the “Honolulu Star-Bulletin” Pearl Harbor issue…

May 14, 2012 by · 9 Comments 

If there is a second in line for the most common phone call or email about a newspaper which turns out to be a reprint, it would be the December 7, 1941 of the  “Honolulu Star-Bulletin – 1st Extra“.

The genuine issue is arguably the best newspaper to have reporting the historic bombing of Pearl Harbor, being a dramatic headline, from the day it happened, and from where it happened. And consequently those conditions make it ripe for creating a reprint edition. From what I understand they are still available at the souvenir shop at the Pearl Harbor memorial.

There are a couple of tell-tale indicators which are easily observed:

* The genuine issue has an ink smear between the “A” and “R” in the huge “WAR ! ” in the headline.

* The reprint edition does not have the ink smear, it  having been “cleaned up” to make for a better appearance.

* The genuine “1st Extra” is 8 pages and does not have the “2nd Extra” nor the “3rd Extra” within, as they were separate, stand-alone edition printed later in the day. The reprint editions typically have one of both of the later editions on pages 3 and/or 5.

* At least one of the reprint edition has the front page of the “Honolulu Advertiser” newspaper on page 3. Obviously a competing newspaper’s front page would not be found within a genuine issue of the “Star-Bulletin”.

As if the above are not sufficient in determine a genuine from reprint edition, the photos of the reprints typically have a “muddy” appearance and are not as crisp & clear as would be found in the genuine issue.

Newsies… a tough life…

May 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

While movies and stage shows such as Newsies show the life of a 19th century newsboy to be a difficult one, we still walk away with a somewhat romanticized view of their daily struggle.  In contrast, the following article from The New York Times, September 1, 1868, helps us to better understand the conditions under which many of these young boys (barely) survived.  As an integral part of the subculture of nearly every major city of the period, it is interesting to see a contemporary glimpse of the conditions under which they existed.  To better grasp the perils under which they lived, click on the link any of the links to view both “The Newsboys Lodging House” and “A Sheep in Wolves Clothing” .

The Traveler… going through withdrawal… setting an example…

May 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I found myself in London with the London Gazette dated May 8, 1712. I found that they had a reward for the apprehension of a gentleman by the name of Charles Guill. Mr. Guill “has belonged to the Bank of England, from whose Service he withdrew himself on the 3d Instant, with several Exchequer-Bills and the following Bank Notes…”. The article also provides a very interesting detail of his appearance and attire as well as the reward for his apprehension.

Another brief article is of the punishment a Robert Kingston received from pretending to be two other persons. He was sentenced to stand in the Pillory (stockades) on Tower-hill, which is where the executions were held. He was “to deter others from the like Practices”. He may have been setting an example for others, but I bet he was thinking that he was grateful that he had not received the punishment of those on Tower-hill!

~The Traveler

Believe it or not…

May 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

While posting an October 31, 1804 issue of THOMAS’S MASSACHUSETTS SPY, OR WORCESTER GAZETTE,  Massachusetts, onto the Rare Newspapers website due to the presence of two letters from George Washington (written before 1800) and another from Thomas Jefferson, another item caught our interest.  Under “Deaths” we found an obituary which seems unbelievable.  Which is harder to believe, that newspapers from 1804 containing 3 Presidential letters are still available, or, that the details within the shown obituary are true?  Fact or fiction?  You decide.