Historic newspapers… entering on the ground floor of a collectible…

September 30, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

In the world of collectables, early newspapers by no means rank among the most well-known of hobbies. In fact most would be surprised that it even is a hobby.  Who knows anyone who collects early newspapers?

That was exactly my thought nearly 40 years ago. Having been a coin collector since I was a kid, I knew that hobby well. I knew it well enough to recognize that no bargains could be had for the truly rare coins. Coin collecting was, and is, a well exploited hobby. The number of serious collectors must run in the hundreds of thousands with a proportionate number of dealers who make a living selling coins. So as a youngster with only grass-cutting money in my pocket, it didn’t take long to become frustrated when trying to find the last few desirable coins to fill out a set. I simply could not afford them. Everyone knew they were rare, and with more people wanting them than inventory allowed, prices were beyond my reach.

I liked collecting and I wanted a hobby that dealt with history. Holding a coin minted during the time when Lincoln was President, or when Indian battles were still raging on the Plains, intrigued me. I felt like I was touching history. But I needed a collectable that was yet to be exploited. One which few people were involved in.  More importantly, one where I could hope to amass a reasonably nice collection without breaking the bank.

So it was by accident that while browsing through a local flea market that I came across a Philadelphia newspaper from 1846. I was intrigued, not only by the price–$3—but by what I would get. Quickly my mind ran through the host of various coins from 1846 which would require more than ten times the price tag, and what do you get but a hunk of medal with a date & an image of a dead President? A coin could be fully examined in seconds. But this 1846 newspaper would take half an hour to absorb.  So $3 exchanged hands and the newspaper was mine.

Handling this newspaper was better than touching history. Yes, someone in 1846 held this newspaper in their hands, just like coins of the era, but this collectable actually CONTAINED history. News of the day, including events of the Mexican-American War, were within its four pages. Political reports from the term of James K. Polk were scattered throughout. Even the advertisements were fascinating.

I was hooked. The coin collection went on a shelf and I pursued whatever old newspaper I could find. It didn’t take long to discover a whole new world of collectables. Better yet, because so few people were collecting old newspapers prices seemed such a bargain compared to what coins or stamps or any other collectable with similar rarity would cost. I was convinced I got in on the ground floor.

As the years passed my hobby turned into a business catering to a niche market. At best I would suspect there are less than 2000 serious collectors of rare newspapers. Compare that number to the world of stamps, coins, books, or autographs, which hundreds of thousands consider their hobby.

A hobby still yet to be discovered by the collecting world, prices remain attractive for the most modest of budgets. Consider that a genuine New York Times in very nice condition from 1863 with front page Civil War reports sells for less than $30. Or consider that a genuine London Gazette from 1680—a 330+ year old newspaper—is available for under $50. Of course content certainly drives interest and price so a newspaper reporting the Battle of Gettysburg can exceed $500, while the same in a Confederate title (much more rare) could be triple the price. But still, genuine issues covering the War of 1812 sell for $25; newspapers with Indian battles are under $35; issues with baseball reports from the 1880‘s can be had for $25; newspapers from during the administration of George Washington for $45. Is there a hobby where genuine items of comparable vintage are at comparable prices? Certainly not.

Rare newspaper collecting is a fascinating world which awaits any historical hobbyist. Whatever event or era in history intrigues, newspapers covered those events.  From the Great Plague of London in 1666, to reports of pirates Blackbeard and Capt. Kidd, to the French & Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the Texas War for Independence, every presidential election & inauguration (and death), the outlaws of the West—you name it. Newspapers exist which document those occurrences and every other transforming event in American & world history.

Don’t just touch history with your hobby. Read history from the very day it was reported. You, too, will be hooked on a hobby you never knew existed.

Jack the Ripper’s Identity Revealed?

September 27, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

While many are familiar with Jack the Ripper and are aware that his actual identity has never been confirmed, what may be surprising to some is how many “false alarms” have surfaced over the years. William Henry Bury is such an individual… or is he?  An internet search will return much concerning this potential “Ripper”.  I wonder if this case will ever be resolved to any degree of certainty??? Please enjoy the following report found in the Kansas City Daily Journal for February 12, 1889:

A video look at Rare & Early Newspapers – revisted…

September 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Over the past 10 years we (RareNewspapers.com) have put together a series of videos designed to help educate novices about the hobby of collecting historic newspapers.  While some may be a smidge old (compared to today’s high-tech standards), the information within is still pertinent. Pick a topic of interest, turn up the volume, and enjoy our perspective on the collectible.

Collecting 20th Century Authentic Newspapers

Enhance Your Sports Collectible with Historic Ne…

Collecting Scientific American Issues w/ Historic Content

Collecting 19th Century Authentic Newspapers

Original Wild West Era Newspapers – Rare Newspapers

Meet the Staff of Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers

Harper’s Weekly & The Civil War – Illustrated Collectibles!

The History of Rare & Historic Newspapers & The Hobby!

Collecting 18th Century (and earlier) Authentic Newspapers

The Rare Newspapers’ Private Collection – Collecting Ideas

Rare Newspapers as an Educational Tool

Baseball game won by 2 1/2 to 2…

September 20, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

The “Bethlehem Globe-Times“, Pennsylvania, newspaper of August 4, 1937 has a curious some article about a baseball game in 1893, as told by an elderly gentlemen who was involved in the game some 44 years previous. It provides some interesting reading, although I’m not convinced it actually happened. What do you think?

The Traveler… Birmingham church bombings… and baby makes how many?

September 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I traveled to New York City through The New York Times (dated September 16, 1963). There I found the headlines “Birmingham Bomb Kills 4 Negro Girls in Church; Boy Slain in Protest Riot”. This bombing occurred five days after the desegregation of three previously all-white schools in Birmingham, in which President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard and the Federal Courts issued a sweeping order again Governor Wallace due to his defiance. This church was the same one which was used as the staging point for anti-segregation demonstrations led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in May of that year. Dr. King was reported to be coming to Birmingham to “plead with my people to remain non-violent in the face of this terrible provocation”.

The front page also was providing an update on a special birth that was reported the previous day. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Fischer delivered quintuplets, four girls and one boy. They had five children at home, ages 3 1/2 to 7 years! I did a little research on them and found that they also had one more child after the quints too.  The quints were the second surviving set to be born in the Western Hemisphere and the first to be born in the United States.

~The Traveler

Trenton as the nation’s capital in 1799…

September 13, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

A small news bit inconspicuously located on page 2 of the “Columbian Centinel” newspaper from Boston, dated  October 19, 1799, struck me as being in error: “The President of the United States arrived at the seat of government, (Trenton) in good health.” Or so I thought. While history tells us that the seat of government had moved from New York to Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. during this period, it appears in fact that the federal government did remove itself from Philadelphia (to Trenton) for a brief time in 1799 to escape the Yellow Fever epidemic in that city. But to my surprise there is very little on the internet about it. There are several sites which provide some detail about Trenton being the nation’s capital for 54 days in 1784, but just two sites have a passing reference to the 1799 event. There is no mention as to exactly when or for how long. Can anyone provide more detail? Surprisingly even the sites of the city of Trenton offer no help.

How often does a President admit he is wrong?

September 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The character of Abraham Lincoln, which has made him arguably the best President of the United States, has been the subject of many books. One bit of evidence can be found in the September 5, 1863 issue of the “Army & Navy Journal” which contains a famous letter to General U.S. Grant (see below).

In this remarkable letter, President Abraham Lincoln congratulates General Grant for an important victory — the capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, 1863. Lincoln differed with Grant about how to handle the campaign, but when Grant pursued his own strategy successfully, Lincoln frankly admitted that Grant was right.

Baseball is a game involving idiots…

September 6, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

The Cleveland Daily Herald” issue of May 15, 1876 has an interesting perspective on the game of baseball, as provided by a Brazilian (see below).  The entire article may be viewed at:  Dom Pedro’s Views of the National Game.

The Traveler… Edison’s ears… cheaper at night…

September 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I journeyed to Springfield, Massachusetts through the Springfield Daily Republican (dated September 2, 1913) where I found an article on the “Genius of Thomas A. Edison”.  William H Meadowcroft, who was closely associated with Edison, was interviewed and spoke of Edison’s capacity of long hours of hard work. Even though Edison was significantly hard of hearing, he could detect unusual other sounds and he used this ability to perfect recording techniques.

There also appears to have been a pricing war between the newspapers in San Francisco. “…The field is now sharply divided, with all four afternoon newspapers selling for one cent each, and the two morning papers adhering to the old price of five cents.” I guess the headline of the article says it all, “Cheaper to Read at Night”.

~The Traveler