It’s a great day when you locate an issue that someone is wanting, particularly when they really want it. Usually the request begins with, “There’s probably no chance you have this title, but…” Because of our significant database I can now ascertain the general direction a new search will go, and have learned to further diminish expectations with words like, “Well, you are correct — that is a highly desirable date…” Occasionally, my computer will display little notes or other indicators that this is possibly something I (with assistance) can find. Without raising hopes I mention that it doesn’t look promising but there is something I want to double-check before I give a definitive “no”.
This morning’s call from one of our cheery customers delivered a query for a Harper’s Weekly  from 1863. He was looking for Emancipation Proclamation content, although many collectors want that particular issue for the full page Winslow Homer print or the double-page Thomas Nast “The War in the Border States”. I reverently turned the pages to investigate the text in question, and found it free of foxing or damp stains or tears. And then I found something else.
Just beside the historical, monumental words, the Harper’s editor placed or approved a first installment of Wilkie Collins’ No Name. Although I have read his fifth book, I didn’t know that Collins was another contemporary of Dickens  and Whitman . I didn’t even know that “Wilkie” was a man. And these little rabbit trails clamored for my attention and had me skimming the assertion by William Makepeace Thackeray on The Woman in White: that it had him “transfixed” – a book that I’d found lengthy and melodramatic upon personal encounter.
I particularly enjoy this multi-layered discovery aspect of collecting/perusing early newspapers, and I grin over the notes back from purchasers describing the bonus treasures. One that came this week included an exclamation over a Gentleman’s Magazine : “R is over the moon as we discovered a paragraph about an intercepted letter from Alexander Hamilton  complaining about congress and money! It’s just stunning to read these things as contemporary accounts.”
So, feel free to join the conversation and comment about the amazing things you unexpectedly have in your collection that you never intended to purchase. My own W.C. search is ongoing, as all the commentary I can find is that Collins was serialized in Dicken’s “All The Year Round”, with nary a mention of the great Harper’s. Incidentally, if you are new to this world it might either interest or frustrate you to know the brand encompasses “Harper’s Weekly”,” Harper’s Monthly ” (which is also sometimes called “Harper’s New Monthly”), and then the non-newspaper titles of “Harper’s Bazaar” and the various Harper’s books. The Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspaper inventory contains the first two titles and it is there I will be searching for Chapter Two.
At least, that is how it will begin.