Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.
I have been a collector as long as I can remember. In my teens I came across an old newspaper from the early 1800s and was amazed at its condition. Only later would I learn that in the early days of newspaper printing were they using rag paper. And how exciting for us all that they did because now we still have incredible pieces of history dating as far back as the 1500s and 1600s!
Several years ago I ‘discovered’ the wonderful world of rare newspapers offered by Tim Hughes on eBay. I couldn’t believe what he had! Amazing rarities that I’ve never seen offered by anyone else anywhere else! I quickly became hooked.
My favorite eras to collect are the 1600s and 1700s. The handmade paper and the labor intensive process of creating a newspaper in those days results in a unique finished piece unlike newspapers of later eras. And some of the content is truly remarkable!
I was very excited when I found a 1679 issue of an English newspaper for sale published by Benjamin Harris who is known for publishing the first newspaper in America. That particular issue from 1690 is so rare that apparently only one copy exists as Mr. Harris published an item concerning King William’s War and atrocities attributed to Native American forces allied to the British. Without a license, his paper was shut down after a single issue and Mr. Harris was jailed.
My issue, Domestick Intelligence, Or News both from CITY and COUNTRY, is in remarkable condition and was purchased solely because it’s an early item by Benjamin Harris. But the content makes it even better. In 1679 there was a plague in Vienna and it is estimated that 76,000 people died there as a result. The paper notes the following details:
“From Vienna in Germany they write That it is hoped the Plague is somewhat abated there, for whereas there has usually died two or three hundred in a day, there is not now above an hundred, but it is feared that it goes down further in the Country toward the Netherlands.” But then it gets even more incredible with this item: “From Mentz in Germany they write, That it is confidently affirmed, There have been fiery Dragons lately seen flying in the Air near that City, and also several other Strange and Prodigious sights, which makes a great Consternation among the People for fear of some dreadful miseries and Calamities approaching”. Wow! Fiery Dragons?!?
This hobby has provided much fascination and education for myself and friends and family members. I would encourage everyone to dig deeper into these pages to uncover the gems that aren’t in any history books. And hold history in your hands…from the day it was happening!
Thanks very much to Tim Hughes and Guy Heilenman and the other wonderful people at rare newspapers.com for bringing such treasures to the public. It’s been a pleasure dealing with you!
As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY . We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.