The History Channel has sparked much interest in events of the past which otherwise have gone unnoticed through the years. Whether it’s a biography of notable name, a little-known yet significant war battle, or a political event which had notable consequences years later, it’s not uncommon for us to receive calls from hopeful collectors wanting a period account of the event. Many times we are successful in the search, other times not.
Occasionally present-day events noting an anniversary or discovery spark similar interest. We have noticed a significant interest in Abraham Lincoln material with the approach of the 200th anniversary of his birth. And the very recent discovery of the British ship “H.M.S. Victory” got even us intrigued about the possibility of finding a 1744 newspaper or magazine reporting its loss.
As a bit of background, a report dated February 5, 2009 from the “Best Syndication News” service brought this event into the 21st century with its breaking news reading:
“The HMS Victory ship sunk in stormy seas back in 1744 but it wasn’t until this week, when an American company called Odyssey discovered what they call “the most significant shipwreck discovery in history.” The HMS Victory was a warship that had a crew of around 1,100 that died when it went underwater. The estimated treasures with gold coins and artifacts could be worth potentially $1 billion. The Odyssey company is undergoing a legal battle to allow them to recover the treasures and artifacts. Because the HMS Victory is a military ship she is the property of the British government according to the laws of marine salvaging.”
As luck would have it we were successful. Keeping in mind that there were no survivors, details were obviously sketchy back then, but both the October and November issues of the “Gentleman’s Magazine” reflected upon the disaster.
All of us, as collectors, literary keep history on our shelves. Who knows when the next discovery might relate to an innocuous report in one of your newspapers. Have you discovered in one of your issues an item brought to light by present-day events? Such finds are always fascinating–it’s part of the intrigue of the hobby.