So what’s the earliest “London Gazette”?

May 21, 2009 by  
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oxford-gazetteThe world’s oldest continually published newspaper was begun in 1665 and still prints today, a staggering 345 year history which likely will never be broken by any other single title. Indeed, the newspaper still publishes today so it sets a more unbeatable record as each year passes.

The newspaper is titled “The London Gazette“, but collectors have occasionally seen issues of “The Oxford Gazette” and wondered about the connection.

First, the most convincing derivation of the term “gazette” is from “gaza”, the Greek word for a treasury or store.  That newspapers are a “treasury or store” of information would allow for a plausible adoption of the term “gazette”.

In 1665 the Royal Court had been removed from London due to the Plague which had been ravaging the city. The smaller towns in the country seemed less susceptable to the contagion. So with a newspaper serving as a mouthpiece of the Royal Court it was logical that it would set up shop in Oxford, calling itself “The Oxford Gazette“.

But when the affects of the Plague seemed to have abated sufficiently for the Court to return to London, so did the newspaper. Twenty-three issues were published in Oxford, and with issue number 24 was the first with the title “The London Gazette“, a title which has remained unchanged for over three centuries.

So there might be a bit of a debate as to what the earliest issue is of “The London Gazette“. The earliest with this title would be issue #24, dated February 5, 1665 (1666 by today’s calendar), but argument certainly could be made that the first issue of “The Oxford Gazette” would qualify, it dated November 16, 1665.

Given its short life under the earlier title of “The Oxford Gazette”, such issues are extremely elusive. We have sold many over the past 33 years but rarely find them today.

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