This was a difficult century for selecting the top ten significant events or newspapers. Certainly an argument could be made that some specific newspapers–particularly from the Civil War era–could achieve retail values far in excess of those noted on the list, but their rarity as unique items pretty much removes them from the “accessible” list of collectibles.
My focus is more on including newspapers which have a certain degree to attainability and at the same time representing the broad range of events which helped to define the United States during the 19th century. I think I’ve achieved a happy compromise among desirability, rarity, and historical significance. Fully half of my choices are specific issues. I would be curious to hear of your comments:
10) Vicksburg Daily Citizen, July 2/4, 1863 This wallpaper edition from when the town was captured by the Yankees turns up very frequently as a reprint, adding enhanced appeal to a genuine issue.
9) Battle of the Alamo, 1836 In a Texas newspaper. Any Texas newspaper from this notable year in the war for Texas independence would be great, and one with one of the more famous battles of the century would be better yet.
8.) Leslie’s Illustrated, April 22, 1882 The full front page is a terrific print of Jesse James, recently murdered. A very rare print of one of the more infamous characters of the century.
7) Lincoln’s assassination, 1865 Arguably the most noted death of the century, and great to have in a Washington, D.C. title. Very historic & desirable, but not terribly difficult to find so it doesn’t rank higher on my list.
6) Tombstone Epitaph, gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1881 I know of at least one genuine issue. Certainly a very romanticized event in a equally romanticized title and incredibly rare but not high on my historic list.
5) Baltimore Patriot, Sept. 20, 1814 First newspaper appearance of the Star Spangled Banner, and great to have in a Baltimore newspaper.
4) Gettysburg Address, November, 1863 This remains the most requested speech by our collectors–regardless of century–and is likely the most known by school children across the country. A front page account is best, such as the New York Times.
3) Louisiana Purchase, 1803 Who could argue with an event which doubled the size of the country.
2) Charleston Mercury–Extra, Dec. 20, 1860 It’s a broadside so perhaps some will argue not a bona fide newspaper, but we collect Extras as well so I include this notable issue. This newspaper’s “The Union is Dissolved” broadside was the first Confederate publication as South Carolina was the first state to secede. It went to press 15 minutes after the secession ordinance was passed.
1) The California Gold Rush in a California newspaper, 1849. Three California newspapers existed at the time so issues do exist yet extremely rare. Combining the great rarity with a event which did so much to spawn migration of the people across the country, and another very romanticized event in American history, and you get my top pick.