The Civil War…

April 1, 2010 by  
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Not too long ago we had a collector ask several questions regarding rare newspapers from the Civil War.  We thought others might be interested in the questions and responses as well.

I recently obtained a New York Tribune issue from January 1, 1863 that had the evening edition for January 2 inside it, with the attachment remaining uncut on its superior border.Was this the way it was meant to be printed? Was this some error in printing? If this was meant to be this way, why isn’t the evening edition of the January 1 paper attached and not the January 2 edition? Is there any significance to the uncut superior border? How commonly did that happen with ordinary papers of the day?
Yes, the N.Y. Tribune was meant to be printed that way. We’ve had hundreds of issues done that way, also done by the Phila. Inquirer and perhaps others.  I have a theory concocted from various sources years ago but no definitive explanation.

Most major city papers had a daily and bi-weekly edition, and some a tri-weekly edition. The cost of a newspaper from the pre-1890 era was no small expense, so the latter two were more affordable for many. I suspect the “Evening Edition” did not publish 7 days a week; perhaps 2 or 3, maybe 4 (?). If this was the case it was easy for them to fill in the balance of the issue with news from a day or two before as the type was already set and those who purchased it hadn’t read it. This was more clearly defined with the Phila. Inq. run we had because they had in the first column that it was the “tri-weekly” edition, and in the same issue was another masthead from the day before. The Tribune did not print such a notice, or at least I haven’t found it yet.

And such editions with 2 masthead are quite uncommon because libraries would have only subscribed to the regular daily edition, given their desire to document all news for every day, and 95% of early newspapers on the market came from some institution after microfilming. So the 2 masthead issues are typically only found as never-bound issues which have survived the years in attics, trunks, etc.

While I understand that there is no “only one correct answer” to this question, in regard to Civil War-era newspaper collecting, which papers are the Holy Grail of collecting? Which are the rarest but most sought-after ones? Are there any that even you have never seen, any that even you have been searching for for years and have never found?
I would say a Gettysburg Address issue in a Gettysburg newspaper would float pretty close to the top. Or even battle of Gettysburg issues from Gettysburg. All the good Lincoln assassination issues tend to turn up from time to time because they were commonly saved. The Gettys. Add. would not have been saved as it wasn’t anything special at the time. To this day we probably get more requests for both Gettysburg events than any other during the Civil War.

Do you have a favorite title form the Civil War?
I would say the Philadelphia Inquirer. I like that it had more graphics, many embellishments at the tops of ftpg. columns, and often used larger type in its headings.

Thanks for the member inquiry which led to these responses from Tim.  Feel free to send your questions, comments as well.

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