April 15, 1865 New York Herald Reprints
From our guest contributor, Rick Brown:
I have been collecting Lincoln assassination ephemera for 43 years now. Since I am listed in several directories, I average 2 to 3 telephone calls a month from people wanting to know the value of their old newspapers. In the past 43 years I have been offered the April 15, 1865 New York Herald perhaps as many as 10,000 times and only once was it an original. I’ve heard many a story like “It can’t be a reprint because my great grandfather fought in the Civil War and bought it in New York and brought it back home.” One of the strangest responses I received when I informed the owner their specimen was a reprint was: “Producing a reprint is against the law. Therefore it HAS to be an original!”
To add to the confusion, the first reprint was produced in 1871 and the last about 1908. (This does not include the reprints printed on parchment – those are still being produced today.) Thus, the reprints DO look old because they are old.
In 1995 I did extensive research into newspaper reprints including the April 15, 1865 New York Herald. At that time I documented 32 different versions. The only Herald reprint produced on rag linen was a single sheet printed on both sides. The back page has a large ad for Grain-O-Coffee (who later became the originators of JELLO) and was produced in 1871.
Due to the nation’s centennial in 1876, interest in major events in American history was high. Publishers produced literally a hundred different newspaper reprints of various titles.
Starting in 1890, Kitchel’s Liniment, a patent medicine company, produced an annual version of the April 15, 1865 New York Herald. The front and back page remained the same. Pages 2 and 3 were testimonials for Kitchel’s Liniment. At the top of page 2, centered in the margin, was the phrase “Use Kitchel’s Liniment (1890) and Forever.” Each subsequent annual reprint changed the year in the phrase. The last Kitchel’s Liniment reprint version I have found is 1908. Another patent medicine company that produced New York Herald reprints was MA-LE-NA liver pills. They, too, produced annual reprint versions but with no date indicated like with Kitchel‘s Liniment.
The assassination of President Garfield and McKinley also saw reprints of the April 15, 1865 New York Herald produced. Ford’s Theater and various museum gift shops also sold these reprints and still do today.
While very few actually indicated on the paper itself that is was a reprint, it is important to note that NONE of these reprints were meant to deceive. In the case of the patent medicines, people were hired to give the reprints away at county fairs or other places where a large quantity of people would be gathering. The reprints were a marketing device. It was reasoned that having the Lincoln assassination news on the front and back page, people would not throw them away like they would if it were just a flyer advertising their product.
In the 1930s, however, the height of the American depression, there were a few scam artists who went door to door selling a “valuable relic of American history” – An old April 15, 1865 New York Herald reprint they had obtained in quantity. Unknowing people would take what little cash money they had and purchase it for $1 or so (big money in those days.) They were hoping to sell it for much more. Meanwhile, the scam artist had moved on to another city.
Of the 32 versions I have documented, only one was printed on rag linen; the Grain-O-Coffee one. Four of the versions were single sheet and printed on both sides. All four of these have the date April 15, 1865 on the front page and April 14, 1865 on the back page. Three were printed on parchment paper and the other one on wood pulp paper. The rest of the reprints were 4-page editions. Of the 32 reprint versions, all but 6 of them have printed on the front page in the forth column from the left and about six inches down the phrase EXTRA 8:10 AM is printed. There were NO original 8:10 AM EXTRA editions produced. Originals have eight pages and were printed on rag linen.
One of my continual searches on Ebay is “April 15, 1865 New York Herald.” Currently, on average, there are 3 to 4 of these placed on Ebay on a weekly basis. Very few correctly state that they are offering a reprint. Most claim to be originals. From time to time I will send an email to the seller pointing out that their specimen is actually a reprint and referring them to my site for further information. – http://www.historybuff.com/library/refhotlist.html. Of each ten sellers I send the email to, on average, four thank me for pointing it out to them but seldom edit their listing to point out that it is a reprint; four do not respond at all; and, shamefully, two reply back with something like “You know it is a reprint, and I know it is a reprint, but THEY don’t know it’s a reprint.” In the past 12 years I have used Ebay, only ONCE was an original offered. Fortunately, very few of the April 15, 1865 New York Herald’s reprints actually sell.
Recently, yet another Herald reprint was offered on Ebay that made me snicker. The photo showed one of the single sheet reprints so badly deteriorated that it was in four pieces. The seller stated that he would not normally sell this family heirloom, but for the right price he would sell it. The minimum bid was $100,000!!! I didn’t have the heart to break his bubble.
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Editor’s Note: The Library of Congress also provides a great web page which discusses this commonly reprinted issue: NY Herald Reprints
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