20th century prices realized… revisted…

September 30, 2010 by  
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The previous post focused on “prices realized” from a sampling of key issues from the 20th century.  Fellow collector, Charles Signer, posted a response we thought collectors would appreciate.

These papers (see previous post) are excellent choices for your article. I think the Titanic disaster marked a new era in journalism, since improvements in printing technology and inventions like the facsimile machine made it possible for newspapers all over the United States and the world for the first time to cover the story simultaneously with full coverage and great graphics. Because the Titanic event took place at sea there was no “home advantage” as there would have been for a disaster taking place in a populated area. I don’t have the Rhode Island version of the story that you show, but I have seen others like it from other cities. I am amazed how they could get such good reporting and graphics literally overnight on such an unexpected story.

When I see the Honolulu Star-Bulletin First Extra I think of it as a time capsule marking of an end of an era. The front page of course gives the full first report, but the inside pages were mostly set up before the event, in the last hours of peacetime. The ads for 1941 consumer goods and Christmas sales suddenly fell out of place in the grim new wartime world. I imagine the people shown in the ads floating at the bottom of the ocean where they are all drowned dead but still visible to divers. It’s eerie.

I was going to say that the whole First Extra paper could be seen on the Honolulu Star-Bulletin website, but in trying to test the link as I write this I see that the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser merged on June 7, 2010. The combined paper is now the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. There used to be a great story on the Star-Bulletin’s old website about the people who put out those first reports that day. I guess it’s gone now.

I got a copy of the Dewey Defeats Truman paper from Tim Hughes before 2000 for about $850. It was real cherry. I grew up in Chicago where my dad and I would drive down in the evenings to get the first edition of the following day’s Tribune. When you opened up a Tribune for the first time there were tiny holes made in the printing process which made the pages stick together. The copy I got from Tim had those little holes so I knew I was opening that Dewey Defeats Truman paper for the first time ever. It was almost like being there on November 2, 1948, the evening the paper was printed. Yes, it truly is a classic that will be recognized as long as newspapers are remembered, which may be a lot longer than some of them are being published.

Thanks Charles!

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2 Responses to “20th century prices realized… revisted…”

  1. Charles Signer on October 1st, 2010 12:13 am

    Thanks, Guy. Yes, my comments got a little off the original topic of the prices of papers. I ended up commenting on why the papers you brought up were valuable rather than how much they were worth. There is a difference.

    The worth of newspapers or anything else measured in currency is a measure of what you could trade it for. The worth of the 1892 newspaper with the first report of a basketball game at $15,000 is the equivalent of a new car. The basketball fan who bought the paper at that price apparently thought it was more important than a car. I don’t follow basketball so I would rather have the car. On the other hand, I would rather have some of the other papers you mentioned than what they could be traded for even at high prices.

    I think newspapers are different from coins, stamps and most other collectibles. When people talk about a rare coin, the first thing they mention is the value of the coin, not the intellectual or historical value of it. Let’s face it, there is not much to a metal cylinder an inch or so wide (which is what a coin is) or a postage stamp even smaller in size except the price, which is usually based mainly on how few of them are around.

    The rarest American stamp, the Z Grill 1 cent stamp, is worth a million dollars only because there are only two known to exist and there are collectors who have to have one of everything, so they bid the price up. It is famous for being the million dollar stamp, not for anything particularly wonderful about it in itself. You can’t even see the Z grill on the front of the stamp.

    Newspapers, on the other hand, are often interesting in themselves, so the prices are not usually the first thing mentioned about them. The most valuable American papers, the early printings of the Declaration of Independence, are important because of what the Declaration means to the people of our country. Their prices flow mainly from the demand for people to feel close to the Declaration.

    In my newspaper collecting I don’t think of newspapers as an investment. I have never thought about selling. That is not to say I don’t want to get good values for my purchases, which I often do at Tim Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers.

  2. Charles Signer on November 15th, 2010 5:47 am

    I noticed today that since my previous comment the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has restored the page it had before as the Star-Bulletin on the December 7, 1941 editions.

    It is at http://archives.starbulletin.com/2001/12/07/news/story2.html .

    It includes all the pages from the 3rd Extra, which is much the same as the First Extra after the first page.

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