The Traveler… giving thanks… not on the Sabbath…

October 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-10-17-2016-ThanksgvingI traveled to Boston today by the way of the Independent Chronicle dated October 14, 1816. I found “By His Excellency John Brooks, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, A Proclamation, for a day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer.” had been proclaimed. This was to be held on the Thursday, November 28.

Also found was an article entitled “Sabbath Laws” in which Judge Putnam “…repealed all former provisions upon the subject whether by statue or common law; that no act of labour, therefore, upon that day are lawful, except in cases of necessity or charity; and that prosecutions upon the statute are not within the exception…”. Too bad we cannot go back to those days…

~The Traveler

Early no-smoking cars on trains…

September 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-9-26-2016-no-smoking-railroad-carWhile the most significant feature of the St. Louis Daily Globe” of February 2, 1875 is a report regarding Frank and Jesse James, the front page has a curious report headed: “A Peculiar Bill” concerning the need to create nonsmoking cars which would: “…afford relief to a great many ladies who are annoyed by cigar smoke, and other evils arising from the use of tobacco by gentlemen…” (see image).

For whom the Baby Ruth candy bar was named…

September 12, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

The history of the origin of the name of the “Baby Ruth” candy bar by the Curtis Candy Company is interesting, brought to light recently with our finding the Frank Leslie’s Illustrated” issue of Jan. 5, 1893.  The full front page is an illustration captioned: “Baby Ruth and Her Mother” being the child of President Grover Cleveland. This is the person for whom the “Baby Ruth” candy bar was named, not Babe Ruth the famous baseball star as was popularly though. And the story behind the name is interesting.

Blog-9-12-2016-Baby-RuthIn Chicago in 1921 Otto Schnering had a turnaround plan for his Curtis Candy Company. He reformulated his “Kandy Kake” brand confection—a conglomeration of milk chocolate, peanuts and a pudding center “richer than marshmallow, fluffier than nougat, better than either of them”—into a chocolate-covered candy bar with peanuts, caramel and nougat. Along with the new recipe came a new name—Baby Ruth. At first glance, it seemed clear that Schnering had taken advantage of the home run king’s well-known name and tweaked it by one letter in order to avoid paying the “Sultan of Swat” any royalties.

Perhaps because of its perceived connection to the Yankee slugger, Baby Ruth was a big success. By 1926, sales of the candy bar totaled $1 million a month, and the company’s candy-making facilities were the largest of their kind in the world.

In 1926, Ruth decided to enter the candy business himself and licensed his name to the George H. Ruth Candy Company, which sought to register “Ruth’s Home Run Candy” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Wrappers showed a head shot of a smiling Ruth in his uniform along with the note “Babe Ruth’s Own Candy.” The Curtiss Candy Company sued for copyright infringement and claimed that the candy bar had not been named after the baseball star, but Ruth Cleveland, eldest daughter of President Grover Cleveland. The explanation seemed odd given that the girl nicknamed “Baby Ruth” by the press had been born in 1891, three decades before the introduction of the candy bar. By 1921, not only was she not a baby, she wasn’t even alive, having died of diphtheria in 1904. Newspapers and the American public paid close attention to “Baby Ruth” after her father returned to the White House in 1893 for his second presidential term, but the Clevelands fiercely protected their daughter’s privacy and refused repeated requests by American newspapers to take her photograph. Few Americans ever knew what “Baby Ruth” looked like. By 1921, Babe Ruth was a household name while “Baby Ruth,” who died 17 years beforehand, was an historical footnote. (credit www.history.com)

Given the above, it is curious that this image of Baby Ruth Cleveland appeared on the front page of this very popular illustrated newspaper. Perhaps it is the only image of her in a newspaper.

A gem from the American Antiquarian Society… The Kentucky Spy…

August 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

In celebration of its 20oth anniversary the American Antiquarian Society published a beautiful  exhibition catalog titled “In Pursuit Of A Vision – Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society”. Featured are a fascinating array of books, documents, maps & other paper ephemera, as well as several very rare & unusual newspapers we felt worthy of sharing with our collectors (with permission from the A.A.S.).

Blog-8-8-2016-AAS-Kentucky-Spy181. “The Kentucky Spy and Porcupine Quill“, Frankfort, Kentucky, January 25, 1849

In recent years AAS has actively collected issues of pre-1877 American manuscript periodicals. These handwritten examples mimic printed periodicals in format and content, containing stories, news, and advertisements. Sometimes they were produced by individuals, serving as the manuscript equivalent of amateur newspapers, and sometimes they were issued by small groups. Others were produced as an activity of a school or lyceum.

AAS has held manuscript periodicals since the nineteenth century; but because these were long shelved alongside printed periodicals, they were easily overlooked. In the 1990s AAS staff began to pull them together into a separate collection, in the process discovering not only how many titles were already at AAS, but also the frequency with which they were produced. As it became apparent that the more specimens AAS had, the more they collectively revealed about early American scribal culture, AAS began to seek them actively. The collection now numbers more than sixty titles.

One of the more unusual is “The Kentucky Spy and Porcupine Quill.” The masthead claims that it is “Devoted to the science of matrimony, union, wedlock and the ladies.” However, the chief story, entitled “Wonderful rumpus in the town of Irvine,” is a fictional account, humorous in tone, of a revolt by 5,000 heavily armed slaves which in the story turns out to be a hoax. The editor and contributor(s) are unnamed.

The Traveler… Rabbi Gershom Seixas… 1st native-born American rabbi…

July 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I traveled back to New York City by the means of the New York Evening Post dated July 2, 1816. Under the “Died” column is “Departed this life, at 9 o’clock this morning, the Rev. Mr. GERSHOM SEIXAS, the venerable Pastor of the Hebrew congregation, in the 71st year of his age…”.

Blog-7-4-2016-Gershom-SeixasMr. Seixas was the first Native-born American rabbi. He also delivered the first Thanksgiving address in an American synagogue after the adoption of the United States Constitution. He was one of the fourteen ministers to participate in George Washington’s first inauguration.

At the merger of the 200th anniversary of his death and the 240th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence it is fitting to consider how quickly the Jewish population became acclimated and accepted in the United States. While not without considerable bumps in the road, George Washington’s outspoken support for Jewish citizens was certainly a good beginning.

Question: Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, RI received a response from Rabbi Moses Seixas. If anyone can confirm whether or not Moses and Gershom were related, please contact Guy at guy@rarenewspapers.com.

~The Traveler

The Traveler… interesting information on the Mormons…

June 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-6-20-2016-MormonismToday I traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts, by the way of the Worcester Evening Gazette dated June 20, 1866. There I found a very interesting article titled “Utah and the Mormons.”  The article is over a full column in length and provides great details of the life-styles of the Mormon life, including the pros and cons of polygamy; how some of the wives get along and where others do not; a polygamist that needs to do all of his own cooking, cleaning, washing and even sleeps on the floor because his wives don’t get alone.

Also mentioned is a description of Brigham Young, “…He is six feet high, portly, weighing about two hundred, in his sixty-fifth year, and wonderfully preserved… His face is fresh and unwrinkled, his step agile and elastic, his curling auburn hair and whiskers untinged with gray. He has grayish-blue, secretive eyes, eagle nose, and a mouth that shuts like a vice, indicating tremendous firmness. His manner is cold and egotistical. He uses neither tea nor coffee, spirits nor tobacco, speaks ungrammatically, is very rich and universally popular among the saints…” and also states “… Brigham is the favorite speaker, though he does not preach more than once a month. His sermons which I heard were very incoherent and illiterate…”.

An interesting life? You make that call!

~The Traveler

Perhaps not a perfect system, but… Happy Memorial Day!

May 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Is the United States perfect? Certainly not. Our forefathers did not sacrifice time, security, and in many cases, life or limb for the sake of a perfect system of government. Their hope was to establish a government for the people – which would provide the opportunity for all to pursue happiness in an environment free of governmental oppression and steeped with a host of inalienable rights. For some, “all” meant everyone. To others, “all” was defined quite narrowly. Still, even those who had a broader view understood the benefit of compromise – for the purpose of establishing a system which would have enough flexibility to adjust to their broader view of “all” over time. We know now the great advancement in this regards only came through a Civil War; however, it came. A perfect system? No. The best system ever constructed by man? Absolutely.

As we contemplate the great sacrifice paid by many to create and preserve this “best system” under God, the New York Tribune dated July 7, 1854 help us to capture the tension and need for growth that was evident to many in the 1850’s. Allow a negro to become a member of Congress? Could this be possible? Those who knew Frederick Douglass certainly thought so. Please enjoy:Blog-5-30-2016-Frederick-Douglass

The Louisiana Purchase is useless to the United States…

May 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-5-23-2016-Louisiana-PurchaseIt is always interesting to read criticisms of political decisions of centuries ago with the luxury of hindsight. Early newspapers allow today’s reader to recognize just how much thought was not just wrong, but laughably wrong.

One example is in the August 6, 1803 issue of the “Columbian Centinel” which contains a letter complaining about Presidents increasing the national debt: “…those very papers are now extolling the wisdom of Mr. Jefferson in adding eleven millions of dollars to the funded debt of the United States. Great clamour was raised against the administration of Mr. Adams because he did not effect a greater reduction of the national debt…Now in a time of profound tranquility the national debt is to be increased fifteen millions of dollars in one year, for the purchase of a country most of which is uninhabited and totally useless to the United States.”

From that purchase in 1803 would be carved fifteen future states as well as two Canadian provinces. Its value to the United States would be incalculable today, and in fact was considered an incredible bargain many years before the Civil War.

The Traveler… spreading the word… named director…

May 16, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

Blog-5-16-2016-American-Bible-SocietyToday I journeyed to New York City by the way of the New-York Spectator of May 15, 1816. There I found the announcement of the formation of “The American Bible Society” which still exist today. Some of the founding/early members include Elias Boudinot, who had been President of the Continental Congress from 1782 to 1783, John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen, Daniel Coit Gilman, Edwin Francis Hyde, and Francis Scott Key. The front page report announced the formation of the organization and the third page report contained their resolutions. “… The leading feature of the constitution limits the operations… to the distribution of the bible without note or comment…”.

Also in the issue is an article “Bank of the United States” in which “The President and Senate have appointed the following named, Directors of the Bank of the United States… John Jacob Astor, of the city of New-York…”. Mr. Astor was known as the first prominent member of the Astor family, the first multi-millionaire in the United States and the fifth-richest man in American history.

~The Traveler

They put it in print… Not much hope for a reconciliation…

November 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-11-9-2015-MarriageThe “Weekly Museum” newspaper of New York City has in its August 30, 1800 issue, a: “Curious Advertisement” by a woman whose husband left her. She pulls no punches on how she feels: “Whereas my husband…a dirty Dutchman…did…absent himself in a clandestine manner from my bed & board without my approbation or any known cause of provocation on my part…I do…disown and reject him from this time forever…no one will use the last influence…to return him to me again as I am relieved from a detested nuisance…” with more (see).

I don’t think there was much hope that marriage would be saved.

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