When it comes to placing a value on collectible newspapers, past prices realized can be invaluable. However, in most instances, due to the vast number of variables which exist even within a common event (city of publication, condition, dramatic appeal, etc.), finding comparables can be difficult.
We recently came across two issues which illustrate this point – both containing front-page 1st reports of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – one being the newspaper from where he was born and raised containing perhaps a little more detailed reporting (The Atlanta Constitution, Georgia), with the other being a nice issue from where the assassination took place (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN). Which is the more collectible newspaper? The answer may not be as easy as one might think. Years of experience have shown the Dallas Morning News‘ reporting of the JFK assassination to be hands-down the most desired issue – that is, the issue from where he was killed. In contrast, collectors find the Wapakoneta Daily News (Neil Armstrong’s hometown paper) with coverage of Man’s 1st Moon Walk to be the best.
What about Dr. King’s assassination? It is rare we can view each side-by-side (see below). We have our thoughts, but feel free to weigh in with thoughts of your own.
One of the more desired of the newspapers reporting the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has always been the “Dallas Morning News“, published in the city where he was killed. Unbeknownst to most–including us for many years–is the curious obituary found on page 6 of the last section. Inconspicuously listed among the 33 entries in the “Deaths & Funerals” section is the one shown in the photo. It is a paid obituary notice inserted by a private funeral home announcing the death of an American president. The O’Neal Funeral Home handled President Kennedy’s remains in Dallas and furnished the casket in which he was sent to Washington. Although certainly not a local funeral, I suspect the funeral home sought the opportunity to gain some stature & credibility by letting all know they handled the remains of a President of the United States.
Has anyone else discovered this obituary notice?
And of note as well, relating to the Kennedy assassination, is the death notice of “J.D. Tibbit”, the police officer killed by Oswald shortly after the Kennedy assassination. In fact it was for Tibbit’s death that Oswald was initially arrested, the connection to Kennedy’s assassination discovered afterwards.
Today I traveled to Springfield, Illinois, by the way of the Illinois State Journal of May 4, 1865, where I found they were preparing for the funeral of President Abraham Lincoln which was to occur later in the day. The editorial begins “We are without any more definite information in reference to the arrangements for the funeral of President Lincoln, to-day, than that contained in the programme published in another column…the procession will move at precisely ten o’clock, which will require that the remains be closed by eight…Work was recommenced on the tomb on the Mather Square yesterday…Not only the citizens of Springfield but of the whole state would be rejoiced to learn that the change referred to had been authorized…”. Within another article is “…From our midst, a little more than four years ago, President Lincoln was called to the highest office in the gift of the people. Yesterday all that is mortal of him returned to us wrapped in the habiliments of the grave…The emblems of mourning everywhere displayed…Illinois receives her murdered son again to her bosom, no less loving than when she sent him forth to the most distinguished honor. To-day we lay him reverently to rest…”
150 years ago, much of the nation was still reeling from the death of Abraham Lincoln. A mere 10 days previous time stood still and tears flowed freely at the news that the President had been killed. Did many travel to Washington, D.C. to mourn his passing? Did some visit the very site of his tragic and untimely demise to place a candle… flowers… mourn? The Philadelphia Enquirer, April 17, 1865, not on only printed a sketch of the captured John Wilkes Booth, but they also included a front-page schematic (right) of the back-alley escape route where a horse was waiting for the infamous villain and his accomplice. While the region has gone through several transformations over the course of the last 150 years, this same alley exists today. The current-day photo shown below was sent to us be a collector friend who also included the following note:
I have attached a picture of the rear of Ford’s Theater as it looks today (showing the original windows/doorways that have been bricked-up)…and I want to point out that the alleyway shown on that April 17th issue is incredibly, to this day, the only exit on the entire block and proportioned to what it was in that newspaper.
If you’ve never visited Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., it is certainly worth the trip.Note: During my days as a Middle School Teacher, can anyone guess the most common question students asked upon visiting this spot during a school trip?
The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the FITCHBURG SENTINEL, Massachusetts, March 8, 1965…
The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the LOS ANGELES TIMES, April 5, 1968: “DR. KING SLAIN BY SNIPER IN MEMPHIS“