I’m New Here: Week Thirty-Six…

November 1, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

This week I discovered another section of the archives previously unexplored — actually, I didn’t even realize it was there.

The walls in these connected buildings are shelved from floor to ceiling, as are the aisles and corridors.  Inside those rigid 15′ dividers are movable racks that provide another layer of coordinates for filing archival folders of old and rare newspapers.  It was here, highlighted by the angle of the tag, that I saw the title and date of voices for abolition.  The Liberator  issues that are housed here go as late as 1865, but I was interested in the ones that preceded the Emancipation Proclamation. What was being written and discussed by this publication from the “Anti-Slavery Office” in Boston in 1859?  What was the tone prior to that April bombardment that marked the start of the Civil War?

The rag paper is full-sized (“folio”, in fact) and consists of four pages, mostly devoted to telling the stories of injustice and accounts that should provoke outrage.  Headed by an illustration intricately representing people divided into groups based on the color of their skin, a banner curves along the bottom proclaiming, “THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF” while a sign above a wooden structure crowded with human beings advertises, “Slaves, Horses & Other Cattle In Lots To Suit Purchase.”  I feel the effectiveness of the graphics, of the pleading tone in the “Letter to Southern Ladies” and the headline which queries, “Shall Massachusetts Be Slave-Hunting Soil?”  But what surprises me the most in this new acquaintance was the attitude toward the forerunner of Abraham Lincoln.  A full front-page column is headed “PRESIDENTIAL FALSIFICATIONS”, and pulls no punches in its criticism of James Buchanan’s avoidance of the situation with the Free State Men of Kansas and the powerful politicians whose support of Slavery  led to an effort summarized with, “The Missourians openly exulted in the sure prospect they had of making Kansas a slave state, in spite of the Free State men.”

I am looking forward to delving into the dates that discuss the events that followed — in all the permutations and compromises and regrets and triumphs.  And I can’t help but wonder how much of a change anyone could have honestly expected after such a long period of such passionate division.

Snapshot 1862… Civil War inner-family strife takes its aim at Lincoln…

June 11, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

The following snapshot comes from The Crisis, Columbus, Ohio, dated May 7, 1862, which printed the death report of Abraham Lincoln’s brother-in-law, and includes considerable Lincoln-directed angst.

 

I’m New Here, Weeks Five & Six…

March 22, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a great day when you locate an issue that someone is wanting, particularly when they really want it.  Usually the request begins with, “There’s probably no chance you have this title, but…”  Because of our significant database I can now ascertain the general direction a new search will go, and have learned to further diminish expectations with words like, “Well, you are correct — that is a highly desirable date…”  Occasionally, my computer will display little notes or other indicators that this is possibly something I (with assistance) can find.  Without raising hopes I mention that it doesn’t look promising but there is something I want to double-check before I give a definitive “no”.

This morning’s call from one of our cheery customers delivered a query for a Harper’s Weekly from 1863.  He was looking for Emancipation Proclamation content, although many collectors want that particular issue for the full page Winslow Homer print or the double-page Thomas Nast “The War in the Border States”.  I reverently turned the pages to investigate the text in question, and found it free of foxing or damp stains or tears.  And then I found something else.

Just beside the historical, monumental words, the Harper’s editor placed or approved a first installment of Wilkie Collins’ No Name.   Although I have read his fifth book, I didn’t know that Collins was another contemporary of Dickens and Whitman.  I didn’t even know that “Wilkie” was a man.  And these little rabbit trails clamored for my attention and had me skimming the assertion by William Makepeace Thackeray on The Woman in White:  that it had him “transfixed” – a book that I’d found lengthy and melodramatic upon personal encounter.

I particularly enjoy this multi-layered discovery aspect of collecting/perusing early newspapers, and I grin over the notes back from purchasers describing the bonus treasures.  One that came this week included an exclamation over a Gentleman’s Magazine:  “R is over the moon as we discovered a paragraph about an intercepted letter from Alexander Hamilton complaining about congress and money! It’s just stunning to read these things as contemporary accounts.”

So, feel free to join the conversation and comment about the amazing things you unexpectedly have in your collection that you never intended to purchase. My own W.C. search is ongoing, as all the commentary I can find is that Collins was serialized in Dicken’s “All The Year Round”, with nary a mention of the great Harper’s.  Incidentally, if you are new to this world it might either interest or frustrate you to know the brand encompasses “Harper’s Weekly”,” Harper’s Monthly” (which is also sometimes called “Harper’s New Monthly”), and then the non-newspaper titles of “Harper’s Bazaar” and the various Harper’s books.  The Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspaper inventory contains the first two titles and it is there I will be searching for Chapter Two.

At least, that is how it will begin.

I’m New Here…Week Three

March 1, 2019 by · 2 Comments 

These last few days have been highlighted by fascinating rare newspaper excursions that touched on Johnny Appleseed and hot air balloons and genealogy searches and gold ink newspaper editions and even “mourning rules” (a post-worthy ramble in itself).  As this week closes, I find myself musing on all things literary.

I recall my first encounter with Walt Whitman’s poetry as being somewhat controversial.  Compiling an anthology for a sixth grade project I stumbled across “Song of Myself” and laboriously copied it out onto its own page — carefully fitting text to margins and indents that defined, despite lackluster rhyme or rhythm scheme.  Abruptly, I was the focus of adults pontificating on the perils of the modern age and the coming doom symbolized by artists throwing off established norms and strictures.  In college, I was perplexed to find that Whitman wrote his grieving “Lilacs” four months after the eloquently detailed sixteen hundred mile funeral procession for Abraham Lincoln.  From all the squawking, I had assumed the poet lived in my time, or my parents’ time — not contemporaneously with the sixteenth president.  I’m keen on Frost and Dickinson and Oliver and all the greats, but Whitman broke the lingering nursery rhyme cadence of Robert Louis Stevenson with a clear voice of plain-speaking, beauty filled, heartwrenching truth.  And so, with ten minutes of unscheduled time this week, I delved into the directories of perhaps the largest Civil War newspaper collection in the world, to see what we might have within our archives.  Three years after Lincoln’s assassination, the popular New York Herald was the first to publish the words  “…to all cut off before their time, Possess’d by some great spirit of fire Quenched by an early death.”   It is signed in block type, “WALT WHITMAN”.  And, yesterday, I held it in my very own 21st century hands, looking at this poem irreverently  sandwiched between complaints against Kansas senators and the connection of the Minneapolis/Montreal railroad.  In 1888 Walt Whitman’s words were taken at face value, distinct from any of the acclamation or aspersion that would come with the passage of time.  Reading them, this way, is a little bit like traveling back two hundred years to look at things from a completely different view.  Many of you who call or email or write or browse online in search of particular subjects, dates and people are reaching for the insight from the immediate context of newsprint columns, to hear what was once merely words in print, chronicling the events of the day.

At any rate, no one can live by poetry alone, so next Friday I am honor bound to tell you of one or two colossal mistakes I have made, and balance this week’s ponderous tone with a humorous tale or two.  Things around here are often funny and deep — a little bit like those old, modern poets.

Nobody like me, everybody hates me… 1863…

August 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me
I think I’ll go eat worms!
Big fat juicy ones
Eensie weensy squeensy ones
See how they wiggle and squirm!

Down goes the first one, down goes the second one
Oh how they wiggle and squirm!
Up comes the first one, up comes the second one
Oh how they wiggle and squirm!

I bite off the heads, and suck out the juice
And throw the skins away!
Nobody knows how fat I grow
On worms three times a day!

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me
I think I’ll go eat worms!
Big fat juicy ones
Eensie weensy squeensy ones
See how they wiggle and squirm!

When a child sings, “Nobody Likes Me,” rarely does it inspire the reaction (from those within listening distance) hoped for. The reality is, they child may be down in the mouth, but they’re likely not going to eat worms. After all, who would do such a thing? Of course we forget times throughout history when many have chosen to do so as a result of severe famine, long sea voyages (where food was scarce – and refrigeration was limited), and of course, in the present as a means of what we often call entertainment on a plethora of reality television shows. speaking of the latter, when such is put upon others against their will, the result is no laughing (or entertaining) matter. Perhaps it is the contrast between a willing act and one which is unjustly perpetrated upon others which drew my attention to the following article found in the New York Daily Tribune, September 3, 1863:

PS Please don’t respond with comments stating this post was in bad taste.

 

Who’s Who in Newspapers? Joseph A. Turner edition…

February 23, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The 4th installment of Who’s Who in Newspapers:

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton… Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, Vince Lombardi… John Wayne, James Dean, Katharine Hepburn – these individuals, among many, are easily recognizable. However, there are quite a few historical figures who, while having adorned the pages of many a newspaper, are far from household names. Such is the case with Joseph A Turner. Who is he? What was he known for? When did he live?

Mr. Turner just happens to be the publisher of what is believed to be the only Confederate newspaper printed/published on a Southern Plantation: The Countryman. He was the owner of Turnwold Plantation, located about 9 miles from Eatonton, Georgia – of Chick-fil-A, J.C.H. (see below), and The Color Purple fame.

As if this distinction were not enough, he took on Joel Chandler Harris – the eventual famed author of the Uncle Remus, Br’er Rabbit, and Br’er Fox stories, as an apprentice at the age of 14 – and trained him to serve as the typesetter for the newspaper.

Whenever we post an installment of “Who’s Who in Newspapers,” we typically provide a link to a chronological listing of newspapers which have information regarding the notable person in question. In this case, however, the newspapers are extremely rare, and while we do (at the time of this post) have a handful of issues, in this instance our link simply goes to a sample issue of this title:

THE COUNTRYMAN, by Joseph A. Turner

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Political bias no stranger to today’s newspapers…

October 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It seems the polarizing of day’s media is greater than ever, but it is certainly nothing new under the sun. Practically since the creation of the first newspaper political opinion was a focus the publisher, supporting or opposing the efforts of those in power. And as popular as we view Abraham Lincoln today (he consistently ranks among the top three in scholarly polls) he was not liked by all during his time in office.

The World” newspaper from New York City was the leading democratic organ at the time, while Lincoln was a Republican. In their issue of March 6, 1865 which reported his inauguration & inaugural address the editorial page contained at least two biting commentaries.  One includes in part: “It is with a blush of shame and wounded price, as American citizens, that we lay before our readers to-day the inaugural address of President Lincoln…But we cannot hide the dishonor done to the country we love by withholding these documents from publication…The pity of it…that the life of this Chief Magistrate should be made precious to us by the thought that he at least excludes from the most august station in the land the person who defiled our chief council chamber on Saturday with the spewings of a drunken boor…”.

The other can be seen in the photos.

Most historic Civil War event (revisited)…

September 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Continuing with our discussion on the “most historic” reports to be found in newspapers, we have been discussing the events of American history by era, the last being the post-Civil War 19th century. This post will discuss the Civil War era of 1861 – 1865.

Of the many events of the 19th century which changed the course of American history few would argue that the Civil War was the most significant. But what single event during the Civil War would rank as the most significant? If you could only have one newspaper from the Civil War in your collection, what one event would you most desire?

There are a number of events to consider:

1) The election of Abraham Lincoln. Although it happened in late 1860 and not technically from the war, this event would would set the tone of American politics which would lead to the war. What would have happened had he not been elected?

2) The beginning of the Civil War in April, 1861, for obvious reasons.

3) The Emancipation Proclamation of September, 1862, providing freedom to all slaves in all states, although more in theory than practicality.

4) The battle of Gettysburg, as the turning point of the Civil War.

5) The assassination of Lincoln: how would the country been different had he not been assassinated and served out his 2nd four year term?

Perhaps other events should be considered as the most historically significant. What are your thoughts?

My vote would be for the battle of Gettysburg. If it was a given that a war was inevitable to settle the political, cultural & economic divide between the North & South, it’s arguable that the war’s end was decided at Gettysburg. The tide had turned in favor of the North and  at that point it was just a matter of when it would end and not who would win.

What’s your thought?

The best of the best from the mouth and/or hand of Abraham Lincoln…

September 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

What is Abraham Lincoln’s most noteworthy speech, proclamation, letter, etc.? The Emancipation Proclamation? His Thanksgiving Proclamation or proclamation for a National Fast Day? Perhaps it was his 1862 Annual Message to Congress, his 2nd Inaugural Address, or his last public address in 1865? Of course the “go to” answer is often what we now refer to as The Gettysburg Address. The choices are almost endless. However, below is a candidate which appeared in an issue of The Crisis (Columbus, Ohio, May 4, 1864) I’d like to throw into the mix. Why it flies under the radar of notoriety and has never received more recognition is rather perplexing. What are your thoughts? Note: I’d like to thank a friend of Rare & Early Newspapers for suggesting I take a 2nd look.

This is why collectors love broadsides…

January 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

When notable news breaks in today’s world, regular television and radio schedules are canceled in favor of newscasters bringing the world the latest on the event as it happens. During the Civil War, a newspaper would put out a “broadside” edition, a quickly-produced piece on a single sheet and printed on the front side only, with text limited to the event being covered. Waiting for the next day’s edition was not an option for the most competitive of newspapers.

A recent addition to our inventory is one of the best Civil War broadsides we have seen. Using type dramatically larger than found in any regular edition the broadside screams: “LATEST! The Final Blow. RICHMOND TAKEN.” The brief text provides a same-day report of the capture of the Confederate capital, with a date stamp of 11:20 noting: “…General Grant states Petersburgh has been evacuated and believe Richmond also.” And then another date stamp just ten minutes later reports: “A dispatch from E. M. Stanton announces the capture of RICHMOND by our troops under Gen. Weitzel, they having taken it about 8:15 this morning.”

The immediacy of the report along with the dramatic, graphic presentation are what excite collectors. Add to this the significance of the fall of the rebel capital and you have a terrific newspaper just perfect for display.

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