March through the years via the lens of Rare & Early Newspapers…

March 6, 2020 by · 4 Comments 

Walk with us back through time to see what noteworthy, historic and collectible events occurred during the month of February. In so doing, we hope you’ll agree: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”

March Through Time

February through the years via the lens of Rare & Early Newspapers…

February 10, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Walk with us back through time to see what noteworthy, historic and collectible events occurred during the month of February. In so doing, we hope you’ll agree: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”

February Through Time

January through the years via the lens of Rare & Early Newspapers…

January 13, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Walk with us back through time to see what noteworthy, historic and collectible events occurred during the month of January. In so doing, we hope you’ll agree: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”

January Through Time

I’m New Here: Week Thirty-Two…

September 27, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

This week as I was pulling some Gentleman’s Magazines to fill online catalog gaps, I hovered over an issue prior to searching within the computer system.  It was dated July 1776, and I took a minute to let that soak in.  I am regularly awestruck at handling all these papers, but particularly anything from such an important, pivotal year and month in American history.  Actually, I suppose it was significant to world history as well.

This is not a museum, however, but a place of business and conscience compelled me to limit my sighing to less than a minute before turning to the keyboard and pulling up the listing for this title and date.  And, as I read the opening lines of the description, I felt again the great privilege I have to be here.

“It is rare to find newspapers or magazines with the magical date of 1776, let alone ‘July, 1776’.  Here is one.”

These paragraphs are such valuable tools for searching as well as learning.  While Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers can boast 44 years in existence as a business, the depth of knowledge of history and its significance that is applied to filtering through the millions of papers in order to present each one goes far beyond a mere business listing.  And the one that filled my screen only served to deepen my wonder at this treasure trove chronicling the earliest days of this country.

The first article contains 3 pages of text on events in America, including: “Proceedings of the American Colonists since the Passing the Boston Port Bill” with various reports, one stating that: “…the main army of the United Colonies has changed its situation; and that the head-quarters are now at New-York, where Gen. Washington has already taken up his residence…”.  A proclamation issued by Congress concerning a redress of the grievances of the colonies says in part: “Therefore, Resolved, that it be recommended to the respective Assemblies and Conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to…their affairs has been…established, to adopt such a government…”, signed in type: John Hancock. Perhaps the most significant report is one mentioning the convention at Williamsburgh containing an important resolve (see) passed by the delegates which reads in part: “…That the delegates appointed to represent this colony…be instructed to propose to that…body to declare the united colonies free and independent…and that they give the assent of this colony to such declaration …..

I remember in my first days here, wondering if I would be required to wear gloves when handling these issues.  My query was shrugged off, but I have been asked the same by friends and acquaintances when I talk about my job.  We are used to seeing important things enclosed and protected behind glass and velvet ropes.  But these papers were made to be read, and passed around so the news could spread.  The older ones are often in better condition than the ones from the past few decades.  Still, they are individually protected within folders, as much to keep the edges safe and protected as to shield from light and other environmental contaminants.  I like that the storage options  we use are the same as those we offer to our collecting community.  Even though the crew here is much more seasoned than I, there is an unspoken acknowledgement that this is really amazing stuff, and I am not the only one that gets a bit awestruck…

A February, 2017 stroll back thru time – 50, 100, 150, 200, & 250 years ago…

February 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

What news was reported in the month of February – 50, 100, 150, 200, and 250 years ago (1967, 1917, 1867, 1817, 1767)? Such a walk back through time via the eyes of those who read the daily and weekly newspapers of the period can be quite revealing. This is why we often say, “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.” The following links will take you back in time to show the available newspapers from the Rare & Early newspapers website. There’s no need to buy a thing. Simply enjoy the stroll.
February:
1967 – 50 years ago
1917 – 100 years ago
1867 – 150 years ago
1817 – 200 years ago
1767 – 250 years ago
Wanting for more? Why not take a year-long gander at 1667, 1717, 1767, 1817, 1867, 1917, and/or 1967?

More on printing newspapers in the 1700’s (revisited)…

June 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

This article is primarily taken from the April, 1996 edition of “Collectible Newspapers” edited by Rick Brown, whom we thank for this contribution. It offers some interesting insights into the printing & distributing of newspapers in the colonial and post-colonial era of the United States.

printing_pressNewspapers from the latter half of the 18th century were relatively scarce. One factor was that early settlers were busy clearing the land & otherwise making the land habitable & sustaining. Plus only a small percentage of the population had reading skills beyond that of the basic rudiments. Although most towns of any size by 1715 had tracts of land set aside for schools, few actually had schools built & in operation.

Nearly all 18th century newspapers were edited & published by printers that had a general printing business and also printed pamphlets, books, broadsides, lottery tickets, etc. Many also sold merchandise, groceries, patent medicines, and a variety of other goods. Rags, which were used to make the paper , were scarce in the colonies so most of the paper was imported from England.

Newspapers were printed on wooden hand presses with each application of ink to paper requiring a pull of by lever and screw. It was not until around 1816 that the new iron Columbian press came into general use. Instead of a screw it used a series of compound levers that multiplied the pull of the operator. But still, all hand presses were slow & laborious. The forms had to be laid by hand and the ink was poor and of uneven quality. Types were frequently old and worn.

After the newspapers were printed, distribution difficulties were encountered. Circulation was confined, for the most part, to the towns in which they were published. They were distributed to the rural areas by post-boys on horseback and by stagecoach drivers. The roads were bad & the postal system was slow. Subscribers were few & the cost of an issue relatively expensive so newspapers were typically handed around from one to another so that a single copy was ready by many. Even those who subscribed often failed to pay for their subscriptions.

It has been estimated that the largest circulation of a single newspaper during the earlier colonial period was about 350 and that only a few reached this high of a number of circulation. By the 1750’s circulation for larger city newspapers reached upwards of 600 of each issue printed and during the Revolutionary War some newspapers boasted circulations in excess of 2000. By 1790 most newspapers were printing less than 1000 copies but the very popular “Columbian Centinel” from Boston was printing over 4000 copies of each printing date.

Despite poor equipment, limited circulation, nonpaying subscribers, poor distribution facilities & the general unprofitability of publishing a newspaper, the number of newspapers being published continued to increase as the years went by. There were numerous failures, but new newspapers were established to replace them. From 1704 to 1820 about 1634 newspapers came to life and died. Of that number only two-thirds of them lived beyond three years.

(originally posted in 2009)

Newspaper circulation in the 1700’s (revisited)…

June 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

columbian_centinelWe often get queries as to what the circulation numbers were of colonial and later 18th century newspapers. Clarence Brigham, in his book “Journals & Journeymen” provides some helpful information.

The earliest comment on newspaper circulation in America was by publisher John Campbell in his Boston News-Letter of 1719. He notes that “…he cannot vend 300 at an impression, tho’ some ignorantly concludes he sells upwards of a thousand…”.

Famed publisher Isaiah Thomas remarked: “In 1754 four newspapers only were printed in New England…weekly, & the average number of copies did not exceed 600 from each press.”

Circulation gradually grew as the days of the Revolution approached. Rivington’s New York Gazetteer of Oct. 31, 1774 boated his weekly impressions “… increased to 3600…”, and Thomas noted in his Mass. Spy of Dec. 21, 1780 noted he had a pre-Revolutionary circulation of 3500 copies, then was driven out of Boston by the British invasion & established the Spy in Worcester. In 1775-6 circulation was 1500, in 1778-9 it was 1200, and in 1781 it did 500 impressions. He also noted that: “It has always been allowed that 600 customers, with a considerable number of advertisements, weekly, will but barely support the publication of a newspaper.”

Later Thomas noted that the famous Connecticut Courant of Hartford had a circulation which exceeded his Mass. Spy, that: “…the number of copies printed weekly was equal to, if not greater, than that of any other paper on the continent.”

In the last decade of the 18th century the number of newspapers increased, but circulation did not keep step & in generally averaged from 600 to 700. A few papers from larger cities were exceptions such as the Maryland Journal of Baltimore which claimed a circulation of near 2000. And the very popular Columbian Centinel would top the list of all 18th century newspapers in circulation with over 4000 per issue. Other popular late-18th century titles & their circulations included the Aurora with 1700; the Farmer’s Weekly Museum with 2000 and Porcupine’s Gazette with over 2000 in circulation in 1799.

But given these numbers, how many copies of any single date survived? A good question as certainly the vast majority were read and discarded. Outside of those held by institutions in bound volumes those which exist in collectors’ hands today almost assuredly came from deaccessioned institutional holdings and likely will be the only issues to see the light of day for many years to come.

(originally posted in 2009)

New Year’s Eve – 1965

December 31, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-12-31-2015It is not uncommon to read a History’s Newsstand post which takes us on a walk through time. Historic newspapers are all about placing ourselves in the shoes of those who experienced history – first hand. However, such strolls often dig deep – going back 150, 200, 250, or as many as 300 years into the past. This time we’d like to take a more nostalgic approach by focusing on a day some readers may actually remember themselves: New Year’s Eve, 1965.

Vietnam, Jackie Kennedy, The Sholbergs (?), Edward Brooke, Billy Graham, Sean Connery, Audry Hepburn, Soupy Sales, Jimmy Brown, Vince Lombardi, Lassie and more all managed to find their way on to the pages of the last newspaper printed by The Detroit Free Press in 1965. Use the following link to enjoy a series of images which tell of time in the not-to-distant past:

Detroit Free Press, December 31, 1965

 

A West Coast collector amasses a large collection…

September 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Robinson was a long-time collector of historic newspapers, having begun at the age of 10 in the mid-1940’s & continuing  to add to his collection until his passing earlier this year. He was one of a small number of serious Blog-9-17-2015-Richard-Robinsonnewspaper collectors from that era.

Having grown up in Beverly Hills, California, it is not surprising that a majority of his issues were from the Los Angeles area. Fortunately both the “Herald Express” and the “Examiner” typically used large, “screaming” headlines desired by collectors today. Although he had some issues from the 18th and 19th centuries, the lion’s share of his collection was made up with those from the era in which lived. How great it would have been to add to a collection reports on the end of World War II and later by simply paying the 10 cent price at the newsstand!

This front page article in the Feb. 26, 1952 issue of the “Beverly Hills Bulletin shows him as a 12 year old student when his collection included some 1000 newspapers. At the time of his passing the number had to have grown to 50,000 or more.

In a correspondence with him many years ago I recall him stating that he never paid more than $5 for any newspaper in his collection. Many were simply given to him. He noted as one of his prize editions the famous “Chicago  Daily Tribune” with the “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline, which the Tribune offered to buy back from him for $25. He refused.

Why historic newspapers? Time travel… raw emotion…

April 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

I remember the first time I held an authentic Civil War era newspaper and was struck by the concept of holding history in my hands. As I read through the detailed battle reports, raw emotion welled up within me as I pondered the possibility of a loved one’s tears falling upon the very newspaper I was holding – as he/she discovered the name of a close relative… even a spouse listed among those killed in battle. As I continued to peruse the paper, the prevalence of ads, birth and wedding announcements, local news reports, etc. communicated a truth that hit me like a ton of bricks: Despite the carnage of war, and the tears of many who had just learned of the loss of someone they loved, life continued to move forward. Anyone who has lost a dear friend or family member knows the emotion: “Hey world – What are you doing? STOP! Don’t you know what’s just happened?” But the train of time rushes forward – ignoring our desperate cry for just a few more minutes…

At this point I took a breath – carefully closed the newspaper, and returned to the present – convinced I had discovered the greatest hobby of them all; one that enables anyone who would dare, to go where Orson Wells, Jack Finney, and others could only dream of going: back in time.

A collector recently sent a related note stating:

Like many people I’m sure, I have over the years fantasized many times about being able to go back in time. I realize now that this hobby has enabled me to get just a glimmer of that feeling inside, as I hold such old papers, reading the words and seeing the engravings and old photos. Touching the history in such a physical, tangible way evokes a feeling as close to time travel as we can probably ever come…and is a unique experience utterly lacking in the high school history textbooks I originally studied, or merely looking at images on a computer monitor these days. -Actapublicurist

Yet another, upon discovering the Bobby Kennedy Assassination Report issue shown in the image wrote (in part):

I will never sell this newspaper…  I will be 60 in November and lived in Brooklyn when Senator Kennedy was killed.  I still shed tears when I think about it all these years later.  He left nine children (and a tenth on the way) and a wonderful wife, and we will never know what a difference this magnificent man with a huge heart would have made in the White House.  I grieve for him as if he was close friend.  I will treasure this newspaper and others in my ample collection of the RFK assassination.

What an incredible hobby!

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