Today’s travels took me to Springfield, Massachusetts, by the means of the Springfield Republican dated March 6, 1917, where the headlines announce “President Wilson Takes Oath”, “Firm Stand for Armed Neutrality – Nation Poised on Verge of War”. “Woodrow Wilson, with the major part of the world at war and America poised on its verge, consecrated his second inauguration as president of the United States at Washington yesterday with a last message of hope for peace… the president renewed his oath of allegiance to the constitution, praying to God that he might be given wisdom and prudence to do his duty in the true spirit of the American people…” Just in case anyone thinks the United States is more politically divided by geographic region today than it was 100 years ago…
Today’s journey took me to New York City by the means of the New-York Spectator, February 22, 1817. Under the heading of “Congress”, I found the “Votes for President & Vice President” report: “The votes of all of the states having been aloud, with the exception of those of the state of Indiana… One motion of Mr. Jackson, a message was sent to the Senate, informing them that the House of Representatives were ready to proceed, agreeably to the mutual resolution of yesterday, to open and count the votes for President and Vice President of the United States…The reading of the votes was then concluded and the tellers handed a statement thereof to the Present of the Senate… The president of the Senate then declared JAMES MONROE, of Virginia, to be duly elected President of the United States , and DANIEL D. TOMPKINS, of New York, duly elected Vice-President…”. A fair question to ask would certainly be: “Why were Indiana’s votes not included in the oral record?” An appropriate follow-up might be: “Were they eventually included?” If you know the answers off the top of your head, please respond. It sure is a good thing the election wasn’t close enough for Indiana’s votes to make a difference in the final result. However, the decision as to whether or not to include the votes was still an important one in regards to establishing precedent.
Now that the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is in the rear view mirror, we thought it might be fun to take a look back at past elections.Which were the most impacting? hotly contested? controversial? The History Channel has an interesting post (Memorable Elections) which explores these questions. It begins, in part:
“With the chance to serve as chief executive of the world’s premier power at stake, the race for the U.S. presidency has delivered its share of hotly-contested elections. George W. Bush became the fourth president to win despite losing the popular vote in 2000, an election that wasn’t decided until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a Florida recount to be unconstitutional. Harry S. Truman won in 1948 despite the publication of a newspaper that announced otherwise, while Rutherford B. Hayes moved to the White House only after a controversial electoral commission helped him overcome a massive popular-vote deficit in 1877… (read more).”
Please enjoy the currently available authentic historic newspapers containing election content, spanning from George Washington to Barack Obama. The list has been arranged in reverse-chronological order: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS (excuse the stray reports regarding non-U.S. elections).
Today I journeyed to New York City by the way of The New York Times dated September 1, 1864. There I found the rebel account on the surrender of Fort Morgan, Mobile, Alabama. “The flag of truce boat returned last evening. The Yankees say Fort Morgan capitulated at 2 o’clock last Tuesday. On Monday afternoon they concentrated their fire on the fort, when the bombardment was renewed spiritedly… The fort did not fire Tuesday. Gen. Paige destroyed everything in the fort, and spiked his guns. He and the garrison, numbering 581 men, were sent to New-Orleans… The enemy have a strong force of 4,000 on the mainland at Grant’s Pass.”
Also in the issue was the coverage of the Democratic Convention being held in Chicago. “…The president then stated the question before the convention to be on ordering the previous question, (nomination a candidate for the Presidency,) and it was ordered without dissent. The vote was then taken by States… the vote stood as follows: For (Gen.) McClellan – 162, Scattering – 64… The President then announced the vote, which was received with deafening cheers, the delegates and the vast audience rising, the band playing, and the cheering lasting for several minutes… The question was then taken on making the nomination unanimous, and it was declared carried. The shout that responded was deafening…”
It seems that with every election or inauguration I get asked about the collectability of such newspapers, so I thought I might share my thoughts with you, and encourage you to do the same.
As for pure collectability, sure, election and inauguration issues are collectible because they document a very important part of American history and the democratic process. The smooth transfer of power from one person or administration to another does not come easily to many countries today. And to be able to add such historic issues to a collection for 50 cents or a buck is a great opportunity.
But I suspect the real interest of many who inquire about the collectability (of Barrack Obama election and inauguration issues) is the potential for such issues to increase in value. My opinion is, in general, no. They will not increase much in value in years to come. Now I’m speaking of “recent” history, say the last 30 years or so. I feel the public has become very collector-focused the last several decades, and many, many “historic” newspapers have been set aside in attics and drawers only to be found by their children many years later.
For a newspaper to appreciate dramatically in value I believe it requires several things: 1) Historic content. Yes, elections and inaugurations are historic; 2) Rarity. No, elections and inaugurations of the past 30 years are not rare because they were hoarded in large quantities and will always be relatively common; and 3) Something unique or dramatic. A “screaming” headline in tall, bold letters, or a cleverly worded headline, or something else which makes the issue unusual.
Supposedly the New York Times printed an extra one million issues of its January 21 inauguration issue, and I suspect most of them will be hoarded in quantity. The Washington Post printed a much larger quantity than normal, but they didn’t comment on the exact quantity. I’m sure it was sizable, and many of those issues will be hoarded. All this means that 20 years from now issues will be showing up on eBay (or its equivalent at that time) and anywhere else people might try to sell collectibles. With millions of such newspapers in the marketplace will the values get higher and higher? I doubt it.
Issues which tend to increase in value are those which were NOT saved. Most major headlines pre-World War II have appreciated nicely in value because they were not hoarded in quantities. I just don’t think the American public was collector-conscience then, so consequently they are genuinely rare in additional to being historic. And add a huge headline or terrific graphic and you have the potential for a very desirable newspaper; one which has appreciated nicely in value.
As an interesting side note, I understand that the New York Post printed a special afternoon inauguration edition on January 20. Given that most major newspapers are morning publications, coverage of the inaugural proceedings would be in their September 21 issue. But the Post had coverage in their January 20 issue, the same day as the election. A friend, stopping by a newsstand in New York city bought several issues of the Times of January 21 and noted a stack of other issues in the back. Inquiring what they were he was told it was the Post of the 20th, “…but they came in too late to be sold on the newsstand, so they will be returned. We can’t sell a day old newspaper…” the friend promptly purchased them all. I’d be curious to hear how many of the January 20 afternoon edition were actually sold on the streets and not returned for destruction. Perhaps that edition will have a real rarity component.
But don’t let this deter you from collecting historic events of the last 30 years and events yet to come. One of the great aspects of this hobby is the ability to assemble a great collection of truly historic newspapers at a nominal cost–at the newsstand price if you are lucky.
What are your thoughts?
Note: The Times News (out of Lehighton, PA) interviewed Tim concerning this topic. The article may be accessed at: http://www.tnonline.com/about
*The Fall of 2013 marked the 5th anniversary of the History’s Newsstand Blog by Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers. We are grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the newspaper collecting community, and appreciate those who have participated through guest posts, comments, and readership. In 2014 we will revisit the top 25 posts (measured by activity), with the number 1 post being revisited during the first week of 2015. Please enjoy. If you would like to contribute a post for consideration of inclusion on the blog, please contact Guy Heilenman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today I traveled to Farmington, Maine by way of The Franklin Journal (August 6, 1912). There I found that “President Taft was formally notified Thursday of his nomination by the National Republican convention at Chicago.” This would be a year in which a four-way presidential election occurred — Republican, Democratic, Progressive and Socialist.
In part of the acceptance speech, “…the president launches into a bitter attack upon ‘those responsible for the popular unrest’ of the present day… Votes are not bread, constitutional amendments are not work, referendums do not pay rent or furnish houses, recalls do not furnish clothing, initiatives do not supply employment or relieve inequalities of condition or of opportunity…” (see below). Here we are in another election year, 100 years later, with what sounds like the exact same issues…
Today’s travels took me to Baltimore, Maryland, through The Weekly Register (Niles”) of May 23, 1812. There I found the “Presidential Nomination” had occurred “…For JAMES MADISON, 82 — No other person being voted for… On motion of Mr. Campbell of Ten. it was then Resolved, As the sense of this meeting, that JAMES MADISON, of the state of Virginia, be recommended as a proper person to fill the office of President, for four years from the third day of March next:…”. Additional information is within that article as well as additional articles pertaining to “The Nomination” and “Presidential Election”.
“The Locusts of Africa” article is interesting as it states that that “…when they visit a country it behooves every individual to lay in a provision against a famine; for they are said to stay three, five, or seven years…”. I can’t begin to image dealing with those bugs for a portion of a day let alone for years!
The piece shown is from the front page of “The Massachusetts Centinel” of Boston, March 31, 1787. Although written over 222 years ago it doesn’t seem as though much has changed with “electioneering” (see below).