A gem from the American Antiquarian Society…

January 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-1-30-2015In 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.).

93. “Moniteur de la Louisiane“, New Orleans, February 21, 1810

The Moniteur de la Louisiane, established in 1794 by Louis Duclot, was the first newspaper published in Louisiana. Because so few early issues have survived, its history is difficult to piece together. The earliest known issue — since lost in a fire but preserved in facsimile — was dated August 25, 1794; all other extant issues are from the 1800s. Although founded when Louisiana was under Spanish control, the Moniteur was published primarily in French, the language of Louisiana’s majority population. Over time the newspaper grew in size from octavo to quarto to folio, and it also change publishers. This 1810 issue lists Jean Baptiste Le Seur Fontaine as publisher, A role he had assumed by 1803 and perhaps as early as 1797. Publication apparently ceased in 1814. When Fontaine died that year, he bequeathed to the city of New Orleans his personal file of the Moniteur.

This is one of two issues of the Moniteur sent to AAS by Edward Larocque Tinker as part of his very substantial gift of early Louisiana newspapers and periodicals.

West Virginia’s first newspapers…

January 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The history of West Virginia newspapers dates some 70 years before West Virginia became a state. Statehood came late to West Virginia, carved from Virginia in the midst of the Civil War, happening officially on June 20, 1863. But its first newspaper began in 1790 when Nathaniel Willis began his “Potowmac Guardian & Berkeley Advertiser” at Shepherd’s-Town, near Harper’s Ferry.  Less than two years later Willis moved the newspaper to Martinsburg.

The second newspaper was the “Shepherd’s Town, Charles-Town and County Advertiser” begun by Philip Rootes and Charles Blagrove on June 28, 1797. No copies beyond October 11, 1797 have been located. The third newspaper was the “Berkeley Intelligencer” done at Martinsburg on April 3, 1799 by John Alburtis.  Many followed, including what is shown in the image, “The Observer, and Western Advertiser”, Lewisburg, [West] Virgina, 1884.

Washington’s first newspaper…

June 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Interest by historians in Washington’s first newspaper may well be eclipsed by the press upon which it was printed, as it had a fascinating history.

The “Ramage Press” was well traveled. It originated in Boston, was sold to a printer in Hawaii only to never be used as the printer purchased another press before its arrival, then was sold to California where it was transported to Monterey to Sonoma and then back to Monterey where it printed California’s first newspaper, the “Californian”, on Aug. 15, 1846. Both the press and the newspaper moved to Yerba Buena where the newspaper continued printing, moved then to Sacramento City where it printed the first issue of the “Placer Times” in 1849. It then moved to San Francisco, then to Stockton, then to Sonora, eventually becoming the first press on which printing was done in Oregon, and then the same for the state of Washington.

During the 1850’s Washington was part of the Oregon Territory. The old Ramage press made its way to Olympia and on September 11, 1852 the first issue of the “Columbian” was printed, Washington’s very first newspaper. Just six months later in 1853 the Washington Territory was created causing the printers, James Wiley and Thorton McElroy, to change the name of their newspaper to the “Washington Pioneer”. After another name change the paper continued until 1861.

The second newspaper in Washington was the “Puget Sound Courier” which began on May 19, 1855 at Steilacoom but the newspaper lasted for just a year. Steilacoom was the location of Washington’s third newspaper, done by Charles Prosch and titled the “Puget Sound Express”, which began on March 12, 1858.

South Carolina’s first newspapers…

January 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The first two newspapers of South Carolina had  feeble beginnings. In fact it is not known for certain which of the two was first.

Eleazer Phillips was named the official printer of the colony on Feb. 3, 1732, the son of a Boston bookseller & binder. He would die a few months later on July 10, 1732 & when his father traveled to Charleston to settle his son’s estate he address to its debtors the fact that his son had founded a newspaper, the “South Carolina Weekly Journal” sometime in January, 1732. But all copies of it have disappeared, also confirmed by Brigham.

Thomas Whitmarsh began his “South Carolina Gazette” on January 8, 1732 which continued until his death in September of the following year. Did it begin before the “South Carolina Weekly Journal“? Odds are it did but with no issues of the  latter existing it is not known for sure. Whitmarsh’s paper would begin again in February, 1734 by Lewis Timothy. He would die at the end of 1738 when it would be continued by his widow, Elizabeth Timothy. This newspaper would ultimately last until December, 1775 under this title.

First newspapers printed in Oregon…

July 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

It was in 1843 when the great migration over the Oregon trail to the Pacific Northwest began, with some 3000 settling in Oregon City just a few years later. Located on the Willamette River, this town became the Oregon Territory’s first capital.

It was also the location of the first  newspaper in the territory, titled the “Oregon Spectator” which began publishing on Feb. 5, 1846. This newspaper changed hands several times, and one of its editors, George L. Curry, left the newspaper in 1848 to start the Oregon City “Free Press” printed on a press he crafted by hand out of wood and scrap iron. This newspapers lasted for less than eight months.

On June 8 in 1848, at Tualatin Plains, a religious newspaper was begun by the Rev. John Smith Griffin titled the “Oregon American & Evangelical Unionist“. By the early 1850’s Portland was being settled and numerous newspapers made their appearance, the first being the “Weekly Oregonian” on Dec. 4, 1850.  As more migrated West, more newspapers (The Morning Oregonian & more) made their appearance in not only Portland but other settlement towns in the Oregon Territory. Oregon would become the 33rd state in early 1859. (credit: “Printing In The Americas”)

Rhode Island’s first newspapers…

July 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This history of Rhode Island’s European settlements goes back to roger Williams in 1604 but it was no until well over 100 years later that Rhode Island got its first newspaper. It was on Sept. 27, 1732 when James Franklin begin the “Rhode Island Gazette“, but it lasted for  only 20 issues. James Franklin also started the “New England Courant“, one of the first newspapers in Boston, and is perhaps most famous for creating an apprenticeship for his younger brother, Benjamin, who would go on to be a very successful newspaper publisher (among many other accomplishments) in Philadelphia.

It would be another 25 years before the next newspapers would be founded in Rhode Island, it being the “Newport Mercury” begun in that coastal town in 1758. Providence would have its first newspaper, “The Providence Gazette“, in 1762.

First newspapers in Missouri…

July 19, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

It was in 1808 when the first printing press arrived in what is now the state of Missouri, which was the Territory of Louisiana at the time. That was in St. Louis, which had about 1000 inhabitants at the time.  Previous to moving to St. Louis, Joseph Charless, the printer, worked on a newspaper in Lexington, Kentucky in 1803, and then 4 years later was involved in the “Gazette” of Louisville. And it was on July 12, 1808 when Charless printed the first edition of the “Missouri Gazette“, the first newspaper in Missouri. He had 170 subscribers at the time, many of whom paid in flour, corn, beef or pork to the value of the $3 annual subscription. He changed the title to the “Louisiana Gazette” in 1809, but then when Congress created the Missouri Territory in 1812, the paper again became the “Missouri Gazette“.

Not uncommon to early printers, Charless had made many enemies through his newspaper, prompting opponents to head a movement to bring another printer into town. It was in 1815 when Joshua Norvell arrived in town, and in May of that year printed his first issue of the “Western Journal“. He sold it within two years, when the new printer changed the name on May 17, 1817 to the “Western Emigrant“. It again changed hands & title again in another two years, to the “St. Louis Enquirer“.