Exploring newspapers, 1900-1949… Any Discoveries?

November 14, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

Blog_Guy_11_2012A unique pleasure one often experiences from the collecting of Rare & Early Newspapers is the hidden nuggets found within nearly every issue. Whereas collectible newspapers are often purchased due to their historic headlines or perhaps their rarity, the undisclosed content –  whether articles or ads – often provides intrigue and a historical perspective that go far beyond the original reason for seeking the issue.

With this in mind, let’s have some fun!

This post will serve as a home for collectors to brag about the non-headliner discoveries they’ve found within newspapers dated from 1900-1949. Share your finds. All we ask is for everyone to refrain from using this post as a means for offering collectible newspapers for sale. It’s intended to purely be a “no-agenda” platform for sharing one of the simple joys of collecting.

If you are new to the hobby (or already are a collector) and would like to join in the hunt, to help you get started we are offering a highly discounted set of 5 issues, one per decade, covering the 1st half of the 20th century. This offering may be viewed at: Five-Issue Set (1900-1949)

#18 – America’s first newspaper… Check your attics. (*revisited)

April 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The very first newspaper printed in the American colonies was published in Boston in 1690 and titled “Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick”. It was a little paper with three pages of text. The fourth page was left blank for others to write handwritten pieces of news before being passed on to others. It was published by Benjamin Harris who had experience in publishing another newspaper in London several years prior to his arrival in the colonies, titled “Domestick Intelligence, Or News Both from City & Country”.

His Boston effort focused on local news but it also included gossip and unflattering reports. One account notes it contained: “…affections of a very high nature: As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports…”. The mixture of doubtful and uncertain reports, as well as a ban on printing without a license which Harris did not have, caused his first issue to also be his last. Reports note that the royal governor had the printing press destroyed and all known issues of that one date of September 25, 1690 confiscated.

To this day only one genuine issue of the newspaper is known to exist, and unfortunately it’s not in the United States: it is in the Public Records office in London. Some years ago it was loaned to The Newseum in Washington, D.C. (then located across the Potomac in Virginia) for a period of time, but I believe it has been returned to London.

The intriguing part of this story is that “all known issues were confiscated and destroyed”. But exactly when did this happen? Was it done several hours since it was printed, or a few days later? It was intended to be a monthly publication. Certainly the possibility exists that a few issues were not found & confiscated, and with the owners knowing of the search they may have purposely hidden them away.

Could an issue or two still exist in a Boston attic somewhere? Is there a private library where an issue was hidden among the pages of a book in hopes of not being confiscated? Could a renovation project to a Boston area home reveal an issue tucked within its walls over 300 years ago? It is fascinating to think that some examples could be found so long after being published. But to this date none have surfaced.

Speculation runs wild as to the value of an issue should it surface. It’s America’s very first newspaper, and none exist in America. What sort of price could be set on such an issue? What should be the future home of an issue should it be found?

Feel free to comment!

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*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. This year (2014) we are revisiting the top 25 posts (measured by activity), with the number 1 post being re-posted 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 guy@rarenewspapers.com.

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!

#19 – Coffee House newspapers: a brief history… (*revisited)

March 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A number of titles on our website are referred to as “coffee house newspapers” with little explanation as to what they are. I think we owe our customers a bit of history on this interesting era.

During most of the 17th century newspaper publishing was very heavily regulated. All printing offices in England were under the control of the Surveyor of the Imprimery, or Press. Roger L’Estrange held the position in the latter half of the century and had the sole privilege of writing, printing & publishing newspapers, being involved in the “Intelligencer”, “The News”, the “City Mercury” and the “Observator“. His monopoly was broken in 1665 with the creation of the “Oxford Gazette”, renamed the “London Gazette” when it removed there after 23 issues in Oxford.

With the arrival of William of Orange in 1689 came a reduction of state control over the press. This new-found freedom gave the independent press a real impetus. Readers’ interests widened. Politics & religion were no longer everyone’s cup of tea, for it was in the post-1689 years that the coffee house as a meeting place for exchanging merchandise & ideas came into its own. Newspapers provided stimulus for conversations and gossip & entertainment became accepted & then demanded.
The London coffee-houses provided a gathering place where any man who was reasonably dressed could smoke his long, clay pipe, sip his coffee, read the newsletters of the day, or enter into conversation with other patrons. At this period when journalism was in its infancy and the postal system was unorganized and irregular, the coffee-house provided a center of communication for news and information. Runners were sent round to the coffee house to report major events of the day, such as victory in battle or political upheaval, and the newsletters and gazettes of the day were distributed chiefly in the coffee house. Most of the establishments functioned as reading rooms. In addition, bulletins announcing sales, sailings, and auctions covered the walls of the establishments, providing valuable information to the businessman who conducted much of his business from a table at his favorite coffee house.

During this era, particularly the early years of the 18th century, newspapers such as the “Tatler“, “Spectator“, “Guardian” “Athenian Mercury” & “Rehearsal” among others were very much in vogue in the coffee houses, and were more dialogue in format with back & forth discussion of a specific topic rather than reporting of news of the day.

By the latter half of the 18th century coffee house culture had run its course, but left in its wake much interesting literary work by some notable names including Daniel DeFoe (wrote for “A Review Of The State Of The Nation“, Joseph Addison & Richard Steele among others. Newspaper format tended more towards reporting news events of the day with presses being established outside the boundaries of London as well as increased activity within the city. One of the more successful titles which flourished in the latter half of the 1700’s was the “London Chronicle“, many issues of which we offer on our website, catalogs and supplements.

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*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. This year (2014) we are revisiting the top 25 posts (measured by activity), with the number 1 post being re-posted 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 guy@rarenewspapers.com.

#21 – Pricing newspapers over 30 years ago… (*revisited)

March 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

pricing_issues_iiIn conversations with people about how I started this business, a common question is, “How did you know how to prices newspapers back then?” Well, the short answer is I didn’t.

This venture started as a hobby with no thought of it turning into a business. But when I started getting too many of a similar title or date, selling off the “unwanteds” became a more common occurrence. My simple thought was, if I had $3 for it, try to sell it for $5. If I did, the price stuck for future issues; if it didn’t, the price dropped to $4.

But this became trickier years later when I was buying for resale but didn’t have enough experience to know what to pay, nor what to price them at. Nor did anyone for that matter, as there were no price guides, nor sufficient auction records to offer a clue.

I was flying by the seat of my pants. If I thought an event was historic, say a major Civil War battle, I would pay the $5 price and increase it by 50% or so. If it sold, then the next time I inched it up a bit more. If it didn’t, I reduced the price a bit. Never knowing how high customers might go for an event, I might have “inched up” the price of an event 15 times over the coarse of 4 or 5 years until there was some resistance. I was careful to keep records of sales through the years–even in the pre-computer days–which was a tremendous assistance in assigning values to the myriad of historical events covering 300 years of history.

pricing_issues_iDid I sell some great material too cheaply in the early years? I sure did. Looking at some of my earlier catalogs I gladly pay five times the selling price of many items I sold. But it was part of the process. I remember nce having a volume of a Las Vegas, New Mexico newspaper from 1881. There must have been 30 or 40 issues with a small “Reward” ad for the capture of Billy the Kid. I think I sold those issues for less than $20 each. If I had 40 of them how rare could they be? Certainly I’ve learned through the years, and became smarter as well.

But we are still challenged today with some items. As we continue to find truly rare, almost unique issues it becomes difficult to assign values with no history or prior sales. But these are the fun challenges. As much as you may enjoy finding interesting items in our catalogs, I enjoy finding the unusual to offer.

Although this is a business, I have always gotten more joy from buying newspapers than selling them.

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*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. This year (2014) we are revisiting the top 25 posts (measured by activity), with the number 1 post being re-posted 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 guy@rarenewspapers.com.

Just for fun… the month of January through time…

January 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

I thought it might be fun to take a look at historic newspapers from a different perspective – the month of January through time. The issues have been arranged in chronological order, most recent first. It is interesting to see the varied events which have made the news to start the year over the centuries. Please enjoy.

January Newspaper Reporting Through Time

#25 – Best of the 20th century? (*revisited)

January 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As newspaper collectors we dream of “the event” we’d like to add to our collection. It’s the search for that issue–or issues–which make this a fascinating hobby. This is, after all, a very visual hobby. How displayable are stamps and coins? Huge headlines proclaiming a cataclysmic event or magnificent achievement lend themselves so well to display, much more so than an original document about the event.

The 20th century had a great wealth of interesting events. But what is the best? If you could only make one choice, what single headline of the 20th century would you most want to see in your collection?

I wrestle with how to approach this thought: most life-altering? most recognizable? most historic? most appealing for display? I believe the first Wright brothers’ flight is the most life-altering; “Dewey Defeats” Truman” as the most recognizable; and a great “Titanic Sinks” report as the most displayable. Some newspapers did much with the events of the gangster era, and certainly the “careers” of Bonnie & Clyde, John Dillinger and Al Capone are well known and significant reports would be attention-grabbers on any wall. On a more positive note there are some spectacular “V-E Day” and “V-J Day” issues celebrating the end of World War II. But limiting myself to just a single issue I would take “Titanic Sinks”. ….what’s your thought?

*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 guy@rarenewspapers.com.

Historic newspapers… entering on the ground floor of a collectible…

September 30, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

In the world of collectables, early newspapers by no means rank among the most well-known of hobbies. In fact most would be surprised that it even is a hobby.  Who knows anyone who collects early newspapers?

That was exactly my thought nearly 40 years ago. Having been a coin collector since I was a kid, I knew that hobby well. I knew it well enough to recognize that no bargains could be had for the truly rare coins. Coin collecting was, and is, a well exploited hobby. The number of serious collectors must run in the hundreds of thousands with a proportionate number of dealers who make a living selling coins. So as a youngster with only grass-cutting money in my pocket, it didn’t take long to become frustrated when trying to find the last few desirable coins to fill out a set. I simply could not afford them. Everyone knew they were rare, and with more people wanting them than inventory allowed, prices were beyond my reach.

I liked collecting and I wanted a hobby that dealt with history. Holding a coin minted during the time when Lincoln was President, or when Indian battles were still raging on the Plains, intrigued me. I felt like I was touching history. But I needed a collectable that was yet to be exploited. One which few people were involved in.  More importantly, one where I could hope to amass a reasonably nice collection without breaking the bank.

So it was by accident that while browsing through a local flea market that I came across a Philadelphia newspaper from 1846. I was intrigued, not only by the price–$3—but by what I would get. Quickly my mind ran through the host of various coins from 1846 which would require more than ten times the price tag, and what do you get but a hunk of medal with a date & an image of a dead President? A coin could be fully examined in seconds. But this 1846 newspaper would take half an hour to absorb.  So $3 exchanged hands and the newspaper was mine.

Handling this newspaper was better than touching history. Yes, someone in 1846 held this newspaper in their hands, just like coins of the era, but this collectable actually CONTAINED history. News of the day, including events of the Mexican-American War, were within its four pages. Political reports from the term of James K. Polk were scattered throughout. Even the advertisements were fascinating.

I was hooked. The coin collection went on a shelf and I pursued whatever old newspaper I could find. It didn’t take long to discover a whole new world of collectables. Better yet, because so few people were collecting old newspapers prices seemed such a bargain compared to what coins or stamps or any other collectable with similar rarity would cost. I was convinced I got in on the ground floor.

As the years passed my hobby turned into a business catering to a niche market. At best I would suspect there are less than 2000 serious collectors of rare newspapers. Compare that number to the world of stamps, coins, books, or autographs, which hundreds of thousands consider their hobby.

A hobby still yet to be discovered by the collecting world, prices remain attractive for the most modest of budgets. Consider that a genuine New York Times in very nice condition from 1863 with front page Civil War reports sells for less than $30. Or consider that a genuine London Gazette from 1680—a 330+ year old newspaper—is available for under $50. Of course content certainly drives interest and price so a newspaper reporting the Battle of Gettysburg can exceed $500, while the same in a Confederate title (much more rare) could be triple the price. But still, genuine issues covering the War of 1812 sell for $25; newspapers with Indian battles are under $35; issues with baseball reports from the 1880‘s can be had for $25; newspapers from during the administration of George Washington for $45. Is there a hobby where genuine items of comparable vintage are at comparable prices? Certainly not.

Rare newspaper collecting is a fascinating world which awaits any historical hobbyist. Whatever event or era in history intrigues, newspapers covered those events.  From the Great Plague of London in 1666, to reports of pirates Blackbeard and Capt. Kidd, to the French & Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the Texas War for Independence, every presidential election & inauguration (and death), the outlaws of the West—you name it. Newspapers exist which document those occurrences and every other transforming event in American & world history.

Don’t just touch history with your hobby. Read history from the very day it was reported. You, too, will be hooked on a hobby you never knew existed.

Gift of newspapers can spark a life-long hobby…

April 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent piece on the web concerning the gift of a “stack of old newspapers” (see the hyperlink) to a grandson is a common story in our collecting world. A woman from Racine, Wisconsin, gave her grandson a box of historic newspapers, mostly World War II headline reports but including other events of the post-war era, collected by her husband. The photos show some nice banner headlines, several of the issues being the “Chicago Tribune” but including other titles from the Midwest.

Such finds, or gifts, are typically the catalyst for a new-found hobby. And newspapers from the last 60 or 70 years can be found for even the most modest of collecting budgets. Our website features major events of World War II, the Holocaust, the space race, baseball, Korean War, Vietnam War, Watergate–you name the event and it’s likely among the 2600+ issues from this era found on our website. Many prices range from $20 to $40 while some more significant events or dramatic headlines achieve higher values, and would be among the best newspapers for any collection.

For the beginning collector, the 20th century is an excellent entree to the much bigger world of our hobby which can includes newspapers back to the 16th century. Large headlines or events remembered by elder relatives bring to life the events which were formative to the American experience of the last 70 years. See:  Stack of Old Newspapers

Pictures… Is a thousand words always enough?

January 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The New York Times of October 20, 1862 includes a wonderful article which eloquently combats any romanticized view of the Civil War. Sometimes, far from the realities of the slaughter (in time and distance), we fail to properly connect with the tragedy and horror experienced by so many. The article includes, in part, “There is one side of the picture that the sun did not catch, one phase that has escaped photographic skill it is the background of widows and orphans, torn from the bosom of their natural protectors by the red remorseless hand of Battle, and thrown upon the brotherhood of God. Homes have been made desolate, and the light of life in thousands of hearts has been quenched forever. All of this desolation imagination must paint — broken hearts cannot be photographed.” Rather than say more, we’ll let the article speak for itself. The actual original article itself may be viewed in full at:

Brady’s Photographs; Pictures of the Dead at Antietam

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