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

Beyond the historic headline…

November 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

"Newspapers that shaped the world..."Newspapers that shaped the world…

Some of the better & more fascinating items found in old newspapers are not the most historic or significant, but rather the casual appearance of seemingly innocuous reports which excite collecting interest beyond the historic headline or dramatic presentation which are the more usual draw.

Much of what intrigues collectors can be lost within the body of reports, yet they tell a story of their own, such as the patriotic fervor of some colonist during the Revolutionary War.  I recall an issue of the Edinburgh Evening Courant of June, 1776 reporting on American soldiers: “…Their uniform is a dark grey coarse linen frock, which covers the whole body…with the words, ‘Death or Liberty’ marked in large red letters on the right sleeve; and many of them are so enthusiastic as to have them marked with their own blood…”. This report is almost lost on page 3 yet its message is very telling of the spirit which caused the Americans to win the war against a world power despite insurmountable odds.

Some reports are fascinating by their bias. A Richmond newspaper of July, 1863 reporting on the Battle of Gettysburg notes: “…The Confederates did not gain a victory, neither did the enemy. He succeeded in defending himself & we failed in some portions of an attack…We killed more of the enemy than we lost; we took very many more prisoners than lost. The Confederate army did not leave the enemy until it had tried every link of his armour…” Another newspaper notes: “ ..Information, certainly authentic, is in the hands of the Government, which leaves no doubt of the safety & triumph of the noble army. General Lee was victorious in all the combats which have taken place. He has been engaged with the whole force of the United States & has broken its backbone…”, Perhaps the most extraordinary example of optimism appeared in the Richmond Examiner of July 25: “…The result was not a defeat, it was not a loss; it was only not a victory…It was little else than a disappointment of extraordinary expectations…”. What a precious statement as an example of Confederate optimism.

Other little gems were very prophetic in their reporting, particularly when read with an historic perspective. A Scottish newspaper from 1775 sensed a lasting war with America as it reflected on the Battle of Bunker: “…The mischiefs which have already arisen & the greater calamities which are threatened from the unnatural war excited in America…It is impossible we can see, without the utmost alarm, preparations making for the prosecution of an expensive & ruinous war with our own Colonies…”. Some can be very recent, like the New York Times comment on rookie Mickey Mantle in 1951: “…Mantle, who gives every promise of developing into an outstanding baseball star, was ordered to report to his draft board next Wednesday…” An editorial comment in the Army & Navy Journal just after the Gettysburg Address opined: “…a dedicatory speech by President Lincoln, which we give in full, as decidedly the best feature of the occasion, as well as one of the most felicitous utterances of its author.” How true.

Some were prophetic even when the reports were simply wrong, like the Illustrated American article of 1898 reporting on “A New Flying Machine That Flies”–five years before the Wright brothers–when it said: “…It is impossible to imagine without terror the day when these mechanical birds, these flying apparitions, will be able to rain upon armies, hostile towns and escalating parties most deadly and most destructive explosives…”. How true it would become.

There can be much to be found in newspapers beyond the headline. What a thrill it is to discover such hidden gems; reports that have escaped hundreds of years of history only to rediscovered with new-found relevance today. Such are just some of the joys of collecting early newspapers.

Please enjoy:  Newspapers that shaped the world…

October newsletter from Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers…

October 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Each mid-month Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers… History’s Newsstand sends an e-newsletter to their members and collector friends.  This month’s edition is shown below. Please enjoy.

Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers… History’s Newsstand

October 2012 Newsletter

Welcome to the October newsletter from Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers.  In addition to links to recent listings (including our most recent catalog), October’s discounted issues, an issue containing the Emancipation Proclamation (it’s the 150th anniversary), and new posts on the History’s Newsstand blog, this month we would like to bring to your attention to our recent inventory expansion which extends our Birthday/Gift Newspapers availability through the mid-1980’s.  Please enjoy!

1)  Discounted Issues – Nearly 300 issues have been reduced in price by 20% (as shown) thru October 31, 2012, and may be viewed at: Discounted Issues

2)  Birthday/Gift Newspapers – As mentioned, we have expanded our major city newspapers through the mid-1980’s. These make wonderful birthday, anniversary, and holiday gifts.  Feel free to see what might be available for your key memorable dates:  Birthday/Anniversary Newspapers

3)  Catalog 203 is available. This latest release for October includes over 350 new items, all arranged in chronological order.

4)  The Emancipation Proclamation – In celebration of the 150 year anniversary of the printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, we have an original printing available for viewing and/or purchase at:  Emancipation Proclamation (note: as an added bonus, this issue also contains a print and report of the Battle of Antietam)

Best wishes,

Guy Heilenman & Rare Newspapers Team

Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers . . .
. . . History’s Newsstand

“…desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.” Hebrews 13:18

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Documenting the Civil War…

September 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

David Chasanow, at Americollector.com, recently did a post regarding the valuable role rare & historic newspapers play in documenting the events of the Civil War.  The post included an interview with Tim Hughes.  Please enjoy!

Battle lines: Vintage newspapers documented the Civil War as it happened

The end of the world… false alarm…

August 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A few years ago several collectors contacted us wondering if the end of the Rare & Early Newspapers collectible was at hand.  They had just received news about Google’s newspaper digitizing project and wondered if this would lead to an end in people wanting to collect historic newspapers. “Might this be the end of the old newspaper’s collectible world?”  We tried to reassure them them that collecting the actual newspaper from the day it was 1st printed/read as compared to reading digitized versions is akin to eating an ice-cream sundae rather than looking at a picture of one.  No matter how perfect the picture of the sundae reproduces the look of an actual one, it can never compare to the real deal.  Apparently, time has proven this to be so.  2011 brought news from Google announcing the end of the digitizing project.  The date of the announcement is rather ironic.  Please read:

Google Announces End Of Newspaper Digitizing Project

🙂  🙂  🙂

First newspapers in North Dakota…

March 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Dakota Territory organized in 1861 encompassed both present-day North & South Dakota. It was in 1889 when statehood was gained that the Territory was split into North & South.

But it was during the Civil War, in 1864 when two solders issued at Fort Union (present-day North Dakota) a newspaper called the “Frontier Scout” Only a few numbers were printed at Fort Union. A bit later it reappeared with a “Fort Rice, D.T.” imprint and a date of June 15, 1865, noted as “vol. 1, No. 1”. It is not known to have continued after 1865.

It was not until July of 1873 when the first permanent newspaper appeared in the Territory, located at the capital of Bismarck and titled the “Tribune“. It started as a weekly but 8 years later became a daily, which it remains to this day. It boasts that it has never missed an issue, although because of a winter blizzard it was forced to reduce its size & one number was printed on wallpaper.

Not long thereafter the second newspaper in North Dakota began, titled the “Express“, printed at Fargo on Jan. 1, 1874. The third newspaper, and in yet a third city, was the “Plaindealer” which published at Grand Forks in 1874 as well.

My collecting story… Graham Dukes…

November 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I have been collecting newspapers longer than most fellow enthusiasts, beginning when I was at school in England in 1943. My father went into a small second-hand shop and noticed that the owner, who sold candlesticks, old dinner plates and suchlike, was wrapping up the items in copies of the London evening “Star” for 1818, that he was tearing out of a bound volume. There were about 150 papers left and my father, who was well aware of my budding historical interest, bought the whole volume for threepence (10c).
From there I continued myself, often picking up items from shopkeepers who had no idea what they were. Nearly 70 years later, with several thousand items in store, (particularly London national papers, but also items from many other countries) some of my prize items, going back to the earlier sixteenth century, are still those that I found in the English back streets during my time as a schoolboy and later as a university student!
Graham Dukes

New discovery… Who knows what one might find?

November 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve often mentioned that one of the pleasures of the Rare & Early newspaper collecting hobby is finding unforeseen historical nuggets buried deep within the pages of newspapers… just waiting to be unearthed.  This was recently brought to the surface again by a collector/history teacher who purchases 19th century wholesale lots (undescribed as to content) for his students and for personal use .  His note is as follows:

This paper (from a wholesale lot) had a reference to a house vote for the “relief” of Susan Decatur, wife of naval hero Stephen Decatur.  She had inherited $75,000 from her husband, who was killed in a duel in 1820.  This is the equivalent of $1.4 million today.  The bill was defeated.  One of the nays was cast by Congressman Crockett (David).  Minor, but priceless info.  Your company does more good than you know.

Feel free to share your own discoveries with the collecting community.

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