20th century prices realized… revisted…

September 30, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

The previous post focused on “prices realized” from a sampling of key issues from the 20th century.  Fellow collector, Charles Signer, posted a response we thought collectors would appreciate.

These papers (see previous post) are excellent choices for your article. I think the Titanic disaster marked a new era in journalism, since improvements in printing technology and inventions like the facsimile machine made it possible for newspapers all over the United States and the world for the first time to cover the story simultaneously with full coverage and great graphics. Because the Titanic event took place at sea there was no “home advantage” as there would have been for a disaster taking place in a populated area. I don’t have the Rhode Island version of the story that you show, but I have seen others like it from other cities. I am amazed how they could get such good reporting and graphics literally overnight on such an unexpected story.

When I see the Honolulu Star-Bulletin First Extra I think of it as a time capsule marking of an end of an era. The front page of course gives the full first report, but the inside pages were mostly set up before the event, in the last hours of peacetime. The ads for 1941 consumer goods and Christmas sales suddenly fell out of place in the grim new wartime world. I imagine the people shown in the ads floating at the bottom of the ocean where they are all drowned dead but still visible to divers. It’s eerie.

I was going to say that the whole First Extra paper could be seen on the Honolulu Star-Bulletin website, but in trying to test the link as I write this I see that the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser merged on June 7, 2010. The combined paper is now the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. There used to be a great story on the Star-Bulletin’s old website about the people who put out those first reports that day. I guess it’s gone now.

I got a copy of the Dewey Defeats Truman paper from Tim Hughes before 2000 for about $850. It was real cherry. I grew up in Chicago where my dad and I would drive down in the evenings to get the first edition of the following day’s Tribune. When you opened up a Tribune for the first time there were tiny holes made in the printing process which made the pages stick together. The copy I got from Tim had those little holes so I knew I was opening that Dewey Defeats Truman paper for the first time ever. It was almost like being there on November 2, 1948, the evening the paper was printed. Yes, it truly is a classic that will be recognized as long as newspapers are remembered, which may be a lot longer than some of them are being published.

Thanks Charles!

Collecting Historic and Rare Newspapers Basics – Part Two

August 9, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

The following guide is posted on History’s Newsstand’s eBay Store. It is the second part of a primer on collecting Rare & Early Newspapers:

The purpose of this 2nd guide concerning historic, original, collectible and/or rare newspapers is to answer additional questions related to the hobby:

  1. Why are they so inexpensive?
  2. What might I find within the pages of a Rare Newspaper?
  3. What is the background of the (apparent) use of “f” vs. “s”?
  4. What is meant by “2nd-rate”?
  5. What is the value of my newspaper?
  6. How was 17th & 18th Century paper made?
  7. Are early issues with irregular type-set authentic?

1.  Why so inexpensive?

You can find newspapers published during George Washington’s administration for $35, issues with front page accounts of Indian skirmishes for $25, and genuine issues published in 1685 for as little as $30.  A hobby still very much undiscovered by the public, prices for genuine, complete newspapers dating as far back as the 1600’s are very low due to limited demand (at this time). For more than 30 years, we have dealt exclusively in the niche market of early newspapers, buying in huge quantities at very low prices to amass an inventory of over 2 million issues which are now available for the historical hobbyist.  There is no better time to begin amassing ah historical newspaper collection – while still on the up-side of the hobby’s appeal.

2.  What might I find within the pages of a Rare Newspaper?

Read the Boston Gazette of March 12, 1770 and learn of the massacre in that city and gain an appreciation of the revolutionary spirit never before imagined. Read 1st hand reports on the Civil War. View ads and reports from the American Wold West.  View the Banner Headlines of some of the biggest events from the 20th Century. Historic newspapers are a firsthand reflection of life at a time when descriptive ads for runaway slaves were commonplace; when Paul Revere advertised his bell foundry in local papers; when recently enacted laws, signed in type by George Washington, were published in the daily paper.  There is no better way to obtain an intimate view of life during nearly any chosen period from 1666 through the late 1900’s.

Since all are original issues (not reproductions), slight imperfections such as light foxing or staining, small margin tears, an occasional front page original owner (often library) stamp, and slight fold or edge wear are common. Most issues were once bound into volumes at the end of a year for preservation and bear minor left margin irregularities due to the disbinding process. None of these potential typical imperfections cause content loss. Many newspapers dated from the 1880’s through the 1920’s are pulpish (fragile) due to commonly used print materials used during this period, and appropriate care must be given to these issues. Some issues (especially magazines) were originally published with covers or wrappers, but unless described otherwise, they have long since been removed.

3.  What is the historical background of the use of “f” vs. “s”?

Centuries ago before the printing press there were grammatical reasons for use of a serpentine-styled “s” to be used rather than the more typical “s”. Its look was much as if an “s” was elongated and leaned to the right. When this letter was converted to a block letter for the printing press (around 1500) it looked much like an “f” but with the slash through one side & not the other–look carefully and note the difference. This letter caused confusion with the “f” ever since, and around 1750 publishers were abandoning this letter in favor of the more typical “s”, and by 1800 it was almost universally abandoned.

4.  What is meant by “second rate”?

A “second rate” issue is somewhat worn, possibly with edge tears, some light staining, rubbing, or other minor disfigurements. All pages are present with no cut-outs, but the prints contained within the issue, if prints are present, would not be suitable for framing.  An acceptable issue for researching content only, or if condition is inconsequential.  Please do not request for us to confirm that an issue offered at the 2nd rate price contains prints that are in good condition.  A 2nd rate issue is 2nd rate throughout.

5.  What is the value of my newspaper?

As one might suspect there are many factors which determine value.  Much like a jeweler cannot give a value of a diamond via email or a phone call, ethics would not permit anyone to place values on newspapers without seeing the issues in hand to determine authenticity condition, news placement, etc.  Although viewing issues of similar date, condition, and displayablity on eBay and/or on reputable websites may give a general sense of their potential value, your best bet is to contact a reputable dealer in historic and/or rare newspapers.

6.  How was 17th & 18th Century paper made?

The handmade paper used in the 17th and 18th centuries can be distinguished from paper that was made later by holding the paper up to a light and looking for “chain-lines” which are left from the wires in the paper mold. With this method, fewer fibers accumulate directly on the wire, so the paper is slightly thinner and more transparent to light. This pattern is usually very apparent and appears as lines that run about an inch apart, with several horizontal short lines connecting the long wire lines. Some modern paper has artificially-applied chain lines, and is usually referred to as “laid” paper, which is the name given to handmade chain-line paper. The handmade chain-line paper was made of cotton and/or linen rags, which were soaked in liquid until the fibers broke down into bits. Paper was formed by hand by dipping a paper mold into the fiber suspension, and then lifting and shaking off the excess water. The paper sheet was then partially dried before being removed from the mold. Modern handmade paper (used in fine printing of small editions by private presses, as well as in artists books) is basically made by the same process.

Wood pulp paper (made with a sulfite process that causes high acid residue in the paper) wasn’t widely used in the U.S. until after the American Civil War. Breakthrough in paper-making occurred when “wove” paper was invented. Wove paper was first used in a book printed in America in 1795 in a book by Charlotte Smith entitled “Elegiac Sonnets and Other Poems”. Wove paper, which shows no chain-lines, is made on a wire mold often made of brass and/or bronze wires that have been woven like fabric. Therefore, there is no chain-like pattern, and the paper has a much smoother appearance. After 1800, wove paper became the standard paper for books and other uses, although there was still some laid or chain-link paper in use through the 1820s and beyond.

The first machine-made paper in America was made in 1817 in Brandywine, Delaware, and the first newspaper printed on this paper was “Poulson’s Daily Advertiser. The major start in manufacturing paper by machine began when a French paper machine called the Fourdrinier was introduced in New York in 1827, followed by the manufacture of more of the machines two years later in Connecticut. Machine-made paper is more uniform in thickness, lacks the uneven edges of handmade paper and is weaker and more prone to tearing. Machine-made paper is made on a continuous wire mold which usually has watermarks. Although it can be hard to tell machine-made wove paper from handmade wove paper, handmade paper is usually thicker and also varies in thickness from piece to piece.

The last major development in paper manufacture was the development of wood pulp paper, which was much less expensive to manufacture than rag paper. The first successfully-made wood pulp paper was manufactured in Buffalo, New York, in 1855. By 1860, a large percentage of the total paper produced in the U.S. was still rag paper. Most of the newspapers printed in the U.S. during the Civil War period survived because they were essentially acid-free 100% rag paper, but the newspapers printed in the late 1880s turn brown because of the high acid content of the wood pulp paper. In 1882, the sulfite wood pulp process that is still in use today was developed on a commercial scale and most of the high acid content paper was used thereafter in newspapers, magazines and books.

7.  Are eary issues (pre-1800) with irregular type-set authentic?

Pre-1800 Printing – A Little Background: Type was handset in the 18th century and all margins were (typically) of equal size from top to bottom. As part of the inherent crudeness of making paper back then, individual sheets might have slightly different shapes but in general all sheets were rectangular, wider than tall with pages 1 & 4 of a newspaper printed on one side and pages 2 & 3 printed on the other, then folded in half to produce the typical 4 page newspaper. It was rather common for even a regularly shaped sheet to be put on the printing press slightly askew, causing the printed sheet to appear somewhat crooked, keeping in mind everything was done by hand, and often by young hired hands.  We have seen a few instances where an irregularly shaped sheet caused the print to run off one of the edges. Also, newspapers and magazines were often bound into volumes at the end of the year with the three exposed edges trimmed to look neat, and in the trimming process some text can be trimmed off if the newspaper was bound into the volume askew, or if the trimmer simply took off too much blank margin to even up the edges.

(Note) Invitation: In order to provide an ongoing resource for newcomers to the hobby, feel free to add additional insight which you feel might be beneficial to those entering the hobby on the ground floor. Our hope will be to include many of these comments within a future post. Thanks in advance for your contributions.

Collecting Historic and Rare Newspapers Basics – Part One

August 2, 2010 by · 14 Comments 

The following guide is posted on History’s Newsstand’s eBay Store.  It is the first part of a primer on collecting Rare & Early Newspapers:

The purpose of this guide concerning historic, original, collectible and/or rare newspapers is to answer the three most common questions related to the hobby:  How you can determine if an issue is authentic,  the meaning of commonly used terms related to the hobby, and why the original issues do not just fall apart.

How Can You Determine If An Issue Is Authentic?

It was not unusual for newspapers to celebrate the anniversary of an historic event or their inaugural issue by reprinting that issue for their subscribers or the general public. Never meant to deceive, through the years such issues were tucked away in attics and dresser drawers as interesting souvenirs only to be uncovered by distant relatives convinced they found the genuine item.

Although only an expert examination can definitively qualify a newspaper as genuine or a reprint and such experts with sufficient knowledge & experience are few & far between, there are a few clues which can guide a novice in making a determination:

* Does the newsprint match that used at that time? Genuine pre-1880 newsprint usually has a high rag content and is very pliable, sturdy & reasonably white. Most reprints in the post-1880 era are more browned, fragile and lacking in physical substance.

* Does the issue contain an historic or significant report? Many reprints contain very historic reports rather than mundane news of the day, and such genuine issues are rarely found randomly outside of a larger collection.

* Is the issue a volume one, number one issue? They were commonly reprinted on anniversary dates.

* Does the format, content or any extraneous printing on the issue appear out of the ordinary? Many reprints were used for promotional purposes and altered to serve another purpose beyond just reprinting a genuine newspaper.

Reprint, fake, or facsimile newspapers are a rarity in this hobby with the vast majority of such issues limited to less than 20 titles. The Library of Congress maintains a check-list of points to look for on most of these issues and can be accessed through their website.

What Are The Most Frequently Used Terms & What Do They Mean?

* Octavo (8vo): Approximately 8 1/2 by 5 inches. Popular size for 18th Century magazines.

* Quarto (4to): Approximately 12 by 9 inches. Common size for many early newspapers.

* Folio: Full size. Eighteenth century issues are approximately 17 by 11 inches, while 19th century issues come closer to present day newspapers.

* Foxing: Dark spots due to age, chemical content of the paper, or storage environment.

* dblpgctrfld:  Doublepage centerfold. A print, typical in Harper’s Weekly, which stretches across two pages.

Why Do The Issues Simply Not Fall Apart?

To the surprise of many, newspapers published before 1880 remain in very nice condition as the paper had high cotton and linen content. Most issues from the 1600’s and 1700’s are in much better condition than issues from World War I, hence little care is needed for issues over 120 years old.

(Note)  Invitation: In order to provide an ongoing resource for newcomers to the hobby, feel free to add additional insight which you feel might be beneficial to those entering the hobby on the ground floor.  Our hope will be to include many of these comments within a future post.  Thanks in advance for your contributions.

One never knows what will be found…

June 7, 2010 by · 4 Comments 

I suspect I have reflected several times upon the great wealth of interesting information which can be found in a seemingly “generic” issue. Recently I came across an item which was unfound for over 30 years until time permitted a closer look.

I have always touted the value of London’s “Gentleman’s Magazine” as a great periodical, as few world events of the 18th century escaped its pages, including American events from after the Revolutionary War. As a title which has always be somewhat common in a relative sense, when American titles of the 18th century have become almost impossible to find, key issues in “Gentleman’s Magazine” offer an excellent opportunity to add period, historic reports to a collection at a relatively modest cost.

Admittedly, volumes of this title have become more difficult to come by in recent years, prompting us to take a closer look at some issues which used to go out the door almost as quickly as they came in. The June, 1790 issue was seemingly just another innocuous magazine from the post-war era, and which I suspect we sold dozens of times for $15 to $25 or so. But a week ago I took a more careful look and found an excellent obituary of Benjamin Franklin, taking over 1 1/2 pages, even including is very famous self-written obituary which includes: “The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer, like the cover of an old book, its content torn out & stript of its lettering & gilding, lies here food for worms…”.

You may have purchased this June, 1790 issue from us in years past. If you have, take a look at pages 571-3 and elevate the status of this issue from generic to significant.  Even with this wonderful content, we still offer this issue for less than 1/3 the price of comparable reports in American newspapers.

I wonder how many other significant issues we’ve sold over the past 34 years not fully knowing what was inside? Hopefully you have discovered some gems which escaped my eye….it’s all part of the thrill of collecting!

Uncut newspapers: leave as they are?

March 20, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Fellow collector Morris Brill poses an interesting question worth sharing with others, along with my thoughts on the issue.

I suspect we have all encountered “uncut” newspapers from the 19th century, issues which are eight pages in length but which are essentially one large sheet of paper printed on both sides, then folded twice to produce the eight pages. This is how they came off the printing presses . Morris inquires:

“For the sake of maintaining the monetary value of such a newspaper is it best to leave the paper in this one piece condition or is it best to cut the paper so it folds normally like a book and the pages can be turned individually?”

Uncut issues are, for the most part, those which have survived the years by not being bound, kept loose by previous owners and eventually finding their way into the hands of collectors. Given that the vast majority of early newspapers in the collector market came from bound volumes once stored by libraries or other institutions then “disbound” into individual issues, uncut newspapers are relatively few in number. Once bound all margins, save for the spine, are guillotined at the bindery to produce an even, book-like edge thus losing the attachment at the top.

Since uncut issues are newspapers in the original state, as they were sold on the streets, my preference would be to keep them as such. Most collectibles tend to be more desirable in their original state: never clean an old coin; never paint an antique wagon; don’t removed the aged patina from an antique desk, etc. Are such newspapers more clumsy to read? Yes, to some degree. But they can be folded back and all 8 pages read with little difficulty. It’s obviously how it was done years ago as I’ve purchased several boxes of uncut 19th century newspapers which were folded many different ways, left as such by the reader.

They only time I might suggest cutting the top of an uncut sheet is the rare occasion when an issue was bound, causing all four leaves to be attached at the spine, yet the tops have not been trimmed. In such situations the newspaper cannot be folded back because of the attachment at the spine. I would take an exacto knife and cut the very top along the fold. Not much else can be done if the interior pages are to be read.

Collectors may have noticed that we charge a small premium for uncut newspapers. A downside to an uncut issue is they tend to be more worn than those bound as they have not been protected through the years by the bindings, but if one can obtain an issue which is both uncut and in great condition–and contains the Gettysburg Address–there’s a great item for any collection!

Featured websites – TeachHistory.com

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Teachers with a love of history, listen up!  The following resource can improve your curriculum and make you a stronger educator.  Students of history will enjoy the breadth and depth of the historical journey as well.

TeachHistory is a fantastic website (blog), developed and maintained by Ben Edwards, which provides engaging information & a plethora of useful educational resources related to history.  It describes itself as:

“a blog dedicated to social studies and history teachers across the United States who use Colonial American history, imagination and multisensory teaching methods to inspire their students. Our goal is to provide a resource where teachers like you can access information about colonial history plus technologies, methods and products that are making a difference in education today.”

While Ben’s experience with teachers and students is varied, perhaps the most useful channel for keeping him in touch with the pulse of teacher/student interests and needs occur via the many intimate conversations had while engaging teachers and students through his Walking Tours of Historic Boston.  Combine this with both his (historic) heritage and his natural love of history, and you have the making of a blog which is sure to stay relevant over time.  Some of the recent posts include:

Colonel Shaw, Sergeant Carney and the 54th Massachusetts

Remembering Alex Haley and Roots

Black History Month: A Tribute to Phillis Wheatley

Young Ben Franklin and the Silence Dogood Letters

Teachers: Are You Engaging AND Empowering Your Students?

Many of the posts include detailed images and reference accounts of actual Rare & Early Newspapers – most of which come from his personal collection.  Ben fully grasps a foundational truth regarding primary sources:  “History is never more fascinating than when it is read from the day it was first reported.” Thanks Ben, for your contributions to both the Rare Newspapers and Educational communities.

Featured websites – RagLinen.com

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

From time to time we like to take a look at various websites which may enhance our Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers‘ members collecting experience.  Todd Andrlik’s “Rag Linen“, is such a site.  It describes itself foremost as “…an educational archive of rare and historic newspapers, which serve as the first drafts of history and the critical primary source material for historians, authors and educators.”  A sample of Rag Linen’s posts on the corresponding blog include:

Rag Linen also has useful information on the History of Newspapers, the Condition & Preservation of newspapers, and more.  Well done Todd.  Thanks for your contributions to the rare newspapers community.

Old news is good news for collectors…

November 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

americollectorDavid Chesanow recently interviewed Timothy Hughes for a post at Americollector.com titled, “Old news is good news for collectors”.  Some of the questions asked were:

  • What newspapers do you yourself collect: ones from a specific region or era or pertaining to a certain subject? Or are newspapers in general your collecting “area” and you just like the rarest, most historic items?
  • What are the collecting areas within the hobby?
  • What are some of the interesting collecting areas of some of your customers?
  • How extensive is the hobby of collecting rare newspapers? Are there any other dealers at all who specialize in this?
  • What are the “Holy Grails” of newspaper collecting?
  • Are newspapers ever forged? For example, aren’t there a lot of professionally done reprints in England?
  • What have newspapers been made of over the years, and how perishable are they? Are the high-acid papers necessarily hard to preserve?
  • When was the transition from rag content to high-acid paper in the U.S. and abroad?
  • AND… many more!

The entire post is available for viewing at:  Americollector.com.  Thank you David for your contribution to the collectible.

Even then they wondered, “what’s next?”…

October 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

What_NextThe “Mother Lode Magnet” newspaper from the small mining town of Jamestown in Northern California had an interesting item in its September 14, 1898 issue. One wouldn’t be surprised if it appeared in a newspaper today:

Collectible themes… additional thoughts…

September 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

There is an endless variety of ways to collect early newspapers.

  • The vast array of newspaper dates, titles, sizes and content would seem almost formidable should one decide to collect newspapers without a theme or focus. Even a small percentage of every newspaper title published would not only be a formidable task to assemble but would be too cumbersome to organize and store.Guy_Heilenman
  • But collecting by theme offers a fascinating challenge to cut through the forest of available titles to add only those issues to a collection which fit the scope of a special interest. And the areas of interest can be endless.
  • Whatever one’s interest might be a newspaper collection can be assembled as an interesting complement. You like old radios? Collect newspapers reporting the development of the radio and its antecedents from the telegraph to satellite radio. Or collect newspapers with advertisements of the radios in your collection. You like military history? Collect newspapers reporting major battles of each of America’s conflicts from the French & Indian War to the Gulf War. Politics? Collect issues covering the elections, or inaugurations of each president from George Washington to the present. Or collect at least one of each of the annual state-of-the-union addresses beginning with Washington (yes, he started the tradition which continues today). Or perhaps presidential deaths, or significant policy pronouncements.
  • The Wild West, 20th century gangsters, sports heroes, the weird & bizarre, major tragedies, scientific developments are just a few themes. More specific topics can result in a very focused collection themed on just the Civil War or World War II or Western exploration or 19th century baseball to name a few.
  • Less event-focused collections can also result in an intriguing variety of issues, such as one newspaper from every decade from the 1650’s to the present showing the progression & evolution of newspaper publishing from its infancy to the internet.  Huge headlines of any event can provide for a very dramatic & displayable collection, or erroneous reports (Dewy Defeats Truman” is the most famous, but there are many more), printing errors (wrong dates, upside-down type, misspelled headlines, etc.) can result in an interesting collection.
  • Given the tens of thousands of titles and the 400 year span of newspaper publishing the themes of collecting are virtually endless. Explore and widen your interest by adding newspapers to your collection. A fascinating world of collectibles awaits you.

Note:  If you are still having trouble deciding on a theme upon which to begin centering your collection, consider the History’s Newsstand Store’s or the Rare & Early Newspapers’ list of categories as potential starting points.  Many collectors began their collections by amassing a low-end (low priced) issue from each decade from the mid-1700’s through the mid-20th century.  A basic issue from each U.S. President’s term of office is also a popular theme.
The list of collecting strategies is endless.  Feel free to contribute ideas of your own.

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