Top ten: 16th and 17th centuries…

December 7, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

As Guy introduced a few days ago, we will use the Mondays of December to consider the top ten events to be found in newspapers for various periods of time. In a few cases the desired “event” is actually a specific newspaper.

Great_Fire_of_LondonToday we consider the 16th & 17th centuries, which is a bit difficult as the mere existence of newspapers–or even their predecessors: newsbooks–is limited. And all would be European, as no American newspapers existed in this time period (only exception noted below). Nonetheless I’ve created what I consider to be the top ten historical events or newspapers collectors would love to add to their collections.

I do offer apologies to our non-American friends as this list, and those to follow, have a decidedly American bias, primarily because the vast majority of those who purchase from us are American. But there are a few European events noted.

Here we go, beginning with number ten and ending with the most desired event or newspaper:

10) Coronation of William & Mary, 1689  (after all, they were the king & queen of colonial residents as well. Almost like a very early Presidential “inauguration”)

9) King Philip’s War, 1675-6  (America’s first war)

8.) William Penn’s charter for land in the New World, & his settlement there, 1682  (an issue of the London Gazette includes: “…Mr. Penn bound for Pennsylvania with a great many Quakers to settle there…”)

7) Capture of Capt. Kidd near Boston, 1699 (who wouldn’t want a period report of this very famous pirate)

6) Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 1588 (my one entry from the 16th century; available in period newsbooks)

5) Great Fire of London, 1666

4) The volume 1 number 1 issue of the Oxford Gazette, Nov. 16, 1665  (great to have the first issue of the world’s oldest continually published newspaper: become the London Gazette with issue #24)

3) Salem Witchcraft trials, 1692 (famous event, but try to find period reports of it!)

2) Settlement in the “New World” from 1607-1630 (from the very earliest period of European settlements in America, predating newspapers but newsbooks did exist)

1) Public Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, Boston, Sept. 25, 1690 (America’s first newspaper. To this date only one issue has surfaced. Could there be another?)

So what’s the earliest “London Gazette”?

May 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

oxford-gazetteThe world’s oldest continually published newspaper was begun in 1665 and still prints today, a staggering 345 year history which likely will never be broken by any other single title. Indeed, the newspaper still publishes today so it sets a more unbeatable record as each year passes.

The newspaper is titled “The London Gazette“, but collectors have occasionally seen issues of “The Oxford Gazette” and wondered about the connection.

First, the most convincing derivation of the term “gazette” is from “gaza”, the Greek word for a treasury or store.  That newspapers are a “treasury or store” of information would allow for a plausible adoption of the term “gazette”.

In 1665 the Royal Court had been removed from London due to the Plague which had been ravaging the city. The smaller towns in the country seemed less susceptable to the contagion. So with a newspaper serving as a mouthpiece of the Royal Court it was logical that it would set up shop in Oxford, calling itself “The Oxford Gazette“.

But when the affects of the Plague seemed to have abated sufficiently for the Court to return to London, so did the newspaper. Twenty-three issues were published in Oxford, and with issue number 24 was the first with the title “The London Gazette“, a title which has remained unchanged for over three centuries.

So there might be a bit of a debate as to what the earliest issue is of “The London Gazette“. The earliest with this title would be issue #24, dated February 5, 1665 (1666 by today’s calendar), but argument certainly could be made that the first issue of “The Oxford Gazette” would qualify, it dated November 16, 1665.

Given its short life under the earlier title of “The Oxford Gazette”, such issues are extremely elusive. We have sold many over the past 33 years but rarely find them today.