Todd Andrlik, founder and editor of Journal of the American Revolution, and curator, author and editor of Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News (Sourcebooks, 2012), has assembled and written a great piece of scholarship in regards to Paul Revere – specifically, how he was viewed by his contemporaries, using the lens of original newspapers of his day. An excerpt is as follows:
Because of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” most people think that Revere was critical to the start of the Revolutionary War. In trying to dispel Longfellow’s myth of a lone hero, modern scholars have portrayed Revere as just one rider among dozens on 18-19 April 1775, and argued that his previous rides for the Patriot cause might have been more important. A survey of newspapers from 1774 and 1775 shows that in fact those earlier rides had made Revere prominent enough that he did stand out in reports of the fighting at Lexington and Concord, even as Massachusetts authorities kept the extent of his activities quiet.
Paul Revere was a man who wore many hats. He was well known throughout New England for his engravings, his silver work, his Masonic fellowship and his political activity. Plus, in 1774 and early 1775, Revere worked as an express rider for the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety. He frequently carried letters, newspapers and other important communication between cities, including Boston, Hartford, New York and Philadelphia. Revere’s early dispatches related to some of the biggest American events of the eighteenth century, including the destruction of the tea, the Boston Port Bill and the Suffolk Resolves. In December 1774, at the age of 39, he rode to Portsmouth to alert local Patriot leaders that the Royal Navy was on its way to seize gunpowder and arms from Fort William and Mary. Newspaper printers would eagerly print Revere’s tidings, frequently attributing…
This is a must-read article! View Todd’s scholarship in its entirety at:
It’s all over the news (thank you API): “Time capsule dating to 1795 included coins, newspapers!” The time capsule was embedded in a cornerstone of the historic Massachusetts Statehouse by a group which included Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. The contents, in part, contained a number of coins, a silver plate with one of Paul Revere’s engravings – often used in the creation of the mastheads for various Boston area newspapers, and several late-18th century Boston newspapers. As newspaper collectors ourselves, we’ll be anxious to discover their exact titles and dates. While we have several authentic issues from the 1700’s with either Boston mentions or which were printed in Boston, it will be interesting to see if those placed within the capsule were included due to noteworthy content, their containing Paul Revere engravings, or for yet another reason. A video and related article covering the opening of the capsule is available at: 18th Century Time Capsule
When I started collecting early newspapers many years ago, beyond the intrigue of something printed hundreds of years ago I was struck by the engravings found in the mastheads of many newspapers. I am still intrigued today, and I’ll admit that many of the newspapers found in our private collection are there because of their masthead engravings, not for their historic content. As a dealer one of my frustrations in the early years was publishing a catalog which did not accommodate photos. Later editions had a select few (most still do) but now many of our pricier catalog issues can be viewed online. And of course any newspaper we sell on our website or our eBay Store has multiple photos, allowing us to share the beauty of masthead engravings of centuries past.
Eagle engravings are a favorite of mine and the variety available from the 18th & 19th century has to number well into the hundreds. The photo shows an issue of the “The Eagle”, the title apparently so obvious that the words never appeared in the masthead (but see the top of the first column). This is a rare title from Castine, Maine which lasted for only two years.
Themes in masthead engravings have been a focus of many of our customers. One man only buys newspapers with engravings of people shaking hands, and surprisingly I was able to find several for him.
What masthead engravings intrigue you? Do you have a favorite?