An early attempt at preserving newspapers…

July 6, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

rag_vs_pulp_editionsYou may have noted many of our descriptions of the New York Times from the 1927-1953 period are described as the “rag edition”.

Fellow collector Paul Sarna passed along the following information taken from “News-Week” magazine of  Oct. 28, 1933. It’s an interesting report from 76 years ago of the creation of the “rag edition” as a means of preserving newspapers for posterity, which remain a concern for present-day institutions as well.

A brief piece from this 1933 magazine tells of  its beginning:

“To preserve valuable newspapers, libraries from time to time have resorted to sprays, rejuvenators, and glassine covers. But none has been to successful. With an eye on this problem the New York times, in 1927, began printing an edition on enduring rag paper. the idea had two disadvantages: the subscription price of the rag edition was $170 annually, and it filled about 870 ft. of new shelf space each year.”

The rag edition was produced on a very high quality newsprint, with a high percentage of cotton & linen content allowing the issues to remain very white & sturdy many years into the future. Given the subscription cost it is not surprising that libraries rather than individuals were the primarily subscribers. We have never seen a never-bound rag edition of the Times although they might exist.

The Times discontinued the rag edition in 1953. A few other newspapers also produced a rag edition during the early part of the 20th century as we’ve encountered a run of Detroit News in rag edition. Is anyone aware of other titles?