I’m New Here, Weeks Five & Six…

March 22, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a great day when you locate an issue that someone is wanting, particularly when they really want it.  Usually the request begins with, “There’s probably no chance you have this title, but…”  Because of our significant database I can now ascertain the general direction a new search will go, and have learned to further diminish expectations with words like, “Well, you are correct — that is a highly desirable date…”  Occasionally, my computer will display little notes or other indicators that this is possibly something I (with assistance) can find.  Without raising hopes I mention that it doesn’t look promising but there is something I want to double-check before I give a definitive “no”.

This morning’s call from one of our cheery customers delivered a query for a Harper’s Weekly from 1863.  He was looking for Emancipation Proclamation content, although many collectors want that particular issue for the full page Winslow Homer print or the double-page Thomas Nast “The War in the Border States”.  I reverently turned the pages to investigate the text in question, and found it free of foxing or damp stains or tears.  And then I found something else.

Just beside the historical, monumental words, the Harper’s editor placed or approved a first installment of Wilkie Collins’ No Name.   Although I have read his fifth book, I didn’t know that Collins was another contemporary of Dickens and Whitman.  I didn’t even know that “Wilkie” was a man.  And these little rabbit trails clamored for my attention and had me skimming the assertion by William Makepeace Thackeray on The Woman in White:  that it had him “transfixed” – a book that I’d found lengthy and melodramatic upon personal encounter.

I particularly enjoy this multi-layered discovery aspect of collecting/perusing early newspapers, and I grin over the notes back from purchasers describing the bonus treasures.  One that came this week included an exclamation over a Gentleman’s Magazine:  “R is over the moon as we discovered a paragraph about an intercepted letter from Alexander Hamilton complaining about congress and money! It’s just stunning to read these things as contemporary accounts.”

So, feel free to join the conversation and comment about the amazing things you unexpectedly have in your collection that you never intended to purchase. My own W.C. search is ongoing, as all the commentary I can find is that Collins was serialized in Dicken’s “All The Year Round”, with nary a mention of the great Harper’s.  Incidentally, if you are new to this world it might either interest or frustrate you to know the brand encompasses “Harper’s Weekly”,” Harper’s Monthly” (which is also sometimes called “Harper’s New Monthly”), and then the non-newspaper titles of “Harper’s Bazaar” and the various Harper’s books.  The Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspaper inventory contains the first two titles and it is there I will be searching for Chapter Two.

At least, that is how it will begin.

Are you smarter than a 18th century 5th grader? Math exercises within Gentleman’s Magazines…

July 13, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

As we continue to explore the diversity of content found on the pages of 18th and 19th century Gentleman’s Magazines, our attention was drawn to the abundance of Mathematical challenges found within many issues – particularly those from the 1700’s. Rather than opining on the difficulty level of the quests as opposed to what might be expected of the average reader of a common (blog) post or publication of the 21st century, especially since we have no idea as to the intended target audience. Instead, let’s just enjoy the challenge as if we were living just prior to the American War for Independence.

The challenge: On a somewhat regular basis the publisher would provide a set of Mathematical exercises and invite their subscribers to submit solutions. These responses would then be printed (along with the names of those who submitted them) within a future magazine – typically 1-3 months later. The set shown below is from an issue dated May, 1768. Go ahead and give the problems a try. As an act of 21st century kindness, next Thursday I’ll post the solutions which were submitted in 1768. Are you bold? Go ahead and reply with your solutions prior to next Thursday and allow the collectible world to observe your mathematical genius – or at least your ability to rival the math-prowess of a 17th century 5th grader – or mathematics professor of the period. Enjoy.

Victor Hugo – poetry in early 19th century Gentleman’s Magazines…

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In our opinion, one of the early titles we come across, The Gentleman’s Magazine, is grossly underappreciated. This London “Reader’s Digest-sized” publication which spanned the early 18th through mid-19th centuries and was known for great reporting from throughout the world, was also pregnant with book reviews, poetry, mathematical challenges, birth and death notices, and an abundance of plates depicting everything from maps to sketches of rare animals, historical cathedrals, and notable men and women of the era. While we’ve written about this title in previous posts (view posts), our attention this time around is in regards to poetry – with a question.

Whereas nearly every issue contains poetry of the period, the poets are often unknown to me, and therefore, rarely catch my eye. However, during the process of scanning The Gentleman’s magazine for July, 1833 looking for content related to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, one name in the heading of a poem caught my eye: Victor Hugo. After reading the poem – and being moved, I became curious as to whether this was an early (1st???) printing – and therefore more valuable as a collectible, or if he had penned it many years prior. Unfortunately a cursory on-line investigation came up empty in regards to a validation that the poem was even written by him, let alone its original date of publication. Of course this begs the question: Can anyone attribute this to him and/or confirm its first printing? If anyone is in the know, please share your knowledge with the collectible community. Thanks in advance. AND as for the poem itself: