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.

The Civil War… September 28, 1861…

September 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

We continue with the our reflection upon the Civil War events of 150 years ago… as seen through the eyes of the original readers of the Harper’s Weekly issue printed for September 28, 1861.

Note:  The following commentary was written by Dr. James Robertson* as part of a weekly review for the reprint edition of the “Harper’s Weekly” which was done at the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.  It provides much insight into the events of the day and scholarly commentary on both the illustrations and reporting found in the original 1861 newspaper:

* The Virginia Tech website provides the credentials of Dr. James Roberson:

“One of the most distinguished names in Civil War history, Dr. Robertson was Executive Director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission and worked with Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson in marking the war’s 100th anniversary.  Today his Civil War Era course at Virginia Tech, which attracts 300 students per semester, is the largest of its kind in the nation.
The Danville, Va., native is the author or editor of more than 20 books that include such award-winning studies as “Civil War! America Becomes One Nation”, “General A.P. Hill”, and “Soldiers Blue and Gray”. His massive biography of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson won eight national awards and was used as the base for the Ted Turner/Warner Bros. mega-movie, “Gods and Generals”. Robertson was chief historical consultant for the film.”

The Civil War… September 21, 1861…

September 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This week we continue with the our reflection upon the Civil War events of 150 years ago… as seen through the eyes of the original readers of the Harper’s Weekly issue printed for September 21, 1861.

Note:  The following commentary was written by Dr. James Robertson* as part of a weekly review for the reprint edition of the “Harper’s Weekly” which was done at the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.  It provides much insight into the events of the day and scholarly commentary on both the illustrations and reporting found in the original 1861 newspaper:

* The Virginia Tech website provides the credentials of Dr. James Roberson:

“One of the most distinguished names in Civil War history, Dr. Robertson was Executive Director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission and worked with Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson in marking the war’s 100th anniversary.  Today his Civil War Era course at Virginia Tech, which attracts 300 students per semester, is the largest of its kind in the nation.
The Danville, Va., native is the author or editor of more than 20 books that include such award-winning studies as “Civil War! America Becomes One Nation”, “General A.P. Hill”, and “Soldiers Blue and Gray”. His massive biography of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson won eight national awards and was used as the base for the Ted Turner/Warner Bros. mega-movie, “Gods and Generals”. Robertson was chief historical consultant for the film.”

The Civil War… September 14, 1861…

September 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This week we continue with the our reflection upon the Civil War events of 150 years ago… as seen through the eyes of the original readers of the Harper’s Weekly issue printed for September 14, 1861.

Note:  The following commentary was written by Dr. James Robertson* as part of a weekly review for the reprint edition of the “Harper’s Weekly” which was done at the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.  It provides much insight into the events of the day and scholarly commentary on both the illustrations and reporting found in the original 1861 newspaper:

* The Virginia Tech website provides the credentials of Dr. James Roberson:

“One of the most distinguished names in Civil War history, Dr. Robertson was Executive Director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission and worked with Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson in marking the war’s 100th anniversary.  Today his Civil War Era course at Virginia Tech, which attracts 300 students per semester, is the largest of its kind in the nation.
The Danville, Va., native is the author or editor of more than 20 books that include such award-winning studies as “Civil War! America Becomes One Nation”, “General A.P. Hill”, and “Soldiers Blue and Gray”. His massive biography of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson won eight national awards and was used as the base for the Ted Turner/Warner Bros. mega-movie, “Gods and Generals”. Robertson was chief historical consultant for the film.”

The Civil War… 150 years ago today… July 13, 1861

July 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

We continue our weekly feature of reflecting upon the appropriate 150 year old issue of “Harper’s Weekly” from the perspective of a subscriber in 1861:

The front page (of the July 13, 1861 issue of my Harper’s Weekly) has a scene from: “The Battle of Boonville, Missouri”. So much gunfire & smoke! Inside has a nice print of “Fort McHenry, Baltimore”, a famous fortress from the War of 1812. There is also a nice full page print showing: “The Cabinet at Washington. It is great to put a face to so many names read in the newspapers, including Abraham Lincoln, William Seward, Simon Cameron, Gideon Welles, Salmon Chase among others.

Showing a “softer” side of the war is a full page print with 4 scenes of: “Hot Coffee Free For Volunteers Passing Through Philadelphia. Another page has a dramatic full page print of “Winfield Scott, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army” at 75 years old! (and he looks it). Also a full page print of “Major-General Scott at 41”.

Certainly the most dramatic print is the full page showing: “A Slave Auction at the South”. The whole process is incredibly inhuman and is part of what this war is all about.

There is another full page print of: “Major General John C. Fremont in His Prairie Costume”, just one of many different uniforms worn by soldiers in this war. He looks as though he stepped round of the wilds of the West.

The Civil War… 150 years ago today… June 29, 1861

June 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

We continue our weekly feature of reflecting upon the appropriate 150 year old issue of “Harper’s Weekly” from the perspective of a subscriber in 1861:

With the summer months upon us I can imagine that havelocks are a necessity on the battlefield. The front page print (of my June 29, 1861 issue) shows a woman making them for the soldiers.

Not surprisingly there are many war-related prints on the inside pages, including a nice view of Camp Slifer & another showing troops marching from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  Movements of rebel troops are particularly interesting, and one of the prints shows rebel troops arriving & departing from Martinsburg, Virginia.

There is much drama in two full page battle scenes, both of the battle of Great Bethel but one showing the Zouaves soldier charging in their unusual uniforms. Another print shows the moat around Fortress Monroe–it is massive and must have been difficult to cross in the heat of battle.

Creating Harper’s Weekly engravings: a fascinating process…

March 23, 2009 by · 10 Comments 

Harper’s Weekly issues of the 19th century remain among the more popular in our inventory, as the multiple engravings found in each issue document much of American history from 1857 through the end of the century. We have over 60,000 issues in inventory but still some dates are sold out as soon as they arrive. I suspect most of you have seen this title, but few may be aware of the interesting process of creating the prints in a timely manner.

The story of how Harper’s delivered this amazing product during the Civil War  is a fascinating one, and I must give credit to www.sonofthesouth.net for much of detail.

The process started by the deployment of not only reporters but also artists to the battlefield.  Some of the most renowned artists of the 1800’s got their start as illustrators for Harper’s Weekly, including Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast.   These artists would sketch scenes of the battles that they witnessed and the sketches would then be dispatched back to Harper’s for publication in the upcoming papers.

In order to publish the artwork, the images first had to be carved onto a block of wood.  But it would take too much time for a single engraver to carve an entire print, particularly given the timeliness of each issue.  To provide the illustrations as quickly as possible, a very clever idea was developed.  The illustration would be cut into 2 inch squares and each square would be engraved onto a different small block of wood by an assigned carver.

By dividing the illustration up, each artist assigned to just a portion, a team of workers could carve a full page illustration in a short period of time.  After the small blocks were completed they were then screwed together to form the overall illustration and a finishing engraver would provide final touches to be sure the pieces were perfectly aligned.  This completed wood block was then used as a “master” to stamp the illustration onto all the newspapers being printed.  If you look at a Harper’s engraving carefully you can often see where the blocks of wood were joined together.

It wasn’t until the 1890’s that the technology of printing caused the end of hand-done engravings for the pages of Harper’s and other illustrated periodicals. With the demise of this labor-intensive trade also came the end of some of the more beautiful works of art to be found on paper. They remain treasures today and hearken back to an era when artistry and long hours of work were an important part in providing the news.

Code = RN72109SH

Code = RN72109SH