The Battle of Los Angeles…

March 14, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

The Los Angeles Times–Extra” of February 24, 1942 has one of the more dramatic, screaming headlines to be found in any newspaper: “L.A. AREA RAIDED ! ” with a smaller head noting: “Jap Planes Peril Santa Monica, Seal Beach, El Segundo, Redondo, Long Beach, Hermosa, Signal Hill”. The report begins: “Roaring out of a brilliant moonlit western sky, foreign aircraft flying both in large formation and single, few over Southern California early today and drew heavy barrages of anti-aircraft fire–the first ever to sound over United States continental soil against an enemy invader…” (see).

The Battle of Los Angeles, also known as The Great Los Angeles Air Raid, is the name given to this rumored enemy attack and subsequent anti-aircraft artillery barrage which took place from late February 24 to early February 25, 1942 over Los Angeles. The incident occurred less than three months after the United States entered World War II as a result of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

Initially, the target of the aerial barrage was thought to be an attacking force from Japan, but speaking at a press conference shortly afterward, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox called the incident a “false alarm.” Newspapers of the time published a number of reports and speculations of a cover-up. Some modern-day UFOlogists have suggested the targets were extraterrestrial spacecraft. When documenting the incident in 1983, the U.S. Office of Air Force History attributed the event to a case of “war nerves” likely triggered by a lost weather balloon and exacerbated by stray flares and shell bursts from adjoining batteries.

Air raid sirens sounded throughout Los Angeles County on the night of February 24-25, 1942. A total blackout was ordered and thousands of air raid wardens were summoned to their positions. At 3:16 am the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began firing .50 caliber machine guns and 12.8-pound anti-aircraft shells into the air at reported aircraft; over 1,400 shells would eventually be fired. Pilots of the 4th Interceptor Command were alerted but their aircraft remained grounded. The artillery fire continued sporadically until 4:14 am. The “all clear” was sounded and the blackout order lifted at 7:21 am.

Several buildings and vehicles damaged by shell fragments, and five civilians died as an indirect result of the anti-aircraft fire, three of them killed in car accidents in the ensuing chaos and two of heart attacks attributed to the stress of the hour-long action. The incident was front-page news along the U.S. Pacific coast, and earned some mass media coverage throughout the nation.(credit to Wikipedia)

Headlines drive interest in World War II…

March 11, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

For likely a multitude of reasons, interest in World War II newspapers ranks far higher than in the Korean War, World War I, or the Spanish-American War.  It may be a generational thing, as most collectors today are children of World War II veterans and likely heard stories of the war first-hand, or found newspapers in their parents attics which sparked an interest. One could debate a number of other possible reasons why other wars lack the intrigue found in that fought by the “greatest generation”.

Headline collecting has always been a focus for this hobby, and as any collector knows, bold, banner headlines did not become commonplace until late in the 19th century. With the increasing competitiveness of daily newspapers across the country–Hearst, Pulitzer & others rising to prominence–flashier front pages were needed to draw attention at the corner news stand. It’s a shame there is not more interest in the Spanish-American War and World War I as both events resulted in some huge, dramatic, & very displayable headlines.

Because there are a plethora of newspapers from the WWII era available, collectors have become very discriminating in what they collect.  Only the “best of the best” will do, meaning just the major events and only those with huge and displayable headlines. If there is a “top 6” list of sought-after events, our experience is they would be: 1) attack on Pearl Harbor; 2) the D-Day invasion; 3) death of Hitler; 4) end of the war in Europe; 5) dropping of the atomic bomb; 6) end of the war in the Pacific. One could add any number of other battle reports such as Midway, battle of the Bulge, fall of Italy, Iwo Jima, battle for Berlin, and so much more. And we could step back before American involvement in the war and add Hitler’s invasion of Poland and the battle of Britain.
The bigger the headline the better. With some newspapers the entire front page was taken up with a headline and a related graphic. The U.S. flag was a common patriotic device. Tabloid-size newspapers commonly had the front page entirely taken up with a singular headline and tend to be better for display given their smaller size.

And not just American newspapers draw interest. German newspapers hold a special intrigue, but the language barrier is a problem for many. But the British Channel Islands, located in the English Channel between England & France, were occupied by the Nazi during the war so their reports were very pro-Nazi while printed in the English language (ex., Guernsey Island). And the military newspaper “Stars and Stripes“, while certainly being American, was published at various locations in Europe and the Pacific. Collectors have a special interest in finding World War II events in the official newspapers of the American military forces. Plus there were a multitude of “camp” newspapers, amateur-looking newspapers printed on a mimeograph machine for consumption limited to a military base, and typically printed is very small quantities. Their rarity is not truly appreciated by many.

For obvious reasons, there is also a high degree of collectible interest from those wishing to make sure certain aspects of history are not forgotten. The Holocaust, and the Nazi propaganda used to provide a rationale for eliminating the Jewish people, is well documented in newspapers from the era. In addition to the Holocaust and its atrocities, issues providing context through reporting other pre-war events such as the Great Depression, fascism, and increased militarism, are also desirable.

True to any collectable field, newspaper collectors are always on the lookout for an issue better than what they have, and collection upgrades are constant. Finding that special, rare, unusual or fascinating headline is what makes the hobby fun. Will interest in the Korean War and the Vietnam War gain more interest in future years? Perhaps so. With interest currently low and availability and prices very attractive, it might be a good time to explore.

Roosevelt to blame for the Pearl Harbor attack…

October 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

We often list on our website issues from the island of Guernsey during World War II when it was occupied by the Nazis.  As such all news is filtered through the German propaganda machine which offers interesting reading, as the reports are in English because the residents speak English.

Although many battles reports border on the absurd, particularly with historical hindsight, the front page report in the “Evening Press” dated December 8, 1941, one day after the Pearl Harbor attack, is one of the more outrageous (see the photo below).

The value of a newspaper… impacted by content…

April 12, 2010 by · 7 Comments 

One of the common questions received at Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers is “What elements are involved in determining the collectible value of a newspaper?”   Several posts on this subject may be viewed at:  “Determining the Value of an Historic Newspaper“.   Two of the elements which drive the collectible value of a paper are content and age.  For example, the $0.50-$1.00 newsstand price of a Washington Post, USA Today, or Chicago Tribune with the 1st report on the election of President Obama quickly rose to $35 a month (and higher) after the event (content), and will likely be valued at many times this amount in 20+ years (age).

In contrast, we recently came across a newspaper whose value increased by more than 700% (due to content – a photo) before the end of the day of its initial printing.  Our find… the May 1, 1945 Mediterranean edition of Stars and Stripes.  The front cover printed the famous photo of Benito Mussolini shown after his execution.  In an effort to show a little discretion, the photo is not shown within this post, but may be viewed at:  http://www.rarenewspapers.com/view/568477?acl=779383924

Although there have been times when the collectible value of a newspaper increased by the following day, we’d love to know of other pre-2000 events which resulted in an increase in the value of the newspaper on the same day the issue hit the newsstands.  If you know of any, feel free to share with the collectible community.

From the military presses during World War II…

January 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Mortem_Post_TheMany military units during World War II produced their own little “in-house” newspaper, typically crudely done on a typewriter and reproduced on a mimeograph machine. The reports typically had a more local theme on events happening in camp than reports on the national or international events of the day.

The large number of such newspapers from just World War II–they existed in the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I as well–would allow a hobby onto itself. Their quaintness is often interesting to today’s hobbyists, and their titles and mastheads were often clever. Some of the titles I’ve seen include:

“Medico” “The Stalker” “G.I. Galley” “Dog Tags” “Bulletin Diarrhea” “Airflow” “Mosquito” “Buckaroo” “Prop Wash” “Guinea Gold” “The Saddle Blanket” “The SSHHH” “Garble” “The Bulldog” “Come What Will” “Army Talk” Spacific News” “Poop From Group” “Life O’Reilly” “Goat’s Whisker” “News Jabs” and on and on. It seems like each year a new title crosses my desk.

The photo shows a typical camp newspaper from World War II, this one produced by the “Fourth General Hospital” in New Guinea. Given their focus, their title is both clever and somewhat morbid.

Great Headlines Speak For Themselves… L.A. invaded!

August 22, 2000 by · Leave a Comment 

The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the LOS ANGELES EXAMINER–2nd WAR EXTRA February 25, 1942: “L.A. AIR BATTLE; 1 PLANE DOWNED ! “Los Angeles Attacked - 1942

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