Collectible Revolutionary War Era Newspapers
“History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”
First-hand Accounts of the American Revolution
What is now American history was once current news. Revolutionary War newspapers produced daily reports mentioning political leaders such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Hancock, plus military leaders (both American & British) including Gates, Gage, Carleton, Howe, Clinton, John Paul Jones, Burgoyne, and the infamous traitor, Benedict Arnold, along with other noteworthy names, such as Paul Revere and Thomas Paine.
Follow The Stuggle Against Tyranny
We offer an opportunity to own complete, genuine newspapers from the era of America’s founding fathers. Read first-hand battle reports from including Lexington & Concord, Bunker Hill, Saratoga, Ticonderoga, and Valley Forge. Immerse yourself in significant political events, such as the Declaration of Independence, the “Causes and Necessity for Taking Up Arms,” Articles of Confederation, the Stamp Act, and other historical happenings. Read of soldiers protecting the liberty of their families; the British taking over our prized cities of Boston, Philadelphia, and New York; and the struggle of the 13 colonies as they fought to be freed from the tyranny of British rule and taxation.
The Relationship Between Great Britain and the Colonies
It’s always interesting to get a glimpse into how the British newspapers reported news about “her charter colonies in America.” The London Chronicle published some terrific content on that topic in April 1774, and another article about taxing the American colonies containing the quote: “Might not America, under tax masters thus interested in their oppression, be deemed in a state of abject slavery?”
Hold History in Your Hands
It comes as a surprise to many that newspapers from the Revolutionary War that are 200-plus years-old are available for purchase, and are reasonable priced and well preserved. The reason that 18th century newspapers have held up so well is mostly because they were printed on durable rag linen. Rag linen was a common type of paper that was made from pulping linen rags often from ship sails or clothing.
We get many emails and phone calls requesting values of newspapers found in attics, given by friends, or purchased at a yard sale, etc. We try to be as helpful as possible and ask for photos if they use email. This almost comical photo came in the other day–apparently with the thought that the headline was all we needed to see to determine a value. As you might imagine, we need to see more…..
Teachers with a love of history, listen up! The following resource can improve your curriculum and make you a stronger educator. Students of history will enjoy the breadth and depth of the historical journey as well.
TeachHistory is a fantastic website (blog), developed and maintained by Ben Edwards, which provides engaging information & a plethora of useful educational resources related to history. It describes itself as:
“a blog dedicated to social studies and history teachers across the United States who use Colonial American history, imagination and multisensory teaching methods to inspire their students. Our goal is to provide a resource where teachers like you can access information about colonial history plus technologies, methods and products that are making a difference in education today.”
While Ben’s experience with teachers and students is varied, perhaps the most useful channel for keeping him in touch with the pulse of teacher/student interests and needs occur via the many intimate conversations had while engaging teachers and students through his Walking Tours of Historic Boston. Combine this with both his (historic) heritage and his natural love of history, and you have the making of a blog which is sure to stay relevant over time. Some of the recent posts include:
Colonel Shaw, Sergeant Carney and the 54th Massachusetts
Remembering Alex Haley and Roots
Black History Month: A Tribute to Phillis Wheatley
Young Ben Franklin and the Silence Dogood Letters
Teachers: Are You Engaging AND Empowering Your Students?
Many of the posts include detailed images and reference accounts of actual Rare & Early Newspapers – most of which come from his personal collection. Ben fully grasps a foundational truth regarding primary sources: “History is never more fascinating than when it is read from the day it was first reported.” Thanks Ben, for your contributions to both the Rare Newspapers and Educational communities.
From time to time we like to take a look at various websites which may enhance our Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers‘ members collecting experience. Todd Andrlik’s “Rag Linen“, is such a site. It describes itself foremost as “…an educational archive of rare and historic newspapers, which serve as the first drafts of history and the critical primary source material for historians, authors and educators.” A sample of Rag Linen’s posts on the corresponding blog include:
- A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston
- B. Franklin’s Confession to Leaking Hutchinson’s Letters
- Paul Revere’s “View of the Year 1765″
- The Stamp Act Teaser of 1764
- The Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1661-1662
- The 12 Letters That Preceded The Burr-Hamilton Duel
- The Original Flag of the Thirteen United States
- Three Cheers for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
- An Unlikely Spy Embedded as a Newspaper Printer
- The Real First President of the United States
Rag Linen also has useful information on the History of Newspapers, the Condition & Preservation of newspapers, and more. Well done Todd. Thanks for your contributions to the rare newspapers community.
Printing in Connecticut began as early as 1710 by its first printer, Thomas Short. Short became an orphan at a young age and was captured by Indians & carried away to Canada. He was eventually ransomed, likely by his brother-in-law, Bartholomew Green, who taught him the printing trade. The Green family was well known as early printers throughout New England.
Printing in New Haven began when James Parker, of New York, was appointed postmaster by Benjamin Franklin, although there is no evidence he ever spent much time either as postmaster or printer. He employed John Holt, of Williamsburg, Virginia, to manage the printing office. “The Present State of the Colony of Connecticut Considered” from 1755 is the earliest known production by James Parker in New Haven. On April 12, 1755 he brought out the first number of a newspaper titled the “Connecticut Gazette“, with Holt as editor. It was the very first newspaper printed in Connecticut and continued until Feb. 19, 1768 at which time it ceased publication.
Just a few months later in Hartford, on April 25, 1768, the “Connecticut Courant” began publication and remains in print today as the country’s oldest continually published newspaper.
Over the past month, Timothy Hughes has explored his thoughts concerning what he believes to be the top ten newspapers from each of the pre-18th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries (see below), the most recent being the latter. Some of his thoughts concerning historic newspapers from the 1900’s were captured in the following video:
Collecting authentic rare and historic newspapers from the 1900’s can be exciting, rewarding and surprisingly affordable. From the Wright brothers inaugural flight in 1903…to today’s routine shuttle hops to the orbiting space station, no other period in history bore greater witness to man’s capacity for brilliance, innovation, depravity, strife, compassion and technological ingenuity…than the 20th Century. And with this ingenuity came remarkable visibility into the daily lives of our parents and grandparents, through newspapers.
Each single page from the vast 20th Century archive of Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers brings this amazing century to life: from World War I, Prohibition, the Great Depression, World War II, onward… newspapers of the 20th century bring it all to daily account, from those who lived it!
Of course, many original newspapers documenting this century’s “turning-points” command premium prices (Titanic, Crash of 29, P. Harbor, V-E/V-J Day, Dewey Def Truman, Oil Strike, San Franc Earthquake, etc.)… but most other original and historical 20th century newspapers remain available for much less than you might think. At Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers, you can still own original editions recounting key events of the gangster era of the 20’s and 30’s, World War II, the industrial revolution, Korean War, the automobile, the golden age of Hollywood and beyond.
We also offer obscure original editions that are perfect gifts to commemorate a friend or loved-one’s birthday, marriage, graduation, or other event. They’ll love reading about what else was in the news back on their special day!
Whether your interest is in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the golden age of Hollywood, the gangster era, a view of how life looked on the day you were born, etc., original newspapers provide an excellent view of history in context. History is never more fascinating than when when it’s read from the day it was first reported. If you love history… you deserve to have it in your hands. Rare newspapers make this possible. Please enjoy.
From this period in newspaper publishing history, displayability has much to do with the desirability of a newspaper, perhaps more so than historical significance. Since I come to this task of listing the “top ten” from the perspective of a rare newspaper dealer and knowing the requests we receive for certain events, the following list may not be the same as my most “historic” but they are my thoughts for the most “desirable” based on customer demand. Certainly FDR’s New Deal is more historically significant than the death of Bonnie & Clyde, but not more desirable from a collector standpoint. I’d be curious to hear of your thoughts.
Here they are, beginning with number ten:
10) St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Feb. 14, 1929 An issue with a dramatic banner headline, & ideally dated the 14th. Morning papers would be dated the 15th.
9) Death of Bonnie & Clyde, May 23, 1934 The gangster era remains much in demand, & perhaps due to the movie this event beats out Dillinger, Capone & the others from the era. A dramatic headline drives desirability–ideally with a photo–even if not in a Louisiana newspaper.
8.) Charles Lindbergh flies the Atlantic, May 22, 1927 The New York Times had a nice headline account with a map of the route, and the prestige of the newspaper always keeps it in high demand.
7) Call-Chronicle-Examiner, San Francisco, April 19, 1906 I note a specific title & date for this event, as these 3 newspapers combined to produce one 4 page newspaper filled with banner heads & the latest news. No advertisements.
6) Crash of the Hindenberg, May 6, 1937 The more dramatic the headline the better, & ideally with the Pulitizer Prize winning photo of the airship in flames.
5) Wright brothers fly, Dec. 17, 1903 Here’s where the significance of the event drives desirability over dramatic appeal. Few can argue the impact of manned flight on the world. Reports were typically brief & buried on an inside page with a small headline, so a lengthy front page report would be in top demand.
4) Stock market crash, October, 1929 Demand is driven by the dramatic headline and its wording. Too many newspapers tried to put an optimistic spin on the tragedy. Collectors want “collapse, disaster, crash” & similarly tragic words in the headline (how about Variety magazine’s: “Wall Street Lays On Egg”?)
3) Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Dec. 7, 1941 “1st Extra” The defining issue from World War II but be careful of reprints as most issues on the market are not genuine.
2) Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov. 3, 1948 “Dewey Defeats Truman”. What more need be said?
1) Titanic sinking, April 14, 1912 Certainly low on the historically significant list, but off the charts on the desirability scale, much due to the block-busting movie. The more dramatic the headline the better, and hopefully with a nice illustration of the ship going down.
My “honorable mention” list might include baseball’s “Black Sox” scandal of 1919, sinking of the Lusitania, end of World War II, D-Day, JFK’s election, the New Deal, a great Babe Ruth issue, etc. Maybe they would rank higher on your list.
Over the past two weeks Timothy Hughes has explored his thoughts on what he believes to be the top ten pre-18th century and the top ten 18th century newspapers (see below). Some of these thoughts were captured in the following video:
Collecting authentic rare and historic newspapers from the 1500’s – 1700’s can be exciting, rewarding and surprisingly affordable. British titles such as the London Gazette, London Chronicle, Gentleman’s Magazine and more, are all available for much less than you would expect, as are their American counterparts, the Columbian Centinel, Dunlap’s Daily American Advertiser, Concord Herald, and more.
Whether your interest is in the Colonial Era or the Revolutionary War Era, or extends to the 1500’s and/or 1600’s, original newspapers provide an excellent view of history in context. History is never more fascinating than when when it’s read from the day it was first reported. If you love history… you deserve to have it in your hands. Rare and early historic newspapers make this possible. Please enjoy the hobby!
- What newspapers do you yourself collect: ones from a specific region or era or pertaining to a certain subject? Or are newspapers in general your collecting “area” and you just like the rarest, most historic items?
- What are the collecting areas within the hobby?
- What are some of the interesting collecting areas of some of your customers?
- How extensive is the hobby of collecting rare newspapers? Are there any other dealers at all who specialize in this?
- What are the “Holy Grails” of newspaper collecting?
- Are newspapers ever forged? For example, aren’t there a lot of professionally done reprints in England?
- What have newspapers been made of over the years, and how perishable are they? Are the high-acid papers necessarily hard to preserve?
- When was the transition from rag content to high-acid paper in the U.S. and abroad?
- AND… many more!
The entire post is available for viewing at: Americollector.com. Thank you David for your contribution to the collectible.
It’s always a thrill to find truly significant reports for very little money; proof that doing a bit of homework can be well rewarded.
A fellow collector (to whom who owe a special thanks for sharing his “find”) shares the uncommonly lengthy letter from Merriwether Lewis while on the Lewis & Clark Expedition, datelined at Fort Mandan, April 7, 1805. It appears on two inside pages of “The Balance & Columbian Repository” issue of August 13, 1805. Typically reports on Lewis & Clark are very brief. This is is not.
He shares this interesting letter for all who can appreciate reading history from the time it was made. Being a letter written directly Thomas Jefferson, how significant might this be? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Please enjoy the following: