Historic newspapers: the “crossover” collectible…

November 13, 2008 by  
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Stepping beyond the hobbyists who collect newspapers specifically, one collector which has become a mainstay of our business has been the person looking for a newspaper report relating to their own hobby. For example, antique car collectors have purchased Detroit newspapers featuring advertisements when a specific model they own was first introduced. Imagine owning a 1964 mustang and the thrill in finding a Detroit newspaper with an ad announcing the car–what a perfect companion piece for a car buff!

Coin collectors have often come to us with specific dates of when new coin designs were created, and it was not uncommon for detailed reports to be found in period newspapers. Whether it was the introduction of the Morgan silver dollar, the Barber nickel, dime, quarter or half dollar–or any of the 100’s of designs produced by the United States mint since 1792–collectors of those coins have cherished newspaper accounts of those new designs as a way of enriching their collection and enhancing the appeal of significant coins they cherish as collectors.

One example which comes to mind is the copper-nickel flying eagle penny introduced in 1857 (a small number of “pattern” coins exist from 1856), which was a dramatic departure from the much larger, all copper “large cents” of the previous decades. Its introduction was announced in the February 7, 1857 issue of Harper’s Weekly, actually a few weeks before the formal Act of  February 21, 1857 which authorized the coin’s creation. The report even includes images of both the obverse & reverse of the coin.

The report is very intriguing. Included is: “…Provided the act of Congress, which establishes the new cent, becomes a law, which it has not as yet, we think the public will be a gainer by the new coin. Its smaller size makes it much more convenient for handling…” and “…We will lose an American proverb, now widely circulated, by the issue of the new coin. ‘He’s not worth a red cent’ will be of such general application that it will not have any specific meaning & will be of course dropped, for the new cent is not red, being of a gray, silvery aspect.” with more.

The field is wide open for “crossover” collectibles. Virtually any collectible produced in the last 300 years may well have a newspaper account of its creation or development. The thrill of the search is in finding it!

Are you aware of newspaper reports which relate to other collectibles you have? Feel free to share.

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4 Responses to “Historic newspapers: the “crossover” collectible…”

  1. Aaron Phipps on November 13th, 2008 9:31 pm

    Would you advise saving all sections of a paper if it contains an item deemed collectable? What are the ramifications for collectors if they save only one page or one section rather than all the pages published in a single issue? Is the value diminished in this age where the “other” pages are archived electronically? What criteria does Timothy Hughes use when deciding to preserve a modern day issue with lots of pages and bulk?

  2. Tim Hughes on November 13th, 2008 10:45 pm

    Aaron – Some very good questions. Here are my opinions:
    I do advise saving a complete newspaper when the issue is deemed worthy of being added to a collection. Many finicky collectors won’t add an issue to their collection if it is not complete with all the sections even if later sections have no content relating to the headline. This is only an issue with 20th century newspapers, as only rarely did some later 19th century issues have multiple sections.
    I price issues based on completeness. If a four section newspapers has only the front section, it would be about 75% of full value. If only the front page of a 32 page issue is present it would be about 50% of full value presuming the front page is worthy of display. The one saving grace of 20th century issues is that graphic & displayable front pages do have a value as framed pieces that would be lacking in most 18th or 19th century newspapers which rarely had banner headlines, since once framed one wouldn’t know if the remainder of the issue is present or not–until removed from the frame.
    Yes, we continue to add significant issues to our private collection, and we do include the entire issue, but do NOT include advertising inserts. I can only hope that major events aren’t reported in Sunday newspapers as such editions can be 100+ pages in some cities.
    I don’t believe electronically archived newspapers diminish having the hard copy in a collection, in fact I believe the value of the hard copy is enhanced. The time may well come when newspapers will only be available in digital format or be viewable on the web, and when that time comes having a physical newspaper will become almost “nostalgic” and will have an enhanced collector appeal as a result.
    What do others think?

  3. Alan Pollack on November 14th, 2008 3:22 am

    Along with newspapers, I am also a collector of rare books, mostly related to the Old West. One of my oldest books is a first edition from 1775 titled “The History of the American Indians; Particularly Those Nations adjoining to the Mississippi, East and West Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, and Virginia: Containing an Account of their Origin, Language, Manners, Religious and Civil Customs, Laws, Form of Government, Punishments, Conduct in War and Domestic Life, their Habits, Diet, Agriculture, Manufactures, Diseases and Method of Cure, and other Particulars, sufficient to render it a Complete Indian System With Observations on former Historians, the Conduct of our Colony Governors, Superintendents, Missionaries,&c.” by author James Adair. In my newspaper collection, I have a “London Chronicle” dated May 27, 1775 which contains an announcement of the first day of publication of this book.

  4. Tim Hughes on November 14th, 2008 8:44 am

    Alan–Now that’s a terrific “crossover collectible”, and it must have been exciting to have found that newspaper! This only goes to show the great extent to which newspapers can fit nicely into so many different hobbies.
    Although value may not be a concern to you, one would have to guess that if you ever go to sell the book having the companion newspaper announcing its publication would greatly enhance its appeal.

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