19th century Harper’s Weekly reviewed…

December 11, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

Over the years we have made several mentions of Harper’s Weekly, one of the most beloved illustrated newspapers of the 19th century. This title is also one of the most sought-after collectibles through our website,

RareNewspapers.com. Although I’m sure many others exist, I was pleasantly surprised to find a contemporary review of this publication on the front page of the Springfield Republican dated February 13, 1867. Even more pleasing was my discovery that, unlike It’s a Wonderful Life, the works of Vincent Van Gogh, and Thoreau’s Walden, along with a host of other now-popular people, songs, products, books, etc., which initially  found it difficult to gain traction, at least in one journalist’s opinion was seen as an unrivaled, gem of a publication. Their review stated, in part:

 

“The Harpers offer their Weekly in bound volumes for the year 1866 for $7. As a record and illustration of the times, it has no rival; its pages are history, literature and politics, all of the safest and soundest sort. Good as are the Harper’s pictures for America, valuable as its record of passing events, and interesting as are generally its sketches and stories…” (view entire article).

The link RareNewspapers.com will take you to our website where nearly every Harper’s Weekly has been photographed and described for your reading and viewing pleasure. Please enjoy.

Harper’s Weekly: a magazine or a newspaper?

December 12, 2016 by · 4 Comments 

Many collectors have wondered if the popular “Harper’s Weekly” publication is a newspaper or a magazine. Well,  there is really no clear answer.

I’ve always referred to it as a newspaper to distinguish it from their own sister publication “Harper’s New Monthly Magazine” which, being smaller, many more pages, and issued monthly, is blog-12-12-2016-illustrated-newspapersa more definitive magazine. Early in its history the weekly called themselves a “family newspaper”, and modeled themselves against “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” which began about a year earlier. If Leslie’s was a “newspaper” then certainly Harper’s Weekly was a “newspaper” as well.

However, in Mott’s “History of American Magazines” he includes a section for Harper’s Weekly, as well as one for Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and other similar weeklies. Then he confuses the issue a bit more in the second volume of his book (pg. 43) by stating: “Half a dozen copiously illustrated weeklies of general appeal must be grouped separately. It would not be inappropriate to classify these periodicals as newspapers, since they all relied much upon the reporting of current events: indeed, one of them called itself a newspaper in its title. But they were all very much more than newspapers, and they placed the emphasis on features of appeal which belonged more characteristically to the magazine than to the newspaper–namely, pictures and belles-lettres…”.

So there you have it. No definitive answer, but in my book Harper’s Weekly is, and always will be, a newspaper.
Your thoughts?

Thomas Nast in Harper’s Weekly…

March 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Thomas Nast ranks as one of  the most successful, powerful, and prolific artists of the 19th century, and is a name linked closely to one of the most successful, powerful, and prolific newspapers of the 19th century. Through their successes, both Nast and Harper’s Weekly gained sufficient power to influence American politics in the second half of the 19th century and help shape the political climate of America during the industrial revolution.

Thomas Nast was German born, moving to America in 1846. Skilled as an artist, he first went to work for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in 1859, but within 3 years he began working for its competitor, Harper’s Weekly. His work continued to appear in Harper’s thru 1886.

It was a symbiotic relationship for the two. Circulation of Harper’s Weekly grew as Nast drawings were found in more and more of its pages, and Nast‘s notoriety and popularity grew in large part to the increased circulation of Harper’s Weekly. Nast‘s powerful pen in support of the prosecution of the Civil War was honored by President Lincoln when he called Nast “our best recruiting sergeant”.

With original artwork by Thomas Nast commanding prices far beyond the pocketbooks of most collectors, prints found in Harper’s–and only in Harper’s–remain a popular way to assemble a collection of this famed artist’s work at relatively low prices given the current availability of genuine issues.
For today’s collector, interest in Nast falls into three categories:

1) His portrayal of battles & events of the Civil  War, which often featured human interest themes & the effect of the war on those back home, remain as some of the best and most heart-felt scenes of the Civil War. Daily newspapers only provided written text; Harper’s Weekly and the prints of Thomas Nast provided a visual representation of the reality of war.

2) Perhaps most noticed as a political cartoonist, his work did much to expose the graft and corruption of William “Boss” Tweed, the powerful Tammany Hall political machine of New York City. In fact it was a Nast cartoon which caused Tweed to be arrested following his escape from jail and flight to Spain. A customs official recognized him from his many appearances in “Harper’s Weekly”. Nast has been credited with doing much to cause elections of all in the hands of those he supported (Grant’s two Presidencies), and cause to fail those he disliked.

It was Nast who created the caricatures of the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant to represent those parties, political icons which remain to this day. Desired among collectors are the first donkey to appear in the pages of Harper’s Weekly (January 15, 1870) and the first elephant to appear (November 7, 1874), as well as the first time they appeared together (December 27, 1879). All three command premium prices due to their desirability, but collectors are encouraged by the inexpensive prices for other genuine issues of Harper’s which include Nast illustrations of both.

3) Santa Claus prints. It is Thomas Nast who is credited with creating the modern version of Santa Claus, the jolly, rosy-cheeked, rotund purveyor of gifts in the uniform as we know him today. Nast’s first Santa Claus to appear in Harper’s Weekly was titled “Santa Claus in Camp” from during the Civil War, appearing on the front page of the January 3, 1863 issue. Yet it is the January 1, 1881 issue which has the Santa Claus centerfold which still appears in many Christmas advertisements and is perhaps his most famous rendition. There are many issues of Harper’s Weekly which have Santa Claus prints, all very desired among collectors.

True to any symbiotic relationship, with Nast leaving Harper’s Weekly at the  end of 1886, he lost his forum to reach the masses, and in losing Nast, Harper’s Weekly lost its political importance. Nast continued his work in other publications, none being very successful, until his death in 1902 to yellow fever. Harper’s Weekly never regained its success from the Nast years, and it ultimately ceased publication in 1916.

Harper’s Weekly issues with Nast prints are very displayable, particularly those which feature Nast images on the front page, or notable icons such as popular politicians, Santa Claus, Uncle Sam and Abraham Lincoln. A very famous Nast cartoon featuring Lincoln is the  “Long Abraham Lincoln A Little Longer” cartoon which is in the November 26, 1864 issue, signifying his successful second Presidential election.

All issues offered by Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers are genuine & complete in 16 pages, save for a few described otherwise. In many cases two or three Nast prints appear in one issue.

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

The May (2019) Newsletter from Rare & Early Newspapers…

May 21, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Each month the staff of Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers sends out a newsletter to our members which includes special offers, discounts, alerts to new inventory, and information related to the rare newspaper collectible.

The May, 2019 newsletter:

Welcome to the May 2019 edition of our monthly newsletter. Featured this month is an early look at one of the best issues from the Virginia Gazette collection, a free illustrated newspaper from 150 years ago (along with a snapshot of life from the period), three of my favorite posts from the past month (one full of discovery, one politically encouraging, and another providing food for thought), newly discounted items, and more. Please enjoy.

 

Free Offer (members only) – What was life like in 1869 – 150 years ago? This month we are offering a free issue of Harper’s Weekly from 1869, which will provide a 1-week (illustrated and textual) snapshot of life from 150 years ago. We have up to 25 free issues to offer – all we ask is that you pay the S&H. Also, if this is included as an add-on to another purchase, the S&H will only be $1 – and free if the complete order qualifies for free shipping. In addition to the free issue, you can also take a look through the entire year’s worth of Harper’s at: 1869 through the eyes of Harper’s Weekly

Virginia Gazette – Although the issue is scheduled for a future catalog, we are giving our members an early look at what we believe to be one of the best issues to be had (Lexington & Concord). Although it is beyond the reach (price-wise) of most, for those who enjoy historic newspapers, we believe it is worth a gander.

Discounted Newspapers ~ 50% off – We’ve added nearly 150 new items to last month’s discounted issues. Some of the more interesting items include: the execution of the bandit Vasquez, the sinking of two monitors in Charleston Harbor, Susan B. Anthony’s sentencing for voting, a rare 19th century title from Colorado, a proclamation by Brigham Young, news from Dodge City, an Elvis photo related to the debut of Jailhouse Rock, and more.

Catalog 282 – A number of items were added to our catalog since it went to print, which include: a rare issue from South Carolina with a report on the Monitor vs. the Merrimack, Alexander Graham Bell Invents the Telephone, Lincoln’s 1st Election, a rare mention of Bat Masterson, a diagram of the Confederate Flag, a 1665 (1666) report referencing the end of the Great Plague, and more:

Three additional catalog-related links which may be of interest are:

History’s Newsstand – Although a number of new posts have been made on our blog since last month’s newsletter, the following three are perhaps my favorites:

Additional posts from the past several weeks may be viewed at: History’s Newsstand Blog
 

Thanks for collecting with us.

 

Sincerely,

Guy Heilenman & The Rare & Early Newspapers Team

I’m New Here…Week Seven

March 29, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

  • This week I decided to spend some of my hard-earned money on an old (& rare) publication.  I’d already processed searches for sports figures and jazz singers and mobsters and indentured servants — so many interests that whizzed past me as I was busy with phone calls and emails and web orders.  The only way I could think to appease my conscience about taking a pause to look around a little bit for myself was to become a customer.  There is an entire collection — shelves of bound volumes — of publications by women.  I want to dig through and “see what’s what”, as my grandmother always said.  But that would probably take more research time just orientating myself than I feel easy about spending.  Still, that inclination narrowed the scope of this first quest a bit, and a search through notable dates in history led me to the NYC women’s suffrage march of 1912.

“THE REMARKABLE DEMONSTRATION IN NEW YORK LAST WEEK WHEN 15,000 WOMEN OF ALL STATIONS IN LIFE MARCHED THROUGH THE STREETS OF THE METROPOLIS TO EXPRESS THEIR DEMAND FOR THE VOTE”.  The headline itself seems shocked by the occurrence, with subsequent captions numbering the onlookers at 500,000.  It’s a grand photo spread highlighting the oldest, the youngest, and crediting 619 men with “heroically joining their womenfolk upon the march.”  This is the purchase for me.

The Women’s Suffrage movement is just one of the stories for justice and equality well documented through historic publications.  Whether an account of invention, discovery, narrative or relationship, these papers are jam-packed with the details of the human experience.  Sometimes there is an encouraging perspective of what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown.  One hundred years after the push began, the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote.  But, this week I also found an eyewitness account of mob riots in Baltimore — including casualty listings — from  1812.  Evidently, much remains to be learned.

My selection (Harper’s Weekly, May 11, 1912) was on the very top shelf, stacked tightly and bound into a volume with Titanic events and many illustrations of William Taft.  I chose an issue with a damaged front cover since I am not very interested in then Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee “…whose proposed amendment to the Constitution will limit the President’s tenure of office to one term of six years.”

The cover price of 10 cents doesn’t hold, but since the average age-expectancy has drastically increased as well, it’s a modest expenditure.  Taking it home with me, opening it up, and dawdling over the columns as much as I like, seems an indulgent treat.  I might even ask the shipping department if they will package it for me…

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.

I’m New Here… Week One

February 15, 2019 by · 10 Comments 

It’s a daunting world — Rare & Early Newspapers — and at first it can feel like being in a foreign country, overhearing a few words that sound familiar in a vague sort of way.  At least, that’s my sense.  But I suspect it appeared that way to many collectors at the beginning.  With that in mind, my plan is to share some of my observations, discoveries and even mistakes over the coming weeks, months and years as I learn to navigate this universe of newsprint.  If you have never even held an old paper, much less thought to purchase one, perhaps my adventures will pique your own interest and you’ll find yourself browsing the titles and descriptions of the details of life in a bygone era.  Having “met” a few of you veteran collectors and scholars, I suspect you might enjoy a little reminder of the early days when you turned that first purchase over in your hand, skimmed the columns, and then settled in for a read.

I began and then discarded multiple versions of this initial post — there’s no way to convey the immensity of standing in a treasure trove that is more than three times my height, wider than my house, and filled with papers.  Without moving my feet I can examine the headlines from Harper’s, published every Saturday in the first half of 1869.  1869.  That is not a misprint!  The proper title is “Harper’s Weekly”, subtitled “A Journal of Civilization”.   It is astounding that one hundred and fifty years after these rolled off the printing press, were cut and bundled and delivered to 100,000 people living in a completely different world (regardless of our shared geographical location), I am able to hold an original issue in my hands.  It’s a rag paper, so the pages can be turned without any fear of damaging it.  I verified this before opening an issue; gloves aren’t even required.  The details of manners and battles and grocers and treasury debt emerge and bring the inevitable conclusion.  Life in a different time –even with dramatically changed fashions, altered lifestyles, and varied circumstances– is still life.  Civilization is after all the story of people.  Sometimes it’s seen in broad strokes, sometimes in classified advertisements.  I found the following in an 1861 publication, “When families send for ‘Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce’, observe if it is the genuine JOHN DUNCAN & SONS…”   I am amazed the condiment has been around so long (and wonder, who was making fake Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce?).  Others might be more interested in the 15″ map of Major-General McClellan’s Operations Along The Potomac.

Anyway, the Harper’s Weeklies section is a good place to stand and introduce myself and tell you I am privileged to be here.  Please check in and see the “progress” part of my experience.  Also, tell me what I should look for if you’ve been around a while.  And if you’re new, feel free to ask any questions.  If I don’t have the answer (which is likely, as I am new here) I have recently met some brilliant people who probably do.

Stephanie

 

They put it in print – Walt Whitman did not appreciate contemporary poetry…

October 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

During an interview in 1887, Walt Whitman stated he did not appreciate contemporary poetry, with one exception. How do we know? They put it in print in the Harper’s Weekly dated April 23, 1887:

October thru time (50, 100, 150, 200, & 250 years ago) – 2018 edition…

October 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The Modern Samson ~ Harper’s Weekly ~ October 3, 1868

What news was reported in the month of October – 50 (1958), 100 (1918), 150 (1868), 200 (1818), and 250 (1768) years ago? Such a walk back through time via the eyes of those who read the daily and weekly newspapers of the period can be quite revealing. This is why we often say, “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.” The following links will take you back in time to show the available newspapers from the Rare & Early newspapers website. There’s no need to buy a thing. Simply enjoy the stroll.

October:
1968 – 50 years ago
1918 – 100 years ago
1868 – 150 years ago
1818 – 200 years ago
1768 – 250 years ago
Wanting for more? Why not take a year-long gander at 1668, 1718, 1768, 1818, 1868, 1918, and/or 1968?

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