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 · 12 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

Snapshot 1886… Mark Twain – yet another hidden gem…

January 7, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

This forum has often been used to highlight one of the unique benefits of the hobby of collecting Rare & Early newspapers – that is, collecting a newspaper for one purpose, only to later find a more precious item hidden within its pages. Such is the case with the Harper’s Weekly for September 29, 1866. For 40+ years we offered this issue with a spotlight on a variety of the interesting illustrations found within its 16 pages. However, we recently discovered yet another hidden gem: an article accompanying the popular print: “Burning of the California Clipper ‘Hornet'”. What’s so special about this uncredited article? It was written by Mark Twain – making it the first time an article written by him received national attention. What a find!

If you happen to be one of the lucky one’s to have purchased this issue without knowledge of the Mark Twain contribution, you now possess an issue of significantly greater notoriety (and therefore value) than what you previously had thought. Good for you.

Gentleman’s Magazine & Insanity…

August 10, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Living in a time of health concerns brought on by a previously unknown viral threat brings me a heightened awareness of the historical mysteries recorded in these ledgers from the past.  Advertisements give a clue to the extensive maladies that troubled mankind hundreds of years ago, many of which remain challenges even today.  Liver ailments, gout, yellowed eyes, rashes, sleeplessness, and obesity are just a few things for which patented tonics and trusted treatments abound.  Based on a sampling of papers such as Leslie’s Illustrated, Harper’s Weekly and any of the Wild West titles in the vast Rare & Early Newspapers collection, there is no doubt left that disease is a plague of the human condition.

Nothing, however, seems to baffle and burden society as a whole, and physicians in particular, as diseases of the mind.  And The Gentleman’s Magazine that I pulled out from October of 1808 describes the tension brought about by the ignorance in a field so relevant to our existence.

In particular, the writer addresses Mr. Urban on the unfairness of the societal and ecclesiastical condemnation of suicide, without considering the mitigating circumstances of mental illness.

In consequence of an unusual conflux of suicidal cases occurring nearly together a few months ago, the feelings of Humanity appeared to be much outraged; many calumnious and violent opinions, mingled with false censure, were inserted in our daily prints; the conduct of Juries was the subject of much unqualified condemnation; and al almost entire ignorance of the true state of the awful cases brought under their cognizance, laid the foundation of much unmerited reproach.

His pointed statement halfway through the piece provides an explanation for suicide with the following question and answer: “Why does it appear that Suicide is more general than formerly?  The answer is at hand: Insanity is an increasing disease.  A few of the bulky catalogue of human ailments have evidently decreased; unfortunately, this is not of the number.”

There’s so much more in this article that speaks to the same subject today.  While I don’t know concerning the correlation between the two, I do applaud the perspective towards those who suffer in this way.  It was a lofty goal then and is, in my humble opinion, still.

It is an absolutely demonstrable fact, that in nine cases out of twelve of self-destruction which our daily papers record, the previous situation of the subject is known, and the fatal crisis might be prevented were this knowledge acted upon with firmness, promptitude, and that just method which honour, humanity, and justice demand.

My collecting story… R. L. in Daytona Beach, Florida…

April 13, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Below we continue our series in which we post the “stories” graciously submitted by our collecting friends during the pandemic of 2020.

Newspapers Offer A Glimpse Into the Past

I don’t know if some things never change, or if history simply has a habit of repeating itself. As I watch today’s TV news in the era of the Corona Virus, I see many of the same challenges to society today that faced a particular society 76 years ago. Both then and now, people were searching for normalcy in their everyday lives.

Harper’s Weekly, September 11, 1858

Fall 1944 was a time when World War 2 was still raging across the globe. My period newspaper reports that “members of the International and Swedish Red Cross have been obliged to discontinue their activities…” Today, we hear of the possibility of hospitals becoming over-run and shutting their doors.

In 1944, an article headlined Enormous Drain On Resources feels just as relevant now as it did back then. As we see images of grocery stores with empty shelves, I am reading about food shortages which existed in 1944, with potato thieves being fined — or even going to jail. Yet despite shortages and community hardship, then and now, everyday life carried on. While Jeffrey Morris was born on November 4, an 85 year old widow, Marie Guilbert, died on the 6th. The cycle of life still rolls on today.

Meanwhile, one subscriber offered a billiard table for sale to help pass the long winter nights. The editor offered a column titled How to Enjoy Long Evenings. Reading, creating arts & crafts, or even doodling sounds just as good to folks quarantined today, as it did to folks back then in a time of war.

What I find really amazing is that the wartime newspaper so relevant today is the Guernsey Evening Press published on November 22, 1944. It was written in English, under Nazi supervision, on one of the German-occupied Channel Islands. I believe its readers would certainly know how to face the current hardships we are enduring, and then some.

Newspapers from the past offer a glimpse into everyday lives. For me, that is the lure of collecting old newspapers. They are our personal connection to the people who lived while history was unfolding. Many of their hopes and fears and challenges were the same then, as ours are today.

As additional “stories” are posted they will be available at: MY COLLECTING STORY. We did this many years ago as well – and their posts are also included.

I’m New Here: One Year In

January 17, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

This week I made two different forays into a subject I only visited once before — The Wild West.  Thankfully, when you are dealing with a forty-four year old company that specializes in items printed hundreds of years ago, twelve months is not a long time.  And that is good for me, because even when I tally up the number of days I have been here at Rare & Early Newspapers I still feel like a novice.  Today I had back-to-back victories using the organizational system efficiently.  Harper’s Weekly from 1912 is not in the front warehouse (designated “W” on location maps) with issues published through the end of the 19th Century, but in the annex (“A”) along the right wall, almost to the very end.  Better still, as I confidently strode through the front building with an inward chuckle over my early bumbling efforts to determine what happened after December 30, 1899, I recalled the clipboard hanging in that area.  Rather than maneuver the lift across four rows and down a 15′ column in order to ascend to the appropriate decade, I checked the sheet.  There, recorded after exhausting all potential volume locations, was the notation, “August 17, 1912 — no cc”.  So, a disappointing answer for the collector inquiring, but a resounding victory for me as the entire search took a total of three minutes.

Every time I can locate an issue someone is seeking, I feel victorious. But the worst thing is spending a lot of time (which is always needed elsewhere) without having anything to show for it.  Today’s glance at the inventory tally reminded me that even a negative result can be useful, if not to me then surely to someone else.  Anyway, I am finally reaching the stage where I am wasting less time when I head into the back in search of whatever someone has called, emailed, written or web queried about.  In theory, the more time I save, the more I have to search out another Titanic issue (665700) for the collector in Germany or a Jay Gould cover portrait for the fellow in Minnesota.

And, for those of you who continue to read these posts, I will always make time to follow up on your requests.  I might even write about them…

I’m New Here: Week Thirty-One

September 20, 2019 by · 1 Comment 

Newspapers were bound into volumes throughout the years for a variety of reasons.  My favorite is that the owner of a large house would send off the papers that had been delivered, ironed, and read throughout the course of a year.  A book binder would glue and sew them together, and they would be returned to the home’s library, to be arranged with all the other years, and thus mark the history within which great homes and great families were housed.

Breaking a volume of bound issues goes against the grain for someone like me.  Perhaps the remembered library hush of early childhood imprinted an aura of solemnity to the world of books; perhaps the shadowed mystery of pre-reading years conjures the aroma that is akin to sacred things.  The most likely reason, however, is reflected in the lifetime acquisitions boxed in spare spaces, despite overflowing shelves in every room.  I like books.  And my forays into the back are exercises in willpower if I am headed toward All the Year Round, Household Words, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Weekly or Scribner’s Monthly – which are liberally laden with serialized stories from beloved authors.

This week, in a search for details surrounding a Harlem rabble-rouser, I found an article headed “BRITAIN AMERICANIZED, CHESTERTON CONTENDS”, followed by, “He says Existence of Nation Is Being Altered by American Economic Pressure”.  The opening words confirmed my hope that these were indeed opinions offered by the great writer of The Man Who Would Be Thursday, the Father Brown Mysteries, and seventy other titles.  Many American readers, such as myself, have relished the literary works of this sharp-witted, kind-hearted lay cleric of the early 1900’s.

The affection, it seems, was not mutual.

“Speaking last night at the Delphian Coterie dinner, G.K. Chesterton declared that English habit and life, the look of the English town and the whole tone of English existence are being altered by the economic and commercial pressure of America.  He said that if the Kaiser had occupied London with the Prussian Army he could not more completely have denationalized the English nation and city.  ’While I object most violently to the Americanization of England,’ he said, “I have no objection to the Americanization of America.  Most Americans I have known I have liked, but I have like them most when I have known them in America.  Let us approach all international criticism with a good deal of what our fathers called Christian humility.  What Americans call it I do not know because I do not think they ever met it.’”

And, with that, I have nothing more to say.

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

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