My collecting story… B.D. in Thornhill, Ontario…

June 5, 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.

Some years ago, maybe fifteen, I purchased a London Chronicle newspaper from Timothy Hughes newspapers. This was mainly for the fun of having an old newspaper from ‘the old country’. I have purchased quite a few since then and actually got round to reading some for the fascinating items that the contain. One such item concerns the creation of the chronometer by John Harrison in the 1700s. I had seen his chronometers displayed at the observatory in Greenwich, produced by Harrison in response to Queen Anne’s contest offering a huge reward for a successful timepiece but I could not find out for certain if Harrison was ever paid by the British Government.

LONDON CHRONICLE, London, 1765. Volume XVIII from Saturday, November 2 to Tuesday, November 5, 1765. Contains, on page 436, A Copy of the Certificate of the Commissioners of the Longitude … relating to Mr John Harrison’s Time Keeper, authorizing the payment to him of the 7,500 pounds, less the 2,500 already paid out. According to Wiki, Harrison received 8750 pounds in 1773 when he was 80 years of age but the “official award (from year 12 of Queen Anne’s reign) of 7,500 pounds was never given to anyone”. Dava Sobel in her wonderful book Longitude (London, Fourth Estate, 1995) says that Harrison’s son, William, sought the king’s intervention (George III) resulting in a payment to John Harrison of 8,750 pounds in June 1773, noting that ‘this amount nearly totaled the remainder of the prize due to him, but that it was a bounty awarded by the benevolence of Parliament – in spite of the Board of Longitude, instead of from it.’ Elsewhere, I have read that his son received this after his father’s death but I cannot recall in which newspaper (one in my collection, I think). This seems to set my questions to rest. It would appear that he was and he wasn’t, depending on how you look at it! He received the cash but not the ‘prize’.

Making the effort to read the newspapers is extremely rewarding but not without it’s difficulties. Some of the older papers, before 1700 are not so easy, especially those using ‘old English’ but it is very rewarding to plunge into the atmosphere created by ‘on the spot reporting’. Some of the items are quite extensive and take a while to plough through. I recently came across the item shown below:

The Supplement for the Year 1793 (to The Gentleman’s Magazine), London, includes on page 1208 an extract of a letter written by an Officer of the Agamemnon of 64 guns, Captain Horatio Nelson, and dated at Tunis, November 8, 1793 (see below). I have had this item for several years and only just spent some time (during this pandemic) reading it properly. I have hundreds yet to scrutinize! Perhaps I will find something that leads to a great historical revelation, or perhaps I will just enjoy reading about history from the pens of people who lived that history!

 

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.

My collecting story… OHPC, Virginia…

June 1, 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.

Why do I buy rare old newspapers?

My reason may not match those of others, but it may be of interest to some.  I have an ancestor who played an important role in the War of 1812.  Several years ago, for its bicentennial, his descendants had a large family reunion.  Research and coordination for this event put us in contact with numerous people and institutions around the world.  We discovered that although many  had various artifacts handed down through the generations; no place or person had a collection of newspapers specifically mentioning the ancestor and his contribution to history!  When we asked who would want such items, we were told that they would be more useful to posterity as a single centralized collection than as individual items scattered in multiple archives.

Over the years, I have acquired about two dozen such papers, mostly through Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers.  So, this is now the largest such collection, worldwide.

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.

 

My collecting story… R. B. in Wakefield, FL …

May 18, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

What a great opportunity this is to share history and spread the word about the importance of keeping history as a priority in our American society.

When I was young…  Forty-two years ago when I was 16 years old my mother and I had kept our tradition of going around to different houses that put out their spring cleaning artifacts they were throwing away. In Wakefield, MA, my home town, there was a house that had put an old bureau out to the curb. My mom pulled up to the house and as she rummaged through a bag of clothing and old drapes something told me to go through the drawers of this old bureau. I actually took each drawer out. Inside I found old newspapers. I wasn’t sure what they were yet. I just saw they looked old so I took them with me.
After being home for a while I brought these three newspapers up to my room and looked at the dates. [Wow], they were from the civil war era! I looked through each newspaper carefully. All three had similar articles in them: “Results for the Lincoln/Douglas Debates!” Unbelievably exciting! I took the newspapers to school for show & tell. Having left them in my desk over night. Someone had stolen them.
Despite the loss they were the most exciting find I’ve ever had! This sparked in me the strong desire to continue seeking history in old newspapers and artifacts.

My collecting story… Z.C. in Solvang, CA…

May 15, 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.

I wanted to decorate my courtroom when I had an active trial schedule, and finally hit upon the way to do it and make it meaningful: I would create collages of famous trials in American history. I found there was a whole cottage industry of autograph dealers. I also discovered this bounty on Rare & Early Newspapers and searched the internet for whatever images of the trials might be available. Twenty six collages were the result, starting with the Salem Witch Trials (signature of the chief judge, Samuel Sewell, a 1692 London Gazette, and reproduction of the painting in the Massachusetts State House, and plaques) Trial of John Peter Zenger (signature of Andrew Hamilton, a 1735 Zenger newspaper, a copy of a painting of the trial and explanatory plaques). Proceeding through the Boston Massacre Trial, The Writs of Assistance case, The Trial of the Amistad Mutineers, The Dred Scott Case, The Trial of Dan Sickles, The Scopes Trial, to the Army/McCarthy Hearings.

The civics and American History classes in the local high schools would come and visit. Santa Ynez High School, where I live, would assign a particular trial to a group and each group would write a report after coming up to the courtroom for an afternoon of my presenting the collages to them and answering their questions. After a couple of years and as a courtesy, the high school assigned a student to build a website for extra credits He made the collages interactive so that a viewer could click on any section and bring that part up for closer reading. It became apparent to him that the archivally correct framing and non-glare glass made the written plaques I had created from quotes in various books blurry and difficult to read. To correct this, he carefully re-typed the plaques, which, of course was very time consuming. He finished eight of them before he went off to college. Then, I lost my free web host and was unable to get the disks on which the student had written the interactive program. I paid another fellow to re-create the website, and although I thought it was interactive, he was unable to accomplish that. There are simply photographs of the collages with the plaques recreated in a display unrelated to their place in the collage and photos of some of the parts. Sorry for that. I will try to get it interactive again just as soon as I can find the affordable technician. I also have enough material for ten more collages. Of course, now I know to photograph them in the cut mat before the glass is installed in the frame.

As retirement loomed, the question arose of “What now?”. Luckily, I had an opportunity to be interviewed by C-SPAN’s Yellow Bus tours of interesting sites and it was viewed by the assistant dean of Pepperdine’s law school in Malibu, where the collection is now on permanent loan. I created an educational website which used to be quite popular judging from the emails I received with questions about the cases. It is still up and running even if not interactive at the present. It is: www.historictrials,com That site contains a link to the C-SPAN archives where the twenty minute Interview can be found.

As I say in the website’s introduction: “Here are the stories, then, of lawyers who took up the cause of their clients in adverse circumstances and used their talents and skills to achieve what seemed just at the time. Let us hope there will always be learned men and women of the profession that will rise to the challenges”.

As an aside: I recently created collages of Civil War events, but haven’t yet framed them as they are really rather large which means rather large framing costs and I have yet to find a place to house them. I just finished a collage of a friend from high school who got to Vietnam in time for Tet, and within four months was awarded a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart. Such courage is more than remarkable. It’s on the website even though it has nothing to do with lawyers or trials. He is looking for a place to display it. Perhaps our high school; perhaps one of the military museums.

Thank you for tolerating this long exposition. Lawyers are worse when it comes to conciseness, and retired ones are the worst.

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.

 

My collecting story… Z.H. in Benton, Missouri…

May 11, 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.

My favorite issue is a September 1820 publication from the Niles’ Register. This specific issue contains one of the earliest non-archived and complete printings of the Missouri Constitution that I know to exist. I am a judge for the State of Missouri, so its personal value to me is beyond words. While there have been a total of six constitutions adopted for the State of Missouri in the last 200 years, to hold a complete copy of the original, published immediately after ratification and adoption, is quite something.

This issue is displayed on a bureau in my office just behind my courtroom. Talk about a conversation piece! But much more than that, seeing this piece of history every morning helps to reaffirm a sincere admiration for those who, for better or worse, have formed our respective governments. To establish government is no small feat. This document breathes inspiration as much as it tells a story of immense cooperation. The writers of this document, much like our Founders, united together in common principles of representation, enforcement, and justice. As a judge, my job is to protect this document, and to make sure everyone has equal access to its privileges and protections. Quite simply, it’s humbling, and owning this copy as part of my collection has been a treat to say the least.

So thank you to everyone at Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers for making this piece available. It really is a treasure!

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.

 

My collecting story… M.R. in Singapore…

May 8, 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.

My fascination with antiquity generally and old publications specifically began when I was a young child, although I clearly didn’t have the means to acquire them way back then. I have always been fascinated with history, and thus old publications (newspapers, magazines and books) accord one a precious opportunity to come face-to-face with the very publications people read contemporaneous to the events of the period, be they revolutions, a civil war, a presidential inauguration or assassination, or a whole host of other events of historical import. There is even a ‘tactile sensation’ that gives much pleasure in knowing that you are actually leafing through pages originally perused by others up to 300 or even 400 years back! In the case of newspapers in particular, there is also that intellectual joy of reading what are basically primary historical sources, thereby relishing the very

THE BOSTON CHRONICLE, Dec. 12, 1768

‘flavour’ of the reports of the times and the sometimes strong or biased opinions put forth by editors or letters published from readers.

It is exceedingly difficult to identify the one publication that I would value the most, over any other. In my case it is a tie between two very different historical periods: the 1760s and 1770s, in which one finds myriad accounts of the events leading up to the American Revolution; and the newspapers of April 1865, which came out in the wake of the assassination of one of America’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln. What makes the former category especially interesting in both British and American papers is the fact that on neither side of the ‘pond’ was opinion monolithic by any means with respect to the stirrings in the colonies which ultimately led to revolution. There were British political leaders and merchants who were strongly in favour of letting the Americans have their independence. One in particular was highly prescient in that he foresaw that one day America would emerge as a great power and that it was therefore best to cultivate good relations with was to become a new republic sooner rather than later. At the same time, there were American loyalists who could not envisage a total break with the Crown and thus regarded the revolution as an unwanted tragedy. What makes the newspapers subsequent to Lincoln’s assassination especially interesting is the fact that one can feel a palpable sense of grief and anger in the immediate aftermath – regardless of what they may have been saying about President Lincoln when he was still alive! I feel teleported back in time and place to the scene of the crime as well as to the intense mourning that followed as Lincoln’s funeral train wound its way from Washington back to Illinois, with outpourings of sorrow all over the nation.

Finally, there was indeed a most pleasant surprise awaiting me in an entire volume of ‘The Gentleman’s Magazine’ for 1776, which I happened upon in an antiquarian shop in my part of the world (Singapore) many years ago. I acquired it for an amount so small that I considered it insignificant. While I felt sure there would be many articles of interest with regard to the outbreak of the American Revolution, I was absolutely beside myself with joy to discover that the American Declaration of Independence had been reproduced in it! I certainly hadn’t expected that. Interestingly, the following month’s issue had some sharp critiques of the rationale upon which the Americans had clamored and then declared their independence of Britain. The condition of the whole collection was uniformly good indeed, and the binding appeared to be original as well.

For these reasons and many more, collecting old publications is a hobby – or perhaps I should say a *passion* – that brings unending joy!

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.

 

My collecting story… D.L. in Cranbury, NJ…

May 4, 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.

I have always been a collector, I guess it is in my genes. It started with coins when I was very young, I think it was when I was in the second grade. Like most collectors, I migrated within a category, from coins to error coins, to U.S. paper currency, to foreign currency, then to U.S.error currency, and so on. Next came the migration from category to category, from numismatics to scripophily to autographed manuscripts and then rocks & minerals (including arrow heads and meteorites). Finally, about 40 years ago, I stumbled across historical newspapers. Specifically, I collected newspapers concerning the stock market (panics and crashes), as well as news stories concerning the Robber Barrons (people like Jim Fisk, Jr., Daniel Drew, Commodore Vanderbilt, Jay Cooke, and the Rockefeller’s to name a few).

My mother was interested in the women’s movement and I decided to make her a nice presentation piece which included, a historical newspaper (“The Revolution” which was created and published by Susan B Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton), along with their autographs and a picture of Susan B Anthony, (presentation piece picture shown below).

So after I had purchased all the items to be framed, I started looking through the Revolution newspapers and was stunned by the quantity but especially the quality of the Robber Barron coverage in the newspaper. It was extraordinarily detailed and insightful as can be seen by some of the commentary I have attached. Their ability to dig up scuttlebutt on what shenanigans the key players were up to and the intimate detail with which it was reported was extraordinary. Well, I had no idea that information was in those newspapers, and it delighted me beyond what words can express. Old newspapers are pieces of history you can keep, they are time machines which allow us to look back in past. They also make you think. You can hold them in your hand and learn from them, and sometimes they move you and end up not just in your, hand and brain but also in your heart.

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.

My collecting story… D.P. in Brentwood, TN…

April 27, 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.

My Favorite Newspaper from Timothy & Guy…

Back in 2009 the list had an 1856 copy of the Concord (NH) Patriot and State Gazette which included an ad for Flagg & Aymar’s Circus. I bought the paper because, being a circus historian, I knew that old John Robinson had sold his interest in the Robinson and Eldred circus to his partner Gil Eldred in Richmond, VA, that year and had used the money to purchase the Flagg & Aymar show, renaming it John Robinson’s Circus. Under several ownerships the title was active as late as 1930 and was advertised as the oldest circus in America,

The plot thickens: Several items that were delivered to my porch on the same day vanished- to this day I am certain who stole them for spite over my firing a certain party.

Time passes and in 2015 I called Guy and asked if there was any possibility of their having another copy of that paper. By sheer coincidence they had one and intended to add it to the next list. I bought it as quickly as I can tell the story. Here the ad is in my little circus museum in Nashville.

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.

 

My collecting story… B.R. in Grosse Ile, Michigan…

April 20, 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.

I have been a collector as long as I can remember.  In my teens I came across an old newspaper from the early 1800s and was amazed at its condition.  Only later would I learn that in the early days of newspaper printing were they using rag paper.  And how exciting for us all that they did because now we still have incredible pieces of history dating as far back as the 1500s and 1600s!
Several years ago I ‘discovered’ the wonderful world of rare newspapers offered by Tim Hughes on eBay.  I couldn’t believe what he had!  Amazing rarities that I’ve never seen offered by anyone else anywhere else!  I quickly became hooked.
My favorite eras to collect are the 1600s and 1700s.  The handmade paper and the labor intensive process of creating a newspaper in those days results in a unique finished piece unlike newspapers of later eras.  And some of the content is truly remarkable!
I was very excited when I found a 1679 issue of an English newspaper for sale published by Benjamin Harris who is known for publishing the first newspaper in America.  That particular issue from 1690 is so rare that apparently only one copy exists as Mr. Harris published an item concerning King William’s War and atrocities attributed to Native American forces allied to the British.  Without a license, his paper was shut down after a single issue and Mr. Harris was jailed.
My issue, Domestick Intelligence, Or News both from CITY and COUNTRY, is in remarkable condition and was purchased solely because it’s an early item by Benjamin Harris.  But the content makes it even better.  In 1679 there was a plague in Vienna and it is estimated that 76,000 people died there as a result.  The paper notes the following details:
“From Vienna in Germany they write That it is hoped the Plague is somewhat abated there, for whereas there has usually died two or three hundred in a day, there is not now above an hundred, but it is feared that it goes down further in the Country toward the Netherlands.”  But then it gets even more incredible with this item: “From Mentz in Germany they write, That it is confidently affirmed, There have been fiery Dragons lately seen flying in the Air near that City, and also several other Strange and Prodigious sights, which makes  a great Consternation among the People for fear of some dreadful miseries and Calamities approaching”.  Wow!  Fiery Dragons?!?
This hobby has provided much fascination and education for myself and friends and family members.  I would encourage everyone to dig deeper into these pages to uncover the gems that aren’t in any history books.  And hold history in your hands…from the day it was happening!
Thanks very much to Tim Hughes and Guy Heilenman and the other wonderful people at rare newspapers.com for bringing such treasures to the public.  It’s been a pleasure dealing with you!

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.

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.

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