When did the “Gentleman’s Magazine” print the Declaration of Independence?

November 14, 2011 by · 5 Comments 

Fellow collector Michael Gulvin asks a question which many other collectors may have wondered:  “On what day of the month did the Gentleman’s Magazine for August, 1776 become available? We have a time-line for the American newspapers, and we know that the London Chronicle printed the Declaration in its August 17th issue, but do we know the actual date the Gentleman’s Magazine printed the Declaration of Independence for its August issue?”

Magazines typically published very late in the month shown on the title/contents page. With the “London Chronicle” publishing the Declaration of Independence in its August 17, 1776 issue, and presuming they had interest in publishing such a significant document as early as possible, it is presumed the Declaration was received in London very close to that date. Their previous issue was dated Aug. 15, so August 15-17 would be the presumed period when the document arrived in London. It is curious to note that the “London Gazette” never printed the Declaration of Independence.
Monthly publications are more difficult to pin down in terms of publication dates, however datelines of news reports found within offer great clues. The Historical Chronicle near the back of the August issue of the “Gentleman’s Magazine” has datelines beginning July 10 and the latest date mentioned is August 31, the very last day of the month. Obviously the magazine could not have printed prior to August 31, so the first day or two of September would be the presumed printing dates.
The same was true with American magazines as I recall the June, 1776 issue of “The Pennsylvania Magazine” had the very significant announcement that Congress had voted to approve the Declaration of Independence, with a dateline of July 2, 1776. Obviously that June issue was printed early the following month.

Gentleman’s Magazine: a little gem packed with history…

December 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

As dealers we have been very true to our focus on rare newspapers, and—for the most part—only newspapers. Yes, we have ventured into the occasional old document, pamphlet, colonial currency and the other items I’ve found intriguing, but otherwise we offer only historic newspapers.

But one big exception has been 18th century magazines. As is likely the case with most collectors of history, the over-riding aim is to find historic news reports dated as early as possible, and the availability of newspapers runs quite thin before 1760 (the London Chronicle dates to 1755 and is the single biggest source of period reports back to this period) if British titles are accepted, and only back to about 1787 if American newspapers are the only option.

It was many years ago that I discovered one of the best titles of the 18th century for period news reporting, and it wasn’t even a newspaper. It is a magazine. More specifically, “The Gentleman’s Magazine” from London. Having begun in 1731, its pages captured news reports concerning America which could never be found in period American newspapers, and rarely found in period British newspapers. From its earliest years “The Gentleman’s Magazine” printed reports on the creation of the colony of Georgia, the founding of the town of Savannah, with many issues mentioning James Olgethorpe. From  1736 are reports of William Penn laying out the city of Philadelphia, and the 1730’s has several reports of pirates operating in the Caribbean and the Atlantic, as well as famous highwayman Dick Turpin. Slave revolts in Jamaica, “Customs of the Jews” and other smaller reports from the American colonies round on the 1730’s.

The 1740’s have several items on the slavery issue which would be a topic of discussion on both sides of the Atlantic well into the 19th century. And relating to slavery are several issues of the 1770’s on famous slave/poet Phillis Wheatley.

There are early reports on the sport of cricket, and much on the Jacobite Rebellion including mention of “Bonnie Prince Charlie”. Other curious reports from the 1740’s include text on Handel and his “Messiah”, Ben Franklin mention with various electricity experiments, the death of astronomer Edmund Halley, the origin of the game of chess, and a curious item on a northwest passage to China through Canada. Military events in periodicals are never-ending, and this decade prints the text of the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, among many other military events.

The 1750’s are highlighted by much reporting on the French & Indian War between the French & the British, with mention of Quebec, Crown Point, Fort DuQuesne and all the other major battle sites. Keep in mind that the American colonies were British possessions at the time so there was much interest in
The Gentleman’s Magazine” has nice reporting on Ben Franklin’s lightening rod experiments, and there is also a terrific—although inconspicuous—mention of what would become known to all Americans as the Liberty Bell. Under the heading:  “America” and with a “Philadelphia, May 10” dateline from 1753 is a report reading:

“Last week was raised and fixed, in the State-House Steeple, the great bell, weighing 2080 lb. cast here, with this inscription,

‘Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, to the inhabitants thereof.” This is how they reported the installation of what would become known as the Liberty Bell.England in reporting events relative to the colonies. A special feature of Gentleman’s was their very early mention of George Washington, a Major in the Virginia military in 1754 and 1755 when he lead others into battle in Pennsylvania. Such mention of Washington in an American newspaper would result in a price well beyond the budget of most collectors.

The 1760’s in “The Gentleman’s Magazine” are highlighted by the growing tensions between the colonies and England. The full text of the hated Stamp Act is found within its pages, and just a year later is found the formal repeal of the Stamp Act by the British King. Other Acts of Parliament harmful to colonial relations are reported as well.

News from the 1770’s begin with the Boston Massacre (and the trial details of those involved), reported in Gentleman’s in nice detail. All the events of the Revolutionary War received excellent coverage, from the Boston Tea Party to Lexington & Concord, the Battle of Bunker Hill, Saratoga, White Plains, Ticonderoga, Cowpens, Guilford Court House and the other military initiatives of the war with considerable mention of George Washington, Gage, Gates, Burgoyne, Ethan Allen, Howe, Greene, Cornwallis, John Paul Jones, and others.  There is even much detail on the infamous Benedict Arnold/Major Andre treason.

Historic documents are found within the pages of “Gentleman’s Magazine” as well, including the Articles of Confederation, the “Causes & Necessity for Taking Up Arms”, the Constitution of the United States (in 1787), and the most desired document of all, the Declaration of Independence. At a time when a period printing of the Declaration in an American newspaper will sell for over a quarter of a million dollars, to be able to purchase a 1776 magazine with a timely printing of the Declaration of Independence for under $4000 is a rare opportunity for any collector.

The 1780’s begin with the closing events of the Revolutionary War, including the surrender of Cornwallis to Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, and shortly thereafter the formal text of the Treaty which ended the Revolutionary War. There are reports on Captain James Cook’s famous voyages of exploration, the obituary of Benjamin Franklin, and with attention focusing more on European reports later in the decade are reports of the fall of the Bastille and the French Revolution, and into the 1790’s with the mutiny on the Bounty, the guillotine execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, then into the early 19th century with the Battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo. Gentleman’s also printed the text of Washington’s final state-of-the-union address, and then just a few years later, his death.

A very nice bonus found in many of the pages of Gentleman’s is maps & plates. They cannot be found in newspapers of the day. Printed separately from the regular pages of the issue and tipped within, most of the maps fold out to be double the size of the issue, and they includes some of the more desired maps one would want of the 18th century, including Philadelphia, the colonies (from 1755), Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, the Caribbean, St. Augustine, the entire western hemisphere and so much more. Many collectors choose to frame the maps separate from the issue as they are very decorative and are typically dated in an upper corner.

Plates include the Philadelphia State House, later to be known as Independence Hall; St. Philip’s Church in Charleston, the fort at Bunker’s Hill, Ben Franklin’s ‘Square of Squares’, the guillotine which beheaded Louis XVI and his wife, a slavery medal, and even a plate of the Garden of Eden. Plus there is so much more.

The “Gentleman’s Magazine” is a little gem packed with all the history one would want to find from the 18th century. Measuring about 5 by 8 inches and typically having about 40 pages they take up very little room in a collection. But best of all it is an accessible title, and at prices far below what would be found in comparable American & British newspapers of the same period.

There can be little excuse for holding back on buying the best events in American history if one is willing to add this famous & successful title to their collection. And there certainly will be a time when even this title will become very scarce as others discovery it as the little gem just begging to be collected.

Note: Rather than include an endless number of (annoying) links above, if you have interest in any of the topics discussed, simply go to the following link and enter the topic into the search field: www.RareNewspapers.com

Print date for the Gentleman’s Magazine…

July 23, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Actual printing dates of monthly magazines have always been difficult to establish, but some times dated news reports will give some indication.  An advertisement for the Gentleman’s Magazine in the “Daily Post-Boy” of London, September 4, 1732, provides a valuable clue for the earliest issues of this title (it began publishing in 1731). Note that the advertisement has at the top: “September 2 was published…The Gentleman’s Magazine…for August, 1732…”. So at least during the early years of this magazine’s existence it printed a few days after the end of the month.

Another interesting tidbit is provided in this advertisement as well. We knew that the first several issues of the first year of “Gentleman’s Magazine” printed at least six editions, as some were noted as such on the title/contents page, but we never knew when they were reprinted. Note the very bottom of this advertisements mentions: “…Where may be had, The former Numbers, except Numb 1 and Numb. II which will be republished a 4th Time in a few days.” This indicates that the fifth edition of the January and February, 1731 issues were  printed in the first week of September, 1732.

Collectible Magazines… Rich West… Periodyssey – Part II

April 13, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Tammy Kahn Fennell at Collectibles Corner TV recently completed part II of her interview with Rich West of Periodyssey fame.  Part II of the interview begins at the 3:32 mark; however,  if you have the time, the entire episode is worth watching.  Thanks Tammy… and Rich.

Episode #10 – Depression Glass, Colophon, Rich West of Periodyssey part 2, Get Me Video

Note from the previous post re: the interview with Rich:

Although Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers’ archives contain nearly every issue of Gentleman’s Magazine, Harper’s Weekly (actually an illustrated newspaper), Harper’s Monthly, The Sporting News, and a selection of others (Liberty Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Scribner’s, etc.), including many of these and others beyond what is posted on the Rare & Early Newspapers website, the Timothy Hughes of magazine collecting is Rich West of Periodyssey.  He operates with integrity, has an incredible inventory of magazines to offer, and is the most knowledgeable resource in the field of magazine collectibles.

Collectible Magazines… Rich West… Periodyssey…

April 1, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Although Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers’ archives contain nearly every issue of Gentleman’s Magazine, Harper’s Weekly (actually an illustrated newspaper), Harper’s Monthly, The Sporting News, and a selection of others (Liberty Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Scribner’s, etc.), including many of these and others beyond what is posted on the Rare & Early Newspapers website, the Timothy Hughes of magazine collecting is Rich West of Periodyssey.  He operates with integrity, has an incredible inventory of magazines to offer, and is the most knowledgeable resource in the field of magazine collectibles.  Lou Kahn and his daughter Tammy Kahn Fennell recently interviewed Rich for Collectibles Corner TV.  Feel free to enjoy the entire video or advance to the 5 minute mark to catch only the portion of the show containing the interview with Rich.  Rumor has it they’ll be doing a follow-up interview with Rich West shortly.  Please Enjoy:

Episode #9 – Occupied Japan, Provenance, Antique Quilts, American Periodicals, Rich West of Periodyssey

18th century American magazines: one to share…

February 2, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

Magazines published in 18th century America were relative few & far between when compared with newspapers of the same era. From the first magazine in 1741 through the Revolutionary War only 18 magazine titles were published, most lasting but a few issues. During the Revolutionary War only one magazine was in print, and it only lasted from January, 1775 through July, 1776, this last issue containing the Declaration of Independence.

Magazines have always been of interest to me since almost all titles carried various news of the day, typically within the back several pages, much like the British “Gentleman’s Magazine” had done since 1731. Some American magazines contained plates as well, but finding issues with the plates still intact can be extremely difficult and frustrating. The more noteworthy the plate, the less likely it will be present, typically removed by some previous owner many years ago. So when issues come on the market with significant plates still bound within the issue, it’s a moment of much excitement.

Here is one from our private collection, The Columbian Magazine from Philadelphia dated January, 1787, which contains a full page plate of “General Washington”, in addition to a foldout plate of the “Meteorological Observations” for the month of December, 1786.  We are pleased to share these photos with our fellow collectors, and wish all of you the great luck in finding your own American magazine with notable prints!

The more things change… Vaccinations and the immoral influences on children…

February 15, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Currently, the whole world over is speaking of virus and antibodies, of carriers and immunization. Outbreaks are mapped in news blurbs, along with identified hot spots and constant status reports on flattening the curve.  Comparisons are made to the “Spanish Flu”, but an article in a September, 1808 issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine led me to comparisons with smallpox instead.  More specifically, they led me to the smallpox outbreak that eventually brought Edward Jenner into focus — he of the cowpox vaccination fame (or, infamy, as critics would have it).

The mannerly Gentleman’s employs an ambitious article heading as it delves into the fray: “Practice of Vaccination Dispassionately Discussed.”  As the Reverend Cotton Mather discovered in 1721, there is much passion involved in the subject.  He, who pleaded for the adoption of the African method of inoculation to save the afflicted residents of Boston, was the object of threats and the target of a bombing.  The periodical contributor, pen named “Cosmopolitan,” attempts a scholarly address of the merits just twelve years after Edward Jenner formalized the medical application of a controlled injection of the cowpox virus in order to immunize a human body against smallpox, which was disfiguring and killing people by the thousands.

After Mr. Cosmopolitan completes his summary of the beneficial relationship between the vaccine and the decreased virus contraction rate, he promises the editor, Mr. Urban, that as the science may not be completely convincing to all, he is prepared to offer testimonials in the next issue.

I was able to locate the fulfillment of that pledge in the October issue.

The facts which were there mentioned, must of themselves be nearly sufficient to convince an unprejudiced observer of the efficacy of the Vaccine preservative.  It now remains to take an impartial review of the remaining part of the evidence on this interesting topick, which may be gathered from the experience of eminent individuals and from the avowed opinion of public bodies.

These are the same methods employed today about the still-controversial procedure of immunization — presentation of scientific data, followed by explanation of that data from medical professionals, and the promotion or recommendation of the practice by public officials.  For the Coronavirus of today, the vaccine has not even been developed, and the debate is already heated.

PS This issue also has an article regarding juveniles obtaining access to “age-inappropriate literature” through libraries. Two current topics which reach back to the early 1800’s: “The more things change…”.

Fascinating Conspiracies (Episode 2) – Secret Societies in the 18th century…

November 15, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

I have a dear friend who, while attending Penn State in the late 70’s, became intrigued with The Illuminati and spent countless hours in the library pouring over microfiche of old newspapers for insight into this Secret Society which made it’s way from Europe to the Colonies during America’s founding years.  Fast forward 40 years…

Now I spend my days surrounded by old newspapers… probably some of the very same titles and dates my friend was digging through (albeit electronically), so it should come as no surprise the following snippet in an issue of THE GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE for February, 1798 caught my attention (see below).  A quick mention to my friend is certainly in order and perhaps a bit more perusing of other issues on Secret Societies.

All Things Nautical… 1773…

October 18, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

In our thoroughly modern world, many of us chuckle when we see photos of Bigfoot or The Loch Ness Monster gracing the front of a supermarket tabloid. However, in 1773, Gentleman’s Magazine, a more reputable publisher, featured several seafaring articles including one which stated: “…a most hideous sea monster was seen”. Not to worry, they did balance out this salacious coverage of all things nautical with a more noble seven page article on : “Capt. Wallis’s Voyage round the World”. Pick your passion, sea monsters or great explorers. Both awaken the imagination and draw our interest.

Beer and electricity had a common admirer…

October 11, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

All of the Founders are worthy of a great deal of respect however, some grab your attention more than others.  From George Washington’s noble bearing to Jefferson’s nation building writing.  I would argue none capture the imagination more than Benjamin Franklin.  Larger than life, with his bifocals and kite in a lightning storm, he makes a great historical figure for kids to study while inspiring adults with his witty wisdom such as, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Among the many issues  we have at Rare Newspapers covering Franklin is one which is described as follows:

”The earliest account of the electrical experiments made by Benjamin Franklin, at Philadelphia (where he was then the post-master) appeared anonymously in ‘The Gentleman’s Magazine for January, 1750‘.”

This article mentions several of Franklin’s important discoveries, including: “…that it will live in water…that it is more strongly attracted by slender sharp points than by solid blunt bodies…that bodies replete with this fire strongly attract such as have less of it, and repel such as have an equal quantity…”.

Beer, electricity, bifocals and chess –  take a look at this brilliant, yet quirky Founder with new eyes by reading about him in the papers of his day.

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