Obtaining the Value of a Newspaper or Collection…

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

We do not monitor requests concerning the value of newspapers through this venue – but we would be glad to assist. If you have a newspaper or a collection for which you are seeking an appraisal, please contact us directly at info@rarenewspapers.com. Please include as many details as possible. Thanks.

Old Newspapers… New Value…

September 10, 2015 by · 4 Comments 

Blog-9-10-2015-New-Orleans-PicayuneWe just became aware of a post featured on The Atlantic in regards to a large collection of newspapers from New Orleans that is quite interesting. Please enjoy:

Old Newspapers, New Value – How 30,000 antique New Orleans newspapers listed on Craigslist found a new home.

Do Old and Antique Newspapers Have Any Collectible Value?

October 25, 2013 by · 678 Comments 

It is not often I travel to Yahoo for answers to some of the more meaningful questions of life: Where did we come from? What is the purpose of Life? Do old newspapers have value? However, I recently came upon a post on Yahoo Voices which did a decent job of handling this last question.  It begins:

You’ve Happened Upon a Stack of Old Newspapers…Some Have Historic Headlines! Are They Worth Anything?

Let face it, old newspapers don’t get much respect. In today’s world, they’re generally seen as material for the recycler. And years ago, many libraries simply tossed them out after converting them to micro or digital files. But do old or antique newspapers have any collectible value? The answer is a definite…maybe!

Newspapers have been around almost as long as the Gutenberg Press. And in general they’ve been seen as expendable–meant to be read a time or two and then thrown away, or used for fish wrap or some other convenient purpose. But newspapers also have tremendous historic value… (read more)

 (Unfortunately, the Yahoo article has since expired. If anyone has discovered great articles regarding the value of newspapers, please let us know and we’ll consider adding it. In the meantime, feel free to use the www.RareNewspapers.com website for comparables.)

Values for first section only newspapers…

May 20, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Fellow collector Morris Brill asks a question which may be on many collectors’ minds:

“If a collector has only the first section of a newspaper containing the reporting of the entire historic event how much is the monetary and collector value depreciated because the entire paper is not available? Is it worthwhile to collect a ‘first section’ only newspaper?”

In my opinion, there is not much decrease in value for not having the entire newspaper if the complete report of the “event” is contained within the first section. Some newspapers–particularly Sunday editions–can be extremely bulky with nothing but superfluous material, so it is not surprising that, in many cases, only first sections were saved.

Some purists might disagree, but rarely do we get requests from collectors wanting only complete newspapers. Many “first section only” issues of 20th century events will be found on our website, and I tend to price such at 80% to 90% of the value of a complete newspaper.

In some cases it can be difficult to tell if the complete issue is present. Some newspapers note the number of pages in the dateline, and others might mention the number of sections. Where neither exist I look for a table of content to see if there are reports on pages beyond what are present. If I have no way of determining, and I am unsure of the issue is complete, I tend to note within the description something like “…presumed complete in 24 pages…” just in case it could be proven to me otherwise.

The value of a newspaper… impacted by content…

April 12, 2010 by · 7 Comments 

One of the common questions received at Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers is “What elements are involved in determining the collectible value of a newspaper?”   Several posts on this subject may be viewed at:  “Determining the Value of an Historic Newspaper“.   Two of the elements which drive the collectible value of a paper are content and age.  For example, the $0.50-$1.00 newsstand price of a Washington Post, USA Today, or Chicago Tribune with the 1st report on the election of President Obama quickly rose to $35 a month (and higher) after the event (content), and will likely be valued at many times this amount in 20+ years (age).

In contrast, we recently came across a newspaper whose value increased by more than 700% (due to content – a photo) before the end of the day of its initial printing.  Our find… the May 1, 1945 Mediterranean edition of Stars and Stripes.  The front cover printed the famous photo of Benito Mussolini shown after his execution.  In an effort to show a little discretion, the photo is not shown within this post, but may be viewed at:  http://www.rarenewspapers.com/view/568477?acl=779383924

Although there have been times when the collectible value of a newspaper increased by the following day, we’d love to know of other pre-2000 events which resulted in an increase in the value of the newspaper on the same day the issue hit the newsstands.  If you know of any, feel free to share with the collectible community.

Setting values for collectible newspapers…

September 19, 2008 by · 480 Comments 

We are often asked “What’s my newspaper worth?” in phone calls and email messages. As one might suspect, there are many factors which determine value and much like a jeweler cannot give a value of a diamond by an email or telephone inquiry, our ethics do not permit us to place values on newspapers without seeing the issues in hand.

Many factors determine value. The more important include condition, desirability among collectors, extent of coverage, completeness of the issue, proximity of the city of publication to where the event happened, time lag between the event date and the reporting date, dramatic appeal (more so with 20th century issues), and location of the report within the issue (front page? page 3?). Other factors come into play with more significant events but those noted are the prime determinants of value.

From a personal perspective setting values has been an interesting process, as no guide book of values existed 30+ years ago when I started the business. I priced an item in my catalog for $10 and if I had twenty orders for it I knew the price was too low.  If no one ordered it the price was too high. Through the years, and by data basing sold prices (on index cards prior to the computer!), I’ve honed my own “price guide” based on actual sales, and it is this now-sophisticated database which we use to set values for new inventory as it arrives.

Do values continue to rise? In general, yes, but we are careful to never recommend the purchase of early newspapers for investment purposes. As is true of most collectibles, rarity and desirability determine where prices will be for the future.

But providing an historical perspective from our own files, back in October of 1981 we sold in our catalog #26 the NEW YORK HERALD of March 5, 1865 reporting the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, very nice condition, for $70. Just four months ago we sold another issue of the NEW YORK HERALD of March 5, 1865, also in very nice condition, for $535.

This is the first in a series of posts where we will compare the past and present values of newspapers based on actual sales. Stay tuned for more.

Lincoln Assassination Newspapers Atlas…

January 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Rick Brown been collecting Lincoln assassination newspapers for over 50 years. He has also been a historic newspaper dealer and bought, sold, or brokered in excess of one million historic newspapers. Currently he has in about 200 original Lincoln assassination newspapers – Both Union and confederate. In that same time he been setting aside reprints of the April 15, 1865 New York Herald as he came across Blog-2-18-2016-NY-Herald-Reprintsthem. In 1992 he self-published “An Atlas of Known April 15, 1865 New York Herald Reprints.” In that work, all pages of 17 different reprint versions were shown. With concentrated efforts in 2015 he contacted a few major institutions and has now discovered 48 different/variants of this edition. His online version of the current atlas that shows all pages of 45  different variants. Also included in this online atlas is background information about the reprints – who published, when, how many pages, etc. The URL for his online Atlas is: http://www.historyreference.org/newspapers/assassination/

An average of three April 15, 1865 New York Herald’s are listed on eBay EVERY WEEK – that’s over 150 per year. Almost all of these listings claim there’s is an “authentic,” “original,” or “genuine” edition.  In the past 15 years he has been conducting weekly searches for “April 15, 1865 New York Herald” on eBay. There have been approximately 2,250 listings for this edition on eBay and ONLY TWICE the listings were actually original editions! Also, since he has been going to estate sales and auctions for over 20 years, he has seen a few hundred of these editions offered – NOT ONE OF THEM were an original!! Over 95% of these reprints were produced over 100 years ago so they LOOK OLD, Looking old does not necessarily mean it is an original. Buyer beware – Collector value for these reprint editions is $10-$20 depending on condition.

If you have a Lincoln-related Web site or know someone that does, please have them add a link to my online atlas.

Rick Brown
http://www.historyreference.org
A Nonprofit Organization

Prices of newspapers… How have the changed?

February 20, 2015 by · 10 Comments 

One of the questions we often receive at Rare Newspapers relates to the Blog_Guy_11_2012collectible investment value of newspapers over time. Most indicate they do not collect for investment reasons; rather, they do so for the love of “History in your hands.” The embrace our motto: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.” Newspapers provide glimpses of history in the context of both the exciting and mundane of the era in which it was reported. Still, the question remains. How has the value of Rare & Early Newspapers progressed over time? We posed this question to our founder, Tim Hughes, and the following was his response:

We have to keep in mind that this hobby is a very small one, and when I began 39+ years ago there essentially was no established market, nor any sort of price guide which offered a baseline of values based on content, condition, etc.

I came from the coin collecting hobby and knew from it that the more rare the item, the more values increased through the years. Common date pennies were selling in the 1970’s for about the same prices as from a decade earlier, while the rare dates/coins had increased substantially. I took this information with me when I opted for a hobby which had yet to be exploited by an established collecting industry such as coins, stamps, books, etc. Although I purchased veraciously during my earlier years, always fearful the supply of 150+ year old newspapers would dry up, I have found that the common, generic material was always plentiful—and still is today. What has not been plentiful are newspapers with historic reports, and newspapers which are themselves very rare. The “less plentiful” issues have appreciated considerably over the last 39 years, while generic issue values are really not much different today than they were 39 years ago. Example: I always offered a 10-issue wholesale lot ever since my first catalog, then priced at $19.50. The same lot today is $24.95, and I suspect some of that increase is more to help offset increased shipping costs. And I think we have a virtually unending supply.

How much have values of historic & rare issues increased? It can be difficult to say as we have never made a point to keep comparative records as it seemed a bit meaningless for our purposes. But in general I would say they have increased 5-fold to 10-fold in the post 30 years. I’m not going to consider my first 9 years in the business as any sort of gauge as I was still feeling my way thru the hobby; raising & lowering prices as my customers would react (or not react). An anecdotal story: early on in my enterprise I purchased a bound volume of a Santa Fe, NM newspaper from 1881. Amongst the 150 or so issues was a run of, perhaps, 40 issues each having a little reward ad for the capture of Billy the Kid. Figuring a novice such as myself coming across the volume, and the fact that there were so many issues with the ad, I logically presume it was not very rare. I think I sold those issues for $35 or so each. If I would have those issues today I think we could get $700 each. That Tim_2010doesn’t mean the value has increased by 2000%. It speaks more to my ignorance of what they should have sold for 35 years ago. Unfortunately that incident wasn’t my last such learning experience.

Perhaps one of the more “common” of the very historic issues would be the Gentleman’s Mag. with the Declaration of Independence. We sold it for under $2000 ten years ago, and now we sell them for $4000. So this document in this title has doubled in 10 years, and I could never say that it is “rare” as we encounter this issue perhaps twice a year. It is extremely historic, but not truly rare. Truly rare items would have increased much more dramatically. In fact truly rare items don’t come on the market any more. I have few qualms offering a truly rare event/newspaper for 4 or 5 times our last price if we only had it twice in 39 years.

As is always the case–and as it truly should be in a free market economy–the collectors ultimately determine the prices of our material. There have always been high-income collectors who have kept the rare items rising in value at a consistent rate, while more common items have languished in value because collectors are not taking them off our shelves.

I cannot say that there has been any period over the last 39 years when the hobby was either “hot” or “cold”. I think whether values have rising nominally or dramatically, they have done so in a rather consistent curve, unaffected by the economy or stock market ups & downs.

I still believe the hobby is very much in its infancy. The vast majority of people have no idea that our hobby exists, and I have always felt the time will come when that will change. I don’t have to tell you that in a comparative sense with other collectables, our hobby seem dramatically undervalued.

Tim

People collect rare newspapers for various reasons – investment purposes being one of them. Finding hidden historical gems, preserving history, immersing oneself in an era and/or event, as a companion collectible to another collectible interest, etc. What a great hobby!

Niles Register, a newspaper rich in history…

May 12, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

This post is taken almost entirely from the work by Bill Earle at www.nilesregister.com, whose database of the entire run of this notable newspaper provides a very inclusive perspective of life not only in America but the world for much of the first half of the 19th century. But this post offers insight  beyond the Niles’ Register. It provides a perspective of the broader scope of newspaper publishing from this significant era.

Star Spangled BannerThe national and international newsweekly Niles’ Register is well known today primarily to collectors & those and genealogists who have sampled its treasures.  But in the first half of the 19th century, the Register was as well known as the New York Times and Washington Post are known today.  From 1811 to 1849, it was the principal window through which many Americans looked out on their country and the world.  The scope of the work was immense, its circulation was large (the largest in the United States, by some accounts), and its influence was reflected in generous compliments from such readers of the publication as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson.

The Register was founded by Hezekiah Niles in Baltimore in 1811.  A printer and journalist of Quaker background from the Wilmington-Brandywine-Philadelphia area, Niles had worked in Philadelphia and Wilmington before moving to Baltimore in 1805 as editor of the “Baltimore Evening Post”. When that paper was sold in 1811, he launched his “The Weekly Register“.  The editor had large ambitions:  he intended to be “an honest chronicler” who “registered” events not just for his contemporaries but for posterity as well.  Although politics would be covered extensively, the Register would eschew any partisan slant — “electioneering,” as the editor called it.  Furthermore, the paper would ignore local news in favor of national and international news.  The paper would cost $5 per year, a premium price in an era when a dollar might constitute a generous day’s wages.

Niles had secured some subscribers before his first issue appeared on September 7, 1811, but those initial subscribers would be able to cancel after 13 weeks if the work did not meet their expectations.  After six months, however, Niles was able to boast that few initial subscribers had withdrawn.  Furthermore, so many new subscribers had signed on that the editor had had to produce three printings of some early issues to supply those who wanted complete sets of the new publication.  Niles would never get rich producing the Register–his published complaints about slow subscription payments are a recurring theme throughout his career–but the paper was clearly well established almost from the outset.

The value that subscribers saw in the publication is easy to understand.  It was exceptionally dense with material:  there was no advertising, and only a handful of illustrations ever appeared (desired issues by collectors);  consequently, the pages were packed with text.  Furthermore, Niles frequently added extra value to the basic publication. He would occasionally reduce the type size if momentous events left him with important material that he needed to “get in,” or he would extend the regular 16-page length of the paper by adding extra pages.  On a number of occasions, special supplemental volumes on topics of particular interest — occasionally amounting to hundreds of pages — were sent gratis to subscribers. One such supplement carried a very early printing of the Star Spangled  Banner.

Deaths of Jefferson and AdamsIn addition to the sheer volume of material, there were two other outstanding aspects of the Register which distinguished it. First was its scope.  While The Register emphasized political, commercial, agricultural, and industrial news, and paid only limited attention to cultural or social issues, it reported on events worldwide.  Foreign coverage was more abbreviated than domestic reporting, but major events abroad were routinely summarized.  Furthermore, Niles drew both domestic and foreign news from a host of sources — his own reporting and extensive correspondence, foreign newspapers and domestic “exchange papers,” commercial correspondence received in the major international port of Baltimore, and private correspondence passed on to him by friends and acquaintances.  Finally, he emphasized “getting in” texts of  major documents — texts of treaties, laws, and court decisions, transcripts of speeches, official reports, and records of Congressional proceedings (perhaps a quarter of the 30,000 pages that the Register eventually contained were given over to proceedings in Congress). Collectors love that Niles included within its pages the declaration of War for the War of 1812, the constitutions of many states as they entered the Union, inaugural addresses of Presidents of the era as well as their annual state-of-the-union addresses, the Monroe Doctrine, and virtually every other national document of note. For any significant national event “Niles Register” can be counted on to provide a detailed account.

Second was its even handedness.  Niles’ pledge in the first issue of The Register to avoid party politics distinguished the paper from much of the American journalism of the era.  Many newspapers in that day represented parties, or factions within parties, or even particular candidates, and political reportage was usually one-sided and strident.  The Register, however, ignored the petty disputes between “the ins and the outs.”  As a result, there is a balanced quality to the Register that gave it an authority no other publication of its time could match.

One other great advantage favored the Register:  the richness of events in the era.  The Napoleonic Wars were still going on when the Register first appeared, and its pages were soon thereafter crowded with the events of the War of 1812, reporting in fine detail all major battles both on land & the sea. The Texas war for independence including a nice account of the Battle of the Alamo can be found within its pages.  Indian wars and foreign revolutions erupted periodically, and the war between Mexico and the United States occurred late in the period. Domestic debates about major national issues–the tariff, public land policy, slavery, internal improvements–continued ceaselessly.  Industrial and technological developments abounded (the steam engine, the building of the Erie Canal & other canals and railroads, introduction of the telegraph), and an ample cast of larger-than-life characters was readily available–Napoleon Bonaparte, Tsar Alexander, the Duke of Wellington, Queen Victoria, Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, John C. Calhoun, and so many others.  It was an accident of history that the Register had all these fascinating developments and personalities to cover, but Niles made the most of it.

Creation of the Mormon ChurchHezekiah Niles’ editorship of the Register lasted 25 years.  In 1836, advancing age and declining health obliged him to turn the paper over to his son, William Ogden Niles. William Niles had been raised as a printer/journalist, and was involved with other newspapers both before and after his term at the Register.  His first editorial showed him to be his father’s son:  he expressed himself determined to “maintain the well-earned reputation of the Register” and to “record facts and events without fear or favor, partiality or affection, — in brief, to preserve its national character.”  However, he quickly showed that he had his own ideas, too. His first issue expanded the traditional format of the paper, he changed the paper’s name to “Niles’ National Register”, and he soon moved the paper to Washington, D,C., evidently hoping to extend the paper’s national political influence.

However, the move to Washington failed. The paper returned to Baltimore in 1839 and William Ogden’s tenure as editor ended that same year.   During his editorship, legal title to The Register apparently remained with Hezekiah.  When Hezekiah died in 1839, William Ogden’s step-mother, Hezekiah’s second wife, sold the property and William Ogden was out.

Jeremiah Hughes bought the franchise.  A long-time resident of Annapolis (he was in his mid-fifties when he acquired the Register), Hughes was cut from the same cloth as his long-time friend, Hezekiah Niles. Both had served in the militia in the War of 1812.  Most importantly, however,  Hughes was a journalist, having been publisher of the Maryland Republican at Annapolis for many years.  Thus, although the Whig partisanship of the Register increased notably during Hughes’ tenure, its essential news-reporting function was unimpaired.

Hughes’ editorship lasted until 1848 when business difficulties and declining health persuaded him that he could no longer publish The Register.  It was suspended in March. The cause of the Register’s suspension is not clear.  It may have resulted from nothing more than the ordinary ebb and flow of fortune in the publishing business.  In a broader sense, however, the Register was clearly losing its special place in American journalism.  The paper’s cachet had always been two-fold — its concise news summaries from around the United States and the world, and the relatively non-partisan tone of its political coverage — but the uniqueness of both these characteristics was being eroded by the late 1840s.

First, improved communications were making it easier for daily newspapers to offer the coverage from elsewhere that Hezekiah Niles had originally had to cull out of ship letters and exchange papers.  By the 1840s, faster mail service via steamboats and railroads, as well as spreading telegraph lines, had deprived the Register of its exclusive franchise on this kind of reportage. Second, partisanship in American journalism was declining.  By the 1840s, the newspaper business was established as an industry in its own right.

Rising literacy rates were giving the newspapers a growing market at the same time that improved printing processes were yielding a more affordable product to that market. The newly independent newspapers began to replace their former dependence on political ideology with a developing journalistic ideology, “objective” journalism, journalism without an obvious partisan slant.  It is ironic that the Register missed this development in journalistic style.  Hezekiah Niles had pioneered “objective” journalism–indeed, he is sometimes called its progenitor–but Jeremiah Hughes’ Register of the 1840s was much more clearly a partisan Whig publication than it had been in earlier years.  Any partisan alliance would have hurt a paper such as Niles’ Register at a time when partisan journalism was waning, but an alliance with the divided and dying Whigs was particularly unfortunate.

Whatever caused the paper’s decline, it remained suspended until July, 1848.  It then reappeared under the editorship of George Beatty from new headquarters in Philadelphia.  Little is known about Beatty, but he apparently was a novice at publishing when the opportunity to acquire the Register arose.   However, he made a serious effort to revive the franchise, and ran it for a year. But it was too little, too late.  Beatty’s journalistic inexperience showed too clearly in the paper’s pages, and the Register’s place in the marketplace disappeared.  The last regular issue appeared in June, 1849.  Three abbreviated issues appeared in September, 1849, but they were the last.

In one sense, however, the publication never died.  The full 38 years of the Register’s run is a common holding in libraries (either in paper or in 20th-century-produced microform), and bound volume commonly turn up in library deaccessionings. They are often found on booksellers shelves as well. Collectors relish the wealth of content while acknowledging its small size (some argue it was a magazine and not a newspaper) does not fit the expectation of a newspaper. But if any collector wished for a single-title collection of major events from 1811-1849, Niles’ Register would be the undisputed choice.

Consequently, it remains available for historians, genealogists, and certainly collectors of old newspapers. As one historian has said, “Probably no day passes without some researcher digging into the information supplied with so much care and responsibility by Hezekiah Niles.” The statement was made several decades ago — and Niles would be delighted to know it is still true.

#18 – America’s first newspaper… Check your attics. (*revisited)

April 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The very first newspaper printed in the American colonies was published in Boston in 1690 and titled “Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick”. It was a little paper with three pages of text. The fourth page was left blank for others to write handwritten pieces of news before being passed on to others. It was published by Benjamin Harris who had experience in publishing another newspaper in London several years prior to his arrival in the colonies, titled “Domestick Intelligence, Or News Both from City & Country”.

His Boston effort focused on local news but it also included gossip and unflattering reports. One account notes it contained: “…affections of a very high nature: As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports…”. The mixture of doubtful and uncertain reports, as well as a ban on printing without a license which Harris did not have, caused his first issue to also be his last. Reports note that the royal governor had the printing press destroyed and all known issues of that one date of September 25, 1690 confiscated.

To this day only one genuine issue of the newspaper is known to exist, and unfortunately it’s not in the United States: it is in the Public Records office in London. Some years ago it was loaned to The Newseum in Washington, D.C. (then located across the Potomac in Virginia) for a period of time, but I believe it has been returned to London.

The intriguing part of this story is that “all known issues were confiscated and destroyed”. But exactly when did this happen? Was it done several hours since it was printed, or a few days later? It was intended to be a monthly publication. Certainly the possibility exists that a few issues were not found & confiscated, and with the owners knowing of the search they may have purposely hidden them away.

Could an issue or two still exist in a Boston attic somewhere? Is there a private library where an issue was hidden among the pages of a book in hopes of not being confiscated? Could a renovation project to a Boston area home reveal an issue tucked within its walls over 300 years ago? It is fascinating to think that some examples could be found so long after being published. But to this date none have surfaced.

Speculation runs wild as to the value of an issue should it surface. It’s America’s very first newspaper, and none exist in America. What sort of price could be set on such an issue? What should be the future home of an issue should it be found?

Feel free to comment!

—————
*The Fall of 2013 marked the 5th anniversary of the History’s Newsstand Blog by Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers. We are grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the newspaper collecting community, and appreciate those who have participated through guest posts, comments, and readership. This year (2014) we are revisiting the top 25 posts (measured by activity), with the number 1 post being re-posted during the first week of 2015. Please enjoy. If you would like to contribute a post for consideration of inclusion on the blog, please contact Guy Heilenman at guy@rarenewspapers.com.

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