Questions… Questions? Questions!

September 25, 2008 by  
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Given that collecting early and rare newspapers is a relatively unknown hobby,  there is certainly a wealth of questions which continually come our way by those intrigued by what we offer.

“Don’t the old ones just fall apart?” “Are your issues genuine?” “Do you just sell clippings?” “How big are the headlines?” “Why is the newspaper so white–it can’t be genuine!” “Why are the prices so low?” “Where do you get these newspapers?” “What determines a newspaper’s value?”. etc., etc.

A prime purpose of this blog is to create an atmosphere where we can encourage an on-going discourse about the hobby, and allow everyone to pose questions and topics for discussion, which we will be happy to address in future posts.

Do be in touch with your questions, thoughts, or observations on the hobby. We encourage all to participate and to respond to one another’s thoughts to foster an interesting and meaningful exchange on this fascinating hobby.  The easiest way to suggest topics and/or offer questions for future discussion is by responding to this post.  Thanks in advance for joining the discussion!

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23 Responses to “Questions… Questions? Questions!”

  1. Morris Brill on September 25th, 2008 4:45 pm

    Topic Suggestion

    Care of Newspapers

    1. What is the best way to preserve and store newspapers?

    2. Considering the price of various enclosures, i.e. polyethelene, mylar, archival folders, etc., what is the best cost/preservation ratio?

    3. Does taping a newspaper with archival tape diminish its value. Is it better to leave it ripped or repair the paper?

  2. Eric Caren on September 25th, 2008 7:29 pm

    It might be nice to encourage people to share jpegs of unusual and extraordinary newspapers that they own, perhaps adding a few words of description- a “Show and Tell” section,if you will.

  3. TimHughes on September 25th, 2008 8:04 pm

    Morris – Several great questions, and ones commonly asked of us. Let me respond to them one at a time over the next few days in separate posts. I’ll comment on this first this evening. Thanks!

  4. ToddAnd on September 26th, 2008 11:18 am

    Hey Tim,

    Here are 10 questions that I hope you’ll consider answering with separate posts over the next few months:

    1 — What are the different historic newspaper collecting strategies you’ve encountered over the years? (I’m looking for lesser known collection strategies other than by year, topic, event, etc.) And what are the most popular strategies?

    2 — What do you think is/are the most famous newspaper(s) of the 18th century?

    3 — Can you provide definitions and perhaps some visual examples of the different newspaper size terminology?

    4 — What are the five most commonly requested newspapers at Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers?

    5 — What makes a first report? Is a first report, the first report in the country or the first report in a state, or in a city? What are some famous first reports?

    6 — What are some famous one-of-a-kind newspapers, or papers with only one known to exist?

    7 — What are your official guidelines or recommendations for framing historic newspapers?

    8 — What were early newspaper readership and subscriber trends? What were circulations like in the 18th century? How did they evolve? How were newspapers distributed/circulated? How did it change over time? When did subscriptions come into play?

    9 — What was the evolution of front page news and how/why/when did things transition? (i.e., advertising vs. foreign news vs. domestic vs small headlines vs giant headlines)

    10 — Will you be giving your blog readers special advance purchase opportunities or discounts? For example, maybe you offer a special limited-time discount that is briefly and casually mentioned at the very end of a blog post about another topic – then, any loyal readers of your blog who notice it will be rewarded if they decide to take advantage of the special offer.

    Thanks! Keep up the great work!


  5. TimHughes on September 26th, 2008 11:23 am

    Todd – All good questions and comments. I’m making a file for such and will be addressing these and other related topics as we move forward–stay tuned!


  6. GuyHeilenman on September 26th, 2008 4:21 pm

    Eric – Good suggestion. There may eventually be a time and a place for this. One concern we have is that some may not choose to use such a forum to enhance the collecting community (as you rightfully suggest); rather, they may see the venue as an opportunity for promoting the sale of their own items. This is not something we want to manage. However, if we can find a way to overcome this hurdle, the suggestion is quite valid.

  7. Vincenzo Oliviero on September 26th, 2008 10:22 pm

    between the years 1918 and 1919, the bible students were put in jail for their religious beliefs. They were realeasd with no charges. I need that newspaper.

  8. Vincenzo Oliviero on September 26th, 2008 10:25 pm

    I also wanted to know about the newspaper of JF Rutherford and he was arrested and sent in a federal penitentiary.

  9. Vincenzo Oliviero on September 26th, 2008 10:27 pm

    also in 1919 the bible student and JF Rutherford were released on bail.

  10. Vincenzo Oliviero on September 26th, 2008 10:35 pm

    im also looking for a documentary of the death of paster Charles Taze Russle on his way to Texas on a train. i think it was in october 31 1916.

  11. Vincenzo Oliviero on September 26th, 2008 10:36 pm

    Any article that talks about Jehovah witnesses during world war II i need…thank you and sry for so many comments.

  12. TimHughes on September 27th, 2008 7:14 am

    Vincenzo – Your several posts are requests for specific newspapers which we can deal with via email rather than through the Blog site, meant more for public discussion of newspaper collecting interests. I’ll be in touch by email. Thanks! Tim

  13. David Cunningham on October 10th, 2008 1:24 pm

    I was wondering if you could comment by decade on the number of issues printed versus the number that ultimately survived. I read somewhere that a good printer could at most print between 1500-2000 per issue during the late 1700’s/early 1800’s. Is this true? Also after the 1880’s more papers I guess were produced but given the high acid content are there less of these available today. I know this is probably hard to answer but maybe you can respond based on your experience. Thanks

  14. TimHughes on October 10th, 2008 2:40 pm

    David—your question is interesting and has been asked by many through the years, and as you might guess there is no well defined answer. But we can make some guesses based upon some researched data.
    In: “The History And Present Condition of the Newspaper And Periodical Press of the United States”, done by S. N. D. North in 1884, mention is made that:
    “An attempt has been made to estimate the number of copies annually printed of the 37 newspapers (which existed in the colonies in) 1775, which places the figure at 1,200,000. The aggregate is reached by the simple process of assigning to each of the papers an average weekly circulation of about 600 copies. The average is probably amply high & calls for an average weekly issue of all the existing journals of less than 23,000 papers for a population of 2,800,000, in round numbers, or a paper once a week for every 122 individual…”.
    The same source estimates circulation of New York City daily newspapers in 1810 at 800 to 2,000 depending on the title. So let’s presume an average of 1400 issues or so per edition.
    Given this, it would seem clear that the vast majority—perhaps 98%–of those sold on the streets have since been lost to time. The majority of those that have survived did so because they were bound into annual or semi-annual volumes for libraries, historical societies or other institutions, and some have been bound for private individuals as well.
    The invaluable reference work “History & Bibliography of American Newspapers” by Clarence Brigham reports on all known holdings of American newspapers from 1704 thru 1820. Nor surprisingly the more popular, big city newspapers are held by many institutions, perhaps 30 or more holdings for most issues, while lower circulation newspapers from smaller towns might be held by one or two institutions if held at all.
    With all this, it would be a guess as to how many issues of a given date might exist today. From the colonial era even the more common titles might be limited to a dozen or so of any one date held by institutions, with perhaps another dozen at best held privately having come from volumes deaccessioned by institutions or private libraries & a few held by families through the years. So from an average of 600 copies of a given date for any average newspaper in 1775 I would guess that perhaps 20 might exist today. Do recognize that many, many issues do not exist anywhere, and some might exist in very limited numbers, and a few in quantities somewhat more than 20. But at least this gives some sense of rarity.
    As for issues of the 1810 period, the same rationale could be used, but likely held by a few more institutions given more were in existence in 1810 than in 1775. And more likely survived the test of time by surviving in family holdings or private libraries. So I might guess that at most 30 0r 40 of any date of any given title (mostly the bigger city papers) might exist today.
    Jumping ahead to the 1880’s circulations were in the tens of thousands for the bigger city newspapers, as the Philadelphia Inquirer boasted a “circulation over 60,000” in 1864. But again the vast majority sold on the streets never survived to the 21st century, and those that did came mainly from deaccessioned bound volumes once held by institutions. From the 1880’s perhaps 100 issues of any given date of any given title might have survived?? Keep in mind that many institutions simply destroyed their holdings of issues from this era once committed to microfilm, microfiche or digital images, a fate which I suspect happened less with issues from the colonial era, so the number might be even smaller.
    If my business gives any indication, I would say that over the course of the last 32 years we have handled perhaps 20 bound runs of the New York Times from the Civil War years. And I’m sure many more than this still rest on institutional shelves and may likely remain there forever.

  15. Vincent Golden on October 14th, 2008 3:38 pm

    A while ago I was doing research for a talk. I dipped into North (a wonderful book that needs a modern reprint) looking at New York State newspapers for 1880. He reported that 580 million issues were printed that year in the state. I then went to Winifred Gregory’s “American Newspapers 1821-1936” (NY, 1937) to see how many issues for 1880 were held in librarys just 57 years later. I had to use a lot of estimation and was generous in favoring towards completeness where you couldn’t get an exact count or the year was in brackets indicating incompleteness. At best there were approximately 112,000. That indicates a ration of less than 1 per 5,000. Now considering how much has been discarded since then, you can imagine how bad the situation is.

    You also mentioned Clarence Brigham. In his book, “Histor and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 (AAAS, 1947. 2 vols.) he lists 194 titles out of 2120 that have no copies known. CB had to rely on secondary evidence. In the sixty years since that was published, we have uncovered issues to a little less than 40 titles. We have also found 15 titles that he was nto aware of.

    I’ve been working on a union list of New York newspapers (except NYC) for 1821-1830. I’ve found 526 titles. Of that, there are 30 titles where no issues are known. In addition there are 158 titles where there are less than 10 issues known in institutions.

    And yet issues and volumes keep popping up. There is always the thrill of finding new stuff. Near eternal patiences is your best tool.

    Vincent Golden
    Curator of Newspapers and Periodicals
    American Antiquarian Society

  16. David Cunningham on October 22nd, 2008 11:18 am

    Tim, Vincent. Thanks for your response. Do you happen to have any insight to the rarity of British papers from the 1700’s. (IE London Gazette, Gentleman’s magazine) Thanks.

  17. TimHughes on October 22nd, 2008 11:37 am

    David – British papers are out of the realm of interest of the American Antiquarian Society, and holdings of such are even a bit of a guess by me. I will say that 18th century titles from England have been increasingly difficult to find in recent years after having been “relatively” common back 20-30 years ago. To what degree they are held by various libraries and other institutions in the UK would only be a guess.

    Their demand has increased dramatically as well–perhaps part of the reason for their increasing scarcity–as with the much higher prices of American newspapers from the 18th century, British papers become a much more affordable option, and in some cases the only option. As an example, we often offer the Gentleman’s Magazine issue of 1776 which contains a complete printing of the Declaration of Independence, and at a price of under $4000 it is within the reach of many collectors, while an American newspaper with the text would likely exceed $100,000 for some titles–if available at all. Also, most American newspapers from the Revolutionary War now command $300+ per issue, while the London Chronicle with similar content would be in the $40 to $75 range. We used to sell American newspapers of the Revolutionary War for these prices 30 years ago.

  18. carl cripps on March 27th, 2009 5:59 am

    hello to the great gang at rare newspapers. i wish there were more people in canada that soon take up this great hobby. then again prices would probably rise dramatically. it is going to happen no doubt. if anybody out there from canada and collecting i would love to hear from you. carl.

  19. Joseph on October 16th, 2015 5:40 pm

    I have a old newspapers

  20. GuyHeilenman on October 26th, 2015 6:39 am

    Please contact Tim Hughes directly at He will need to know the title, date, and condition of the issues.

  21. Wanda Gallegos on January 21st, 2016 11:59 pm

    Hi I have approximately 10 Sacramento Union last edition newspapers that I purchased day of closure. Do they have value? If this is wrong place to ask can you advise me where to check?

  22. GuyHeilenman on January 25th, 2016 7:01 am

    Hello Wanda – They typically do not have collector value unless the paper itself is already a collectible (ex: Tombstone Epitaph, American Indian publications, issues from towns no longer in existence, etc.).

  23. GuyHeilenman on January 25th, 2016 7:02 am

    Hello Wanda – They typically do not have collector value unless the paper itself is already a collectible (ex: Tombstone Epitaph, American Indian publications, issues from towns no longer in existence, etc.).

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