This Day in “News” History… January 23…

January 23, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

There are many internet sources available to explore what happened on a particular day in history. However, as collectors and resellers of “Rare & Early Newspapers”, our curiosity lies in what people were reading in their morning newspaper on specific days in history. In nearly every instance they were discovering what happened the day prior – and if one reaches back into the 1600s, 1700’s, and early 1800s, when news travelled a bit more slowly, they very well could have been (finally) reading about “rumored” and/or anticipated events from days, weeks, or even months prior.

As an example…

What about January 23rd? The following link will take you to all of our available newspapers dated January 23rd:

NEWS REPORTED in NEWSPAPERS on January 23rd (through time)

Enjoy the trek. Oh, and if you want to try other dates, go here and plug in any month/day of interest.

 

Scientific American’s “Not So Bright” (?) Ideas…

January 9, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Over the years our staff has written quite a few posts focused on historic and transformative inventions which were featured within early issues of the Scientific American. The phonograph, lightbulb, telephone, modern sewing machine, and thousands of other devices have all had their moment in the sun thanks to this publication. However, as is the case for many of the good ideas from the past which came to fruition and now make our lives easier, a host had rather humble beginnings. With this in mind, our resident videographer decided to gather together three examples which fall into the “humble beginnings” bucket. Please enjoy.

Harper’s Weekly… A Journal of Civilization…

December 26, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week, as I was preparing a January 22, 1898 Harper’s Weekly for shipment, I noticed it was to be sent to Japan. We at Rare & Early Newspapers love knowing our collectors span the Globe; in fact, on a wall in the shipping department we track all the countries where our issues now reside.

Although I knew we had sent many collectible newspapers to this region, I was still curious to see if there might be a cultural motivation behind the purchase. As I paged through the issue to see what may have caught the attention of our Japanese collector, near the back I discovered 4 pages of beautiful prints with the heading, “The Porcelain Arts of Japan”. Full certain this gentleman would be pleased with such charming illustrations, I was delighted knowing this historical treasure would make its way across the World to his collection. As I closed the pages to resume my task my eyes fell on the tagline used by Harper’s Weekly Illustrated: “A Journal of Civilization”.

How appropriate to have noticed their description at this moment and how sublime to know we have a community of collectors which extends across all of today’s civilization.

 

A “Thankful” Heart Is Great Medicine…

November 17, 2022 by · 2 Comments 

A wise man was once inspired to pen: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Solomon, Prov. 17:22). While many can attest to the wisdom and accuracy of this proverb, there is no doubt joy and gratitude are joined at the hip – or perhaps more appropriately said, at the heart. In this regard…

I have always been struck to the bone by reading about or seeing images of families, friends, and at times entire communities gathered together giving thanks to their Creator while enduring severe hardship. Many a President has issued Proclamations for a Day of Thanksgiving, Humiliation, and Prayer in the midst of war or soon after a severe calamity had befallen the nation. Yet, surrounded by what would appear to be great distress, somehow they were able to reach down into their innermost selves to find enough joy (not happiness or pleasure) to ignite thankful hearts. I don’t know about you, but such expressions of gratefulness are humbling, yet soothing to the soul.

The two rare Winslow Homer prints found side-by-side in the Frank Leslie’s Illustrated for Dec. 23, 1865 are shown below. In case their captions are too small to be easily read, they are: “Thanksgiving Day–Hanging Up the Musket” and “Thanksgiving Day–The Church Porch“. The Civil War had come to an end eight months prior and the guns of war (notice the dates) were being retired to their perches above the very place where Christmas stockings would soon be hung. What a relief to finally have the war at their backs! However, in case one might conclude its impact would soon dissolve into a distant memory, the corresponding illustration showing the gathering of the community for Thanksgiving worship reveals the fallout which would last a lifetime… for those who still had lifetimes to give. How they still found the strength to join together for the giving of thanks as a marvel.

That’s the kind of inner strength I want for my family and me. Perhaps you do as well. Perhaps it starts with regularly taking time to smell the roses while acknowledging the Source of the daily blessings which so often come our way. Happy Thanksgiving.

Note: JSTOR posted a related article featuring an excerpt by Christopher Kent Wilson which provides additional background regarding the Homer prints.

The Sounds of Summer and the Crack of the Bat…

October 28, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

What makes summer feel like summer? Hazy evenings where light still lingers until after 9… Fireflies flitting across the grass… Children laughing as they romp in the neighborhood yards or… the crack of a bat at the local little league field? We at RareNewspapers have a particular fondness for baseball – not only because our Phillies made it to the World Series… or that our founder (Tim Hughes) has served for decades on the board of Little League International… or that the Little League World Series is played each year within a few blocks of our archives in PA, but also because baseball captures the essence of summer, America and apple-pie (with vanilla ice-cream), and we each have a fondness for all three.
To join our baseball enthusiasm a bit, take a look at some of our best baseball issues including one from the current catalog … a CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE, Sept. 29, 1920 covering the Black Sox Scandal. Even America’s pastime has a skeleton or two in its closet.

Happy Independence Day – Contrasting Celebrations…

July 4, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

The July 11, 1868 issue of Harper’s Weekly contained prints by two notable illustrators – intentionally included to contrast typical 4th of July celebrations in the rural south (Thomas Worth) with those held in northern cities (Winslow Homer). Their diversity reminded me that we can have profound differences while maintaining our bonds of common citizenry. The Revolutionary War was fought for freedom. Today we fight to maintain that freedom. While our diversity in many ways has widened over the past few decades, this new battle is no less noble – and one which calls for unity of purpose. Hopefully we will heed the call. Happy 4th!

Journalism from Early America to the Digital Age… Election Fraud and more…

June 10, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Someone recently brought to my attention an article posted on the website “Brewminate: A Bold Blend of News and Ideas”. While scanning the article I was intrigued by the presence of illustrations of newspapers we have or have previously offered. One in particular which caught my attention was the timely political cartoon by Thomas Nast found in the Oct. 7, 1871 issue of Harper’s Weekly. While a degree of election fraud is (unfortunately) part-and-parcel of the election process, I was inspired to read through the entire article, and in so doing, found it to be quite informative… and wondered if the friends of Rare & Early Newspapers might also find it interesting. Hopefully you will also enjoy reading it:

“Journalism from Early America to the Digital Age”

 

Take a Closer Look … The Delicate Details of Woodcut Prints…

April 14, 2022 by · 1 Comment 

I have had some fascinating conversations this past year with one of our collecting friends who is an expert in woodcut prints. I won’t be a name dropper, however, if he is reading this, he will have no doubt as to who I am referencing. I greatly appreciate the time he took to share his knowledge which has motivated me to pause and look more carefully at every print I encounter in the RareNewspapers archives. My proficiency in this area is sparse and not terribly reliable but I did want to share a few takeaways.

Some artists of woodcut prints would draw on paper and send the illustration to a publisher who would cut the paper into tiny square blocks and have each one sketched onto a square block of wood.  These wooden squares would be handed out to different craftsmen who would carve their block and then the blocks would be rejoined for printing.  Sometimes, when time was of the essence, each craftsman would use carving tools which could create many tiny lines at once. If you look closely at many such illustrations, you can tell these prints have hundreds of parallel lines – indicating the use of these tools.  Occasionally, when more time was available, each line was formed individually – a painstaking process, but one which produced an almost unimaginable degree of detail!

Some artists preferred to draw their own prints directly onto the wood and so they were sent a group of one-inch square pieces bound together with twine. When the artist had finished their drawing, the publisher would untie the pieces and distribute the blocks to the woodcarvers.

Regardless of how each print was created, the detail, craftsmanship and artistic skill needed to produce one illustration is mind blowing. So, the next time you glance through a Harper’s Weekly, Leslie’s IllustratedIllustrated London News, or handful of other illustrated titles of the “woodcut era”, perhaps you will join me in pausing and giving a bit of deference to these creators of beauty.  Thanks Bill for sharing this delightful insight with me.

They put it in print – an 1877 opinion of The Press…

January 6, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes a picture says it all. The illustration below was printed in a Harper’s Weekly dated June 2, 1877, but left undated some might think it is a recent print. Do these “1000 words” from the 19th century, in fact, have staying power? You decide.

A Tale of Two Sides – Belle Boyd vs. Elizabeth Van Lew…

November 8, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

How often, as we are investigating the Civil War, do we come upon stories about families divided… brother fighting brother?  The question was a bit rhetorical as any of us who have spent much time studying the Civil War knows, it was a tale of two sides and fractured relationships.  Recently, I came upon a New York Times with fascinating coverage of an infamous female spy for the Confederacy named Belle Boyd.  The issue describes her as follows:  “Bello Boyd… being about twenty-five years of age, of sorrel hair, piercing gray eyes, closely knit form, strictly virtuous, very energetic, and decidedly ‘gabby’ “. The article goes on to say: “Her father, who is in moderate circumstances, was unable to endow her with a ‘magnificent fortune’, or ‘ superior education’. So much for this Southern heroine; and yet she has not failed to accomplishing her full share of treason, having undoubtedly betrayed our forces at Front Royal, whereby the First Maryland Regiment was so badly cut up”. Wikipedia states: “Boyd was arrested at least six times but somehow evaded incarceration. By late July 1862, detective Allan Pinkerton had assigned three men to work on her case.” [see the image below for more]

Intrigued by this Confederate femme fatale, I began to look for a Union counterpart.  It wasn’t long before I came upon, Elizabeth Van Lew.  Elizabeth lived in Richmond Va. but was born into a family with abolitionist ties and was educated in Philadelphia, the city where her abolitionist grandfather had been mayor. Working as a nurse to Union soldiers imprisoned in Richmond, she aided prisoners trying to escape and listened for information she could pass on to the Union Army. General Grant said of Van Lew, “You have sent me the most valuable information received from Richmond during the war.” On July 14, 1866, Harper’s Weekly covered this amazingly brave woman and her undercover work for the north.

Feeling as if I have just scratched the surface with these woman spies… perhaps there’ll be more to come.

 

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