WW2 Era Newspapers Found In The Attic… Are They Worth Anything?

October 25, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Perhaps the most common inquiry we receive concerns newspapers from World War II found in parents’ attics. As generations pass it is incumbent upon their children to sort out what is of value and what is not.

The list which follows is a guide for determining what to keep and what to dispose.

In general, there are only about 15 events which are sufficiently notable to excite most collectors. Those event not included on the list are considered “generic” or “atmosphere” issues which, although reporting much on the war, are generally not significant enough to draw the attention of the serious collector.

It’s worth noting that graphic appeal tends to trump title. Example: the New York Times remains one of the more notable newspapers of the 20th century, but their headlines were typically conservative, lacking any drama, flash, or graphic appeal. Small town newspapers with dramatic graphic appeal will be more desired.

Issues which fit the events and criteria noted below could well have collector value. Feel free to send the exact title and date of each along with photos of the entire front pages (showing margins) to: info@rarenewspapers.com

Note: Perhaps the mostly commonly reprinted issue of the war is the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of Dec. 7, 1941. Most of the issues on the market are the common reprint, still sold at the souvenir stand at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Honolulu. See this blog post on how to tell a reprint from the genuine issue.

Top 15 events of World War II:

1) Germany invades Poland, 9/1/1939

* This event marked what many regard as the start of the war. Although not an American
event, most collectors want this report among their holdings.

2) Attack on Pearl Harbor, 12/7/1941

* Japan’s naval air force attacks military bases on Oahu, Hawaii, thus thrusting the United States into the war. The more dramatic and shocking the wording in a banner headline the better.

3) U.S. Declares war against Japan, 12/8/1941

* Just one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor the United States officially declares war against Japan, formalizing America’s entry in the war in the Pacific.

4) U.S. declares war against Germany & Italy, 12/11/1941

* The United States enters the war in Europe as well, just 3 days after declaring war against Japan.

5) Battle of Midway, 6/4-7/1942

* Just six months after Pearl Harbor the United States scores a major naval victory in the Pacific against Japan. Being a multi-day event, collectors would pursue the best headline near the end of the battle reporting the American victory.

6) D-Day, 6/6/1944

* With Axis forces controlling much of Western Europe, this day marks the offensive of the Allied forces in re-taking conquered countries. The word “Invasion” is desired somewhere within the headlines.

7) Battle of the Bulge, 12/16/1944

* This was the last major German offensive on the Western Front taking place from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945. Issues near the end of the battle which reported an Allied victory would be more desired.

8) Photo of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, 2/23/1945

* If there was a single, iconic photo of American successes in the Pacific it would be this Pulitzer Prize-winning photo. Many newspapers included it in their editions of a day or two later, many did not. Better if the photo is on the front page, as many newspapers—when using it—did so on an inside page.

9) Death of FDR, 4/12/1945

* Although arguably not a true war event, the death of the President who was Commander-In- Chief of the military through almost the entirety of the war cannot be missed as a notable event.

10) Death of Hitler, 4/30/1945

* Hitler’s suicide deep inside a Berlin bunker essentially ended the war in Europe as just days later terms of surrender were agreed to by Nazi officials. Most newspapers reported his death on May 2, and a few published the Nazi propaganda report that the Fuehrer: “…has fallen in battle at the head of the heroic defenders of the Reich capital…”. The blunt words: “Hitler Dead” are more dramatic than “Death of Hitler”.

11) V-E Day, 5/7/1945

* The official end of the War in Europe. This was one event where newspapers often used patriotic embellishments to celebrate the victory, some multi-colored, some incorporating war photos within letters, etc.

12) Atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima, 8/6/1945

* With the war in the Pacific still raging, the first atomic bomb ever deployed was dropped over the city of Hiroshima. Some newspaper down-played the horrific affects of the bomb. More desired are headlines which more accurately reported the incredible devastation.

13) Atomic bomb drop on Nagasaki, 8/9/1945

* Just 3 days after Hiroshima, the second atomic bomb was dropped, which prompted the Japanese to pursue surrender terms. Again, bluntly accurate reporting in the headline is desired over a more subdued report.

14) V-J Day, 8/15/1945

* Terms for surrender were agreed upon, and the world announced the end of World War II. Much like V-E Day, newspapers typically became very creative in patriotically celebrating the end of the war. The more creative the front page the better.

15) Formal surrender of Japan, ending WWII, 9/2/1945

* Signing of the surrender terms happened on board the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Although most collectors would consider V-J Day as the end of the war, and in many respects it was, collectors often pursue this event as well.

There are also 2nd-tier items which could be collectible, but the extent of coverage and graphic appeal are paramount, and in some cases the title/publisher is essential. The list below contains such items, and will be updated from time-to-time.

Pre-War

Nuremberg Laws enacted, 9/15/1935

Jews no longer permitted to own property (various)

Opening of Concentration Camps (various)

Kristallnacht,  11/9-10/1938

During The War

Fake Report of attack on Los Angeles, “Battle of Los Angeles” (2/25/1942)

Bismarck Sunk, 5/27/2941

Star of David Badge, 9/7/1941

Doolittle Raid , 4/18-20/1942

USS Lexington Lost, 6/12/1942

Bataan Death March, 1/28/1944

JFK PT Boat, 6/11/1944

MacArthur returns to the Philippines, 10/20/1944

Post-War

USS Missouri – Peace Treaty Signed, 9/2/1945

Louis Zamperini Found, 9/9/1945

Patton’s Death, 12/21/1945

 

 

Snapshot 1886… Mark Twain – yet another hidden gem…

January 7, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

This forum has often been used to highlight one of the unique benefits of the hobby of collecting Rare & Early newspapers – that is, collecting a newspaper for one purpose, only to later find a more precious item hidden within its pages. Such is the case with the Harper’s Weekly for September 29, 1866. For 40+ years we offered this issue with a spotlight on a variety of the interesting illustrations found within its 16 pages. However, we recently discovered yet another hidden gem: an article accompanying the popular print: “Burning of the California Clipper ‘Hornet'”. What’s so special about this uncredited article? It was written by Mark Twain – making it the first time an article written by him received national attention. What a find!

If you happen to be one of the lucky one’s to have purchased this issue without knowledge of the Mark Twain contribution, you now possess an issue of significantly greater notoriety (and therefore value) than what you previously had thought. Good for you.

Final editions of newspaper publications…

October 14, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

We are frequently asked to appraise final editions of newspaper titles which have gone defunct. Sadly, much like the specific publications themselves, collectors rarely find these final editions to be blog-10-14-2016-chicago-daily-newsattractive. Some might suggest the lack of interest in current newspapers (in general) might have a negative impact on the hobby of collecting historic newspapers, but our experience has shown no such correlation. Alternately, the decline in readership of current titles and the corresponding abundance of newspaper publications going out of business seems to be directly proportional to the ease and speed for which information can be had at a minimal (if any) cost. In most instances, by the time a newspaper hits a subscriber’s doorstep, much of the news is already outdated. One journalist of such a “final edition” had their own thoughts on the matter, and interestingly enough, whether you agree or disagree with his bitter-pill-tainted analysis, some of the social issues mentioned seem as appropriate for today as they did when the article was written in 1978. The article may be read in full at: Chicago Daily News, March 4, 1978 (see images 4-10).

 

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 · 6 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.

You decide… Which is really the best? Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr…

June 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

When it comes to placing a value on collectible newspapers, past prices realized can be invaluable. However, in most instances, due to the vast number of variables which exist even within a common event (city of publication, condition, dramatic appeal, etc.), finding comparables can be difficult.

We recently came across two issues which illustrate this point – both containing front-page 1st reports of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – one being the newspaper from where he was born and raised containing perhaps a little more detailed reporting (The Atlanta Constitution, Georgia), with the other being a nice issue from where the assassination took place (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN). Which is the more collectible newspaper? The answer may not be as easy as one might think. Years of experience have shown the Dallas Morning News‘ reporting of the JFK assassination to be hands-down the most desired issue – that is, the issue from where he was killed. In contrast, collectors find the Wapakoneta Daily News (Neil Armstrong’s hometown paper) with coverage of Man’s 1st Moon Walk to be the best.

What about Dr. King’s assassination? It is rare we can view each side-by-side (see below). We have our thoughts, but feel free to weigh in with thoughts of your own.

Blog-6-12-2015-King-Assassination-1Blog-5-12-2015-King-Assassination-2

Yet another discovery… I love this hobby!

March 27, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

From time-to-time we (Rare & Early Newspapers) talk about one of the joys of the hobby being the unearthing of unexpected “finds”. A few weeks ago this was played out in spades as

Guy Heilenman, President, Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers

we learned that the same issue we had sold for under $50 sold at a well-known auction house for well over $5,000 – the price driven by content we did not know was present. While we do our best to discover such hidden gems before offering issues, the reality is, it is nearly impossible to find everything of historical interest and/or collectable value. Some wonder if hearing about such events bothers us. Quite the contrary. This is one of characteristics of collecting old newspapers which make the hobby so enjoyable. While not all “finds” bring financial reward, it is rare to read through a rare newspaper from cover to cover without finding something unexpected beyond the original reason for purchasing – an interesting ad, the mention of a noteworthy name, contemporary viewpoints which add depth to the key content, etc. What fun!

While we won’t mention the exact date or title (that would be too easy), we will say the issue was from the 1760’s and was not American. 🙂

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!

A gem from the American Antiquarian Society…

August 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In celebration of its 20oth anniversary the American Antiquarian Society published a beautiful  exhibition catalog titled “In Pursuit Of A Vision – Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society”. Featured are a fascinating array of books, documents, maps & other paper ephemera, as well as several very rare & unusual newspapers we felt worthy of sharing with our collectors (with permission from the A.A.S.).

The Chess Monthly172. “The Chess Monthly“, New York, February, 1859

It has been common practice when binding periodicals — whether by publishers in order to sell cumulative volumes, or by libraries and private owners for purposes of convenience and preservation — to remove the outer wrappers and advertisement leaves from individual issues, leaving only the main body of text. However, periodical wrappers and advertisement leaves often contain important material which scholars (and bibliographers) are increasingly finding vital to their research. In recent years AAS has made it a priority to collect early American periodical issues with wrappers intact, even going so far as to acquire second, wrappered copies to complement a set bound without wrappers. In many instances, wrappered copies prove to be exceptionally rare survivals.

This issue of The Chess Monthly is a good example. The journal’s editor was Daniel W. Fiske (1831-1904), then chess champion of the New York Chess Club and later Cornell University’s first librarian. For a time, American chess prodigy and unofficial world champion Paul Morphy (1837-1884) held the title of co-editor, lending the magazine his marquee name. Only on the wrappers, however, are their editorial roles mentioned. The wrappers also contain publication information not available elsewhere, an advertisement for a set of Morphy- endorsed chessmen made of cast iron and — perhaps most important of all — the answers to chess problems published in the previous issue.

Great Headlines Speak For Themselves… The Rosenberg’s Executed!

May 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the Los Angeles Examiner, June 20, 1953: “Atom Spies Executed For Aid To Russians”Rosenberg's Executed

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