The Green Mountain Boys…

October 30, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

A few years ago while looking for Revolutionary War content for the catalog, I was both surprised and delighted to discover a report in the February, 1781 issue of Gentleman’s Magazine that mentioned the famous Green Mountain Boys of Vermont, and their equally famous leader Ethan Allen. The report reads: Letters of a late date from America, formerly a rebel colonel, who resided at Bennington, in the upper part of New York, not well used, as he thought, by the Congress, has marched off with six hundred Green-mountain Boys, as they style themselves, and joined Major Carlton at Ticonderoga; and it is thought other townships will follow their example.” Although I have seen various newspaper reports mentioning Ethan Allen, this was the first and maybe the only reference to the Green Mountain Boys that I have seen in my twelve years at Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers.

If you’ve come across another report mentioning the Green Mountain Boys by name, feel free to share it.

Editor’s Note:  Marc Pompeo is one of our in-house historians who has been on staff for more than a decade.

To repair or not to repair?

October 29, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

We receive many questions every year about all aspects of the newspaper collecting hobby, and now with our Blog reaching all customers who are online we have the opportunity to share with everyone answers to questions many have had. Here are two collector Morris Brill submitted:

1) What is the best way to preserve and store newspapers?
One of the delights of this hobby–and pleasant surprises for many–is that most pre-1880 newspapers require very little care. Newsprint of this era had a high rag/cotton/linen content which means it can last for hundreds of years with little effect. Just keep such newspapers our of sunlight, high humidity and high heat and I’m sure they will outlive you and your children. Keeping such issues out in the open and handling them, with care, can be perfectly acceptable. If you want to provide that extra protection for more choice issues you might do as we do. We keep each issue of our private collection in its own archival folder we custom make at our offices, and then group such issues by theme of era in archival storage boxes such as those available from Light Impressions. We also provide presentation cases which are nice for sharing a collection with others as each holds many issues and the zip case makes them easily portable as well.

Issues from the post-1880 era are a bit more problematic, as such issues have a much higher woodpulp & chemical content which will cause them to become brown & brittle with age. Such issues are more demanding of the protective products mentioned and are encouraged for their proper storage & care.

2) Does taping a newspaper with archival tape diminish its value? Is it better to leave it ripped or repair the paper?
I believe that using archival tape to repair tears is preferable to leaving tears unmended. Be careful never to use regular tape as found in retail stores! Through experience I have learned that unrepaired tears simply get worse when handling, so a two inch tear could easily become a five inch tears unless one is extremely careful in turning pages. This tape is one inch wide and I slit it into quarter inch strips, making for more discreet repairs and extending the life of a roll fourfold. Simply apply and burnish the repair with your fingernail and the repair, while not transparent, should not be distracting and will allow handling the issue without worry of making the tear worse. I tend to do the repair on the side either less visible (page 2 of a front leaf tear) or the page without the historic content (page 1 if page 2 has the key content). Keep in mind that museums and historical institutions make archival repair an important part of their preservation philosophy.

Note:  Although we do provide archival solutions, similar products may be purchased through quality hobby and photography vendors/stores.

Punning in 1873.

October 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Just noticed a small entry in a Silver City, Idaho Territory newspaper from 1873 reading:

A piece of glass an inch long was taken from the head of a Rochester man recently, in whose skull it had been imbedded for twenty years. He had complained ocasionally of a pane in his head.”

Eighteenth century featured newspaper…

October 23, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

One of the questions we field from customers quite often is “What truly spectacular, really historic item do you have to offer?”. One of our frustrations is that with many customers having a want list some of the better items which come into inventory never make it to a catalog or our website, as they are quoted to those wanting the event and sold rather quickly.

But occasionally we come across an item which ranks near the top of the desirability list for many collectors and we offer it in a catalog or on our website for all to see, and for those not inclined to make a purchase they can vicariously enjoy the description and photos of a great newspaper which rarely comes to market.

Not long ago we added to our inventory a Connecticut Journal issue from July 10, 1776 with a rather inconspicuous report on the back page of this single sheet newspaper (verified by the American Antiquarian Society as complete in a single sheet) reading just as any collector would dream:

“Yesterday the CONGRESS unanimously Resolved to declare the United Colonies FREE and INDEPENDENT STATES.”

As the description of the newspaper notes, It would be difficult to argue for a more significant news report in all of American history. Even the printing of the Declaration of Independence itself, which likely appeared in this newspaper a week or so later, would simply be evidence of the historic news which appeared first in this issue. This newspaper reports for the first time that America resolved to be independent, while the text of the Declaration of Independence that would follow would offer the particulars.

This is one of the better newspapers we have offered in our 32 years, and certainly a great addition to any rare newspaper collection. Click here to enjoy the photographs as the entire newspaper is visible on our site.

Thoughts on the most historic 19th century report…

October 21, 2008 by · 7 Comments 

A few weeks ago we had some interesting comments on what collectors thought was the most historic 20th century newspaper report. Let’s try the same with the 19th century. But given the tremendous diversity of events from 1801 thru 1900 I’m going to break the century into three parts: pre-Civil War; the Civil War; and post-Civil War. Let’s work our way backwards and discuss the post-Civil War era first.

There are many ways to approach  “most historic”. My approach will be the most life-altering event with emphasis on “event”. One could argue that the second Industrial Revolution dramatically changed the world but it cannot be pinned down to a single date or event.

Several items come to mind: the first successful Atlantic cable in 1866 was a major step in causing the world to be much smaller–a trend which continues to this day; the completion of the transcontinental railroad in the United States was a major step in the westward expansion & settlement of the United States which changed the country in many ways; and then there is the Battle of Wounded Knee which was the last battle in the American Indian Wars and the official end of the Old West. Not to be omitted would be the invention of the automobile by gentlemen in Germany in 1889.

I’m going to go with the completion of the transcontinental railroad. In thinking of the multitude of events which played off this event and how it changed the fabric of America (pardon the ethnocentrism) I’ll vote for it as the most historic event of the 19th century post-Civil War era.

What are your thoughts?

Contest – Share your best “golden nugget discovery” story with the world!

October 16, 2008 by · 33 Comments 

What do gold prospectors, pirates, treasure hunters, archeologists, and rare newspaper collectors have in common? They all share the thrill of the hunt and the reward of discovery.

When it comes to rare newspapers, finding the unexpected, in contrast to other collectibles, is often a good thing… and at times can even be quite valuable.  Since the inception of the History’s Newsstand Blog, a number of posts have focused on this intrinsic pleasure of the hobby, and several readers have responded with “discoveries” of their own.  In an effort to communicate this joy to the world, we would like to invite our readers to share their stories – for fun and for potential reward!

From now until Sunday, October 31st, you will have the opportunity to share your story (or stories) of a time when you purchased a newspaper (for one reason or another) only to discover upon reading the issue that it also contained key, historic, or highly interesting content that you did not know was present when you initially obtained the issue. The staff at Rare Newspapers will select a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place story by Friday, 11/7 (perhaps sooner), and announce the winners via the blog and through a personal e-mail contact. The winners will have their stories recognized on the blog, will receive Rare Newspapers gift certificates worth $100 (1st place), $50 (2nd place), and $25 (3rd place), and will have the satisfaction of knowing they contributed to the enhancement of the rare newspapers collectible community.  If you have more than one story to share, enter them as separate comments to this post.  Please include the title and date of the issue along with your story of discovery.

Don’t delay.  Share your story with the world!

Finding those unexpected historical nuggets.

October 13, 2008 by · 5 Comments 

Few thrills are greater in the rare newspaper collecting hobby than finding the unexpected historic gem. Those moments of serendipity are the treasures we all hope for at some point in our quest for new additions to our collection.

I have come across many in my years of collecting with two among the more interesting.

Long before the days of the internet I subscribed to the catalogs of the prestigious Sotheby’s auction house in New York City as they occasionally ran Americana sales which included newspapers. One sale offered an issue of the SOUTH CAROLINA GAZETTE from August of 1776. Trying to assemble one newspaper of all thirteen colonies from the Revolutionary War, this would be a new addition to that set. The lengthy catalog description noted some war skirmishes but nothing significant. But that was not a concern to me as I was only seeking a title from that colony from during the war, and the date of 1776 made it that much better. I placed my bid and was excited to learn I won the issue.

Several weeks later the issue arrived. In preparing it for my collection I casually looked over the content, and you can imagine my shock upon finding on page 2 a complete printing of the Declaration of Independence! I couldn’t imagine the incompetence of the cataloger–employed by Sotheby’s no less–who missed this report.

Not many years ago we purchased the newspaper holding of a public library in Massachusetts which includes a lengthy run of a Springfield newspaper, in fact two truckloads of volumes ranging from the mid-1800’s thru the latter part of the 20th century. Knowing the wealth of historical material which could be culled from this collection we put our attention to those events for several months upon its return to our office & warehouse in Williamsport. Some time later we realized that the sport of basketball was founded in Springfield. Could we be so fortunate to to find a report off the very first game every played? Did the local newspaper even report what is now an extremely significant event in the history of basketball?

Indeed they did. The Springfield Republican, March 12, 1892 issue reported somewhat inconspicuously on page 6 an event headed “Basket Football Game” played the day before (which we now recognize as the first public basketball game), with mention of James Naismith who is recognized as the founder of the sport. It was a thrill to find the report which languished for over 100 years, unbeknown to anyone, in the back shelves of a library. Curiously the curator of the Basketball Hall of Fame didn’t appreciate its significance, however the Smithsonian Institution did as it now is part of their collection.

What historical gems have you discovered serendipitously in issues purchased for another reason, or as part of a collection where nothing special was expected?  Feel free to share your stories with other collectors!

Likely a one-of-a-kind newspaper from the private collection…

October 9, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

One of the thrills of collecting newspapers is coming across one which has never been discovered before nor since. Such is the case with our issue of the Civil War newspaper titled “The Red River Rover”, which I discovered at a Civil War Book Fair in Gettysburg many years ago.

This newspaper was “Printed on board Steamer Des Moines” and is dated March 21, 1864. It is a most fascinating and possibly unique little newspaper printed on lined, blue ledger paper. This is the first issue (and possibly the last) as the front page contains the “Salutatory” which explains how this paper came into being:

“We present to-day this little sheet to the citizens of Red River country and the soldiers who are now threading their way among the intricate bayous of this part of Louisiana, with the hope that it may be beneficial to those who follow the ways of treason, and entertaining to the brave boys who are now vindicating the integrity of the Federal Union even at the cannon’s mouth. It is printed upon the material of the Louisiana Democrat, of Alexandria, the last number of which was issued on the 15th of March, the day before the Stars and Stripes were raised upon the Court House, though it contained not one word of warning to its readers that the army of the United States was moving upon the waters of the Red River–but was brimful of blustering secession news, all favorable for success to the Confederacy…”

There is other interesting reading on pages 1 and 4, with the blank pages 2 & 3 being taken up with a handwritten letter of a soldier to his wife dated March 31.

Nice that it references where it received its paper (taken from Louisiana Democrat) with some comment on the Yankees moving in and capturing the town.

Old news is good news for collectors…

October 8, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

David Chesanow recently posted an interview with Tim on his informative website  With comments like “…newspapers, like books, extend into every collecting field…” and “Newspapers… are original historical evidence…”, David seems to get it right.  The interview included such topics as:

  • What newspapers do you (Tim) yourself collect specifically – by region, era, subject – or is the field your area and you just like the rarest, most historic items?
  • What are the collecting areas within the hobby?
  • What are some of the interesting collecting areas of some of your (Rare Newspapers) customers?
  • What are the “Holy Grails” of newspaper collecting?
  • Are newspapers ever forged? For example, aren’t there a lot of professionally done reprints in England?
  • What have newspapers been made of over the years, and how perishable are they?
  • Are the high-acid papers necessarily hard to preserve?
  • When was the transition from rag content to high-acid paper in the U.S. and abroad?
  • What’s the best way to store newspapers?
  • Now that the Internet is killing printed papers, do you think the latter will become increasingly collectible?

To access the full text of the interview, go to “Old news is good news for collectors“.  Thanks David for your fine contribution to the community and for your outstanding website!

Themes in collecting…

October 7, 2008 by · 3 Comments 

Perhaps the best aspect of collecting early newspapers is the endless ways one can collect. Although there are those who collect a great variety of dates, titles, or events, the opportunity to focus on a specific era or topic can provide an exciting collection which is much more diverse than one might guess.

Displayability and dramatic appeal are of interest to many, and the 1920 – 1945 era provides a tremendous opportunity for some “screaming” headlines typically not found prior to or after these dates. Within this era one can focus on various topics: politics, sports, economics, discoveries/inventions, and gangsters to name a few.

The gangster era intrigues many and some dramatic headlines can be found if one devotes the time to the search. Just one example from our private collection is the PALESTINE DAILY HERALD newspaper from Texas, dated May 23, 1934 which features a banner (from edge to edge) headline which reads just as a collector would want: “BARROW AND BONNIE PARKER RIDDLED WITH BULLETS”. And nice to have this report in a Texas newspaper as Bonnie & Clyde were killed near the Texas/Louisiana border. More typically this report was not much more than a column or two in most newspapers, and often found on an inside page rather than as a front page feature. Finding a banner headline can be very exciting. Banner headlines on Al Capone, “Baby Face” Nelson, John Dillinger and the host of other notorious names from the gangster era surface upon occasion and become choice additions to the collections of those who appreciate their rarity.

What “theme” in collecting do you enjoy? Are you a “generalist” with newspapers crossing over the broad spectrum of dates, titles, and events, or have you been intrigued by focusing upon a much more narrow theme which others may not have thought of? We’d love to hear of your collecting interest….feel free to share your thoughts.  Note:  Please focus on themes rather than specific issues within your collection.

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