First newspapers in Massachusetts…

May 31, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

It would be of no surprise that Massachusetts has the longest history of newspaper publishing anywhere in the colonies. The very first printing press in the colonies was set up there, and by 1690 a newspaper was published in Boston, “Public Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick”, but lasting but a single issue. In November of 2008 I did a post specifically on this title so I won’t dwell on this effort other than to say that it lasted but a single issue before being suppressed.

It was not for another fourteen years that Bartholomew Green, of the very famous Green family of printers, had the honor of printing the first newspaper to be permanently established in the colonies, the Boston “News-Letter“. Green published it for the owner, John Campbell, for 18 years and when  Campbell retired Green & his successors continued the publication until the evacuation of Boston 1776, at which point the newspaper ceased.

The third newspaper in Massachusetts, also in Boston, was the famed “Boston Gazette“, printed for owner William Brooker by James Franklin, elder brother to Benjamin. This newspaper started on Dec. 21, 1719 and when sold James Franklin decided to begin a newspaper of his own. The “New-England Courant” began Aug. 7,1721 and it was on this project that Benjamin Franklin gained his apprenticeship as a printer. He would then move to Philadelphia, buy the Pennsylvania Gazette, and the rest is, well, history.

So it was that the first three newspapers in the American colonies were all published in Boston, although it was a close call. The first newspaper outside of Boston, the “American Weekly Mercury“, began in Philadelphia on Dec. 22, 1719, just one day after the “Boston Gazette“.

A witty five year-old…

May 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This item appeared n the “Santa Cruz Sentinel“, California, on April 18, 1871:

Digital newspaper archives…

May 27, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Many collectors of historic newspapers often collect issues based upon desired content.  If the content is relatively common or is within a clearly defined (and small) time frame, finding issues to collect may not be too difficult.  However, if the desired content appeared within issues only occasionally and/or over large spans of time, finding desired issues can be quite difficult.  For example, if someone is looking for issues with Moon landing content, since the dates are precise, the task of location issues can be easy.  In contrast, if what is being collected are pre-1800 mentions of Georgia, the task can be quite daunting.

However, with the continued growth of the internet also comes ever increasing access to digital archives of newspapers from throughout the world.  While some are only available for a fee, the quantity of free archives continues to soar.  Wikipedia has begun to assemble a list of both types.  It can be viewed at:

Wikipedia: List of online newspaper archives

Maryland’s first newspapers…

May 24, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

The first two newspapers published in Maryland were both done in Annapolis, and both titled “Maryland Gazette“. The earlier of the two was presumed to have started on Sept. 16, 1727 based upon the earliest issue located, that of December 10, 1728, issue number 65. It was also the first newspaper south of Pennsylvania. It was published by William Parks until sometime in 1734, the last issue located being Nov. 29, 1734. During a portion of this 7 year enterprise however, the newspaper was in suspension as William Parks was in England, but upon his return in Dec., 1732 he revived the paper (along with partner Edmund Hall) under the title of “The Maryland Gazette Reviv’d “.

The second “Maryland Gazette” in Annapolis was established by Jonas Green on Jan. 17, 1745. This proved to be a much more successful venture, the title lasting well into the 19th century. During the Stamp Act the newspaper was suspended for a time, the issue of Oct. 10, 1765 headed: “The Maryland Gazette, Expiring: In uncertain Hopes of a Resurrection to Life again.”

Baltimore’s first newspaper was not until “Dunlap’s Maryland Gazette; or the Baltimore General Advertiser” which began on May 2, 1775, it lasting until 1792 although interrupted from 1779 to 1783 while the printer was in Annapolis, where he established the fourth newspaper with “The Maryland Gazette” in its title and the third so titled in Annapolis.

Thankfully no arboreal collaborators…

May 22, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

The following brief item appeared in “The Daily Picayune” of March 4, 1845. I’m not sure what the last sentence is meant to imply but it adds a comical note for the modern reader:

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.

Early reports can be unassuming…

May 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

As many collectors have found, the earliest report of an historic or significant event is often not the best or more detailed. Usually the report of a day or two later is best, when all the particulars were known and the accuracy more credible. Yet there is still the fascination of reading of a major event before it would become part of world history.

The first report of the Great Fire of London–one of the more notable events in 17th century British history–is somewhat unassuming. The bottom of the back page of The London Gazette“, September 3, 1666, has a report datelined the day before noting: “About two a clock this morning a sudden and lamentable Fire brake out in this City, beginning not far from Thames Street, near London Bridge, which continues still with great violence, and hath already burnt down to the ground many houses thereabouts, which sad accident affected His Majesty with that tenderness, and compassion, that he was pleased to go himself in Person with his Royal Highness to give order that all possible means should be used for quenching the fire, or stopping its further spreading…” with a bit more (see).

The next several issues would provide more detail, but this first report gives some indication this was to be more than a small event. Indeed, it would grow to consume some 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, and make homeless 70,000 of the city’s 80,000 inhabitants.

Better luck next time…

May 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Evening Wisconsin” of Milwaukee, Dec. 17, 1888 reports a bad day for two train robbers. Perhaps their watches were set for the wrong time zone?

Value of the internet…

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I never fail to be amazed at the incredible wealth of information which is available on the internet, and I never fail to be thankful for such an incredible resource, particularly remembering what it took thirty years ago to research  a newspaper.

Back in the 1970’s and ’80’s, when I wrote up an issue for the catalog I had to pull out the encyclopedia if I was unsure of a specific date or consequences of a certain battle. And I also kept close at hand other resources which would document events I was finding in our inventory of newspapers.

But today, more information than I could possibly need flashes on my screen in a matter of seconds. What was the date James Buchanan died? Wikipedia tells me more quickly then it takes me to type  “james buchanan”. Many times I’ll read an interesting article about a person which sounds intriguing but is lost to my memory. The web quickly provides a wealth of detail.

What brings this to mind is an entry I worked on this morning. The Army & Navy Journal” of Dec. 3, 1864 has a touching item about a Mrs. Bixby who received a letter of condolence from Abraham Lincoln for her loss of five sons in the Civil War, the sixth was lying wounded in a hospital. The article includes the letter by Lincoln. Not having heard of this letter, as a whim I decided to Google “mrs. Bixby letter” to see if this was an “event”. To my surprise there is more to the story than the article could give, thanks to the “Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln”.

The touching letter by President Lincoln can be read in the photo. Below is the “rest of the story”:

Credit: “Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln”: In the fall of 1864, Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew wrote to President Lincoln asking him to express condolences to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow who was believed to have lost five sons during the Civil War. Lincoln’s letter to her was printed by the Boston Evening Transcript. Later it was revealed that only two of Mrs. Bixby’s five sons died in battle (Charles and Oliver). One deserted the army, one was honorably discharged, and another deserted or died a prisoner of war.

The authorship of the letter has been debated by scholars, some of whom believe it was written instead by John Hay, one of Lincoln’s White House secretaries. The original letter was destroyed by Mrs. Bixby, who was a Confederate sympathizer and disliked President Lincoln. Copies of an early forgery have been circulating for many years, causing some people to believe they have the original letter.

The point of this piece is to cite just one example how the internet opens a whole new world to the tidbits of history we find within early newspapers. A 150 year old article might pique the curiosity, but it is the internet which can satisfy. It’s a fascinating combination of very old & very new technology which fit so well in this hobby we love. Give the internet a try with some articles in your collection. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you will find.

I need more than just the headline…

May 10, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

We get many emails and phone calls requesting values of newspapers found in attics, given by friends, or purchased at a yard sale, etc.  We try to be as helpful as possible and ask for photos if they use email.  This almost comical photo came in the other day–apparently with the thought that the headline was all we needed to see to determine a value. As you might imagine, we need to see more…..

Next Page »