Interesting cure for a multitude of ills…

July 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This advertisement in the August 22, 1885 issue of “Harper’s Weekly” gives evidence as to how much times have changed. And I find it interesting that cocaine–a known stimulant–would be a cure for “sleeplessness” and “nervousness”.

The Traveler… Preferred seating…

July 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s travel is taking us back 200 years. However, I was not able to find a publication for the exact date of July 29, 1810, therefore, I selected a Columbian Centinel dated July 25, 1810 (the closest I could find). On the second page of the issue I found a header “Unfortunate Ship Margaret” which immediate intrigued me as to why it was unfortunate. This is a lengthy report of the Margaret, which we discover that while on voyage from Naples, had upset and part of the crew were saved on the long-boat while 31 others were left adrift on the ship. The article proceeds to give details of what they endured during the 23 days at sea until they were rescued by a passing ship, it being the fourth ship they had seen (ouch).

I also enjoy looking at advertisements, especially within 18th and 19th century issues, as they are often quite interesting… and at times, unique. Some  also contain woodblock illustrations – and this issue is no exception . However, I found two advertisements that were a bit different. The first was a “Stop a Runaway“, which was a notification of a runaway apprentice boy. The other was quite intriguing as it was “Pews in the First Church — For Sale”, not to take home for use but for use during the worship services! Now — we joke at our church about “my pew” or “their pew”, but this takes preferred seating to a whole new level!!  🙂

~The Traveler

The allure of the Old West…

July 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

While few of us will have the opportunity to visit some of the fascinating old mining towns of the Old West, holding a newspaper from a ghost town’s hey day can be the next best thing. And with a little knowledge about the town, a newspaper from the neighborhood press takes on added appeal and intrigue.

With this in mind I will, from time to time, offer some background information on the towns from which some of our Old West newspapers came. And I’ll start with an issue with an interesting title, the “Owyhee Avalanche” of Silver City, Idaho.

Silver City is one of the few old mining towns that did not burn down or become commercialized into a modern city. Visiting Silver City is like going back into history. The Idaho Hotel is as it was 100 years ago with a few modern amenities. Rugged and picturesque, the 8,000 feet-high Owyhee Mountains surround Silver City, elevation 6,200 ft. The history-filled town contains about seventy-five structures that date from the 1860’s to the early 1900’s.

During its “heydays”, Silver City had about a dozen streets, seventy-five businesses, three hundred homes, a population of around 2,500, twelve ore-processing mills, and was the Owyhee County seat from 1866 to 1934. Some of the largest stage lines in the West operated in the area, and Silver City had the first telegraph and the first daily newspaper in the territory in 1874.

More that two dozen camps provided shelter, supplies and amusement for the thousands of people who came to the mountains seeking their fortunes in one way or another. The ruins of some of these can still be found though nature is reclaiming most of them at an accelerated rate. Almost a dozen cemeteries and many more remote burial sites attest to the hard and sometimes dangerous and violent lives led by many. Hundreds of mines pock-mark and honeycomb the mountains; one had upwards of seventy miles of tunnels laboriously hand-dug through it. Between 1863 and 1865, more than two hundred and fifty mines were in operation and hundreds more were developed thereafter. At least sixty million dollars worth of precious metals were taken from the area. (credit:

Click HERE for some photos of present-day Silver City.

Non-compassionate approach to advertising…

July 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This ad is from the “Daily Delta” of New Orleans, March 29, 1861. The advertiser chose a hard-line approach to selling his product, claiming one is: “…laying the foundation stone for an early grave by your obstinacy and stupidity.”

Collecting “bookend” newspapers…

July 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

When writing up an newspaper on the beginning days of the Berlin Wall–when it was nothing more than barbed wire–it came to mind that we also have issues from Germany on the fall of the Berlin Wall. What a nice pair of issues to have together in a collection; the beginning and end of the Berlin  Wall.

This caused me to think of other “beginnings & endings” which would be nice to keep as pairs within a collection. Let me mention a few:

* wars, from proclamations declaring “war” to “peace” reports at their end

* the first and last games of Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak

* the first and last games of Cal Ripken’s 2,130 consecutive game streak

* on a more somber note the first election of Abraham Lincoln and his death report, spanning the scope of his national prominence

* the Wright brothers’ first flight and man landing on the moon (actually not and “end”, but certainly a nice “bookend” issue)

* beginning and end of Prohibition

* beginning and end of the Stamp Act

* arrival of delegates to the Constitutional Convention, and the submission of the final Constitution for ratification

* The stock  market at its high point on Sept. 3, 1929, and at it’s Depression low point on July 8, 1932

There must be many more. Offer your suggestions to add to the list!

First newspapers in Missouri…

July 19, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

It was in 1808 when the first printing press arrived in what is now the state of Missouri, which was the Territory of Louisiana at the time. That was in St. Louis, which had about 1000 inhabitants at the time.  Previous to moving to St. Louis, Joseph Charless, the printer, worked on a newspaper in Lexington, Kentucky in 1803, and then 4 years later was involved in the “Gazette” of Louisville. And it was on July 12, 1808 when Charless printed the first edition of the “Missouri Gazette“, the first newspaper in Missouri. He had 170 subscribers at the time, many of whom paid in flour, corn, beef or pork to the value of the $3 annual subscription. He changed the title to the “Louisiana Gazette” in 1809, but then when Congress created the Missouri Territory in 1812, the paper again became the “Missouri Gazette“.

Not uncommon to early printers, Charless had made many enemies through his newspaper, prompting opponents to head a movement to bring another printer into town. It was in 1815 when Joshua Norvell arrived in town, and in May of that year printed his first issue of the “Western Journal“. He sold it within two years, when the new printer changed the name on May 17, 1817 to the “Western Emigrant“. It again changed hands & title again in another two years, to the “St. Louis Enquirer“.

Just following the doctor’s orders…

July 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The following piece appeared in the “Bethlehem Daily Times” issue of November 22, 1869.

The Traveler… possibilities in Alaska??

July 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

While reading through The Christian Science Monitor dated July 15, 1910, I came across a report from Jacob H. Schiff.  The report states that he and a party of friends were inspecting part of Alaska and as a result, are convinced it will become as populous and as productive as parts of Norway, Siberia and Russia. He (Jacob) states the  greatest need of the far north to be transportation (access) and goes on further to identify the regions he believes would best be served by access by rail (train).   At the time, did they really think that this would become possible??

Note (Google exploration):  Through a little fun internet searching I discovered that Mr. Schiff was a well known banker and philanthropist with a descendant married to Al Gore’s daughter.

Looking further through the issue, a name of a city quickly caught my eye – Williamsport, PA! It seems that our hometown, the Lumber Capital of the World, was honoring the lumbermen with the hosting of a convention.  Very cool!!

The final small article that just made me look twice had a heading of “Japanese Envoy Coming”, followed with the dateline “Honolulu”. Just knowing what occurred only three decades later…

~The Traveler

Value for an “Ulster County Gazette”…

July 12, 2010 by · 26 Comments 

If there is any one newspaper about which we receive the most calls as to value, it would have to be the “Ulster County Gazette” issue of January 4, 1800. This Kingston, New York, newspaper documents the death of George Washington, hence the appeal.

Anyone who has been collecting newspapers for more than a few years has likely encountered at least one of the more than 60 varieties of reprints which have been documented and which exist by the hundreds of thousands. The Library of Congress has an informative sheet which will allow one to distinguish a reprint edition from the original.

As of this date, only two genuine issues have been discovered, now in the hands of the American Antiquarian Society and the Library of Congress. Although the history of the reprints, going back to 1825, is an interesting subject in itself, my thoughts with this blog post are on the value of a genuine issue should a third one surface.

Keeping in mind that historical significance is perhaps the single most important determinant for value, The report of Washington’s death does not rank–in my opinion–on the “top shelf”. The “Ulster County Gazette” issue is a relatively late report with a Jan. 4, 1800  date (he died Dec. 14, 1799), and there is no particular significance to the city in regard to Washington; he wasn’t born there, didn’t die there, perhaps never even visited there (although during the Revolutionary War he was in that vicinity). The Declaration of Independence & Constitution rank high on the “top shelf”, and these documents in Philadelphia newspapers would be premier issues for such reports commanding values well above $100,000 each.  As such, the “Ulster County Gazette” issue is famous for being a reprint and not much more.

So, the question is, should a third genuine issue surface, how much should it  be worth? Yes, it is a rare newspaper as only two are known to exist, but I’m sure there are other small town newspapers from the era which are equally as rare. In our catalog 177 we will be offering a Providence, R.I. issue of January 1 for less than $2000, it being a first report also with front page mention and much inside page text regarding Washington’s death. But six institutions have this issue with perhaps a few more in private hands. I think some collectors believe the U.C.G. would be worth $100,000 or more, but I would disagree. Yes, it is “famous” as a reprint, and finding a 3rd issue would be neat, but how does this affect value? It’s a late report of Washington’s death in a small town, upstate New York newspaper which has no significance to the life of Washington. Perhaps add some  premium for the notoriety of the issue, but I’m not sure I’d want to pay more than $3000 or $4000 for the issue.  Step beyond the small circle of serious newspaper collectors and attempts to legitimize a hefty value would fall on deaf ears. Better reports, closer to Virginia, with earlier dates can be purchased for less.

So what are your thoughts? Feel free to share.

How bad do you have to dress to offend a horse?

July 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The “Boston Commercial Gazette” of February 12, 1818 has an interesting tidbit about a man who walked from Concord, Massachusetts, to New Orleans. I was struck by the comment that: “…His appearance on the road was a great annoyance to women, children and horses.”

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