Same concern over 100 years ago…

August 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

While listing an issue of “Judge” magazine, the political satire publication popular for the three color political cartoons in each issue, I noted the back page of an 1888 issue has a caption: “Goods Will Be So Much Cheaper–But what will become of all the American Industries?” The print (see below) shows the opening of the “Protection” flood gates with “European Pauper Manufactures” pouring upon American industries, shown in disrepair.

With one of the concerns of the American economy today being the flood of manufactured goods from foreign plants and the flight of American industries to off-shore sites, I find it curious that an identical concern was a focus 122 years ago. This political cartoon could well appear in a newspaper today.

Understated caption, or overstated print…

August 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This illustration appears in “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” dated August 5, 1871. The caption notes: “Mount Washington Storm Signals–Use of the Anemometer under difficulties.” Either the print is overstated or the caption is understated. I’m guessing the former, but it makes for a fun image.

The Traveler… who really invented “the talkies”?

August 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s journey, through The Christian Science Monitor dated August 26, 1910, took me on the train ride with Colonel Roosevelt as he was traveling across the states on his campaign tour. I found a segment a bit amusing… “At Erie the Colonel spoke to fully 5000 people. At Dunkirk a crowd nearly as large surrounded the train, and some one shouted, ‘Hello, Teddy!’ ‘I used to think it lowered my dignity to have them call me Teddy,’ the colonel said to his party in an undertone, ‘but do you know I am getting to like it now.'” A this point in time, one just somewhat “assumes” that he was always called Teddy.

While looking further into the issue, I found a one paragraph article with a headline “Mr. Edison Works On A New Device” and I just had to read it.  “Moving pictures that talk, reproducing not only the action, but the spoken words of actors shown on the canvas, promise to revolutionize the moving picture business and the announcement that a machine that will combine the perfected phonograph with the present motion picture camera is being constructed in the laboratory of Thomas A. Edison in West Orange, has created a stir among inventors.”

This made me wonder just when were “talkies” invented and who invented it? Was this ground-breaking news? I did some researching through google. In the late 1890’s, there were some sound to movies but each person had to wear a listening device — early headsets??  Mr. Edison is mentioned as to be working on creating a special machine to make the “talkies” but the first talk was not to be until 1927 with the release of The Jazz Singer.

~The Traveler

First newspapers in Nebraska…

August 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Nebraska Territory came about as an important event in American history, repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and allowing new territories to be slave or free as their citizens desired. It happened in 1854 and within the year three Nebraska newspapers were established, all in towns on the west bank of the Missouri River: Bellevue, Omaha City, and Nebraska City. Curiously, none of these towns had a printing office. Each newspaper was printed across the river in separate Iowa towns.

The first was in Bellevue, titled the “Nebraska Palladium” which began July 15, 1854 printed in St. Marys, Iowa. But in November of the same year a printing press was set up in town and on the 15th the first newspaper printed on Nebraska soil was issued.

The first newspaper in Omaha was the “Arrow“, printed in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It began just two weeks after the “Palladium” and only continued through the end of the year, succeeded by the “Nebraskian” which was printed in Omaha beginning January 17, 1855.

The Nebraska City “News” started in the fall of 1854 and was printed in Sidney, Iowa although the printing office would be moved to Nebraska City on Nov. 14.

The first daily newspaper in Nebraska was the “Telegraph” which began on Dec. 11, 1860.

A carefully worded conclusion…

August 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This item was published in the June 6, 1771 issue of the “London Chronicle“, but was taken from the Boston Evening-Post. It’s a comical piece which could have come from a modern-day situation comedy. As always, its the style of writing which adds to the article’s appeal.

First newspapers in Montana…

August 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Similar to other eventual states in the western portion of the country, it was the search for gold & other precious metals which took some of the earliest adventurers to the Montana Territory.

Gold was discovered in Montana in 1858 and a “town” immediately sprang up, named Bannack. A newspaper, title the “News-Letter“, was started but not being successful only lasted a few numbers. (Given its format and short life it is not considered Montana’s first newspaper by some, that honor given more commonly to the “Montana Post“.)

The following year a richer strike was made in nearby Virginia City, where the first issue of the “Montana Post” was printed on August 27, 1864. Its publisher, John Buchanan, sold the newspaper just two weeks later to Tilton and Dittes, and 4 years later when Helena became the state’s capital the newspaper moved to that location where the first issue from Helena was dated August 25, 1868.

The next Montana newspaper was the “Montana Democrat“, printed in Virginia City from 1865. It would be followed by a few more in the 1860’s: the “Montana Radiator” in late 1865, the “Rocky Mountain Gazette” in 1866 and the first daily newspaper titled the “Herald” from Helena late in the same year.

Collectors prize issues of the “Montana Post” from Virginia City, although those with a Helena imprint are the more commonly found.

The influence of newspapers…

August 16, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

I’m sure we would all agree with Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1839) that “the pen is mightier than the sword”.  What about the pen as wielded via the text of a newspaper?  Napoleon’s view was that “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets”.  Interesting comment from one of history’s infamous (famous?) sword bearers.  The following editorial note found on the front page of the June 17, 1867 issue of the Bethlehem Daily Times (PA) provides affirmation of this view:

However, lest we become overly fearful of the devastation such influence  has upon our thinking, Erasmus (1571) provides us with a word of encouragement to the contrary:   “There is no sword to be feared more than the Learned pen”.  Perhaps we are safe.  🙂

Did you notice the 1867 price for the issue shown at the top of the image?  Apparently, if the average person was inclined to be paid “a penny for their thoughts”, newspaper editors believed their thoughts were worth double.

With the ever-decreasing circulations of newspapers, I wonder what the equivalent form of influence is today… and will be 10 years from now???

Ben Franklin displays his wit…

August 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The December 11, 1775 issue of the “Hampshire Chronicle” from Southampton, England, includes a witty note from Ben Franklin to a friend in London, which appeared in several newspapers of the day. By his mind, the Revolutionary War was not going to be won by England through attrition.

The Traveler… a ghost of a dog…

August 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This week I did not select an issue of today’s date, instead I found the Connecticut Mirror dated August 13, 1810 instead.  The front page of this issue begins with providing to the public the celebrated secret message of President Jefferson, on the 6th of December, 1805. This message was in respect of the relations of the United States with Spain and France concerning Louisiana. When I first saw this, I thought back to the 1970’s when Watergate occurred with the “missing minutes” of tape. Here they had secret messages that finally were revealed to the public five years later.

The story that was the eye-catcher was found on the back page, entitled “Ghost of a Dog”. This comes from a Dublin paper reporting of a lady who was scratched by a neighborhood dog, but she viewed it as a “breach of hospitality” that she demanded an order of execution on the dog. This was done, in a strange manner, and the dog’s body was retrieved by some friends. With some very unusual tactics over a course of about three weeks, the dog was able to run about as usual, make his rounds to visit his old friends, including meeting up with the lady he had scratched. She was so terrified that she fell into fits and at the time of the report was near death.  Now… what’s the old saying… what goes around, comes around???

~The Traveler

Collecting Historic and Rare Newspapers Basics – Part Two

August 9, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

The following guide is posted on History’s Newsstand’s eBay Store. It is the second part of a primer on collecting Rare & Early Newspapers:

The purpose of this 2nd guide concerning historic, original, collectible and/or rare newspapers is to answer additional questions related to the hobby:

  1. Why are they so inexpensive?
  2. What might I find within the pages of a Rare Newspaper?
  3. What is the background of the (apparent) use of “f” vs. “s”?
  4. What is meant by “2nd-rate”?
  5. What is the value of my newspaper?
  6. How was 17th & 18th Century paper made?
  7. Are early issues with irregular type-set authentic?

1.  Why so inexpensive?

You can find newspapers published during George Washington’s administration for $35, issues with front page accounts of Indian skirmishes for $25, and genuine issues published in 1685 for as little as $30.  A hobby still very much undiscovered by the public, prices for genuine, complete newspapers dating as far back as the 1600’s are very low due to limited demand (at this time). For more than 30 years, we have dealt exclusively in the niche market of early newspapers, buying in huge quantities at very low prices to amass an inventory of over 2 million issues which are now available for the historical hobbyist.  There is no better time to begin amassing ah historical newspaper collection – while still on the up-side of the hobby’s appeal.

2.  What might I find within the pages of a Rare Newspaper?

Read the Boston Gazette of March 12, 1770 and learn of the massacre in that city and gain an appreciation of the revolutionary spirit never before imagined. Read 1st hand reports on the Civil War. View ads and reports from the American Wold West.  View the Banner Headlines of some of the biggest events from the 20th Century. Historic newspapers are a firsthand reflection of life at a time when descriptive ads for runaway slaves were commonplace; when Paul Revere advertised his bell foundry in local papers; when recently enacted laws, signed in type by George Washington, were published in the daily paper.  There is no better way to obtain an intimate view of life during nearly any chosen period from 1666 through the late 1900’s.

Since all are original issues (not reproductions), slight imperfections such as light foxing or staining, small margin tears, an occasional front page original owner (often library) stamp, and slight fold or edge wear are common. Most issues were once bound into volumes at the end of a year for preservation and bear minor left margin irregularities due to the disbinding process. None of these potential typical imperfections cause content loss. Many newspapers dated from the 1880’s through the 1920’s are pulpish (fragile) due to commonly used print materials used during this period, and appropriate care must be given to these issues. Some issues (especially magazines) were originally published with covers or wrappers, but unless described otherwise, they have long since been removed.

3.  What is the historical background of the use of “f” vs. “s”?

Centuries ago before the printing press there were grammatical reasons for use of a serpentine-styled “s” to be used rather than the more typical “s”. Its look was much as if an “s” was elongated and leaned to the right. When this letter was converted to a block letter for the printing press (around 1500) it looked much like an “f” but with the slash through one side & not the other–look carefully and note the difference. This letter caused confusion with the “f” ever since, and around 1750 publishers were abandoning this letter in favor of the more typical “s”, and by 1800 it was almost universally abandoned.

4.  What is meant by “second rate”?

A “second rate” issue is somewhat worn, possibly with edge tears, some light staining, rubbing, or other minor disfigurements. All pages are present with no cut-outs, but the prints contained within the issue, if prints are present, would not be suitable for framing.  An acceptable issue for researching content only, or if condition is inconsequential.  Please do not request for us to confirm that an issue offered at the 2nd rate price contains prints that are in good condition.  A 2nd rate issue is 2nd rate throughout.

5.  What is the value of my newspaper?

As one might suspect there are many factors which determine value.  Much like a jeweler cannot give a value of a diamond via email or a phone call, ethics would not permit anyone to place values on newspapers without seeing the issues in hand to determine authenticity condition, news placement, etc.  Although viewing issues of similar date, condition, and displayablity on eBay and/or on reputable websites may give a general sense of their potential value, your best bet is to contact a reputable dealer in historic and/or rare newspapers.

6.  How was 17th & 18th Century paper made?

The handmade paper used in the 17th and 18th centuries can be distinguished from paper that was made later by holding the paper up to a light and looking for “chain-lines” which are left from the wires in the paper mold. With this method, fewer fibers accumulate directly on the wire, so the paper is slightly thinner and more transparent to light. This pattern is usually very apparent and appears as lines that run about an inch apart, with several horizontal short lines connecting the long wire lines. Some modern paper has artificially-applied chain lines, and is usually referred to as “laid” paper, which is the name given to handmade chain-line paper. The handmade chain-line paper was made of cotton and/or linen rags, which were soaked in liquid until the fibers broke down into bits. Paper was formed by hand by dipping a paper mold into the fiber suspension, and then lifting and shaking off the excess water. The paper sheet was then partially dried before being removed from the mold. Modern handmade paper (used in fine printing of small editions by private presses, as well as in artists books) is basically made by the same process.

Wood pulp paper (made with a sulfite process that causes high acid residue in the paper) wasn’t widely used in the U.S. until after the American Civil War. Breakthrough in paper-making occurred when “wove” paper was invented. Wove paper was first used in a book printed in America in 1795 in a book by Charlotte Smith entitled “Elegiac Sonnets and Other Poems”. Wove paper, which shows no chain-lines, is made on a wire mold often made of brass and/or bronze wires that have been woven like fabric. Therefore, there is no chain-like pattern, and the paper has a much smoother appearance. After 1800, wove paper became the standard paper for books and other uses, although there was still some laid or chain-link paper in use through the 1820s and beyond.

The first machine-made paper in America was made in 1817 in Brandywine, Delaware, and the first newspaper printed on this paper was “Poulson’s Daily Advertiser. The major start in manufacturing paper by machine began when a French paper machine called the Fourdrinier was introduced in New York in 1827, followed by the manufacture of more of the machines two years later in Connecticut. Machine-made paper is more uniform in thickness, lacks the uneven edges of handmade paper and is weaker and more prone to tearing. Machine-made paper is made on a continuous wire mold which usually has watermarks. Although it can be hard to tell machine-made wove paper from handmade wove paper, handmade paper is usually thicker and also varies in thickness from piece to piece.

The last major development in paper manufacture was the development of wood pulp paper, which was much less expensive to manufacture than rag paper. The first successfully-made wood pulp paper was manufactured in Buffalo, New York, in 1855. By 1860, a large percentage of the total paper produced in the U.S. was still rag paper. Most of the newspapers printed in the U.S. during the Civil War period survived because they were essentially acid-free 100% rag paper, but the newspapers printed in the late 1880s turn brown because of the high acid content of the wood pulp paper. In 1882, the sulfite wood pulp process that is still in use today was developed on a commercial scale and most of the high acid content paper was used thereafter in newspapers, magazines and books.

7.  Are eary issues (pre-1800) with irregular type-set authentic?

Pre-1800 Printing – A Little Background: Type was handset in the 18th century and all margins were (typically) of equal size from top to bottom. As part of the inherent crudeness of making paper back then, individual sheets might have slightly different shapes but in general all sheets were rectangular, wider than tall with pages 1 & 4 of a newspaper printed on one side and pages 2 & 3 printed on the other, then folded in half to produce the typical 4 page newspaper. It was rather common for even a regularly shaped sheet to be put on the printing press slightly askew, causing the printed sheet to appear somewhat crooked, keeping in mind everything was done by hand, and often by young hired hands.  We have seen a few instances where an irregularly shaped sheet caused the print to run off one of the edges. Also, newspapers and magazines were often bound into volumes at the end of the year with the three exposed edges trimmed to look neat, and in the trimming process some text can be trimmed off if the newspaper was bound into the volume askew, or if the trimmer simply took off too much blank margin to even up the edges.

(Note) Invitation: In order to provide an ongoing resource for newcomers to the hobby, feel free to add additional insight which you feel might be beneficial to those entering the hobby on the ground floor. Our hope will be to include many of these comments within a future post. Thanks in advance for your contributions.

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