The Civil War in newspapers…

April 29, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Could there be a period in American history which fascinates and intrigues more than the Civil War? As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the battle between the North and the South, collecting interest in genuine newspapers which reported the news as it was happening, remains strong among the relatively small number of rare newspaper collectors. Any visit to a Civil War collector’s show will give evidence to the high prices of genuine memorabilia, from guns to uniforms to every bit and scrap of war-related material a collector might desire. But newspapers remain a very welcomed low-priced option, perhaps largely because they have yet to be discovered by majority of Civil War collectors.

But that has always been the case with this hobby, regardless of the time period. Rare newspaper have always remained relatively unknown in the world of historical collectables—a reality which continues to amaze—but its consequence has provided one of the benefits of those who enjoy the hobby: low prices. Across the entire spectrum of collectables, be they coins, stamps, furniture, books, autographs, toys—you name it–items of comparable age to newspapers are much higher than newspapers.

And what a world is available to the Civil War collector who discovers rare newspapers. You name the battle or political event that  happened from 1861 to 1865 and it will be found in a newspaper of the day. And this hobby allows a collection to showcase not just the events of the war but the lead-up to the conflict between the states, as the issue of slavery and the troubling relationship between the Northern and Southern states making news for more than a decade before the outbreak of war.

From the Battle of Fort  Sumter to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a collector can create a notable collection of newspapers as large or small as their budget will allow. Some might focus on the top ten most significant battles of the Civil War (see previous post) and include newspapers with accounts of Fort  Sumter, First and Second Bull Run (Manassas), Hampton Roads (the Monitor vs. the Merrimac), Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing), capture of New Orleans, Antietam, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, fall of Atlanta, Savannah and Richmond as well as the surrender of General Lee to U.S. Grant. Wikipedia offers an excellent and very inclusive list of all the battles of the Civil War which can be used as a checklist for the collector seeking the most notable events of the war.

Typically daily newspapers have war reports on the front page with additional news on inside pages as well, and a select few included graphics. The “New York Times”, “New York Tribune” “New York Herald” and the “Philadelphia Inquirer” are—in my opinion—the “big 4” titles of the war, as they more than most printed Civil War maps and other war-related graphics on their front pages. Such issues remain favorites for framing and display.

Not to be overlooked are the political events and speeches which were perhaps more significant than the battles, including the election and inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. All events appeared in newspapers within a day of their happening.

Yet another area of focus for various collectors is the gathering of contemporary reports surrounding certain historic figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, “Stonewall” Jackson, George Meade, James Longstreet, William Sherman, Jefferson Davis, Ambrose Burnside, Nathan B. Forrest, Colonel Robert Shaw, John Hunt Morgan (and his raiders), to name a few.  Textbooks simply cannot capture the essence of these noteworthy individuals in the same way newspapers can.

Some collectors might focus on the Civil War from the Confederate perspective as newspapers from the Southern state are available, albeit more rare, and offer an interesting perspective on the events  of the war. Issues from Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, offer some of the best coverage of the war as all news eventually found its way to Richmond. And the editorials offer fascinating reading in the “Daily Richmond Examiner” or the “Daily Dispatch”. Charleston newspapers also offer great coverage, after all the war began in its harbor. The “Charleston Daily Courier” was one of the best, and one of but a few Southern newspapers which printed in the masthead “Confederate States of America”.  Venturing beyond the more “common” of the Confederate titles, newspapers from other states are available, a few of the more accessible being the Daily Progress(from Raleigh) and the “Louisville Daily Courier” from Kentucky. The “Daily Memphis Appeal” is an intriguing title, as during its Civil War history it was chased by the Yankees out of Memphis and published in 8 other Confederate cities before succumbing in the final weeks of the Civil War.

A “Confederate” newspaper from the North might seem like a oxymoron, but “The Crisis” from Columbus, Ohio, was an intriguing newspaper by a copperhead publisher who was very much opposed to  the Lincoln administration and strongly supported the Confederate effort believing that slavery could not be prohibited by law.

One cannot mention newspapers of the Civil War without discussing “Harper’s Weekly”, the illustrated newspaper which put all the action, drama and cruelty of war into the homes of every American.  For the first  time, citizens were able to see what their leaders looked like, as an abundance of portraits of the Civil War officers appeared throughout the war years, not to mention the great wealth of battle scenes and city views not found elsewhere during the Civil War. Not to be outdone by the Yankees, the Confederates created their own version of “Harper’s Weekly”, titled the “Southern Illustrated News” published in Richmond, but it was a poor imitation at best. It’s lack of success resulted in a considerably smaller circulation and obviously more rare title for collectors today.

Whatever your interest in the Civil War, collectible newspapers have much to offer. With prices relatively low for 150 year old items and containing virtually every event which happened during that fascinating era, a notable collection can be amassed which can be enjoyed and admired without breaking the bank. A fascinating world awaits those who discover this interesting collectible.

The Traveler… three cheers…

April 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, through the Independent Chronicle dated April 22, 1813. There I found Commodore Bainbridge was addressing the sailors of the Constitution as they had been invited to the Theatre. “Sailors, In the action with the Java you shewed yourselves men. You are this ev’ng invited to partake of the amusements of the Theatre. Conduct yourselves well… Let the correctness of your conduct equal your bravery, and I shall have additional cause to speak of you in terms of approbation.” He then informed them that on Monday morning,  “pay to them the prize money in consideration of their good conduct in the actions with the Guerriere and Java. The crew received the information with great satisfaction, and gave the Commodore three cheers.”

The article has a concluding paragraph from a correspondent who had observed the attendance of the sailors and the comments to their appearance and behavior.

Blessed are the feet of those who bring good news – for a change.

Regarding the remainder of the issue, I wonder if James Madison suffered from writing cramps after all his signing???

~The Traveler

Before the days of Raid…

April 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Here’s an interesting “sport” as reported in “The Evening Times“, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, June 4, 1912. Talk about fun!!!

Recent Find: Free African-American woman writes story re: freed slaves in 1864… with Candice Glover connection…

April 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Candice Glover, from American Idol fame, was born and raised in St. Helena (South Sea Islands) in South Carolina – Charlotte Forten, a free African-American woman traveled to the island to join the effort to teach the newly emancipated slaves how to become self-sufficient.  She wrote of her experiences and had her work published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1864 (2 Issues). Quite historic! It is always fun to explore the present (Candice Glover) is light of the past (Charlotte Forten… and the emancipated slaves). I wonder how deep Candice Glover’s island roots go?

Enjoy much of the text at:  St Helena Candice Glover Historic Home Island SC Freed Slaves 1864 2 Issues | eBay.

Curious juncture of image, date, and event…

April 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The “Sunday Magazine” issue of the Detroit News Tribune, April 14, 1912 offers a curious juxtaposition of date, image, and event (see below). The color print on the cover shows a woman waving from what would appear to be the deck of a ship. This also happens to be the very day the Titanic stuck the iceberg, which would go down in history as one of the more tragic maritime disasters of all time.

At times cover prints or content within newspapers offer some interesting collectibles, even when the the relevance could not have been known when published.

Always the pessimist…

April 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Allegany County Reporter” issue, dated July 28, 1887, with a lengthy article on the “Exhaustion of Petroleum” could have been written 5 years ago or 30 years ago, but in fact it was  from 1887. Great evidence that pessimism was alive and well over a century ago. Enjoy the entire text of the article (shown below):

Gift of newspapers can spark a life-long hobby…

April 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent piece on the web concerning the gift of a “stack of old newspapers” (see the hyperlink) to a grandson is a common story in our collecting world. A woman from Racine, Wisconsin, gave her grandson a box of historic newspapers, mostly World War II headline reports but including other events of the post-war era, collected by her husband. The photos show some nice banner headlines, several of the issues being the “Chicago Tribune” but including other titles from the Midwest.

Such finds, or gifts, are typically the catalyst for a new-found hobby. And newspapers from the last 60 or 70 years can be found for even the most modest of collecting budgets. Our website features major events of World War II, the Holocaust, the space race, baseball, Korean War, Vietnam War, Watergate–you name the event and it’s likely among the 2600+ issues from this era found on our website. Many prices range from $20 to $40 while some more significant events or dramatic headlines achieve higher values, and would be among the best newspapers for any collection.

For the beginning collector, the 20th century is an excellent entree to the much bigger world of our hobby which can includes newspapers back to the 16th century. Large headlines or events remembered by elder relatives bring to life the events which were formative to the American experience of the last 70 years. See:  Stack of Old Newspapers

A gift for your barber…

April 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Although the purpose of the ad in the “Rhode Island American & Gazette”, Providence, February 1, 1831 was to give notice of this barber’s change of location, it’s the description of the service he performs which is most interesting–and amusing (see below).

The Traveler… the strike is over… looking to the future…

April 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I journeyed to Detroit, Michigan by the way of The Detroit News of April 1, 1963. There I found that people of New York city would be able to enjoying their daily papers again as the 114-day newspaper strike had ended. Newspaper headlines read as “New York’s Alive Again!”, “Well, Hello There! We have News For You” and “Read All About It – Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”. “A series of labor disputes had shut down the papers for nearly four months and cost the city’s economy an estimated $250 million.” Some of the newspapers came back to print with the price of the issues being raised by half, some even doubled the cost per issue.

The back page of the issue features an article “Economists See a Future of Abundance – Full, Rich Life Only 40 Years Away… The Year 2000”. This is an interesting look at four decades into the future with articles of “Note of Caution on Planning”; “Ample Resources Seen for Future”; “More Funds Urged for Research”; “Taller Americans, Bigger Appetites”; “Energy Demand Due to Triple” and more. It also includes four interesting illustrations of the futuristic glimpses of life (see image below or click on link above). Ready to use your car that is able to take to the air to avoid the heavy traffic on the turnpikes and freeways?

~The Traveler