Q & A – Did older newspapers published on the same day vary in content?

January 8, 2024 by  
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In our opinion…

We recently received the following question regarding “different copies of the same newspaper of the same day” from a fellow collector:

Do you by any chance know of any scholarly articles dealing with the possibility of there being variants between different copies of the same early newspaper of the same date?

I ask because in the 1970s (before computers) I found an entry in the Morning Chronicle of London of 29 May 1816 and I published the text of that entry in a book which I published in 1977. I’m pretty sure that I found that entry in an actual copy of the Morning Chronicle at the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale in London. But now a colleague tells me that he has hunted the text down on the various online archives of newspapers and that he doesn’t find it.

So I’m wondering whether one copy of that newspaper of that day might have had the item and another not. It was a review of a concert “last night”, so it might in theory have been the case that the newspaper office received the review only let’s say in the late morning and put it into only late runs of the newspaper.

Tim Hughes, founder

Tim Hughes’ response was:

To be brief, yes, we have encountered, several times over the past 48 years, issues of the same title and date with slightly different content. And my suspicions are the same as yours: if notable news arrives at the printing office later in the day’s press run I think they did reset some type to accommodate the news. 
There are some titles from the 19th century that are relatively common, so over the years we have had multiples of the same title and date, and upon occasion–yet rarely–we have encountered different content within like issues.
In more modern times the paper would have put out an “Extra” edition with the changed text, but when issues were handset and quite labor intensive, I think they just changed a portion of the paper to those issues late in the press run.
Hope this helps.
If anyone has insight concerning the above, feel free to send your thoughts to me at Guy@RareNewspapers.com

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