My Collecting Story… Paul Sarna…

August 6, 2009 by  
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kentucky-derby1The first newspaper I believe I ever collected was for the 1968 Kentucky Derby followed later that month by the ’68 Indianapolis 500 (timely to write this since it’s the month of May [when Paul wrote this] and I’m going to the Indy 500 once again this year).  I was only 6 years old at the time, but proud years later, that I started collecting newsworthy newspapers at such an early age. 1968, needless to say, was quite a year and I’m glad to this day that I never sold any of the newspapers I collected when I first started (though I admit I did not keep them in the best shape I could have….I didn’t realize 41 years later that I’d still be collecting newspapers!!!). I think the first newspaper that I ever bought multiple copies of was for the first Ali-Frazier fight in 1971, but I am not sure.

Some of the best surprises I have had in collecting?….well 2 come to mind. One was purchasing, at a flea market in New York City, a Daily Morning Chronicle (Washington D.C.) of April 15, 1865 for about $20 in the late 80’s (I’m still kicking myself for even THINKING about selling that gem). Another purchase came at my table as a street vendor from a person I had never met, but came to my table to sell me this oversized box of newspapers.  I initially did not want to purchase them because I used a handcart to bring my table and inventory home and the box was big, but luckily I didn’t delay the purchase and bought them [for $35] by just glancing over the top half of the stack. When I got home I saw a New York Herald Titanic first report with some wear at the fold. The newspaper seemed to have multiple section so I initially let it go and continued looking through the stack. At some point it then dawn on me that these might not merely be sections of the same newspaper and when I looked again, neatly tucked in were Titanic first reports in the New York Times and the New York World in great condition!

The most rewarding part of my experience with newspapers was the street vending of old newspapers (and magazines) I did in New York City from 1988 until 2004. Even though I did not have many repeat customers (or not as many as I would have liked), it was rewarding. Not just for merely “making a living”, but for the people that had that certain look on their faces when they saw something that caught them by surprise or for when tourists from all over the country and world would take a photo of my stand as a memory of their visit.

Newspapers collecting is something I will ALWAYS do, and now is a good time to thank Tim, Guy, Doreen, Marc and everybody in the Rare Newspapers staff for helping me pursue my endless goal of collecting newspapers.

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Thanks for sharing your story Paul. If you would like to share your story of how you became interested in collecting rare and/or historic newspapers, e-mail it to and place “My Story” in the subject field. Although not necessary, feel free to include an image. Please do not include your e-mail address or a personal website as part of the text of your story. We will post collector stories every few weeks and will send you a notice when your story appears. Thank you for your contribution to the community.

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3 Responses to “My Collecting Story… Paul Sarna…”

  1. Charles Signer on August 7th, 2009 5:42 am

    In my opinion, the Daily Morning Chronicle from April 15, 1865 is more important than other papers reporting Lincoln’s assassination. It is a true souvenir of the event, since it was published near the scene of the event as the event was still unfolding. It is like the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of December 7, 1941 in that regard. The Daily Morning Chronicle was published just one block from Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC.

    I can’t think of many papers that qualify as true souvenirs of events of national importance. Maybe the Chicago Daily News of February 14, 1929 would also qualify as a true souvenir of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, since it came out the same day and just blocks from the event.

    The San Francisco Call-Chronicle-Examiner of April 19, 1906 reporting the San Francisco earthquake could be one (it was actually printed in Oakland but for distribution in San Francisco). Another might be the National Intelligencer which announced that the British were coming, the day before the British burned down the White House in 1814. Dallas papers of November 22, 1963 with Kennedy’s assassination might also be considered within the true souvenir category.

  2. Sari Marks on July 18th, 2010 3:31 am

    Paul Sarna and I were friends until he closed down his sidewalk newsstand and moved moved from his apartment, so I lost track of him. But now I’m glad to know he’s alive and well and still active in the rare newspaper and magazine trade. I’ll never forget that we went to see “Gangs of New York” together. Afterwards Paul gave me photostats of actual newspapers which were reporting those riots and lynchings depicted in “Gangs”, which took place in NYC in protest of the Civil War draft and wealthy men’s ability to pay their way out of military service for $600. One of the lynchings had taken place only a block from where I live–34th St. and 3rd Ave. Reading the actual reportings absolutely made the movie that much more fascinating. Thanks, Paul.

  3. Bruce Wright on January 16th, 2015 10:36 am

    I was a good friend of Paul’s years ago when he had his stand in NYC. Without doubt, he was the most knowledgable person I have ever met re: American newspapers of yesteryear. He was able to get some of the most obscure journals that I thought were unavailable. Great Article!

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