Hatfields & McCoys…The media drives interest in historical newspapers…

June 14, 2012 by  
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There is no question that media events affect our hobby. Although there was always collector interest in the sinking of the Titanic, it wasn’t until the James Cameron movie was released in 1997 that interest exploded. It was amazing to experience the dramatic increase in calls & requests at our office concerning newspapers reporting the Titanic disaster . The movie release preceded the eBay craze so it was only by individual quotes & listings in our catalog that we could keep up with the demand. Prices did increase dramatically.

The “Amistad” slave ship movie had a similar reaction. Few people even knew of the event before the Stephen Spielberg movie, but upon its release we sold dozens of notable issues of the event & subsequent trial at prices which far exceeded those possible before the movie.

Other historically-themed events in American or world history, whether they happened on the big screen or television, have had similar effect on the rare newspaper hobby. The most recent “event” is the Hatfield-McCoy feud, spurred on by the recent History Channel mini-series.

Thought by some to be nothing more then legend and not an historical event, the Hatfield McCoy feud was, indeed, very real. We find it interesting the degree to which coverage of the feud appeared in newspapers of the era. We are fortunate to have newspapers from West Virginia (example) in 1889 (the feud happened at the Kentucky-West Virginia border) which have extensive articles on the feud, and our listings  on eBay have created a following which far exceeds those listed  prior to the mini-series. And many of those following our offerings–and buying them–are new hobbyists who likely never purchased an historical newspaper before.

All this is of benefit to the hobby. Although much criticism has been levied against what is seen on television and in movie theaters today, occasionally quality productions which are based on historical fact have  increased interest not only in America history but also appreciation for genuine newspapers which report those events at the time they happened. This can only be good for the hobby.

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