The reason I collected it: Dodge’s Literary Museum…

August 21, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 
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Mastheads of newspapers through the centuries offer a very wide assortment of styles, sizes and decorativeness, with many being quite mundane. Only the “special” ones make it to the private collection, and “Dodge’s Literary Museum” is one.
Any newspapering which the masthead consumes one-third of the front page qualifies. This title’s masthead engraving consumes over half of the front page, very unusual as such. The content may be literary items with no “newsy” reports, but the front page is certainly worth of collecting, regardless of what is inside.21

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We all need a North Star… Wisdom from Frederick Douglass…

August 14, 2023 by · 1 Comment 
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It is difficult to look at the life of Frederick Douglass and not become completely enthralled. Over the years, as I have ventured beyond the surface-deep historical facts by reading his speeches and writing, I have been astounded by his insight into the human condition and his wisdom which inspires the reader to live their best, most sacrificial life. It is no coincidence his first newspaper was titled THE NORTH STAR (later called the FREDERICK DOUGLASS’ PAPER). I would submit we can all use a clear guide to true north. Here’s hoping and praying that every new generation studies his life and writings, thereby helping to ensure “a more perfect Union” and a brighter future for all.

Source: Edited photo from the Library of Congress, Washington, DC

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The meanderings of those who collect Rare & Early Newspapers…

August 11, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 
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One of the more difficult challenges the staff at Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers face on a near-daily basis is to not be (too often) distracted by that which makes the hobby itself so interesting: that is, that one never knows what one may find while perusing an old newspaper… nor where it may lead. In other words, to not become endlessly distracted. It really is the “back in the good old days” version of surfing the web. This isn’t to say the meanderings are bad per se, for if we permit ourselves to be carried away for a period of time there is much to learn; however, if permitted to get out of hand the phone would be ringing off the hook from collectors wondering why their purchases, which will likely lead to their own meanderings, have yet to ship. Combining the old (rare newspapers) with the new (the internet) has only exacerbated the temptation.

One minor instance occurred just a few weeks ago which, if you have a few minutes to spare, I’d like to share with you.

We recently purchased a set of The National Era which included many of the original installments of the serialized printing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. While tagging the issues which contained segments of her profoundly culture-altering novel, we noticed several issues which did not have portions still contained related articles. This led us to do an internet search for additional titles (newspaper publications) which had Uncle Tom’s Cabin themed coverage… and this is where the fun began.

I expected the big boys (The New York Times, Tribune, and Herald, along with other notable papers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Liberator) to have mentions. However, I did not expect to see coverage of the book in The Saturday Evening Post – and as fate would have it, the issue referenced was one buried deep within our archives. Off I went to find the July 29, 1865 issue. Hoping for a glorious, detailed report, what I found instead was a poem with a mere mention. Still, although a bit disappointed, I was intrigued by the first line of the article: “There are fragments of songs that nobody sings”, by B. F. Taylor. After having my curiosity piqued by the line, and my sleeping heart stirred by the article itself, I headed back to the internet to find the text of the entire poem (which turned out to be significantly more challenging – dare I say time-consuming – than expected). Once found and read, the entirety of the trek to this point caused me to sense the tension between hope and sorrow… which led me to wonder how those who lived in the mid-1800’s morphed from anger (having read Uncle Tom’s Cabin), to hopelessness (seeing little-to-no change in the state of slavery since their “forefathers” had agreed it should be abolished, but did not do so for fear that the doing so would cause their quest to become a “united” group of states to fail), to hope in a trickle… and then a stream… and then a flood… and then a bloody tidal wave called the American Civil War…  to deep sorrow (for the sins of the past and deadly consequences thereof), to restored hope and wonder (in what the future might hold).

Although at this point I could hear my daily tasks calling, this mental excursion was not to be stifled for it had caused me to recall a certain illustration from the cover of the Harper’s Weekly dated November 3, 1866) – a woodcut print of which I was familiar, yet one I had never taken the time to read the blurb describing it. Not wanting to let my travels come to an end with a whimper, I read the short description – And this led me to my final question and motivation for writing this verbose post: When/how did the moniker “Uncle Tom”, born from the text which had been instrumental in vanquishing slavery, morph from being a term of endearment to a gross insult? While the road I had taken did not lead me to new “finds” within our inventory, it did awaken my heart to the plight of slavery and my mind to the understanding of why a nickname which had once been bestowed on someone with kindness and admiration had transformed into one of the greatest cultural (and political) insults aimed at black Americans. The latter I learned by one more trip to the internet: When ‘Uncle Tom’ Became an Insult

The following photos provide a visual glimpse of my meanderings, with the poem by B. F. Taylor saved for last. If you made it this far, thanks for indulging me. Please know if you decide to start collecting rare and early newspapers, this condition is highly contagious. If you already are a collector, you already know.

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Are the Molly Maguires, Mormons, General Pickett, Jim Thorpe and Hitler connected?

August 7, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 
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What do Eskimos, George Washington, King William IV (England), the Ku Klux Klan, the Molly Maguires, Mormons, General Pickett, John D. Rockerfeller, Jim Thorpe, Amilia Earhart, Billy Burke, Adolph Hitler, “Bugs” Moran, Billie Jean King, and Roger Federer have in common? Coverage about each of them appeared in newspapers dated July 7th. The years may have varied, but one of the many reasons why were are familiar with their names is due to “This Day in History”. I wonder who might show up on a different day? Why not give it a try – see “Month and Day (Any Year)”?

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The impact of Newspapers on the abolition of slavery…

August 4, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 
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The impact print media in general, and newspapers in particular had on attitudes towards slavery cannot be overstated. The abolitionist press was in full-force during the early-to-mid 1800’s with publications such as The Anti-Slavery Bugle, The Emancipator, the National Anti-Slavery Standard, the National Era (which had the honor of being the first to print Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”), among those who carried the torch. While some publishers became household names during this critical period in American history (William Lloyd Garrison – publisher of The Liberator), Frederick Douglass – publisher of the North Star [later, the Frederick Douglass’ Paper], and Horace Greeley – publisher of the New York Tribune), a slew of others, while highly influential, have largely been forgotten. One such unheralded publisher was Hezekiah Niles’, the publisher of the Niles’ Register from Baltimore, Maryland. While Niles’ Register would not be placed under the umbrella of The Abolitionist Press, not wearing this label coupled with its heavy focus on political issues may have played to his advantage when Hezekiah wrote and published his “Mitigation of Slavery” in serialized form over a span of 8 issues in 1819. It may not have had an Uncle-Tom’s-Cabin-level impact among the masses, there is little doubt the minds of many in-and-around Washington D.C. were challenged to keep the abolishment of slavery at the forefront of both political and public discourse. The full text of his essay can be read on-line, however, photo-snippets of portions of an original as well as a brief description may be viewed on the Rare Newspapers website: Hezekiah Niles’ “Mitigation of Slavery“. His final thoughts are shown below.


Horrace Greeley, Fred Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe… Hezekiah Niles…

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Announcing: Catalog #333 for August, 2023 – Rare & Early Newspapers…

July 31, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 
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The August catalog (#333) is now available. Shown below are links to various segments of the catalog, our currently discounted newspapers, and recent posts to the History’s Newsstand Blog. Please enjoy.

CATALOG #333 – This latest offering of authentic newspapers is comprised of more than 300 new items, a selection which includes the following noteworthy issues: a Bunker Hill report in a Williamsburg newspaper, the “North Star” becomes the “Frederick Douglass’ Paper”, the most famous Confederate newspaper (?), a rare 1727 report on the death of Sir Isaac Newton, the ‘Oxford Gazette’ reports on the Great Plague, a very early baseball illustration in an 1856 periodical, and more.


Helpful Links to the Catalog:
DISCOUNTED ISSUES – What remains of last month’s discounted issues may be viewed at: Discount (select items at 50% off)
Thanks for collecting with us.




Guy Heilenman & The Rare & Early Newspapers Team


[The links above will redirect to the latest catalog in approx. 30 days

upon which time it will update to the most recent catalog.]

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Christmas in July…

July 28, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 
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We all have those moments when a memory comes flooding back with all the delight or despair the original moment generated. Such was the case earlier this week as I was organizing a new our new acquisition of Harper’s Weekly Illustrated issues. After working my way through several years, I paused to sort through a stack of Christmas issues.  Although it’s the middle of summer and the temperature outside regularly toys with 3-digits, my mind darted back to a midsummer day 20+ years ago when Guy and I were hiking part of the Loyalsock Trail in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. As we were walking along the trail near where we had set up our tents, we thought it odd to hear Christmas music in the distance, however, as we turned off the path and prepared to cross a stream we were amused and entertained by dozens of families and friends celebrating “Christmas in July” right in the middle of the woodland path. Their generator running to power countless strings of Christmas lights, music pumping, and tables crowded with homemade goodies – this family event was in full festive swing.

Jumping back to the present…

With a smile on my face at the thought of this communal celebration, I grabbed my stack of Christmas issues and headed back up to the front office to share them with all of you through this post. Below you will find a few I’ve listed. We may only have only one 1st-rate issue of each of these, there are plenty of similar to choose from on this hot day in July: Christmas-Themed Harper’s Weekly.

Sample Harper’s Weekly w/ a Christmas Theme

January 1, 1881

December 24, 1881

January 3, 1880




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Obituaries of the famous… and the not so famous…

July 21, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 
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We often receive requests from our collecting friends for death announcements of the rich and famous.  Searching for these provides us with a sense of nostalgia as memories flood in of summer blockbusters or oldies-but-goodies from our grandparent’s era. Today, however, I wasn’t even looking for an obituary as I paged through a LA Times from August 18, 2005, but as I came across a death report a name leapt from the page and caught my attention. It wasn’t James Dougherty, the one who had just passed away at the ripe age of 84; rather, it was the name of his lovely 16 year old bride, Norma Jean. James was fortunate to have been the 1st man to marry the future star Marilyn Monroe before anyone else gave her a thought. He was quoted as saying, “I never knew Marilyn Monroe… I knew and loved Norma Jean.” Apparently, Norma’s wasn’t the only sad candle in the wind.

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Snapshot 1881: Is it a car, a bike, a train or a trike?

July 17, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 
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Is it a car, a bike, a train, or a trike – or something else altogether? Looking back with an effort to place various inventions into current-day buckets is not always easy. However, in this case, there is one thing we know for sure: It is a velocipede: “a human-powered land vehicle with one or more wheels.” This one appeared in the April 16, 1881 issue of Scientific American.

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The Declaration of Independence – Jefferson’s Original Draft…

July 14, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 
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Question of the day… Who recognizes the following quote?

“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. The opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain, determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this excusable commerce and that this assemblage of might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also intrude them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

If you had asked me a week ago (on July 4th), I would have had no idea. However, as of noon the following day I’ll never forget it. The above quote is from the original draft of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson had penned these passionate words denouncing slavery in the original draft. Sadly, delegates from 2 of the 13 colonies would not sign the “declaration” if they were included. Playing the long-game, Jefferson removed them from the first draft with the hope of fighting another day. As I searched the internet for the exact wording, I became distressed when I could not easily find the text from this brilliantly written outcry against evil. What if these exact words were lost to we the people… the common folk? Then, as if by a miracle (albeit with a small “m”), as I was looking through a Harper’s Weekly dated July 8, 1876, I discovered: “FAC-SIMILE OF THE ORIGINAL DRAUGHT BY JEFFERSON OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE” within the rarely-included Supplement. I immediately scanned for what I knew to be the opening line of this “missing” portion… “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself…”, and voilà, there it was! History preserved in a Harper’s Weekly for all to see. I breathed a sigh, slid it into a protective folder, and laid it gently on my desk. Yet another reason why I love this job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS  Based upon what is known about Jefferson’s personal “ownership” of slaves, some may argue his thoughts were hypocritical (or at least blatantly insincere). Perhaps they are right… or, perhaps such an assessment is a bit more complicated. Regardless, it is nice to know many of our Founders wanted to end this inhumane institution.

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