Before they became famous…

January 29, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Part of the fun in collecting newspapers is finding reports in newspapers or magazines of the day about a person or event before it or they became famous. Typically such reports are very inconspicuous and brief, which adds to the excitement in making such a discovery.

Such finds are not uncommon in this hobby. We have sold many issues of the installation in the Philadelphia State House steeple that which would become the physical manifestation of freedom –the Liberty Bell–as reported in a Gentleman’s Magazine of 1753. There are several mentions of political neophyte Abraham Lincoln from the 1830’s & 1840’s, well before he would be thrust into American history with the advent of the Civil War. Mentions of Davy Crockett from before his heroic death at the Alamo can still be found.

A recent find is equally as intriguing and perhaps more so as it is no small report. The SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine of February 22, 1902 has most of a page taken up with a report of Wilbur Wright “…of Dayton, Ohio…” and his experiments with flight and includes not just one but five photos of his early machines. This was some 22 months before he and his brother would make their historic flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, which would change the world forever.

This issue has languished on our warehouse shelves for many years only to be discovered by accident. Such are the joys of collecting! I hope all of you have experienced some exciting finds unnoticed by others.

What reports of historical people or events have you found which predate their greater moment of significance? Feel free to share.