Merry Christmas…

December 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


One of the more frequent questions we (the staff) are asked by members of Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers is whether or not we become distracted from our “work” by the call/allure of the content within the issues we offer – i.e., do we often find ourselves reading the issues?Christmas_1 Christmas_2The simple answer is an emphatic “Yes”.  Rarely a day goes by in which we do not share new finds with one another.  It’s one of the side benefits of being surrounded by history.  Another simple pleasure is the ability to view some of the most incredible prints ever produced – those from the many illustrated newspapers from the 19th century (Harper’s Weekly, Leslie’s Illustrated, Gleason’s Pictorial, etc.).

Specifically, within the pages of these wonderful issues one can find some of the most amazing Christmas-themed prints.   If you have a few minutes over the next few days, I invite you to go to the link below and take a few minutes to enjoy what we experience every day.

Link to issues containing Christmas-themed prints:  Harper’s Weekly Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Staff of Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers


The “Carrier’s Address”…

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Credit for portions of the following must be given to Clarence Brigham & his work “Journals & Journeymen”, as well as to the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.

august_27_2009_post1During the nineteenth century, newspaper carriers were often not paid by the publishers of the papers. They typically depended upon donations from patrons at the end of the year. To remind the public that the carriers depended on their donations, newspaper publishers issued poetic broadsides or booklets for New Years Day. These poems often recounted the major news stories of the previous year, but always closed with a plea to pay the carrier.

They were rarely saved since they contained no news reports and as a result are rather rare today. Although many Carriers’ Addresses were contained within the body of the first newspaper issue in the new year, the most sought after are the broadside editions, printed on one side of a sheet of paper typically with ornate lettering, decorative borders, etc. The more decorative the Address the more collectible. The “New York Weekly Museum” address for 1790 had an engraving of a boy delivering a paper at a doorway, one of just a few with such an illustration.

The earliest known examples  were done for the “American Weekly Mercury” of Philadelphia in 1720, 1721 and 1723 although none have been found. The earliest located for the American Antiquarian Society is that of January 1, 1735. Benjamin Franklin included them in his “Pennsylvania Gazette” as early as 1739 (see photo).

The amount of the donation expected by the carrier was generally left to the customer. Many of the verses concluded with such a sentiment as “Remember the poor printer’s Devil” or “Be bounteous to the Printer’s boy”. Sometimes the sentiment was more definite, such as “I won’t Refuse a six pence” and “Please keep the cents and–give the silver”.

By the 1870’s the custom began to fall off, likely due to the beginning of more commercial & larger influential newspapers which considered such a custom undignified, also falling away in favor of the distribution of Christmas or New Year’s cards by the end of the 19th century. The latest located for the American Antiquarian Society is dated 1904.

From the private collection: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”

December 22, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

Sometimes historical content in newspapers takes a back seat to seemingly innocuous items found which, in time, resonate through our culture without the slightest impact on history. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address could be one example. And such was the case with an innocent letter written to THE SUN newspaper of New York City in 1897.

Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial in their Sept. 21, 1897 edition. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps. It has unquestionably become a part of Christmas culture over 110 years later.

At this special time of year we feel it appropriate to share not only the inquiring words of Virginia O’Hanlon but the timeless response just as it appeared in the newspaper in 1897.

May all of you allow the spirit of the Christmas season as beautifully expressed by Mr. Church find a special place in your heart and home this week.

Merry Christmas… and good wishes to all…

December 22, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

It is always a bit tricky when acknowledging certain holidays from a business platform.  Christmas is certainly one day which fits this bill.  Some might be offended if the acknowledgment is too “religious”.  Others might have the same reaction if the holiday is spoken of too lightly.  This debate has gone mainstream with a vengeance as various retail stores have advised (or mandated) that their employees not mention Christmas in verbal exchanges with customers.  To me, this reeks of political correctness gone wild.  There was a time when we would focus on the interests of others as opposed to ourselves.  Although I might not be Jewish, if I knew someone was, I would certainly wish them a Happy Hanukkah (at the appropriate time)… and they would do the same for me at Christmas.  I’ve even had British associates wish me a Happy 4th of July!  The focus was on an appreciation for the person being spoken to.  Their holiday might not be special to me, but it was to them; therefore, acknowledging what was important to them was in order.  Whether we called this behavior public decorum, others focused, or simple civility, it created a harmonious atmosphere we all appreciated.  It is with this harmony in mind, and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I share the following 2007 “Yuletide Greeting” from one of our friends, Vincent Golden:

December 2007 ( a year ago)

Dear [Friends],

Happy holidays, Christmas/Kwanza/Hanukah/Pagan Feast Day/Tuesday (Circle one).

Once again another year has come and almost gone and none of us managed to keep our New Year’s resolutions. By May I was back to submitting fake garage sales ads in the local newspaper for neighbors that annoyed me. In August I was creating new books of the Apocrypha and burying them in caves in the Middle East region. I thought I could make it to the end of the year on my last one, but once again I failed and as a result have to wait a year before I can donate blood.

As usual it has been a busy year. One of my big projects was helping little Jimmy get his Cub Scout merit badges. We spent a lot of time on the whittling badge. He did a marvelous job following my instructions. Unfortunately he didn’t get the badge. I tried to argue that the handbook does not prohibit what can be whittled. I thought the point was it should look realistic. Still thanks to the publicity generated by the controversy (and the bomb squad), Jimmy’s project brought over $1200 on eBay.

Work at the library was not that exciting. The high point was the uncovering of Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of Slavery for Dummies. His annotations in the margins of chapter 9 strengthen the historical and controversial issue about Sally Hemmings. We also acquired the rare 1752 Boston printing of The Lighter Side of Puritanism. Did you know they were the first to bring a piñata from Mexico? Or the first to leave flaming bags of poo outside wigwams?

Since moving to Massachusetts I’ve explored the many historical sites of New England. At Mystic Seaport I saw the replica of the ship, La Zapata, which introduced psoriasis to the New World. Near Portland, ME a historical society has restored a series of houses from the 1830s designed by architects with severe head injuries. Some have features that have no vocabulary that begins to describe them. The closest I can think of is “wonky.” In the fall I drove up to Vermont. Most people go up there during a two-week period for leaf peeping. I ended up with a group of die hards that go leaf stalking. I think they discovered the secret of fermenting maple syrup to make “wacky pancakes” before they begin the day.

So what is new with the family? My parents continue to keep busy. They are becoming experts at rehabilitating circus elephants and releasing them into the wild. Unfortunately they release them into the wilds of Illinois. They tend not to survive the winters. My older brother is applying new techniques of quantum physics to agriculture. I’m not sure the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is the best way to go when harvesting corn. Little sister is still pursuing her dream as an artist. Her attempt at creating counter-intuitive theatre did not get an NEH grant, but the CDC is interested in her performance.

I plan on doing a little re-gifting this year. The politically correct term is environmentally responsible recycling of inert compounds. I use the term inert, but it really means the crap that stays in the garage. I don’t remember who gave what. Please let me know what you gave last year from this list so I’ll make sure you don’t get it back.

1. Singing bass plaque with the voice of Celine Dion.

2. Scented tennis raquet.

3. Hawaiian-print bandages.

4. Hybrid-fuel roller skates.

5. Ultimate fighting lessons.

6. Fruit fly cake.

I’m keeping the cattle prod. The more I have to go to worthless meetings, the more ideas I come up with for it.

As you remember, every year I have a holiday trivia competition. Since I’m sure you saved the letter from last year, here are the answers:

1. Red

2. Blood red

3. Venison

4. Senator Fred Thompson was once burgermeister meisterburger.

5. Gimpy was the third string reindeer.

And now to this year’s holiday trivia questions.

1. What strategies do Santa and WalMart use in common to keep their employees from unionizing?

2. Which battle was started because of a fruitcake and ended by bad egg nog?

3. In the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas”, how many health violations are broken if the recipient lived in Chicago? In New Jersey?

4. What percent of family holiday gatherings end with a psychotic episode? End with pie?

5. When did the tradition end of Queen Elizabeth finishing her annual Christmas broadcast by saying, “keep cool my posse?”

And so as the year draws to a close, please raise a glass to toast the new year. To 2008. May we elect someone who can walk and chew gum this time.


As for those looking for a little more traditional cheer, feel free to consider other poems (or newspapers) about the Christmas season:

A Visit from Saint Nicholas” by Clement Clark Moore (or Henry Livingston)

Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Noël” by Anne Porter

Christmas” by John Betjeman

Christmas Trees” by Robert Frost

The Shivering Beggar” by Robert Graves

“Christ Climbed Down” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The Savior must have been a docile Gentleman” by Emily Dickinson

Christmas at Sea” by Robert Louis Stevenson

A Hymn on the Nativity of My Savior” by Ben Jonson

Old Santeclaus” by Clement Clark Moore

Prologue of the Earthly Paradise” by William Morris

Ecce Puer” by James Joyce

The Thread of Life” by Christina Rossetti

Dust of Snow” by Robert Frost

At Christmas” by Edgar Guest

The Oxen” by Thomas Hardy

Come, bring with a noise” by Robert Herrick

On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity” by John Milton

A Christmas Carol” by Christina Rossetti

Heigh Ho, The Holly” by William Shakespeare

The Burning Babe” by Robert Southwell

Ring Out, Wild Bells” by Lord Alfred Tennyson

The Mahogany Tree” by William Thackeray

A Christmas Carol” by George Wither

Skating in Harlem, Christmas Day” by Cynthia Zarin

Merry Christmas to all! Guy

« Previous Page