A gem from the American Antiquarian Society… The Kentucky Spy…

August 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

In celebration of its 20oth anniversary the American Antiquarian Society published a beautiful  exhibition catalog titled “In Pursuit Of A Vision – Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society”. Featured are a fascinating array of books, documents, maps & other paper ephemera, as well as several very rare & unusual newspapers we felt worthy of sharing with our collectors (with permission from the A.A.S.).

Blog-8-8-2016-AAS-Kentucky-Spy181. “The Kentucky Spy and Porcupine Quill“, Frankfort, Kentucky, January 25, 1849

In recent years AAS has actively collected issues of pre-1877 American manuscript periodicals. These handwritten examples mimic printed periodicals in format and content, containing stories, news, and advertisements. Sometimes they were produced by individuals, serving as the manuscript equivalent of amateur newspapers, and sometimes they were issued by small groups. Others were produced as an activity of a school or lyceum.

AAS has held manuscript periodicals since the nineteenth century; but because these were long shelved alongside printed periodicals, they were easily overlooked. In the 1990s AAS staff began to pull them together into a separate collection, in the process discovering not only how many titles were already at AAS, but also the frequency with which they were produced. As it became apparent that the more specimens AAS had, the more they collectively revealed about early American scribal culture, AAS began to seek them actively. The collection now numbers more than sixty titles.

One of the more unusual is “The Kentucky Spy and Porcupine Quill.” The masthead claims that it is “Devoted to the science of matrimony, union, wedlock and the ladies.” However, the chief story, entitled “Wonderful rumpus in the town of Irvine,” is a fictional account, humorous in tone, of a revolt by 5,000 heavily armed slaves which in the story turns out to be a hoax. The editor and contributor(s) are unnamed.

The Hatfields & McCoys… on Pinterest…

September 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

There are few conflicts which have been romanticized as much as the quarter-century battle between two extended families from the boarder mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky.  Wikipedia describes the ongoing struggle as follows:

The Hatfield–McCoy feud (1863–91) involved two families of the West Virginia–Kentucky area along the Tug Fork, off the Big Sandy River. The Hatfields of West Virginia were led by William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield while the McCoys of Kentucky were under the leadership of Randolph “Ole Ran’l” McCoy. Those involved in the feud were descended from Ephraim Hatfield (born c. 1765) and William McCoy (born c. 1750). The feud has entered the American folklore lexicon as a metaphor for any bitterly feuding rival parties. More than a century later, the story of the feud has become a modern symbol of the perils of family honor, justice, and vengeance… (view more via Wikipedia)

At Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers we’ve created a Pinterest Board so that those interested in seeing how these events were reported in the newspapers of the day can enjoy contemporary reports.  As we often say, “History is never more fascinating than when it is read from the day it was first reported”.

Please enjoy:  Hatfields & McCoys – The Famous Feud… on Pinterest

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

June 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

The first newspaper in Kentucky…

April 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The first newspaper ever published west of the Allegheny Mountains was established in Lexington, in 1787, by John Bradford. It was then called the “Kentucke Gazette“, but the final “e” of Kentucky was afterward changed to “y”, in consequence of the Virginia legislature requiring certain advertisements to be inserted in the “Kentucky Gazette“.

Go To: http://www.kentuckygazette.com/

This paper was born of the necessities of the times. The want of a government independent of Virginia was then universally felt, and the second convention that met in Danville, in 1785, to discuss that subject, resolved, “That to ensure unanimity in the opinion of the people respecting the propriety of separating the district of Kentucky from Virginia and forming a separate state government, and to give publicity to the proceedings of the convention, it is deemed essential to the interests of the country to have a printing press.”

John Bradford informed the committee that he would establish a paper if the convention would guarantee to him the public patronage. To this the convention acceded, and in 1786 Bradford sent to Philadelphia for the necessary materials. He had already received every encouragement from the citizens on Lexington, and at a meeting of the trustees in July, it was ordered “that the use of a public lot be granted to John Bradford free, on condition that he establish a printing press in Lexington; the lot to be free to him as long as the press is in town,”

At last, after many months on the route, the precious printing material arrived, and on August 18, 1787, appeared the first number of the first newspaper ever published in the then western wilderness. It was a quaint little brown thing, about the size of a half sheet of common letter paper, “subscription price 18 shillings per annum, advertisements of moderate length 3 shillings.” The first number is without a heading, and contains one advertisement, two short original articles, and the following apology from the editor:

“My customers will excuse this, my first publication, as I am much hurried to get an impression by the time appointed. A great part of the types fell into pi [disorder] in the carriage of them from Limestone (Maysville) to this office, and my partner, which is the only assistant I have, through an indisposition of the body, has been incapable of rendering the smallest assistance for ten days past.   JOHN BRADFORD.”
Source:  Much of the credit for this post goes to George W. Ranck’s  “History of Lexington, Kentucky…”