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WW2 Era Newspapers Found In The Attic… Are They Worth Anything?

October 25, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Perhaps the most common inquiry we receive concerns newspapers from World War II found in parents’ attics. As generations pass it is incumbent upon their children to sort out what is of value and what is not.

The list which follows is a guide for determining what to keep and what to dispose.

In general, there are only about 15 events which are sufficiently notable to excite most collectors. Those event not included on the list are considered “generic” or “atmosphere” issues which, although reporting much on the war, are generally not significant enough to draw the attention of the serious collector.

It’s worth noting that graphic appeal tends to trump title. Example: the New York Times remains one of the more notable newspapers of the 20th century, but their headlines were typically conservative, lacking any drama, flash, or graphic appeal. Small town newspapers with dramatic graphic appeal will be more desired.

Issues which fit the events and criteria noted below could well have collector value. Feel free to send the exact title and date of each along with photos of the entire front pages (showing margins) to:

Note: Perhaps the mostly commonly reprinted issue of the war is the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of Dec. 7, 1941. Most of the issues on the market are the common reprint, still sold at the souvenir stand at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Honolulu. See this blog post on how to tell a reprint from the genuine issue.

Top 15 events of World War II:

1) Germany invades Poland, 9/1/1939

* This event marked what many regard as the start of the war. Although not an American
event, most collectors want this report among their holdings.

2) Attack on Pearl Harbor, 12/7/1941

* Japan’s naval air force attacks military bases on Oahu, Hawaii, thus thrusting the United States into the war. The more dramatic and shocking the wording in a banner headline the better.

3) U.S. Declares war against Japan, 12/8/1941

* Just one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor the United States officially declares war against Japan, formalizing America’s entry in the war in the Pacific.

4) U.S. declares war against Germany & Italy, 12/11/1941

* The United States enters the war in Europe as well, just 3 days after declaring war against Japan.

5) Battle of Midway, 6/4-7/1942

* Just six months after Pearl Harbor the United States scores a major naval victory in the Pacific against Japan. Being a multi-day event, collectors would pursue the best headline near the end of the battle reporting the American victory.

6) D-Day, 6/6/1944

* With Axis forces controlling much of Western Europe, this day marks the offensive of the Allied forces in re-taking conquered countries. The word “Invasion” is desired somewhere within the headlines.

7) Battle of the Bulge, 12/16/1944

* This was the last major German offensive on the Western Front taking place from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945. Issues near the end of the battle which reported an Allied victory would be more desired.

8) Photo of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, 2/23/1945

* If there was a single, iconic photo of American successes in the Pacific it would be this Pulitzer Prize-winning photo. Many newspapers included it in their editions of a day or two later, many did not. Better if the photo is on the front page, as many newspapers—when using it—did so on an inside page.

9) Death of FDR, 4/12/1945

* Although arguably not a true war event, the death of the President who was Commander-In- Chief of the military through almost the entirety of the war cannot be missed as a notable event.

10) Death of Hitler, 4/30/1945

* Hitler’s suicide deep inside a Berlin bunker essentially ended the war in Europe as just days later terms of surrender were agreed to by Nazi officials. Most newspapers reported his death on May 2, and a few published the Nazi propaganda report that the Fuehrer: “…has fallen in battle at the head of the heroic defenders of the Reich capital…”. The blunt words: “Hitler Dead” are more dramatic than “Death of Hitler”.

11) V-E Day, 5/7/1945

* The official end of the War in Europe. This was one event where newspapers often used patriotic embellishments to celebrate the victory, some multi-colored, some incorporating war photos within letters, etc.

12) Atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima, 8/6/1945

* With the war in the Pacific still raging, the first atomic bomb ever deployed was dropped over the city of Hiroshima. Some newspaper down-played the horrific affects of the bomb. More desired are headlines which more accurately reported the incredible devastation.

13) Atomic bomb drop on Nagasaki, 8/9/1945

* Just 3 days after Hiroshima, the second atomic bomb was dropped, which prompted the Japanese to pursue surrender terms. Again, bluntly accurate reporting in the headline is desired over a more subdued report.

14) V-J Day, 8/15/1945

* Terms for surrender were agreed upon, and the world announced the end of World War II. Much like V-E Day, newspapers typically became very creative in patriotically celebrating the end of the war. The more creative the front page the better.

15) Formal surrender of Japan, ending WWII, 9/2/1945

* Signing of the surrender terms happened on board the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Although most collectors would consider V-J Day as the end of the war, and in many respects it was, collectors often pursue this event as well.

There are also 2nd-tier items which could be collectible, but the extent of coverage and graphic appeal are paramount, and in some cases the title/publisher is essential. The list below contains such items, and will be updated from time-to-time.


Nuremberg Laws enacted, 9/15/1935

Jews no longer permitted to own property (various)

Opening of Concentration Camps (various)

Kristallnacht,  11/9-10/1938

During The War

Fake Report of attack on Los Angeles, “Battle of Los Angeles” (2/25/1942)

Bismarck Sunk, 5/27/2941

Star of David Badge, 9/7/1941

Doolittle Raid , 4/18-20/1942

USS Lexington Lost, 6/12/1942

Bataan Death March, 1/28/1944

JFK PT Boat, 6/11/1944

MacArthur returns to the Philippines, 10/20/1944


USS Missouri – Peace Treaty Signed, 9/2/1945

Louis Zamperini Found, 9/9/1945

Patton’s Death, 12/21/1945



Rare Newspaper Collections Within Collections…

January 14, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

From our guest contributor, *Morris Brill:

A significant segment of my newspaper collection is American and International Politics. This segment focuses on Presidents, World Leaders, Wars, Treaties, and Legislation.

Recently, while reviewing my collection of historic newspapers, covering the span of the past two centuries, I noticed I owned numerous newspapers referencing one world leader whose exploits spanned twenty-two years and whose name is one of the most recognizable in world history.

His fame is owed not only to his charismatic leadership but to the specific historic events with which he is associated.

Few world leaders can lay claim to a greater body of history than this leader, and collecting newspapers about this one man, alone, could occupy a collector’s time and interest for many years.

The story of this leader starts in 1789 with events leading up to his assumption of power on November 9, 1799 and continuing thereafter until his death in 1821.

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE stands monumental in history and the events he is associated with are among the most famous in military conflict.

My collection starts in 1791 when King Louis XV1, and his Queen Marie Antoinette, attempted to flee Paris dressed as servants to free themselves from captivity during the French Revolution. (The Mail; or, Claypoole’s Daily Advertiser – August 24, 1791)

This event is followed by the beheading of King Louis XV1, as reported in the Gazette of the United States of March 10, 1793.

The following year Queen Marie Antoinette was beheaded as reported in the Courier of New Hampshire of March 6, 1794. This newspaper contains one of the most tender reports I have had the pleasure of reading in any newspaper of any event, and I attach it here for your reading pleasure.

The Boston Gazette of December 26, 1805 reports on the Battle of Trafalgar fought between the naval forces of England against the combined naval forces of France and Spain. It was during this battle that Horatio Nelson, England’s most revered naval commander, lost is life and left to posterity his famous words, “England expects that every man will do his duty.”

On March 9, 1813, as reported in the Salem Gazette, we read of Napoleon’s Retreat from Russia representing one of the most lethal military operations in world history. “Its sustained role in Russian culture may be seen in Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the Soviet identification of it with the German invasion of 1941-1945.”

The Weekly Messenger of June 6, 1814 tells the story of Napoleon’s Exile to Elba. This is followed by Napoleon’s Return From Elba as recorded in the Daily National Intelligencer of May 2, 1815.

On August 25, 1815 the Weekly Messenger reported on what has become synonymous to a ‘final undoing’ The Battle of Waterloo. The Duke of Wellington, in reference to Napoleon, is quoted as saying: “I consider Napoleon’s presence in the field equal to forty thousand men in the balance.”

The Vermont Intelligencer of August 27, 1821 tells the final chapter with its report on The Death of Napoleon Bonaparte.

My collection of Napoleon Bonaparte related newspapers is certainly not comprehensive. I have used this example to illustrate that within a collection the collector can find eras that are worthy of a collection of their own.

Perhaps you have a collection of George Washington, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Robert E. Lee or any of numerous other leaders whose names have been recorded in the annuals of history.

Please share with us your special interest and collection.

Morris Brill

*  Background:

Morris Brill has been collecting newspapers for 45+ years with an emphasis on Political History, Air and Space, Famous and Infamous People, and Americana.

Morris possesses a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and History.

During an interview conducted by his hometown newspaper Morris was asked “What have you learned by collecting newspapers.”

Morris replied with the following:

“In essence I have learned that joy and sorrow walk hand in hand and that which we celebrate today may be the cause of our tears tomorrow, and yet, while we weep, the future is ready to bring us further elation.”

Thank you Morris. Your insight and contributions to the hobby are greatly appreciated.