Rare Newspaper Collections Within Collections…

January 14, 2009 by  
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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.

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3 Responses to “Rare Newspaper Collections Within Collections…”

  1. b. garrett meadows on January 20th, 2009 11:10 pm

    What makes one newspaper’s front page of a specific event more collectible than another newspaper’s front page of the same event?

  2. GuyHeilenman on January 21st, 2009 9:18 am

    Great Question. Several factors must be considered which include the length of the report, the prevalence of noteworthy details within the report, its position on the page, the heading, and whether or not the report is completely contained on the page (as opposed to being continued on another page).

  3. Matthew Enright on July 12th, 2009 2:07 am

    Morris, very interesting article. Thanks for sharing with us your newspaper collection.

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