I’m New Here: Week Thirty-One

September 20, 2019 by · 1 Comment 

Newspapers were bound into volumes throughout the years for a variety of reasons.  My favorite is that the owner of a large house would send off the papers that had been delivered, ironed, and read throughout the course of a year.  A book binder would glue and sew them together, and they would be returned to the home’s library, to be arranged with all the other years, and thus mark the history within which great homes and great families were housed.

Breaking a volume of bound issues goes against the grain for someone like me.  Perhaps the remembered library hush of early childhood imprinted an aura of solemnity to the world of books; perhaps the shadowed mystery of pre-reading years conjures the aroma that is akin to sacred things.  The most likely reason, however, is reflected in the lifetime acquisitions boxed in spare spaces, despite overflowing shelves in every room.  I like books.  And my forays into the back are exercises in willpower if I am headed toward All the Year Round, Household Words, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Weekly or Scribner’s Monthly – which are liberally laden with serialized stories from beloved authors.

This week, in a search for details surrounding a Harlem rabble-rouser, I found an article headed “BRITAIN AMERICANIZED, CHESTERTON CONTENDS”, followed by, “He says Existence of Nation Is Being Altered by American Economic Pressure”.  The opening words confirmed my hope that these were indeed opinions offered by the great writer of The Man Who Would Be Thursday, the Father Brown Mysteries, and seventy other titles.  Many American readers, such as myself, have relished the literary works of this sharp-witted, kind-hearted lay cleric of the early 1900’s.

The affection, it seems, was not mutual.

“Speaking last night at the Delphian Coterie dinner, G.K. Chesterton declared that English habit and life, the look of the English town and the whole tone of English existence are being altered by the economic and commercial pressure of America.  He said that if the Kaiser had occupied London with the Prussian Army he could not more completely have denationalized the English nation and city.  ’While I object most violently to the Americanization of England,’ he said, “I have no objection to the Americanization of America.  Most Americans I have known I have liked, but I have like them most when I have known them in America.  Let us approach all international criticism with a good deal of what our fathers called Christian humility.  What Americans call it I do not know because I do not think they ever met it.’”

And, with that, I have nothing more to say.

The Traveler… they’ve got your number…

June 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

blog-6-5-2016-wwi-draftI journeyed today to New York City by means of the New York Tribune dated June 5, 1917. There I found the bold headline announce “10,000,000 Men Will Register To-day for Army of 625,000”.  “The nation’s roll of honor of 10,000,000 names will be compiled to-day. Every man between the ages of 21 and 31, whether eligible for military service ore exempt, in each of the forty-eight states of the Union, is required by the selective draft law to go to the regular polling place in his election district and register his name, date of birth and such other information as authorities require…”. This was the beginning of the draft for World War I.

~The Traveler


Don’t believe everything you read…

April 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-4-25-2016-TimThe Pennsylvania Packet issue of November 22, 1785 contains a curious report which puzzled me, for although admitting my knowledge of American history is far from where it should be, I do not recall reading of Ben Franklin being captured by Barbary pirates upon his return from France as Ambassador.

Page 2 of this newspaper has a letter from Captain Thomas Truxtun, later of Constellation fame, dated August 20, 1785 from Algiers–with Ben Franklin as a passenger no less–mentions an encounter with Barbary pirates: “…Our being entirely unprepared for such an attack, put it out of our power to make resistance, & after sending sufficient men on board to navigate the ship they put the whole of the crew and myself in heavy irons & bore away for this place…to suffer the cruel infliction of slavery, and God only know whether I shall ever have an opportunity of seeing or writing to you again. Poor Doctor Franklin bears this reverse of fortune with more magnanimity than I could have imagined.”

Ben Franklin taken away in irons? Really??

I turned to our friend/long-term customer/naval expert George Emery for some explanation of this report. He relates that in Eugene Ferguson’s biography of Trustun, “Truxtun of the Constellation” (1956) he mentions this rumor while explaining Truxtun’s decision to arm the London Packet (to be renamed the Canton) for a forthcoming voyage to China. And the source of this rumor was this very newspaper: the Pa. Packet of Nov. 22, 1785. Apparently some enterprising reporter, “confusing ” Truxtun’s reasoning for arming the Canton to rewrite the “future” as a scary & perilous event of the past, all–perhaps–to sell more copies of the newspaper. Or perhaps Truxtun himself was responsible for this letter’s presence in the Pennsylvania Packet to bolster support for arming American merchant vessels then sailing to Europe, and particularly the Mediterranean.

Ferguson goes on to mention in his book: “…while he was yet bringing Franklin home during the last voyage, it was rumored in London that Captain Truxtun’s ship had been captured by the Barbary corsairs and that all aboard, including the great Franklin, were consigned to slavery in Algiers…”.

The capture never happened.

The Traveler… Old Ironsides arrives…

July 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-6-8-2015-Old-IronsidesToday I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, by means of the Boston Gazette dated June 5, 1815. I found they were celebrating the arrival of the U.S.S. Frigate Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides.” For the fate of this vessel, so long the object of pride and hope, to New England especially, no small solicitude was generally felt… But on Saturday evening the frigate Constitution, arrived in the lower harbour, much to the gratification of every beholder. The waves of her native waters welcomed home the ship that had thrice fought and conquered; and the citizens of Boston, the town that first launched her on the element where she has been so greatly distinguished, have given her captain on his reaching the shore, the cheering reception his gallantry merits — Hull, Bainbridge and Stewart.” This then continues with a lengthy article “Old Ironsides — Anecdotes of The Constitution”.

~The Traveler

They put it in print… The Vietnam Crisis… before it was a crisis…

March 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the attractions of collecting old newspapers is the ability to look at history with the benefit of hindsight. Many times writers were right on the money when it came to predicting events in the future; many times they could not have been more wrong. Both views offer interesting reading.

Not long ago we came across a report of what would become a scar on the military history of the United States, specifically the lengthy war in Vietnam. A “Los Angeles Times” newspaper as early as March 25, 1965, some ten years before the Vietnam War would Blog-3-23-2015-Vietnam-Crisisofficially end (Saigon fell on April 29, 1975) had a headline announcing: “VIET CRISIS GROWS“. This report notes that Red China was committed to sending troops to fight in Vietnam if the Americans persisted in their growing involvement, and that they would: “…fight together with the South Vietnamese people to annihilate the U.S. aggressors.”  This is in response to the event of 3 weeks prior when the first American combat troops arrived in Vietnam, joining a force of 23,000 American “advisers”.  American involvement in the Vietnam War would only continue to grow for another 8 years.

I am sure almost no one who read this newspaper in the spring of 1965 could have guessed the future complexity and duration of American involvement in Southeast Asia. This issue constitutes half of what I would call “bookend newspapers”, or a pair of newspapers which report the beginning and end of noteworthy events.

The Traveler… Oklahoma ship sinks… suing from beyond the grave…

January 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I journeyed through Omaha, Nebraska, via The Omaha Daily Bee of January 6, 1914. The issue had the report of the oil tanker Steamer Oklahoma splitting in two and sinking south of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Several of the crew had perished in this disaster while others were rescued by other ships.

Another article is one of the Supreme Court handing down a decision permitting Miss Florence Schenck, who had died just a few hours earlier, to prosecute a suit against Charles H. Wilson to vindicate her good name. Mr. Wilson had induced her years earlier to marry him in a ceremony in England. She later found that he already had a wife living in England as well and was suing for damages.

~The Traveler

The Traveler… “Don’t give up the ship”…

October 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I journeyed to Baltimore, Maryland, through The Weekly Register (dated October 9, 1813).  As Commodore Perry commenced battle on Lake Erie, he raised a flag with the infamous words “Don’t give up the ship” on it. “…They speak of the battle as being one of the hottest ever fought…” (see below).

In the report of the Battle on Lake Ontario, Commodore Chauncey references the news of the battle on Lake Erie. “…There is a report here, and generally believed, that Capt. Perry has captured the whole of the enemy’s fleet on lake Erie. If this should prove true in all its details (and God grant that it may) he has immortalised himself and not disappointed the high expectations formed of his talents and bravery…”

~The Traveler

Presenting the case for going green militarily…

March 3, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

For those whom are conflicted over their desire to “go green”, but are not ready to pull back on the protection that a well-equipped military provides, perhaps the following invention shown in the February 8, 1896 issue of Scientific American will make a comeback and relieve your distress… as well as the distress of a similar minded buddy…

One never knows… Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Christmas Season is a wonderful time of reflection for many… of love…  of giving… of sacrifice.  A few weeks ago a man came to us with a story involving rare newspapers (indirectly) which reminded us of the importance of caring for others.  The icing on the cake is the involvement of a soldier who had given much… and received so little, until…

Richard Storrs was in the military in 1950 and had the unfortunate fate of being on a train as it traveled through Ohio when it was rammed by another. “221 Guardsman Dead” was the headline of the Detroit News” of  Sept. 11, 1950. Richard Storrs was among the survivors, but he injured his leg causing a disability.

He never received pension benefits from the incident, perhaps not believing it was possible as the years passed. But a prompt from others to pursue let to the need to prove the incident happened. Searching online in 2010  the Storrs’ found our website, which by good fortune happened to have the mentioned newspaper with details of the report on the front page. With this evidence his proof was secured and he was not only able to get pension benefits, but payments missed over the previous 60 years.

One never knows how our newspapers are actually used. We assume only collectors treasure them for historical information related to their interests, but obviously they can provide to be the missing link to family events, solve historical conundrums, and evidence needed to right a wrong from many years past.

The heros of this story are the “others” who will likely forever remain nameless, who saw a friend in need and prompted him to take action.  Who can we be an “other” to during this wonderful season?  We may never know the results of our kindnesses, but there is Someone who certainly will… and regardless, a child of God will be blessed.

Merry Christmas (Luke 10:25-37)!

The Staff of Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers

Responding to the patriotic call…

April 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

terms_for_recruitsThe Columbian Centinel newspaper from Boston, April 28, 1792 contains a very inconspicuous notice at the bottom of the front page which calls for recruits for the military. It’s the wording which is a delight, as the call was put forth:

“To the sons of ambition—Those noble fellows whose courage and superiority of soul dictate to them to enter the list of Fame…Her field is now open and filled with every inducement for a Soldier; every necessary of life and every chance for fortune. It will be your fault if she does not stamp on your names HERO to be caught by every ear…” with more.

See the photo for the full text of this delightful little gem from the 18th century.

Next Page »