I’m New Here: Week Twenty-Eight…

August 29, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s probably obvious by now that histories of people are the most intriguing aspect of life to me and it helps me when I enter into the customer service aspect of this job. Each longtime collector, or birthday dabbler, or train-of-thought/rabbit trail follower (I made that term up) is led or driven by his or her own tale. And I am privileged to hear about the whys and wherefores of the quests.
This week I worked with an Earth Science teacher who has been collecting early records of hurricanes, tidal surges and solar eclipses with an intensity I can’t help but appreciate, even though I could barely follow his pontificating. It makes me happy that he is teaching, and I hope his enthusiasm is contagious to at least one of the jaded high schoolers trudging through the eleventh grade of our system of education. A writer in Manhattan checked in five times this week, and added titles that were absolutely vital to the history she is compiling and I have a mental image of scraps of paper covered in scribbles from which she cross checks and matches our latest catalog offerings. Her exclamations of delight are always tinged with the “I really shouldn’t…” tone that most dieters adopt.
Preferences aside, details really matter in this job. Enthusiasm over stories within a volume cannot excuse my neglect to mark the proper location for return. With thirty-one rows of interior shelving that is fifteen feet high and thirty feet long, a misfiled collection may never be found again, however valuable the issues or concentrated the search. Similarly, folks who ordered a hundred times don’t appreciate a letter that welcomes them as a new collector, and our six-digit item codes can’t have a single transposition without becoming wrong. By this error, I did not locate a New York Tribune from the Civil War period but a Scientific American from January 24, 1891. Tracing my mistake to the original point at which I veered from the straight and narrow path of accuracy, I ended up sitting down to a cup of tea and a technical description of the “Electrical Base Ball Bulletin.” It caught my eye because we are located in “The Birthplace of Little League” and host the annual World Series every August. As with the Science instructor, the technical jargon jumbles me a bit so I cannot begin to comprehend how the contraption worked. However, the description is clearly an invention of Mr. S. D. Mott of Passaic, New Jersey from 129 years ago, that was possibly the precursor to the system for the modern scoreboard display.

So, there you have it.

In the world of Rare and Early Newspapers, even a wrong turn (in a timely fashion) can land me in a place I learn something new.

First newspapers in New Jersey…

January 31, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Given that New Jersey is geographically wedged between the the large colonial cities of New York and Philadelphia, there seemed to be little interest in creating a New Jersey newspaper until relatively late in the 18th century. Although New York & Pennsylvania had newspapers in the 1720’s, New Jersey’s first title, “The New Jersey Gazette“, did not appear until 1777.

But printing was being done in the colony as early as 1723, and it even had its first magazine, “The New American Magazine“, done by James Parker at Woodbridge in 1758. But it was Isaac Collins who on Dec. 5, 1777 started in Burlington the province’s first newspaper, “The New Jersey Gazette”, which would be removed to Trenton just three months later where it continued until 1786.

Technically there is another contender for the the title of New Jersey’s first newspaper, as Hugh Gaine removed his  “New York Gazette & Weekly Mercury” to Newark, New Jersey, just prior to the British occupation of that city. His first Newark edition was on Sept. 21, 1776 and he only printed seven issues through Nov. 2, 1776 before returning to New York a few days later.