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 HISTORY'S NEWSSTAND

HISTORY'S NEWSSTAND

 Maintained by:
 We have been collectors and dealers of Rare & Early Newspapers since 1975. Timothy Hughes, our founder, is still the centerpiece of our efforts, with Guy Heilenman serving as part-owner and the manager of daily affairs. We only offer authentic originals (no reproductions). Some of the most collectible topics, titles, and categories include: the Oxford/London Gazette (dating back to 1665, British and Colonial American titles from the 1700's (including the Revolutionary War era), reports re: many of the Founding Fathers of America - Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, etc., the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Old West era, one of the largest offerings of Harper's Weekly (including prints by Thomas Nast and Winslow Homer), and most historic events of the 20th Century - politcs, sports, inventions, disasters, triumphs, and more. “History is never more fascinating than when read from the day it was first reported.” (Tim Hughes, Founder of Rare & Early Newspapers, 1976)

Why Purchase From Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers?

We strive to provide you with the best eBay purchasing experience possible!

"...desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things...", Hebrews 13:18

  • Items are guaranteed to be authentic.
  • 30+ years of excellence and respect in the hobby (please see our feedback).
  • Accurately described items - no negative surprises!
  • All orders are packaged with extreme care.
  • Orders are usually shipped within 24 business hours of receiving payment.
  • Expedited shipping is available.
  • Low S&H fees (see detailed S&H policy).
  • Combined shipping on multiple purchases.
  • Free tracking for all shipments.
  • Free insurance for all U.S. bound orders over $200.
  • We also collect (and purchase)  historic newspapers & are consultants to several  major institutions.
  • Full refunds (please view our refund policy).

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  • An Introducti​on to Rare Newspapers
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Collecting Rare & Early Newspapers - An Introduction

If you are new to the hobby of collecting rare, historic, and original newspapers, while your enthusiasm for the collectible is likely quite high, chances are you also have many questions.  Below we will attempt to provide a primer on which includes answers to the top dozen most commonly asked questions, followed by a series of posts concerning the hobby found on the History's Newsstand Blog:


1.  Why Do The Issues Simply Not Fall Apart?

To the surprise of many, newspapers published before 1880 remain in very nice condition as the paper had high cotton and linen content (known as "rag paper". Most issues from the 1600's and 1700's are in much better condition than issues from World War I, hence little care is needed for issues over 120 years old.  From 1880 until about 1925, various publishers began to experiment with using wood-pulp as a means for bringing down the cost of the newsprint.  Most of these efforts were rather unsuccessful, resulting in a newsprint which quickly became very brittle.  Newspapers from this period must be handled with extreme care.  Eventually, the "right" blend of ingredients was found, resulting in an inexpensive newsprint with a much higher degree of resilience.  While these issues do yellow when exposed to the sun's UV rays, they are not nearly as fragile as those printed from 1880 through 1925 (approximate dates).  These developments within newsprint have produced an interesting twist within the hobby - the older... the better...  (in most cases).

 

2. What Is The Best Way To Care For Old Newspapers?

Caring for authentic newspapers is not difficult if you follow a few simple rules:

a)  Wash your hands before handling them... but DO handle them.  They are meant to be read!

b)  Keep their exposure to the direct (and indirect) UV rays of the sun to a minimum.  The chemicals within newsprint reacts with the UV rays of the sun causing newsprint to yellow and dry out.  Enjoy the newspapers... read them... but store them in either a dark place (a box, a folder, etc.), or frame them under a good quality glass with a high UV index.

c)  Store them in average humidity - not too damp (causing molding issues) or too dry (causing them to become brittle).

d)  Store them in an acid-free environment.  The chemicals found within most paper and cardboard storage products may contain chemicals which react with those present within old newspapers.  Store your issues within an acid free (archival) environment.

*  Enjoy the newspapers... read them... show them to your friends, family, students, co-workers, etc.  They are meant to be handled (see #1 above).  Have an issue in one hand and a cup of coffee (or a tall glass of iced-tea) in another.  The issue within your hands likely has the imprint of those who read it the morning they received it... many years ago.  Walk in their shoes and enjoy the "news of the day"... from the day it was first reported - warts (minor stains, fingerprints, and perhaps even tears) and all.  Note:  Don't worry.  We'll describe any major flaws.


3. What Are The Most Frequently Used Terms & What Do They Mean?

    * Octavo (8vo): Approximately 8 1/2 by 5 inches. Popular size for 18th Century magazines.

    * Quarto (4to): Approximately 12 by 9 inches. Common size for many early newspapers.

    * Folio: Full size. Eighteenth century issues are approximately 17 by 11 inches, while 19th century issues come closer to present day newspapers.

    * Foxing: Dark spots due to age, chemical content of the paper, or storage environment.

    * dblpgctrfld:  Doublepage centerfold. A print, typical in Harper's Weekly, which stretches across two pages.


4. How Can You Determine If An Issue Is Authentic?

 It was not unusual for newspapers to celebrate the anniversary of an historic event or their inaugural issue by reprinting that issue for their subscribers or the general public. Never meant to deceive, through the years such issues were tucked away in attics and dresser drawers as interesting souvenirs only to be uncovered by distant relatives convinced they found the genuine item.

Although only an expert examination can definitively qualify a newspaper as genuine or a reprint and such experts with sufficient knowledge & experience are few & far between there are a few clues which can guide a novice in making a determination:

    * Does the newsprint match that used at that time? Genuine pre-1880 newsprint usually has a high rag content and is very pliable, sturdy & reasonably white. Most reprints in the post-1880 era are more browned, fragile and lacking in physical substance.

    * Does the issue contain an historic or significant report? Many reprints contain very historic reports rather than mundane news of the day, and such genuine issues are rarely found randomly outside of a larger collection.

    * Is the issue a volume one, number one issue? They were commonly reprinted on anniversary dates.

    * Does the format, content or any extraneous printing on the issue appear out of the ordinary? Many reprints were used for promotional purposes and altered to serve another purpose beyond just reprinting a genuine newspaper.

Reprint, fake, or facsimile newspapers are a rarity in this hobby with the vast majority of such issues limited to less than 20 titles. The Library of Congress maintains a check-list of points to look for on most of these issues and can be accessed through their website.

 

5. Why so inexpensive?

You can find newspapers published during George Washington's administration for $35, issues with front page accounts of Indian skirmishes for $25, and genuine issues published in 1685 for as little as $30.  A hobby still very much undiscovered by the public, prices for genuine, complete newspapers dating as far back as the 1600's are very low due to limited demand (at this time). For more than 30 years, we have dealt exclusively in the niche market of early newspapers, buying in huge quantities at very low prices to amass an inventory of over 2 million issues which are now available for the historical hobbyist.  There is no better time to begin amassing ah historical newspaper collection - while still on the up-side of the hobby's appeal.
 

6. What might I find within the pages of a Rare Newspaper?

Read the Boston Gazette of March 12, 1770 and learn of the massacre in that city and gain an appreciation of the revolutionary spirit never before imagined. Read 1st hand reports on the Civil War. View ads and reports from the American Old West.  View the Banner Headlines of some of the biggest events from the 20th Century. Historic newspapers are a firsthand reflection of life at a time when descriptive ads for runaway slaves were commonplace; when Paul Revere advertised his bell foundry in local papers; when recently enacted laws, signed in type by George Washington, were published in the daily paper.  There is no better way to obtain an intimate view of life during nearly any chosen period from 1666 through the late 1900's.
 
Since all are original issues (not reproductions), slight imperfections such as light foxing or staining, small margin tears, an occasional front page original owner (often library) stamp, and slight fold or edge wear are common. Most issues were once bound into volumes at the end of a year for preservation and bear minor left margin irregularities due to the disbinding process. None of these potential typical imperfections cause content loss. Many newspapers dated from the 1880's through the 1920's are pulpish (fragile) due to commonly used print materials used during this period, and appropriate care must be given to these issues. Some issues (especially magazines) were originally published with covers or wrappers, but unless described otherwise, they have long since been removed.
 

7. What is the historical background of the use of "f" vs. "s"?

Centuries ago before the printing press there were grammatical reasons for use of a serpentine-styled "s" to be used rather than the more typical "s". Its look was much as if an "s" was elongated and leaned to the right. When this letter was converted to a block letter for the printing press (around 1500) it looked much like an "f" but with the slash through one side & not the other--look carefully and note the difference. This letter caused confusion with the "f" ever since, and around 1750 publishers were abandoning this letter in favor of the more typical "s", and by 1800 it was almost universally abandoned.
 

8. What is meant by "second rate"?

A "second rate" issue is somewhat worn, possibly with edge tears, some light staining, rubbing, or other minor disfigurements. All pages are present with no cut-outs, but the prints contained within the issue, if prints are present, would not be suitable for framing.  An acceptable issue for researching content only, or if condition is inconsequential.  Please do not request for us to confirm that an issue offered at the 2nd rate price contains prints that are in good condition.  A 2nd rate issue is 2nd rate throughout.
 

9. What is the value of my newspaper?

As one might suspect there are many factors which determine value.  Much like a jeweler cannot give a value of a diamond via email or a phone call, ethics would not permit anyone to place values on newspapers without seeing the issues in hand to determine authenticity condition, news placement, etc.  Although viewing issues of similar date, condition, and display-ability on eBay and/or on reputable websites may give a general sense of their potential value, your best bet is to contact a reputable dealer in historic and/or rare newspapers.
 

10. How was 17th & 18th Century paper made?

The handmade paper used in the 17th and 18th centuries can be distinguished from paper that was made later by holding the paper up to a light and looking for "chain-lines" which are left from the wires in the paper mold. With this method, fewer fibers accumulate directly on the wire, so the paper is slightly thinner and more transparent to light. This pattern is usually very apparent and appears as lines that run about an inch apart, with several horizontal short lines connecting the long wire lines. Some modern paper has artificially-applied chain lines, and is usually referred to as "laid" paper, which is the name given to handmade chain-line paper. The handmade chain-line paper was made of cotton and/or linen rags, which were soaked in liquid until the fibers broke down into bits. Paper was formed by hand by dipping a paper mold into the fiber suspension, and then lifting and shaking off the excess water. The paper sheet was then partially dried before being removed from the mold. Modern handmade paper (used in fine printing of small editions by private presses, as well as in artists books) is basically made by the same process.

Wood pulp paper (made with a sulfite process that causes high acid residue in the paper) wasnt widely used in the U.S. until after the American Civil War. Breakthrough in papermaking occurred when "wove" paper was invented. Wove paper was first used in a book printed in America in 1795 in a book by Charlotte Smith entitled "Elegiac Sonnets and Other Poems". Wove paper, which shows no chain-lines, is made on a wire mold often made of brass and/or bronze wires that have been woven like fabric. Therefore, there is no chain-like pattern, and the paper has a much smoother appearance. After 1800, wove paper became the standard paper for books and other uses, although there was still some laid or chain-link paper in use through the 1820s and beyond.

The first machine-made paper in America was made in 1817 in Brandywine, Delaware, and the first newspaper printed on this paper was "Poulson's Daily Advertiser. The major start in manufacturing paper by machine began when a French paper machine called the Fourdrinier was introduced in New York in 1827, followed by the manufacture of more of the machines two years later in Connecticut. Machine-made paper is more uniform in thickness, lacks the uneven edges of handmade paper and is weaker and more prone to tearing. Machine-made paper is made on a continuous wire mold which usually has watermarks. Although it can be hard to tell machine-made wove paper from handmade wove paper, handmade paper is usually thicker and also varies in thickness from piece to piece.

The last major development in paper manufacture was the development of wood pulp paper, which was much less expensive to manufacture than rag paper. The first successfully-made wood pulp paper was manufactured in Buffalo, New York, in 1855. By 1860, a large percentage of the total paper produced in the U.S. was still rag paper. Most of the newspapers printed in the U.S. during the Civil War period survived because they were essentially acid-free 100% rag paper, but the newspapers printed in the late 1880s turn brown because of the high acid content of the wood pulp paper. In 1882, the sulfite wood pulp process that is still in use today was developed on a commercial scale and most of the high acid content paper was used thereafter in newspapers, magazines and books.
 

11.  Are early issues (pre-1800) with irregular type-set authentic?

Pre-1800 Printing - A Little Background: Type was handset in the 18th century and all margins were (typically) of equal size from top to bottom. As part of the inherent crudeness of making paper back then, individual sheets might have slightly different shapes but in general all sheets were rectangular, wider than tall with pages 1 & 4 of a newspaper printed on one side and pages 2 & 3 printed on the other, then folded in half to produce the typical 4 page newspaper. It was rather common for even a regularly shaped sheet to be put on the printing press slightly askew, causing the printed sheet to appear somewhat crooked, keeping in mind everything was done by hand, and often by young hired hands.  We have seen a few instances where an irregularly shaped sheet caused the print to run off one of the edges. Also, newspapers and magazines were often bound into volumes at the end of the year with the three exposed edges trimmed to look neat, and in the trimming process some text can be trimmed off if the newspaper was bound into the volume askew, or if the trimmer simply took off too much blank margin to even up the edges.

 

12.  What should I collect?

The possibilities are endless.  We've included some suggestions in various posts to the History's Newsstand Blog and within our eBay Guides.  Some suggestions can be found at:

Collectible Themes for Historic Newspapers - Ideas...

The Categories Within Our eBay Store (see left column)...

Themes in collecting…

Historic newspapers: the “crossover” collectible…

Collectible themes… additional thoughts…

Contrasting pairs of historic newspapers: another way to collect…

Rare Newspaper Collections Within Collections…

Collecting statehood newspapers…

Ways to collect: beautiful mastheads…

Curiosities are fun to collect…

Top ten newspapers: “20th century”…

Top ten newspapers: 19th century…

Top ten newspapers: 18th century…

Top ten newspapers: 16th and 17th centuries…

 

The following video provides a little insight

into our own collectible interests:

 

 

The following video provides a little insight

into the history of the collectible:




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