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 HISTORY'S NEWSSTAND

HISTORY'S NEWSSTAND

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 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)

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General Interest
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At Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers...  Historys' Newsstand, we maintain a blog (History's Newsstand Blog) to help foster greater understanding of the hobby and to build a knowledge base related to collecting old and historic original newspapers.  It is updated several times per week.  A sample of what may be found is shown below.

Editorial policy (?) and the potential impact upon an issue's collectibility...

 The following are a few thoughts by Morris Brill (guest contributor) concerning slight differences in the printing of the Declaration of Independence within the London Chronicle (dated August 17, 1776) vs. the printing within the Gentleman's Magazine (dated August, 1776): Recently on Ebay two different sellers offered a printing of the Declaration of Independence in the Gentleman's Magazine. I also noted your offering of the Declaration within the London Chronicle. I (Morris) noted, while reading the text of Gentleman's Magazine, as photographed on Ebay, a particular sentence in which two words were missing and substituted with a line, i.e. ___________.  The sentence is as follows: "A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." In the Gentleman's Magazine the words " prince" and "tyrant" are deleted. I find it interesting that although the Gentleman's Magazine and the the London Chronicle are both British that one paper printed the words prince and tyrant, yet the other did not. To me, the deletion of the two words certainly diminishes the historic value of the printing as it appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine, although I would not pass up the opportunity to own this paper. Perhaps it has to do with an opposing editorial policy, or the political persuasion of the two publishers. Morris Note: If anyone is aware of the formal policy which led to the deletion of certain words within the Gentleman's Magazine, please share your insight with the rare newspaper community.

Double-dated newspapers: the Julian and Gregorian calendars...

If you have some 1600's newspapers in your collection you may have a few with dates showing years as "1683/4" or 1686/7", or perhaps you have a few issues from a single year where a later date has an issue number lower than an earlier date, and you've wondered "how could this be?" Well, it's due to the calendar, or more specifically which calendar was in use at the time. Although the differences between the older Julian calendar and our current Gregorian calendar are many and very complicated and can be understood by doing a simple Google search for "wiki Gregorian Julian", the short answer is that in the latter part of the 17th century & a portion of the 18th century both calendars were in use in England, and the date of the issue would reflect which calendar was in use. The new year of the older Julian calendar began on March 21, so an issue dated March 17, 1675 would be followed by the next weekly issue dated March 24, 1676. This would also mean that an issue dated December 31, 1675 would be followed by an issue dated January 7,1675. This was how the London Gazette dated it's issues for much of the 17th and early 18th centuries. At first glance one would think that the issue of Jan. 7, 1675 was older than one dated December 31, 1675, but the opposite was true. Other titles were a bit more helpful in noting the year of publication by dating issues from January 1 thru March 20 with a double-dated year such as "1684/5" or "1686/7" so the reader would know that it was from the year 1684 under the Julian calendar, or 1685 under the Gregorian calendar. Some American newspapers of the 18th century have similar double dates, but by the beginning of the 19th century--if not reasonably before--newspapers had converted exclusively to the Gregorian calendar. The same was true with most of the Western world, while other portions of the globe adopted the Gregorian dating system much later. Hopefully this answers a few questions you have had. Be in touch if we can be more helpful!

Numbering an issue....how was it done?

The numbers noted at the top of the front page of a newspaper, typically at the far left and right of the dateline, may seem a bit confusing so I'll try to explain what they mean. Most newspapers had two sets of numbers: 1) the issue & volume numbers, and 2) the whole number. The issue & volume number often appear such as "Vol. 5 num. 237" which means this is the 237th issue from the fifth year of the newspapers existence. Newspapers would assign a volume number to their publication which would increase by one on the anniversary of its beginning, so if a newspapers published it's first issue on March 5, 1837, volume two would begin with the first publication after March 5, 1838. The issue number notes the issue from within that volume, meaning that issue "Vol. 5 num. 313" might be followed by issue "Vol. 6 num. 1" if the newspaper published 6 days a week (365 days less 52 Sundays = 313 published issues in the year). But to many the more mysterious number is the "whole number". Essentially it indicates how many issues have been published since the founding of the paper, and can be a very large number if the paper has been in publication for many years. Using the above example of "vol. 5 num. 313" the "whole number" of this issue would likely be 1565 (313 issues per year x 5 years = 1565). And the very next issue, noted as "vol. 6 num 1" would be whole number 1566. The tricky thing is that when some newspapers were sold, reorganized, changed their name, or merged with another they might begin a "new series" and the volume/issue numbers would begin afresh, and the whole number may or may not start over with number 1, depending on the whim of the publisher. So these numbers cannot be depended upon to give an accurate reflection of how old the newspaper is, nor the number of issues that were printed since its inception. Niles' National Register did this at least twice in its 40 years' existence.

Genuine or reprint?

A great fear of any novice collector is knowing whether an item purchased is genuine or not. It's a valid concern, as the other collectibles have been infested by reproduction,s reprints, or deceivingly fake material from furniture to coins to baseball collectibles. The world of rare newspapers is not immune but it is not a serious problem either. With a few helpful hints almost every collector can avoid the pitfalls of having non-genuine newspapers end up in their collection. Fake material of any collectible seems to become an problem when popularity and values grow. Since rare newspaper collecting remains a relatively unknown hobby with relatively low prices there is little incentive to create fake editions. And the requirements to recreate a 200 year old newspaper to have it look like a genuine edition can be complex and expensive. With but one exception, I am not aware of any reprinted newspapers which were created to deceive. Virtually all facsimile issues on the market were created as souvenirs of historic events (Honolulu issues on Pearl Harbor can still be purchased at the memorial), on anniversaries of the first issue printed (many volume one, number one issues are reprints), as curious give-aways or "premiums" (major events such as the Boston Massacre, Declaration of Independence, etc. were reprinted), or as teaching tools in an educational environment (Harper's Weekly issues from the Civil War were reprinted on their 100th anniversary: look for "a reissue of" above the "H" in "Harper's Weekly" on page 1). The lone exception is a collection of the "Pennsylvania Gazette" from the 1730's - 1787 with issues turning up in small auction halls throughout the East some 20 years ago. The issues were aged to look 200 years old and the paper was very close to genuine newsprint from the era. Beware of this title if it contains a "Tontine Coffee House" inked stamp on the front page & if it looks a bit washed out. The number of reprint newspapers on the market is exceedingly small so collectors have little to worry about. But keep these points in mind: 1) The most common reprint newspapers are on the Library of Congress check-list.  It also includes helpful tips on how to tell if genuine or a reprint. 2) Be aware of what 200 year old and 100 year old newsprint should look like. Almost all reprints were done on paper which is not reflective of the era. 3) Be suspicious of exceedingly historic newspaper turning up in illogical places. The likelihood of a genuine Declaration of Independence report being in flea market or amongst of group of papers from a non-collecting family is very remote. In other words if the find seems too good to be true, it likely is. 4) Be careful with volume one, number one newspapers. Such first editions were commonly reprinted by the publisher on the 50th or 100th anniversary. 5) Above all, buy from reputable dealers whose expertise, experience and reputation stand behind all they sell. The "Honolulu Star-Bulletin" of Dec. 7, 1941 mentioned above is not on the Library of Congress check-list, however it's easy to spot a reprint. The genuine issue has an ink smear between the "A" and "R" in the huge word "WAR!" on the front page (see photo). They cleaned it up on the reprint so it won't be present. And a news flash--I just learned that the "Dallas Morning News" issue of Nov. 23, 1963 reporting Kennedy's assassination has been reprinted. Look for the word "Reprint" in the dateline just after the four stars. Do note those we have on our website & have sold for over 20 years are all genuine! Common sense can be the best guide. The requirements to reprint an 8 page Civil War newspaper with a minor battle report could cost hundreds of dollars while the genuine issue might sell for $20, so chances are good such finds are genuine. For this reason our hobby is a fascinating one not prone to the pitfalls of other collectibles. Our community of collectors is quite small which has worked in our favor. All of us are in an enviable position of being able to assemble great collections of historic material before the world at large "discovers" our hobby and changes the environment in years to come. Enjoy!

Creating Harper's Weekly engravings: a fascinating process...

Harper's Weekly issues of the 19th century remain among the more popular in our inventory, as the multiple engravings found in each issue document much of American history from 1857 through the end of the century. We have over 60,000 issues in inventory but still some dates are sold out as soon as they arrive. I suspect most of you have seen this title, but few may be aware of the interesting process of creating the prints in a timely manner. The story of how Harper's delivered this amazing product during the Civil War is a fascinating one, and I must give credit to "Son of the South" for much of detail. The process started by the deployment of not only reporters but also artists to the battlefield. Some of the most renowned artists of the 1800's got their start as illustrators for Harper's Weekly, including Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast. These artists would sketch scenes of the battles that they witnessed and the sketches would then be dispatched back to Harper's for publication in the upcoming papers. In order to publish the artwork, the images first had to be carved onto a block of wood. But it would take too much time for a single engraver to carve an entire print, particularly given the timeliness of each issue. To provide the illustrations as quickly as possible, a very clever idea was developed. The illustration would be cut into 2 inch squares and each square would be engraved onto a different small block of wood by an assigned carver. By dividing the illustration up, each artist assigned to just a portion, a team of workers could carve a full page illustration in a short period of time. After the small blocks were completed they were then screwed together to form the overall illustration and a finishing engraver would provide final touches to be sure the pieces were perfectly aligned. This completed wood block was then used as a "master" to stamp the illustration onto all the newspapers being printed. If you look at a Harper's engraving carefully you can often see where the blocks of wood were joined together. It wasn't until the 1890's that the technology of printing caused the end of hand-done engravings for the pages of Harper's and other illustrated periodicals. With the demise of this labor-intensive trade also came the end of some of the more beautiful works of art to be found on paper. They remain treasures today and hearken back to an era when artistry and long hours of work were an important part in providing the news.

The above list of History's Newsstand Blog posts will be updated on a monthly basis.  Please come back and visit.


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