The Vintage Newspaper

March 19, 2016 by  
Filed under New, Vintage

The idea of handling dusty old newspapers let alone collecting them probably doesn’t get your heart racing.

It’s not exciting or flashy. Unless there’s breaking-news newspapers are simply compilations of life’s most mundane snippets. And when there isn’t news to fill the pages you’ll find advertisements for everyday day to day items. Such exciting products like foot powders and rash ointments.

While the internet and social media is now changing things dramatically newspapers aren’t hard to find. They are dropped off by the box load at church socials and garage sales.

First a little background on the vintage newspaper publication itself.

The newspaper industry has some serious roots. In America right around 1690 there was the first unauthorized publication. Calling itself, “PUBLICK OCCURENCES.” Being unauthorized is an important distinction as it was very quickly supressed. The publisher was then arrested and all copies of the paper rounded up and promptly destroyed.

It wasn’t until about 150 years later a single copy was discovered in the British library.

Prior to that discovery there were many more attempts. For example, in 1704, then Post Master John Campbell tried and failed to create something with substantial circulation. Even though it was heavily subsidized by the colonial government of the day, his publication the “BOSTON-NEWS LETTER” also failed.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Many more attempts were made. Some more successful than others. And by 1814 there were a total of 346 newspapers in circulation.

Advances in the printing press, paper-making and even inks made it now possible to produce a newspaper that could be sold for a single penny – hence the Penny Press.

Now the masses had access to information through newspapers. Something that up until then was only available to the wealthy. This was a historical turning point for America. The information (exchange) age was beginning.

As the Industrial Revolution took hold the playing field for publications got even more crowded. And by 1850 the number of newspapers in circulation had grown to 2,526 , as documented in census records for that year.

With the appearance of the giant printing presses claims of printing 10,000 copies per hour became the norm. And by 1880 the number of newspapers in circulation had now swelled to an incredible 11,314.

By the 1890s the first circulation of 1 million copies was officially recorded.

Ironically even though newspapers were produced in such great numbers they are extremely rare today. This is likely due to the poor quality of paper used at the time – remember those massive runs. But also the various war-time paper drives.

Then came the organized take-overs. Where the giant newspaper conglomerates swallowed the smaller ones. Not only did this set up the modern day players but it also set into motion the groundwork for the modern news format. Including the sports edition and the funny papers or comic section.

“There is a wealth of fascinating information surrounding the vintage newspaper.”

Sourcing a copy or even the front page of a historical event would be like stepping back in time quite literally. The newspaper’s feel …the tone and layout of the copy and text and advertising.

And of course the front page news story itself. The historical event as documented and read by those living and experiencing the era. And maybe while holding the very copy you may be reading at the time.

Before looking into anything to do with newspapers I have to admit I had very little interest. But as I read more and more I’ve become curious to say the least. I’ll be looking into finding a front page or two worth framing.  Keep watching and check back often as I update this article on the vintage newspaper.

Thanks for your visit today

(Sources: The Press and America-Emery 1972, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers-Brigham 1947 )

Best of luck and collect well.


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