Early Americana Catalog

Presented for sale by Phil Barber, Cambridge, Mass. 02139 Telephone (617) 492-4653
About This Era and its Newspapers

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. -Thomas Jefferson, 1787.

The first era of American printing begins in 1639 and ends about 1830. In the latter decade a technological revolution dramatically changed the art of printing, with the introduction of iron frame printing presses and machine made papers. These earliest printed items are the products of a pre-Industrial Age technology, printed on wooden "Franklin" presses on papers manufactured by a laborious hand process from rags, old clothing, and other newspapers. These wonderfully collectible imprints are charming in their simplicity, survivors of a sturdy era of hard, honest work by skilled crafts people. Interestingly, at this time newspapers and magazines were largely the province of the upper classes, as their high prices put them out of the reach of ordinary people.

For my part I entertain a high idea of the utility of periodical publications; insomuch as I could heartily desire, copies of ... magazines, as well as common Gazettes, might be spread through every city, town, and village in the United States. I consider such vehicles of knowledge more happily calculated than any other to preserve the liberty, stimulate the industry, and ameliorate the morals of a free and enlightened people.- George Washington, 1788 in a letter to Matthew Carey, published of the Philadelphia Columbian Magazine.

All items from this formative period of American journalism are now scarce to rare. An experienced printer and his apprentices could "pull" no more than six hundred newspapers a day; a circulation of two thousand copies per issue was considered exceptional throughout most of the period. Other than the few specimens saved by libraries, by the newspaper publishers themselves, and by a handful of individuals, all these early papers and magazines ended up discarded or recycled into new paper.

Some British periodicals are also included in this catalog, selected for the significance of ther historic content about America. They are so described where they appear.

      It is worthy of remark that newspapers have almost entirely changed their form and character ... They have become the vehicles of discussion, in which the principles of government, the interests of nations, the spirit and tendency of public measures, and the public and private character of individuals are all arraigned, tried, and decided ... they have become immense moral and political engines, closely connected to the welfare of the state, and deeply involving both its peace and prosperity.    -Miller, A Brief Retrospective of the Eighteenth Century, published in 1803

About The Catalog Listings
I am pleased to present for your consideration fine examples of rare newspapers, as well as newspapers carrying important historic, social, political, and economic content in these formative years of our nation. All items in this catalog are unconditionally guaranteed to be genuine and accurately described. Any item may be returned within seven days of receipt for a full refund. No reason for return is ever required.They are in fine used condition and are complete with all pages as issued. All papers are free of damage or objectionable defects, unless otherwise described. I am are sure you will be delighted with their exceptional state of preservation. I purchase only the finest condition newspapers that can be found to offer to my valued friends and customers.

These are the finest quality original antique newspapers and magazines, that you might find elsewhere priced at much greater cost. It has always been my policy to present my catalog items at "wholesale to the public" prices. Therefore all catalog items and quoted prices are net, and are not subject to further discount, either for dealers or in consideration of quantity orders. It is our policy to price our items based on what we believe to be their fair market value. I do not set prices at absurdly inflated levels to take advantage of novices or "investors"; nor do employ the common ploy of starting with an unrealistically high price in order to "negotiate" a phony discount later. As over a third of our catalog orders are from dealers buying for resale, at our stated prices, we have every confidence that this policy maintains an ethical standard of integrity and fairness to all.

Newspapers are full folio size unless described as quarto (abbreviated 4to) or octavo (8vo), which are respectively smaller in format. Most newspapers have been removed from bound volumes and may exhibit characteristic minor spine weakness or separation without significant paper loss. Magazines are disbound from annual volumes and lack wraps unless otherwise stated, as these were very rarely preserved in the bound runs. Illustration plates are lacking unless described as present in the description, as most were framed by the original subscribers. Each catalog entry is briefly described for its general appearance, historical significance, and content. Every one contains hours of additional historic reading and insights into the world preserved on its pages, much more than I could find the space to describe here.

I pride myself on the quality and accuracy of my catalog descriptions, and strive to provide all the information needed to enable you to make an informed selection. Please consult my collector information pages and glossary of terms page linked below, if you are not sure of what any of the descriptive terms mean.

Your comments are always welcome, as are your inquiries, if you have questions about these historic collectibles. We value our customers, and appreciate the confidence you place in us when ordering from our online catalogs. We strive to merit your patronage and to enrich your collecting experience through accurate, knowledgeable descriptions, honest pricing, courteous service, and timely order filling. Enjoy your browsing!

Pictures of Cataloged Items
Scans or digital photos are available of many items in this catalog. To view them, click the "VIEW SCAN" button in the listing. You can return to the catalog by using your browser's "BACK" command. Illustrations are of the exact item being offered for sale and depict a full page or a detail close-up of a page of the issue. All papers are complete and undamaged as noted. Photos of newspapers described as "Atmosphere Issues" are of typical issues in stock and are provided to give an idea of the papers' general appearance. I hope to be able to provide pictures of all the items, as time allows and as I become more proficient with the scanner and digital camera.

Glossary of Terms Page | Collector Information Page | Want List Page | Home Page

Early Americana Catalog Index
Click on the highlighted Page Number to visit that page.

How to Order from This Catalog

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Postage per order addressed within the United States is just $3.85. Postage will be added to overseas orders at my actual cost. There is a seven day return privilege on all items and of course my unconditional guarantee of the authenticity of everything I sell.
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Be sure to check my recently revised and expanded Introductory Catalog for an extensive selection of "atmosphere" issues of early American newspapers and magazines.

Early American Handwritten Documents
E1-304. Early American Document, before 1830. [singlesheet, oblong 16mo to 8vo size, [New Hampshire]]
This group consists of promissory notes, receipts, bills, and similar financial records, all from an early New Hampshire archive. Each is completely handwritten, dated, and signed by the principals. These humble, once everyday items speak of lives so far removed from the luxury and convenience that we take for granted in the 21st century. Their small size bears witness to the high cost of handmade paper and how frugal Yankees might make a sigle sheet into half a dozen monetary documents. All date between 1800 and 1829. See my scan for their general appearance. Condition is very fine, price each. . . 4.00
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E1-305. AS #304 ABOVE, BUT TEN DIFFERENT pre-1830 documents for . . . 30.00  

Disaster at Richmond
E1-306. [SINGLE ISSUE]. THE COLUMBIAN CENTINEL, January 08, 1812. [Complete issue, 4 pages, folio size, published at Boston, Mass. by Benjamin Russell]
"GREAT CALAMITY AT RICHMOND", "Most Distressing Fire" and other headlines cover very detailed reports of the terrible fire in the Academy Square Theater at Richmond, which killed 72 theatergoers Quite good report of the terrible tragedy. Interesting speculation about a possible war with England much local news, shipping, ads, etc.
Condition is fine . . . 20.00

Napoleon Meets His Waterloo
E1-309. [SINGLE ISSUE]. THE COLUMBIAN CENTINEL, August 09, 1815. [Complete issue, 4 pages, folio size, published at Boston, Mass. by Benjamin Russell]
Most of the front page is covered with exciting dispatches that tell of "GREAT EUROPEAN EVENTS". A series of battles has been fought on June 16 through 18, here called the battles of Fleures and Mt. St. Jean (or La Belle Alliance), and the Grand Armee has been destroyed. Over a column of vivid description of the ebb and flow of the battles' tide and the crushing French defeat. Following is the stunning headline news of what would be the final "ABDICATION OF BUONAPARTE" with his still defiant statement "To the French People", in which he says "My political life is ended..". Boldly signed in large type NAPOLEON. On the backpage is a poem "The Battle of Waterloo" quickly composed for the occasion. Editorial on the sweeping change, the end of a destructive war that lasted almost 21 years. Great coverage in the great Federalist newspaper of the birth of modern Europe.
Condition is choice very fine with the tiniest spine irregularity toward the gutter . . . 125.00

Fine Early Political Ephemera
E1-340. [HANDBILL] A FACT., n.p., n.d., 1808. [Singlesheet, 4" x 5" size, published at Salem Mass, at the press of the Essex Gazette]
This early imprint from the ancient seafaring town is an attack on one "Dr. Kilham", who had the audacity to publicly claim that maritime commerce and fisheries were of no economic value to the Commonwealth's economy. In fact these were the lifeblood of old Salem, and President Jefferson's tremendously controversial embargo of trade with Britain, invoked in 1808 in the wake of the infamous Chesapeake incident, was seen as crippling to the wealthy men of the town. (Salem is also the Yankee city that was pre-eminent in the slave trade, which was also abolished in 1808 by Congress.) This bill is signed by B(enjamin) Goodhue and Rich(ar) d Manning, under the MS notation "We are ready to testify to the above Nov. 5th 1808". Goodhue (1748-1814) was a Federalist member of both state House of Reps. and Senate, and was elected to the first three sessions of the U.S. House. He helped draft the Mass. Constitution and was appointed a U.S. Senator in 1796. Manning has the modest distinction of being Nathaniel Hawthorn's uncle. Of the beleaguered Kilham, alas, I find no record. Not in NUC, possibly unique, quite a good memento of the heated political passions of the early republic.
Condition of this handbill is quite fine, unbtrimmed, problem-free, MS notations bold and legible . . . 95.00

Wisdom from the Past: John Quincy Adams on True Liberty
E1-707. [SINGLE ISSUE]. THE COLUMBIAN CENTINEL, July 21, 1821. [Complete issue of 4 pages, folio size, published at Boston, Mass.]
Filling all of Page One and completed within is Secretary of State Adams powerful Independence Day speech given in Washington. He speaks of the true meaning of freedom and has a warning our leaders would do well to heed today, for "She [the United States] goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy...She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom." Powerful message of what being America means, that should be required reading. Much more. .
Condition is nice clean VF. . . . SOLD

Of "Ye" and the "S" that looks like an "F"
New collectors are sometimes confounded by the unfamiliar ways some words are found printed in old newspapers and documents. Foremost among these is the mistaken idea that the letter "f" was used where we today use an "s". In the old Anglo-Saxon alphabet, from which the English alphabet is derived, the lower case "s" was written in two forms: one is the "long s" that resembles my modern letter "f" (but note, it does not have the center bar), which is used when the "s" is the first letter of the word, or in any other position within a word other than the final letter; the other is the familiar shaped "s" which appears at the end of words. In capital letters the common "S" is always used. This usage is cognate to the two forms of "s" in the Greek alphabet.
What appear to be printed, for example, as "fuccefs", in old newspapers, is in reality nothing more exotic than "success". In capital letters this word would be printed as "SUCCESS", as it is today.
English printer John Bell first phased out the use of the long "s" in his books at the end of the 1700's, and by 1810 or so the new practice was universal in printed material. Interestingly, though, the use of the old long "s" continued in handwritten documents for many years, through the 1870's. This innovation must have saved typesetters much labor!

The second common misunderstanding is the idea that "ye" (as in "ye olde") is pronounced "ye". It is not and never was! Again, what appears to be the modern letter "y" in this usage is in fact the diphthong from the old Anglo-Saxon alphabet called thang, which is pronounced "th", and which was used as a form of shorthand, being easier to set one letter than two.

A Fine History of 18th Century Journalism
RF-0005. [Reference Book]. Eric Burns, INFAMOUS SCRIBBLERS: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism, 2006. [467 pages, 8vo hardcover size, published at New York, by Public Affairs.]
An excellent introduction to the first century of American newspapers, from the first failed attempt at journalism in 1690 to the vibrant political press of George Washington's administration, written by the host of "Fox News Watch". All the major newsmen are well represented here, along with their successes and failures, honorable and dishonorable actions alike, and how profoundly the fourth estate would affect politics and liberty. Recommended one volume history of this most exciting formative period of our national heritage. ISBN 158648334X Published at $27.50.
Condition is new in dustjacket . . . 17.50

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Please click here to go to my Early Americana Introductory Catalog, for an extensive selection of inexpensive "atmosphere" issues of newspapers and periodicals of this period.

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