Some Questions and Answers
About Collecting Historic Newspapers

A Collector Information Web Page Provided by
Phil Barber, Post Office Box 8694, Boston, Mass. 02114-0036 Telephone (617) 492-4653
www.historicpages.com

How do I know they're real?

I have studied old books and imprints for over twenty years and unconditionally guarantee everything I sell to be genuine, so you know you will be starting on the right foot. Once you have become accustomed to the appearance and unique "feel" of genuine old printed items, you'll find it easy to spot the few fakes that exist. The distinguishing features to look for are always the kind of paper and the method of printing. It is essentially impossible to produce an exact replica of an old newspaper. The costs of faking the paper and printing would be extremely high and the result could not pass the inspection of a knowledgeable collector.

Few Fakes Exist

Novices can be sometimes overly concerned about the possibility of being fooled by a fake newspaper. Fortunately for the collector, very few reproductions of antiquarian newspapers (that is, before 1900) have been made. Prepared generally for educational or advertising purposes, they are easily discernible from the original article. None was originally produced with the specific intent of cheating collectors, though they sometimes have ended up in the hands of the unscrupulous. The two most abundant fakes are worth particular mention here, as so many have been produced that I find many of them every month. They are the purported ULSTER COUNTY GAZETTE of Jan. 4, 1800, and the NEW YORK HERALD of April 15, 1865. A detailed web page on each can be had by clicking on their names.

First Issues

In my experience any newspaper encountered in the non-specialized collector marketplace which is numbered "Volume I Number 1" [first issue] should be considered a later reproduction until competently authenticated. Virtually every successful newspaper in the country has printed an anniversary facsimile of its first issue. In the case of some of our older newspapers these anniversary reproductions were made a hundred or more years ago, so they do look and feel "old" when they turn up in estates and the like.

Recent Reprints

Newspapers with famous headlines have been reproduced as historical souvenirs and are abundant at flea markets and general antique shops. All should be considered suprious until authenticated. The originals are quite uncommon and almost never come to light at such locations. Since the recent movie, the most abundandant Titanic sinking reproduction newspaper is the Boston Daily Globe of April 16, 1912, followed the New York Times, New York Tribune, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, all with the April 16 date and all made in the middle 1980's by a newspaper replica company in Missouri called "Historic Reissues" or one in Washington named "M.C. Associates".

There are numerous reprints of major newspapers issued on VE and VJ Days, ending World War II in 1945. The commonest bearing the May 8, 1945 date are the purported Chicago Daily Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, New York Times and Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph. Other popular replica newspaper headlines include the death of Rudolph Valention, killing of Bonnie and Clyde, explosion of the Hindenberg, Dillinger's killing, and so forth.

The Classic Reproductions

The Library of Congress has produced a series of information circulars listing the seventeen most common reprints of old newspapers. The titles of these papers, in addition those cited above are as follows, with the estimated of known varieties and printing dates.

Specimens of the following newspapers that appear in the general non-specialist market are reproductions; yours, alas, is not that one in a million that's genuine.

  • THE BOSTON NEWS-LETTER, April 24, 1704. Twelve varieties, verified printing dates: 1868, 1870, 1892, 1893, 1897, 1929, 1952.
  • NEW-ENGLAND COURANT, Boston, Feb. 11, 1723. Six varieties, 1856, 1876, 1888, 1896, 1923.
  • NEW-ENGLAND WEEKLY JOURNAL, Boston, April 8, 1728. Reprinted 1862.
  • PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE, Phila., Dec. 24, 1728. First issue; note that other dates of the title have been recently faked as deliberate impositions on collectors. Many bear the alleged stamp of the "Tontine Coffee Room, Glasgow" (also found genuine newspapers of the 1800's) and are photocopied on two separate sheets of antique paper, which have been crudely glued at the spine to simulate the one sheet of the originals.
  • NEW-HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE, Portsmouth, Oct. 7, 1756. Two varieties, 1856 and 1872.
  • CONNECTICUT COURANT of Oct. 29, 1764, a very common ca. 1860's fantasy print of the alleged "No. 00 Prospctus" , which never existed.
  • BOSTON GAZETTE, March 12, 1770.Nine varieties, 1862, 1876, 1888, 1896, 1917.
  • MARYLAND JOURNAL, Baltimore, Aug. 20, 1773. Eight varieties.
  • MASSACHUSETTS SPY, Worcester, May 3, 1775. At least five, 1875, 1889, 1952, and currently for sale at many tourist locations today.
  • NEW-YORK MORNING POST, Nov. 7, 1783. Five varieties, 1880's and modern.
  • GAZETTE OF THE UNITED STATES, New York, May 2, 1789. A number of 1889 souvenir editions.
  • THE SUN, New York, Sept. 3, 1833. Five varieties, 1853, 1883, 1933, all printed by The Sun itself.
  • PUBLIC LEDGER, Philadelphia, March 25, 1836. Four varieties, 1888, 1926, 1931.
  • THE SUN, Baltimore, May 17, 1837.
  • CHATTANOOGA DAILY REBEL, Aug. 9, 1862, and other dates. 1891.
  • DAILY CITIZEN, Vicksburg, Miss., July 4, 1863, printed on wallpaper. Very commonly found, numerous reprint editions were made, mostly in the 1880s.
  • THE TIMES, London, June 22, 1815
  • THE HONOLULU STAR-BULLETIN of December 7, 1941, the most often discovered modern newspaper replica.

You can get full information on the specific details of these reproductions and how they differ from the originals at the Library of Congress website. See Information Circular No.'s 1 - 17, viewable on the Library's Newspaper Reprint Circulars Page.

We are engaged in a project of verifying and listing all known reproductions of U.S. and world newspapers. The first part of our work, identifying common reprints of 18th century American newspapers, is accessible here. Your comments and contributions are solicited.

How can they be so old and so cheap?

Age has little to do with the value of a collectible, since the price of just about everything is decided by supply and demand, with the latter being the far more significant factor. If, let us say, just four issues survive of a certain newspaper, but there is only one collector who wants one, then the demand is satisfied and remaining specimens are of low value in spite of their great rarity. If however a hundred people want the same item, then its value grows as these collectors seek to outbid one another for its possession. And if a thousand specialists simply must have one for their collection, then the piece can grow to be of substantial value. This helps to explain why, for example, I can offer a two hundred year old British newspaper for $10.00, while an original edition of the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline issue of the 1948 CHICAGO TRIBUNE has a value today of over $500.00. Because of the publicity surrounding that newspaper -we have all seen the famous AP photo of a beaming Harry Truman holding aloft a copy- the few that were not immediately recalled by the paper are very much in demand, while there are relatively few American collectors interested at present in the "atmosphere" content of the much older newspaper.

What makes one old newspaper more valuable than another?

The collector values old newspapers and other periodical publications based on

  • The historic importance of their content
  • The displayability of the paper
  • The desirability or rarity of the title
  • The condition of the item.

A most collectible newspaper is one which reports a major event, for example, a Presidential assassination, in the city where it occurred, and on the same date it happened; or, if such a paper does not exist, the first newspaper to contain a report of the event. The power of such reporting is extraordinary, and the greatest appeal of the hobby. The news reports remain as dramatic as the day they first appeared; perhaps even more so, for the modern collector has the benefit of seeing how that event affected the future. Similarly a newspaper with a lengthy, detailed account or a striking graphic representation of an important news story on the front page will be far more valuable than one with a short account on the inside pages. The most attractive Page One layouts are considered the most suitable for framed display, which is a popular use of collectible newspapers today. Unfortunately it was the practice of many old time editors to fill their front pages with advertising or fiction until the Civil War era, making the earliest front page reports even more uncommon and valuable today.

Rarity as a factor in demand, and consequently, in dollar value, is closely related to other considerations, chiefly geographical location. Nearly all old newspapers are rare, in terms of the very few of them that have survived to the present; yet a one of a kind newspaper from an obscure small town in New England, for example, will generate far less collector interest than, let us say, a newspaper of similar rarity printed in the Republic of Texas. Another factor is association with a famous individual; an 1880's issue of the STAR, from the small town of Marion, Ohio, would have great collector appeal - because its editor, Warren G. Harding, went on to become a President of the United States. Likewise a newspaper which was owned by a person of historical prominence is a highly collectible "collateral" item, when supplied with acceptable documentation.

"Rare" is a term that is so over-used in the collecting world, just as "best" is in the world of media advertising, that it has lost much of its meaning. In my opinion "rare" to the experienced collector is a four-letter word that means "there ain't none: no one's got one, no one's ever seen one, no one's even met anyone who's seen one". To the novice, on the other hand, it seems the term usually means "the one that I've got".

The final factor, condition, is significant for assessing the value of the more commonly encountered titles, chiefly those of the big eastern cities, but it is not necessarily as important as in other collectible fields. Because newspapers were planned to be read once or twice and then simply thrown away, the survival of any periodical is a triumph against very long odds. Having a paper in poor condition is definitely preferable to having no specimen at all. While I recommend acquiring items in the best possible shape, it is a good policy not to turn down a rarity because of poor condition. Another specimen of the date and title may simply not exist, or survive only in a public collection, never to be available to collectors. A damaged specimen will, of course, always be of lesser value than a perfect one, other factors being equal. In the case of the popular illustrated weeklies such as Harper's and Leslie's, the condition of the individual woodcuts is what defines the value of the piece and consequently missing or damaged pages do not destroy the paper's value as a collector's item but rather reduce it to the value of the prints that are present in undamaged condition.

It should be noted that the price record for a single rare American newspaper stands at $110,000.00, the price realized at auction for a 1787 Philadelphia newspaper, THE PENNSYLVANIA PACKET, which contains the first public printing of the U.S. Constitution.

Are They A Good Investment?

Most old newspapers are genuinely rare. They were intended to be read once or twice and then discarded; the great majority were immediately converted into new paper. During the Civil War, for example, paper was valued at over $400.00 per ton, a powerful incentive for recycling in a nation whose per capita annual income averaged only $300.00. Newspapers were systematically collected only by libraries and newspapers offices, for their "morgue" files. They were usually bound into book-like volumes for safekeeping. (Today, most newspapers that survive in collectible condition were once bound in these volumes. Therefore the minor marks of careful "disbinding" do not adversely affect their collector value or desirability, and they are in fact prima facie evidence of the authenticity of the newspapers.) Over the years, many of these saved papers were lost, due to improper storage conditions, and to natural and manmade disasters. The ratio of the most common titles still in existence is thought to be no more than one of every two hundred originally printed. There are numerous cases in which the rate of survival approximates one in a thousand, or less, and there are many newspapers known to have been printed of which no issues appear to have survived at all.

It is accurate to say that the rarity of newspapers is not generally reflected in their prices at the present. The hobby of newspaper collecting is a recent one, gaining in popularity chiefly in the past two decades. Because of the law of supply and demand, prices remain quite modest. The idea of collectibles as viable alternatives for everyone to the stock market, for example, is one whose validity has not generally been borne out by experience. The periodic booms and busts in the stamp and coin collecting field are good indicators that there are pitfalls as well as profits, no different or less risky a situation than in the stock market itself.

I am not one to recommend that any collectible should be acquired only for investment purposes. It is my personal belief that the hobbyist's enduring reward is the pursuit of knowledge that collectibles encourage. Successful collecting for investment requires a thorough, ongoing knowledge of the material and of the retail market for it. Generally, investment quality items are those which have already demonstrated a high demand-to-supply ratio by achieving the highest values in the present; from an investment standpoint it is always advisable to acquire one choice item valued at a thousand dollars than to buy a hundred ten-dollar items. A collection of high quality items, when gathered around a central unifying theme may be expected in the passage of time to become a valuable historical resource. It is reasonable to think that such a well-selected holding has a better than average chance of increasing in material value commensurate with its unique historical importance.

The market for old newspapers and other ephemeral items is wholly collector-driven. Regardless of what price guides may say, the bottom line on the value of a collectible is the price a knowledgeable collector is willing to pay. There can be no guarantees of a profitable resale of any collector's item, no more than you can be assured a profit in a stock market transaction; as in most of life's endeavors, there is no substitute for knowledge and prudence.

What's the best way to collect?

There is no one "best way" to collect historic newspapers and other paper collectibles. Generally the way to start is with whatever pleases you most. The new collector might begin obtaining a few with representative items from any place or time that strikes his or her fancy. One might walk the foggy streets of the Victorian England of Sherlock Holmes, by reading original 1880s issues of the Times, Illustrated London News, or the Strand Magazine. Relive the uncertainty and the heroism of the American Civil War as you read the New York Times, Herald, or Tribune, the "big three' of American journalism, or papers from Confederate Richmond or Charleston, as they bring that bloody conflict into every American parlor.

You can witness the early years of our nation's history in newspapers printed in Boston, New York, or Philadelphia, when they were still provinces of King George, or issued during the struggle for liberty, when the outcome of the farmers' war against the world's mightiest superpower was far from hopeful. A coin collector may wish to purchase papers with articles about the U.S. Mint - how about a 1792 paper with a Page One printing of the new Act of Congress authorizing "A Mint for the United States" or reports of the excitement when America's first coins began to enter circulation.

Contemporary newspapers can bring these periods and places to life vividly for you, especially if you already have some background in the history of those times. Or try a few illustrated newspapers of a century ago, and see for yourself the moment of history preserved on the pages of Harper's Weekly, and Frank Leslie's Illustrated, to name the most popular weekly rivals. Do you have an interest in specialty publications, about industry, technology, religion, science, education, politics, the opposition parties? There are many to choose from in ll these categories.

The only limits on the theme for your collecting activities are your interests and your imagination. Eventually you may discover the specialized area that will make the hobby most enjoyable and meaningful to you. To get the most out of it will require some effort on your part, yet the satisfaction, in my opinion, more than justifies the expenditure of time. Among other things you just may discover that every previous generation has been absolutely convinced that its brief moment on center stage was surely the worst /best /wickedest /most enlightened time that ever was. A good part of the reason for this belief is simple ignorance of what life was really like in the past. In every nation and culture, the real flesh and blood people who went before become replaced by mythic folk heroes and nostalgic dreams of "the good old days" that never really existed.

Many books have been printed about collecting old books and paper items. Among the best available today are those published by the Spoon River Press. For more information and a catalog, contact the company at 2319-C West Rohmann Avenue, Peoria, Illinois 61604-5072, telephone (309) 672-2665.

Some Popular Collecting Categories

Below is a listing of some of the more popular collecting themes. They represent just a few of the potentials of this very varied endeavor, which can be limited only by your interests and imagination.

  • ADVERTISEMENTS. As the basic source of income for a newspaper or magazine publisher, ads received special attention in old newspapers; indeed most front pages carry solid advertising until the Civil War years. Many early issues feature handsomely illustrated vignettes of the products or services offered; they are highly collectible, with their charming woodcuts of sailing vessels, railroad trains, patent medicines, clothing, etc. These ads portray aspects of daily life that help bring it all back to life in a full, vivid way. Some of the classics in this field include the valuable first ads by Coca-Cola, in the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION of 1886, and magazine ads of the early Twentieth century done by leading illustrators such as Norman Rockwell.

  • BRITISH NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES. The British Press was active for many years before there were newspapers in America. A very wide variety of papers may be collected a modest, cost. Such literary greats as Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, and Charles Dickens edited their own newspapers, and there is plenty of material from which to select, from the Restoration to the present. While pre-1775 American newspapers are generally rare and, expensive, many British titles even as back as the late 1600's can be purchased today for less than $30 an issue. Add to this the fact that our earliest traditions are firmly rooted in British soil, and you have an interesting field of study with real interest and importance.

  • CORRESPONDENTS. Many famous Americans were correspondents for newspapers during their careers. Their early appearances in the medium are especially prized and collected. Among them are Mark Twain writing for the Virginia City, Nevada, TERRITORIAL ENTERPRISE, future NEW YORK TRIBUNE editor Whitelaw Reid, famous for Civil War battle accounts under the pen-name of "Agate", Charles Coffin, author of numerous Civil War stories, who wrote as "Carleton" for the BOSTON JOURNAL during the war, and George Kendall, publisher of the New Orleans PICAYUNE and the leading reporter of the Mexican War. Also in this group is Winslow Homer, the celebrated American artist whose sketches appeared in BALLOU’S PICTORIAL., HARPERS' WEEKLY, EVERY SATURDAY, and others. Even Karl Marx wrote for the NEW YORK TRIBUNE; he was for many years Greeley's chief London correspondent and turned in famous analyses of-the European political situation. Much fine historical content is featured in these eyewitness stories, and this type of collecting can pay especially significant rewards of understanding our past.

  • EDITORS. Some newspapers achieved great prominence under the guidance of their editors, with their influence felt throughout the political and social life of the nation. Some were the very essence of their time, others decades ahead of it. Some were relatively obscure, now overlooking by history, while others went on to become Presidents of the United States. This field is a rich one for research and scholarship, and the pursuit of these often rare papers. Some of our great editors include Benjamin Franklin in the PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE, Horace Greeley in the NEW YORK TRIBUNE, the most influential paper of the last century, William Lloyd Garrison, whose militant attacks on slavery in his radical LIBERATOR caused that paper to be banned from the mails throughout the old South, Edgar Allen Poe in his short-lived review THE BROADWAY JOURNAL, William Randolph Hearst of the NEW YORK JOURNAL, and Joseph Pulitzer who built the near bankrupt New York WORLD to one of the great American newspapers. There are many, many more men and women whose work kept alive the tradition of freedom of the press over two hundred and seventy years.

  • ERAS. A popular form of collecting in which one specializes in the issues of a particular era of history, attempting to gather a representative selection of the press at that time. The Civil War, with all its complex issues and personal heroism, is a perennial favorite. Thanks to the increase of newspapers of the time, Civil War papers are still remarkably affordable, and are a splendid source of fresh, eyewitness coverage of the conflict. Also of great interest is the Colonial period, and the years of our War of Independence. Though less easy to find than later papers, these early treasures are a uniquely vivid way of understanding the America of two centuries ago. Victorian London is always popular, and easily recalled in the many newspapers and magazines that have survived, as are the World Wars, the England of the first three Georges, and the English Restoration era. This field is virtually unlimited, with your interests as your guide.

  • EVENT REPORTING. Easily the most popular collecting plan, to obtain newspapers reporting events of historic significance. Further subcategories could include first reports in the areas of politics, sports, Presidential reporting, famous crimes, trials, disasters.- inventions, assassinations, battles, Royalty events, death notices, etc. Many options exist for building a fine collection of historic "headline" newspapers, Some of the most famous and collectible newspapers in this category would include reports of the battle of Lexington and Concord, early printings of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution, death issues of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the sinking of the Titanic, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and many others, With three centuries to select from, the variety is great! Because of the strong demand for these often rare newspapers, some of the best investments can also be made in this area.

  • FIRST EDITIONS. A very specialized area of endeavor in which the collector seeks only the Volume One Number One first issue of newspapers or periodicals. It is a challenging field, as the initial issues of most publications were of necessity extremely limited runs and there are many thousands of titles that have come and gone over the years. The first issue of the classic NEW YORK TRIBUNE, for example, was set up in an attic garret and hawked on the streets of New York on a cold April morning in 1841; most of the 5,000 copies printed up had to be given away free to attract attention to the new paper, and of these there are no more than twenty or thirty known surviving examples.

  • LITERARY FIGURES. Seeking out periodical and newspaper appearances of works by famous authors is a most intriguing aspect of the hobby. Though this discipline requires a considerable amount of scholarship in tracking down these elusive appearances (the fashion was very often to publish under a pseudonym), the rewards can be great in both enjoyment and financial gain. Among the most highly sought pieces in this category is the first printed appearance of Poe's immortal poem The Raven, in the NEW YORK EVENING MIRROR of 1845, a paper now worth in excess of $5,000. Similarly, of Emily Dickinson's large output of poetry, only two of her works were published during her lifetime, in 1862 numbers of the Massachusetts newspaper, the SPRINGFIELD REPUBLICAN. Further back in history, as mentioned, can be found the writings of Ben Franklin, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, and even Mark Twain and Karl Marx. As many of these predate the first editions of books by these authors, their interest and value can be quite considerable. As an example in an overseas newspaper, V.I. Lenin edited a very rare political opposition newspaper in Czarist Russia, which today commands a price of $1,000 per issue!

  • MASTHEADS. The collecting of newspapers for their decorative titles (also called nameplates) is the foundation of many a fine collection. From the early 1700's to the present, many newspapers and magazines were printed with elaborate, eye-catching Masthead engravings to stimulate customer interest. Today they are prized collector's items, perfectly suited for framed display. The American eagle is a particular favorite, in his many appearances over the years. Some Mastheads were the work of famous artists and engravers, notably the works of Paul Revere for the BOSTON GAZETTE, ROYAL AMERICAN MAGAZINE, MASSACHUSETTS SPY, and THE ESSEX JOURNAL, on the eve of the American Revolution.

    What's the best way to preserve old newspapers?

    Paper is an organic, fibrous, plant-based material that is interactive with its environment. The old papers that that survive today in our collections are still around because they were specially cared for. I believe that we present-day collectors are but temporary custodians, rather than permanent owners, of these old papers which have somehow beaten the odds and have come down to us. It is apparent that we as responsible collectors of material that truly represents our history and heritage should take proper care of the material while it is in our possession, so it can be passed on to those who will come after us.

    Briefly, the enemies of old paper are heat, humidity, and sunlight. To maintain their fine condition, a stable storage environment that is free of excess fluctuation in temperature and humidity is the basic consideration. Always choose a relatively dry, cool location in your home to store your collection. Any room suitable for habitation will generally be satisfactory for your paper collection. Keep your paper collectibles away from radiators or pipes that could one day be responsible for catastrophe by heat or water. Never leave old papers in the basement or attic, where change of temperature and humidity occur regularly and can cause accelerated deterioration. The second consideration is to provide an environment for your collection that limits contact with air and strong light. Long term direct exposure to atmospheric oxygen can cause that volatile element to react with chemicals naturally present in all paper, which can have unfortunate results. The high sulfur bleach used in modern newsprint, for example, readily combines with oxygen to produce sulfur dioxide, a corrosive compound that destroys woodpulp paper by dissolving the molecular bonding of the cellulose fibers of which it is composed. Light speeds up the process. Leave yesterday’s newspaper outdoors in the afternoon sun for an example of this process.

    Select only archival quality acid free containers for permanent storage. “Archival quality” means that the materials are chemically inert and will not leak any chemicals into the items stored in them. Mylar and polypropylene are the leading inert clear plastics used for archival purposes. They can be expensive but are well worth the peace of mind that comes with knowing your valuable papers are safely preserved in them. You can also make your own custom holders with a little ingenuity, some Mylar, and double-sided adhesive tape. Never use vinyl containers of any kind anywhere near your collection. Its chemical components are very unstable and will readily destroy anything made of paper that is kept in them for any length of time. Polyethylene bags are not recommended for permanent storage but are acceptable for display, shipping containers, or short term storage (five years or less).

    If you frame your papers, as many hobbyists do, be sure to specify the use of acid free materials (often described by framers as archival or museum quality materials) and to include an ultraviolet filtering screen between them and bright light.

    Small repairs such as mending rips can be successfully undertaken with archival quality materials and a little practice on items of little value; never use cellophane tape! Newspapers printed on woodpulp newsprint, in general use after ca. 1885 are at risk of future deterioration due to the high acidic content of such paper. Deacidification, or neutralizing the dangerous acids present in many papers, is a remedy for this problem, and is particularly recommended for the more valuable papers. Some solutions are available for use at home, which can be sprayed on the paper, or others that release deacidifying agents into the air may be used. Most of these products have a level of toxicity, and so should be used with great care, following the manufacturer's instructions to the letter.

    Internet Preservation Resources
    The World Wide Web is a gold mine of helpful information of all kinds for the collector, archivist, and historical hobbyist. Here are a few suggested links for further information on the care and preservation of collectibles of all kinds.

    Conservation Information
    The Northeast Document Conservation Center (http://www.nedcc.org). This excellent site includes an online version of the Center's very helpful book Preservation of Library and Archival Materials: A Manual.
    Conservation OnLine (http://palimpsest.stanford.edu). A project of the Preservation Department of Stanford University Libraries, this site abounds in useful information and has a wide variety of links for further online resources.
    UNESCO's "Memory of the World" project (http://www.unesco.org/webworld/mdm/index.html). This very ambition project aims to "promote the preservation of the documentary heritage of mankind" and to this end discusses many way of preserving paper, photos, and modern archival materials.
    http://www.natmus.min.dk/ixgb.htm. This site contains Tim Padgfield's An Introduction to the Physics of the Museum Environment, a useful discussion on relative humidity and its effect on collections, with techniques for environmental monitoring.
    Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (http://spnhc.org). Featured here are a number of pamphlets, including several on insect pests and identification of archival quality plastics.

    Commercial Websites
    University Products. This site sells the finest archival quality supplies to house your collection, and books on how to care for your valued collectibles.
    Action Plastic Sales. Here you will find a wide selection of economically priced polyethylene slips (useful for shipping and short term storage) and other useful supplies.
    L-W Book Sales & Publishing. Excellent retail source for reference books and price guides in many areas of antiques and collectibles.

    You can also visit my information pages on collecting, collector terminology, how to read my general catalog descriptions, and more by selecting this link. For further reading I suggest Rickard's Collecting Printed Ephemera [Abbeville Press, 1988].

    What about condition?

    Very old newspapers tend to be found in surprisingly attractive condition. Because they are made of organic material interactive with its environment, those that survive have done so because they were specially cared for. All the issues in our catalogs, for example, are in fine or better condition, evidencing normal handling and storage, but not suffering any defects, damage, or losses. Many have old inked subscribers' names or address labels on the front page, which is not considered detracting and can provide valuable help in tracing their provenance. There may be some light "foxing," that is, brown spots created by natural impurities in the paper or by fungi. This is quite normal for ephemera, and does not detract from the total attractive appearance of the papers. Most items, as noted above, are "disbound," carefully removed from volumes in which they were once preserved, with no disfiguring damage. All these factors are quite representative of how you will find old newspapers that are still in collectible condition. Time, unfortunately, has not been so kind to all old newspapers; I have seen numerous rare old papers literally crumbling to dust because they were not properly preserved. Papers in this condition have no value to collectors and I do not stock or sell them.

    I use the following terminology to more fully describe the condition of the newspapers offered in our catalogs, in addition to the general comments above.

    • VERY FINE. An exceptionally well-preserved newspaper; extracted from a bound volume unless otherwise described, it is bright and clean with no evidence of wear or improper storage.
    • FINE. A typical newspaper taken from a volume, clean and undamaged, with normal light foxing or trifling edge or spine wear noticeable only on close inspection.
    • GOOD. Typically a paper which has not been preserved in a volume. It may be limp, show creasing or foxing, and light wear (called rubbing) at the fold lines, or short tears at the folds or margins, obscuring no text unless so described.

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