Presented for sale by Phil Barber, Cambridge, Mass. 02139 Telephone (617) 492-4653
 Newspapers Introductory Catalog

Gleason's Pictorial Masthead

I am pleased to present in this catalog a nice selection of dates of the first successful illustrated weekly newspaper in America. Modeled on the London pictorial press, Gleason's Pictorial sought to give a distinctive American flavor to its articles and illustrations. They possess a unique charm, capturing the essence of antebellum America in a more intimate way than the later more sophisticated New York weeklies would. The 1850's preserved in these articles and engravings was a period of intense political, social, and economic upheaval. The smaller, rural nation portrayed here was vanishing, lost forever to the Industrial Revolution. The unity of the nation was dissolving in the white heat of the slavery crisis, soon to spark a terrible sectional war. Vast numbers of immigrants poured into the country, bringing with them new ways and values. Everywhere technology, new ideas, and new economics were sweeping away America's traditional way of life. Period nostalgia for the simpler "good old days" of the Founding Fathers in this paper can be quite touching. There is also a fine engraved masthead depicting a busy Boston harbor filled with steam and sailing vessels. The name of the paper changes in 1855 to Ballou's Pictorial, as managing editor Maturin Ballou bought out the ownership of the newspaper from Frederick Gleason, who sold out in the belief that he had made a sufficient profit from the paper. Sadly, this pioneering editor's later ventures failed, and he died in abject poverty.

These weekly papers are large quarto in size, about 12" by 16", and contain sixteen pages to the issue. We have listed the issues here by a very brief summary of what we consider the highlights of their content. There is much more in every issue than I have the space to describe. I have attempted to describe the illustrations only. In addition to its eight pages of woodcuts, each newspaper contains eight more pages of reading material, in the form of features, stories, editorials, etc.

All items are in problem-free fine condition, unless otherwise noted. Many of the issues were removed from bound annual volumes, which preserved them extremely well over the years; they may thus exhibit some normal spine separation, which affects no content. Any losses, damage, or defects to text or illustrations will be described where it exists. Because the collector value of these papers is dependent on the quality and condition of the prints we have endeavored to describe the same carefully and not generally to note trivial matters such as margin wear that does not affect the collectible content.

To save space I have adopted the following abbreviations to describe the size of the engravings:

  • TP - titlepage or cover illustration, usually a full page subject.
  • FP - fullpage, an illustration filling the entire page on which it is printed
  • CF - centerfold, or double page illustration, highly collectible and most impressive for framed display.

About This Catalog

All items in this catalog are unconditionally guaranteed to be genuine and accurately described. They are in fine used condition and are complete with all pages as issued. We are sure you will be delighted with their exceptional state of preservation. We purchase only the finest condition newspapers that can be found to offer to our valued friends and customers. All papers are free of damage or objectionable defects.

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.

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 on line 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!

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Postage for an order delivered within the United States is $3.85 plus 0.45 per issue ordered. 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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A Full Year of Gleason's Pictorial in Absolutely Pristine Condition!
GP-001-V. [BOUND VOLUME] GLEASON'S PICTORIAL and DRAWING-ROOM COMPANION, VOLUMES IV and V, January through December, 1853. [52 complete original issues, each 16 pages; large quarto size, published at Boston, Mass. by Frederick Gleason]
I am pleased to present a full bound year of this pioneering illustrated weekly newspaper in top condition. There are thousands of high quality woodcuts of the passing scene on its 832 large pages. There is an enormous wealth of content about Boston, naturally, but in addition I find many features on the hottest news of the day, the California Gold Rush, and the newly-opened Kingdom of Japan, with many pictures of those exotic locales. To name just a very few of the other highlights: the first Presidential Inauguration covered in the U.S. pictorial media; gallery of Congressmen, including Sam Houston; views of the nation's capital; Barnum's famous bearded lady; visit to the infamous Devil's Island penal colony; full coverage of the New York Crystal Palace, America's first world's fair; NYPD, and firemen; visit to Havana; opium addiction; hunting and fishing features; visits to many American cities, and so much more than I have the space to describe.
Condition of this volume is absolutely astounding. This volume is one of the top two or three the best-condition Gleason's volumes I have encountered among the dozens I have sold over the past 26 years. These big, heavy volumes are almost invariably found with damaged bindings, loose pages, with foxing, missing leaves, and a host of the other problems that can beset paper and leather over 155 years. Here, the contents are bright and fresh throughout, and the three-quarter gilt leather bindings are remarkably fine, with the slightest shelving wear on the bottom corners and lightest scuffing to hinges. A great rarity so well preserved, from my personal collection. Extra domestic postage is 6.75 . . . 495.00

GP-0076. [SINGLE ISSUE] GLEASON'S PICTORIAL, May 22, 1852. [Complete issue of 16 pages, large quarto size, published at Boston, Mass., by Frederick Gleason]
2pp feature depicts the "New regulation army Uniforms" of the U.S. Army. Also a fine 2pp feature shows a dozen "species of dogs" and explains their breeding, the first in-depth article on dogs in the illustrated media. Also a rare early view of Houston, Texas.
Condition of this issue is fine. (extra postage .45). . . 30.00

The Best 19th Century Illustrated Article on Sea serpents - Japanese Customs - Presidential Race "First"
GP-0082. [SINGLE ISSUE] GLEASON'S PICTORIAL, July 03, 1852. [Complete issue of 16 pages, large quarto size, published at Boston, Mass., by Frederick Gleason]
Classic 2pp feature on the sighting by the warship HMS Deadalus of the great sea beast scientists have named scioliophilus atlanticus, with dramatic views of the monster, longer than the ship, at her side and cutting under her transom. 2pp piece on Japan has six woodcuts of marriage and funeral customs, nobles, and commoners, etc. Quite early on this mysterious country. Portrait of Pres. candidate Frank Pierce is the first time a candidate's image has appeared in the U.S. illustrated Press..
Condition of this issue is generally fine, couple of brown spots on a leaf in the Japanese article, back cover loose and a bit worn at edges. (extra postage .45). . . 30.00

A Visit to the United States Mint at Philadelphia
GP-0085. [SINGLE ISSUE] GLEASON'S PICTORIAL, July 17, 1852. [Complete issue of 16 pages, large quarto size, published at Boston, Mass., by Frederick Gleason]
Six great woodcut engravings illustrate this first article in the weekly news press of the operations of the U.S. mint at Philadelphia. We see a fine exterior view of the facility, the scenes in the press rooms and milling rooms, the main steam engine that powers the operation and a fine news steam coin press, as well as a view of the "Adjusting Room" where dozens of seated young ladies weigh each coin to be sure it is correct. The accompanying article tells the story of the mint and its progress. Great numismatica! Also in the issue a two-page spread of vies of Niagara Falls and more pictures and articles. .
Condition of this issue is fine, very light edge wear in two blank margin-ends, not detracting at all. (extra postage .45). . . 75.00

Gold in California
GP-0091. [SINGLE ISSUE] GLEASON'S PICTORIAL, October 30, 1852. [Complete issue of 16 pages, large quarto size, published at Boston, Mass., by Frederick Gleason]
2pp feature "California Scenes" depicts prospectors, Indians, a vaquero, the American River bridge, a seegar-smoking senorita, and more. Full descriptive text, excellent piece. Very light offsetting.
Condition of this issue is fine. (extra postage .45). . . 37.50

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