The Most Common Confederate
Newspaper Reproduction

A Collector Information Web Page Provided by
Phil Barber, Cambridge, Mass. 02139 Telephone (617) 492-4653
An Abundant Reproduction

The Vicksburg, Mississippi, Daily Citizen of July 2/4, 1863 is among the most commonly encountered fake old newspapers. If you have one, it is almost certainly a later reproduction with little or no value to collectors. The originals are quite uncommon, while there have been at least thirty different reproductions, with tens of thousands of copies printed, the earliest of which appeared in the 1870's.

The Original Newspaper

The Daily Citizen was edited and published at Vicksburg, Mississippi, by J. M. Swords. As the Union seige of the strategic city wore on, his supply of paper ran out, so the publisher resorted to the use of wallpaper, as did several other Southern editors during the rebellion. On this substitute Swords printed the following dates: June 16, 18, 20, 27, 30, and July 2, 1863. Each was a single sheet, four columns wide, printed on the back of the wallpaper.

On July 4, Vicksburg surrendered, the publisher fled, and the Union forces found the type of the Citizen still standing. They replaced two-thirds of the last column with other matter already in type, added the note quoted below, and started to print a new edition. Evidently, after a few copies (how many is unknown) had been run off, it was noticed that the masthead title was misspelled as "CTIIZEN." The error was corrected, although the other typographical errors were allowed to stand, and the rest of the edition printed.

JULY 4, 1863 Two days bring about great changes, The banner of the Union floats over Vicksburg. Gen. Grant has "caught the rabbit;" he has dined in Vicksburg, and he did bring his dinner with him. The "Citizen" lives to see it. For the last time it appears on "Wall-paper." No more will it eulogize the luxury of mule-meat and fricasseed kitten - urge Southern warriors to such diet nevermore. This is the last wall-paper edition, and is, excepting this note, from the types as we found them. It will be valuable hereafter as a curiosity.

The Reproductions

The prophecy contained in the note has been fulfilled. The original copies are treasured, and there have been many reprints of this issue. The earliest of these were printed as "curiosities" probably for G.A.R. reunions in the midwest in the 1870's, and later in other parts of the country. For many years copies were printed on various kinds of non-period wallpaper and sold at the Old Court House Museum at Vicksburg. Today they are still on sale there, but are now printed on an imitation parchment paper. The reprints are abundant and turn up constantly, while to my knowledge only two genuine specimens of this issue have appeared on the market in the past twenty years. A listing of variant reprints of this newspaper may be found in the article "Wall-Paper Newspapers" by Clarence Brigham, then-curator of the American Antiquarian Society, which appeared in Bibliographical Essays - A Tribute to Wilberforce Eames (1924). The reprints have little or no monetary value.

The collector is cautioned to exercise great care in evaluating possible specimens offered for sale as the reprints of this newspaper are typically represented as originals by uninformed or unscrupulous sellers (and in one case of my recent unpleasant experience, by an apparently psychotic AOLer). Many imitations have changed hands recently at prices far greater than their actual minimal value.

Some Diagnostics of the Originals

The genuine originals can be distinguished by the following tests.

I. Layout and Text

The paper is a single type page, 9 1/8 inches in width by 16 7/8 inches in length.
Column 1, line 1, title, THE DAILY CITIZEN, or THE DAILY CTIIZEN is printed in capitals of uniform size, not in capitals and lowercase, or capitals and small capitals.
Column 1, line 2, "J.M. Swords,.......Proprietor." Notice the comma (or imperfect dot) and six periods.
Column 1, last line, reads: "them as they would the portals of hell itself."
Column 3, line 1, reads: "Yankee News From All Points."
Column 4, line 1, reads: "tremity of the city. These will be defended."
Column 4, paragraph 3, line 7, the first word is misspelled "Secossion."
Column 4, article 2, line 2, word 4 is misspelled "whisttle."
Column 4, last article before Note, the final word is printed with the quotation mark misplaced, 'dead' instead of dead".
Column 4, Note, line 1, comma following the word "changes" rather than a period.

If your issue deviates from any of these diagnostics, it is not a genuine newspaper.

II. Some Wallpaper Designs Used in Known Originals

These originals were printed on several designs of wallpaper. Known patterns mentioned in the 1940 Library of Congress Circular 3 include:
  • A large brocade pattern in faded red-purple over a scroll design in faded rose on a cream background.
  • A design of white three-lobed, palmate leaves placed close together with small flowers and leaflets, like veins in the centre of each, all partly outlined with heavy dark blue.
  • Small flowers with connecting vines giving the effect of a diamond-latticed trellis; leaves, flower-petals and [illegible] faded yellow-green on a cream background, [centers?] of flowers dark brown.
  • A pattern that includes pink and red flowers with green leaves gathered in the center of a florette-shaped cream colored frame creating a lace effect over a medium blue ground. Illustrated on the Library of Congress website

If your issue shows wallpaper patterns not described above, it is not a genuine newspaper.

Some Reproductions.

  1. Issued in O.H. Oldrouyd's Soldier's Story of the Seige, published in 1885, headed "Facsimile of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen"
  2. Unmarked facsimile "on common wall-paper" issued as a Supplement to the Chicao Herald in July or August 1885
  3. Issued by the Providence (R.I.) Wallpaper Warehouse and dated 1886 (illustrated above)
  4. Issued by A.F. Churchin, Melvin, Kansas
  5. Marked "A Perfect Facsimile", very closely resembling the original
  6. Issued by "Backnumber Budd"; modern
See also my descriptive pages on
  • The Ulster County Gazette of January 4, 1800, an extremely common early American newspaper reproduction.
  • The New York Herald of April 15, 1865, the other most common old newspaper reproduction.
  • The Honolulu Star-Bulletin of December 7, 1941, the most often discovered modern newspaper replica.
  • Our Collector Information Page for general advice and more data on detecting reproductions.
  • You can get full details of these and fifteen other common newspaper reproductions from the Library of Congress website. See Information Circular No.'s 1 - 17, located in the Library's Newspaper Reprint Circulars Page.

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