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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 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 TextThe 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 OriginalsThese originals were printed on several designs of wallpaper. Known patterns mentioned in the 1940 Library of Congress Circular 3 include:
If your issue shows wallpaper patterns not described above, it is not a genuine newspaper.
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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