Collecting historic newspapers a popular, affordable hobbyby Larry Cox on Apr. 09, 2009, under Calendar Plus
With the possible sight of The Tucson Citizen in our rearview mirror, several people have asked if the final issues of newspapers are worth saving.
Strolling through the newspaper cemetery is startling. Some of America’s most historic papers have folded in recent years and even more are barely alive and on life support. Gone are such proud old publications as the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, the San Francisco Herald, The Miami News, the Chicago Daily News, the New Orleans States-Item, The Baltimore Evening Sun, The Kansas City Star, the St. Louis-Globe Democrat, the Houston Post, The Albuquerque Tribune, and the New York Herald Tribune. In recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the demise of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News and heard the death rattle of the San Francisco Chronicle and Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Are any of the final editions of these papers worth more than just a dollar or two and is a newspaper with historic headlines worth collecting? To find out the answer, I monitored online auctions and contacted several collectors and experts. Some final issues, such as the last edition of the Rocky Mountain News, are almost certain to increase in value because of their content and the overall historic value of the publication. I saw several issues sell on eBay in the $15-$20 range.
According to one collector, most older editions of newspapers, even when packed away for decades, rarely sell for more than $25. There are, of course, exceptions. For example, the farewell issue of The Washington Daily News from 1972 routinely sells for $40. Other popular papers that are highly collectible include Leslie’s Illustrated account of the Chicago Fire, Oct. 28, 1871, $250; Chicago Tribune from April 5, 1882, with story of Jesse James murder, $650; Columbian Centinel’s War of 1812 issue, $65; the New York Herald’s Lincoln election issue, $150; and Lincoln’s assassination from almost any New York or Washington paper, $150 and up.
Other historic events that are highly collectible include the Civil War, presidential elections and deaths, the sinking of the Titanic, the stock market collapse in 1929, and the death of Elvis Presley in 1977.
Papers should be placed flat and stored in a dark, dry place. Cedar chests are ideal. Never keep older paper items in plastic of any kind.
For additional information, I recommend two experts: Timothy Hughes, Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers, P.O. Box 3636, Williamsport, PA 17701, and Steve Goldman, P.O. Box 359, Parkton, MD 21120. Another excellent source is the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001, and 888-639-7386.
BUY OF THE WEEK
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