Famous Newspapers Often Reprinted
Historical newspapers were often reprinted to be sold or given away as
souvenirs as far back as 1826. They were available at souvenir stands in
the area of the event (e.g. Ford's Theatre) or for special events such as
GAR meeting. These filled a demand for the items that the surviving
originals could not fill.
Unfortunately today many people find these reprints tucked away in trunks
or boxes in their attic thinking they found a historical treasure. Surely
it must be original because it is so old. Sadly they look old because
they are old, just not an original issue. While the original issue might
survive in a small handful of copies (two in one case), tens or hundreds
of thousands were reprinted and they have a much higher survival
rate. The American Antiquarian Society is fortunate enough to have
originals of the most often reprinted issues.
The most often reprinted issues were:
In Joseph Gavit's A List of American Newspaper Reprints (NY: The
New York Public Library, 1931), he lists 187 different reprints and many
more have been identified since its publication.
- Ulster County Gazette. Kingston, New York, January 4,
1800. This has a report on the death of George Washington. It is the
earliest reprinted American newspaper, first reprinted in 1826. AAS and
the Library of Congress have the only two known issues. Over sixty
reprints have been identified.
- New York Herald. April 15, 1865. This has the first
report of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Some reprints have an out
of date woodcut of Lincoln showing him beardless. The original did not
have any illustrations and this was added later to make the newspaper more
visually appealing. Another common feature of some reprints is the Extra
8:10 a.m. edition.
- Daily Citizen. Vicksburg, Mississippi. When General
Grant and his troupes took over the city, the printer, J.M. Swords, fled
leaving the type standing. By this time due to a paper shortage, Swords
was printing the newspaper on the back of unused wallpaper. The Union
soldiers reset the type in the last column and printed a special issue for
themselves. Very few originals have survived, but it has been reprinted
over thirty times. AAS has 3 copies of the original, each printed on a
different pattern of wallpaper.
The Library of Congress issued a series of 18 Information Circulars
on authenticating old newspapers. The text is now available online
- Vincent Golden, Curator of Newspapers and