Colonial Newspapers: Works of Art

Thought I’d change things up a bit today and share full front pages of newspapers rather than cropped article excerpts. When examined side by side, one gains a greater appreciation for the handmade process of papermaking and printing. Beyond their historical content, colonial newspapers are works of art with unique mastheads, layouts, paper sizes, etc. Prior to 1870, before the transition to wood pulp, newspapers were printed on paper handmade from linen rags. Paper quality varied greatly, but that didn’t dilute its durability. Thanks to the strength and sturdiness of handmade rag linen paper, the first drafts of colonial America’s most historical events are often well preserved in printed form.


  1. Gordon Bond
    November 25, 2012

    I came across your site from a link on NPR station WNYC’s website. I have an interest in this early period of journalism and the role of printers and newspapers stemming from my research of a book, “James Parker: A Printer on the Eve of Revolution.” I notice in the above image, you have one of his New-York Gazette and Weekly Post-Boy papers.

    As a New Jersey historian, I was drawn to Parker, given he established the state’s first permanent print shop, but his story touches on the evolution of the press in New York as well as Connecticut. It is a fascinating study of how printers became de facto journalists.

    In any event, I was pleased to find your site and look forward to reading your book!


  2. Nick Chandler
    December 17, 2012

    It is wonderful to see this approach to reporting history, and I anxiously await my copy of the book which I have just ordered. My interest is later..,1820s and ’30s civilian gun smiths and gun makers in New England, and newspapers have provided me with invaluable source material when writing Early American Underhammer Firearms. I have collected newspaper for both content and artistic merit for years, and more recently have subscribed to three newspaper database services that allow digital searches.

  3. RagLinen
    December 26, 2012

    Thanks, Nick and Gordon. Much appreciated.

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