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Newspapers have their origin in the news pamphlets that circulated around Europe in the 1400s. These publications, which first appeared in Germany, were usually published only when something newsworthy and sensational happened. In 1622, an English version of these pamphlets, "The Weekly News," was the first to publish successive issues. Dozens followed suit, all published as news books or news fliers. In 1666, the first true newspaper, "The London Gazette," made its debut.

The Revolutionary War and establishment of the United States Constitution helped newspapers gain popularity in the United States. At the end of the war, 43 newspapers existed in the former 13 colonies. The ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in 1791 guaranteed freedom of the press, so newspapers continued to grow. By 1814, there were 346 newspapers published in the United States. Newspapers continued to grow and flourish throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

To collectors, the value of vintage newspapers has more to do with the content than the age of the papers. A paper with a historic headline or an account of a famous historic event will sell for more than a very old newspaper with boring news. The condition of the paper and how well it displays are also important factors.

Quick Facts

  • The term "yellow journalism" stems from the historic newspaper competition between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. The yellow part came from the battle between the two men over a comic strip titled "The Yellow Kid"
  • The first tabloid was London's "The Daily Mirror," which debuted in 1903. Still in publication, the tabloid had an average daily circulation of 962,670 in 2014
  • One of the most historically complete newspaper collections in existence today is owned by Mark E. Mitchell, founder of The Mitchell Archives. His collection includes about 20,000 rare issues from the 1600s to the present

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