Monday, April 11, 2011

Read all about it! Civil War newspaper

Frank Leslie's Illustrated, Oct. 18, 1862 edition.

I love old newspapers. They have a look and a feel and a smell that's just ... well... different.

Because Tuesday marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, I decided to dig out some of my Civil War collection for inspection, including this Oct. 18, 1862, copy of Frank Leslie's Illustrated.

Newspapers of the 19th century were made of rag paper -- essentially cotton fibers -- and thus preserved much better than today's wood pulp-based paper, which may contain high concentrations of acids. Frank Leslie's Illustrated was the Time or Newsweek of its day. The technology of the 1860s, of course, did not allow for newspapers to reproduce photography, which was in its infancy.

This edition of Frank Leslie's was published a month after the Battle of Antietam in Sharpsburg, Md., the bloodiest day in American history. Nearly 23,000 Americans were killed, wounded or MIA. The main art on the first page (close-up above) is an engraving of Maryland and Pennsylvania farmers watching Union soldiers bury Rebels near Bloody Lane, one of the landmark sites on the rolling farm fields outside Sharpsburg.

Depending on the event that's featured, newspapers of this era can be had for as little as $18. This one -- which includes a map of the Antietam battlefield on an inside page -- cost me about $30.

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