Victorian Newspaper with Historic Newspapers

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared my Victorian society book wishlist? Well, shortly after it was published, I had an email from Historic Newspapers asking me if I wanted to review one of their real Victorian newspapers. Erm... would I?! 
Genuine Victorian Newspaper for sale
Although you can't choose a specific date, you can select any year from 1831 to 1900. It's also possible to purchase papers from before 1831 but, as these are scarcer, they can't commit to a particular year. I chose 1888 because I was hoping to get a little Jack the Ripper mention. When my paper arrived and I saw it was dated December 12, I got very excited since this was only 5 weeks after the final murder. Unfortunately there were no articles on this subject matter but it's still a fascinating piece of history.

The paper I received was The Times, which makes up the majority of newspapers in the archive. I was surprised by how pristine the newspaper is. Considering it's 127 years old, there are no rips or tears, no smudges of dirt. A tiny embossed stamp in the corner showing it once belonged to Mitchell Library in Glasgow and the crossed fold lines through the centre are the only indications that this is so old. That and the incredible smell. Rich laughed at me because I sniffed it and immediately declared "This even smells Victorian!" but it's true- a real aged smoky fragrance that puts me in mind of walking through dark streets lit only by gas lamps. 

Reading the paper, I found the hints at daily life absolutely fascinating. Underneath the obituaries there are adverts for funeral directors and jewellery valuers addressed "To executioners". The front page is essentially what we use Twitter for today. Notices ask if anybody knows where to find a Mary Jane Comrie, appeal for the return of a black fan lost in the Avenue Theatre and hospitals thank donors for their contributions. On the back pages, jobs and lettings are advertised and businessmen essentially crowdfund, asking for loans and donations to make their enterprises a success.
Victorian The Times 1888
The actual news stories themselves are also really interesting. For me, the most striking is the story of Bertha Baumgartner, an Austrian "tamer of wild beasts" who was ripped apart by a Bengal tiger- a "ferocious beast"- in front of an audience. The obituary of John Rylands is also included in this paper, whose widow would later commission Manchester's John Rylands Library in his memory. The court transcript is published for a case which, although isn't explained, seems to be either a case of unpaid rent or threatening behaviour following unpaid rent and there is a very quaint weather report that is primarily focused on discussing what the weather was like the previous day.

Although there were no stories about Jack the Ripper, I was really interested to see a piece written up about the murder of William Hall. For Christmas, Rich gave me a book called 1888: London Murders in the Year of the Ripper and I found it endlessly fascinating. In fact, I mention some of the trivia I picked up from this book in my London Transport Museum post. William Hall was punched in the street, which caused him to fall and hit his head against the kerb. His attacker, William James,had previously told a witness that he was Jack the Ripper, which those in court found funny, according to the report. So in a way, there was a Ripper mention after all!

I definitely lucked out with the newspaper I received. Several references of people I'm already aware of in just one day's paper! In fact, there may even be more as there's so much information crammed into one little broadsheet that I'm yet to read the whole thing. I can't wait to find out what I've missed!

Paper supplied by Historic Newspapers for review. Affiliate link has been used in this post

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  1. Wow this is an epic find! Jealous!

  2. Wow I didn't think I would find historic newspapers interesting but reading your post it sounds like there's a lot more to holding a piece of paper because it's basically a piece of history. Love it!

    Mel ★

  3. Oh wow, this is so cool! I didn't know you could get stuff like this. Definitely going to have to have a look!


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