1788 Daily Advertiser: All the News That Was Fit to Print
Slideshow by Margaret Aery | Posted 2.13.2012
Wendy with her copy of "The Daily Advertiser"
Wendy, from Morgantown, West Virginia, came to ROADSHOW's 2011 event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a 1788 copy of the "The Daily Advertiser," an old New York City newspaper. The paper had been handed down in Wendy's family for generations, and as a girl, Wendy had even written a grade-school report on the "Advertiser," but she'd never noticed the feature that caught the eye of appraiser Ken Gloss — a summary of the New York State Assembly's deliberations on ratification of the newly minted U.S. Constitution.
We the people...
Published on July 22, 1788, the paper gives a behind-the-scenes account of New York's vote to approve the fledgling country's new constitution. Appraiser Ken Gloss pointed out the significance of the event in U.S. history — just four days after the article's publication, New York officially ratified the Constitution. Two months later, the Continental Congress passed a resolution putting the Constitution into effect. Because of these events' significance, and the near-perfect condition of the 225-year-old paper, Gloss estimated its retail value at $2,500 to $3,500.
Before the 24-Hour News Cycle
But if the paper's value stems from a news item that was relegated to the inside cover that day, what, you might ask, made front-page news? From fashion trends, to celebrity worship, to a slew of different alcohol ads, you might not be as surprised by the content crowding out the headlines as you'd think.
18th-Century Tourist Attraction
Before Times Square tourists started lining up at Madame Tussauds to see lifelike renditions of Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, and Brangelina, New Yorkers were already getting their celebrity fill with an exhibition of "curious" wax figures that included George Washington, the King and Queen of England, and an Indian Chief — all "as large as life."
Before glossy ads in "Vogue" and "Vanity Fair," New Yorkers were already finding the latest fashion trends in periodical advertisements. Of course, some things may have gone out of fashion since 1788, including "rattinets," "shalloons," "durants," and "beaver and white hats," but fashion is said to run in cycles, so who knows what could come back in style. And who can guess what current-day news items might catch the eye of future readers another two hundred years from now.