Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holding a piece of the past....

I have read a great many books while researching the Regency era, books on social mores, art, architecture, science, politics, etc. But more and more, I am interested in primary sources. I want to read memoirs by people speaking at the time about the times in which they lived. I want to see their clothes and their furniture. I want to read their magazines, their books, and their newspapers.

A few months ago an opportunity presented itself to me to own a newspaper from the Regency era. They last, I am told, longer than present day newspapers because of their high rag content. So I did it--I bought a piece of history.

It is two hundred years old. It has some small tears and a few stains, but it is a remarkable survivor. And the sort of people that I write about held it and read it, made plans from its advertisements, tossed it aside in disgust when they disagreed with an article, and kept it--because something in it was important to them.

I wonder which article it was--perhaps the news of 'Accidents and Offences'?
Or was it the entertainment news? Did they schedule a visit to the theatre after seeing this?
Some items seem exotic to me, from a world I can only imagine:
The "Lloyd's List" is all about maritime affairs; perhaps the newspaper's owner was following a particular ship?
But household matters and retail concerns were important too. Did someone wish to furnish a house?
If so, it only shows that the preoccupations and realities of ordinary life were as notable then as they are today. The person who first bought this newspaper may have been looking for a very personal notification:
I hope they found what they were looking for. I am grateful that they kept the newspaper, so that I could hold a piece of their world in my hands. And so that I could be reminded that I buy newspapers for the same reasons they did. Our worlds are not so different, at all.

'Til next time,