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Ulster County Gazette
January 4,1800 reprints mistaken as originals

     The "Ulster County Gazette" Delusion -- A single issue of an early Kingston, New York, newspaper is probably the most famous number of any American newspaper. The date is January 4,1800; the publishers, Samuel S. Freer & Son; the paper, the "Ulster County Gazette." The reason, not its allusions to George Washington's death on December 14, 1799, at Mt. Vernon, nor its account of his funeral ceremonies, which other existing papers contain but the fact that countless reprints were made from fifty to a hundred years ago, which, laid away in old trunks and attics, are continually being rediscovered and estimated by the guileless to be of high value.

     It is not known who was the first publisher of a reprint, nor what was the date. In the 1850s, copies were sold wholesale in Boston and retail in Chicago. Setting up of copies is supposed to have been an exercise of apprentice printers at this period. There were several reprints in large editions the year of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, 1876, and hundreds of thousands of copies were sold there at five cents each.

     The "National Centennial Bulletin of America," published in Philadelphia in that year, carried an advertisement stating that a German edition of twentyfive thousand copies and a French edition of fifteen thousand copies were in press. In the early 1880s, the stereotyped plates were again used, and were finally bought by a Washington, District of Columbia, curio dealer.

     Oddly enough, no other issue of the "Ulster County Gazette" was ever selected for republication, so far as known, though the December 28, 1799, and the January 1, 1800, numbers are also full of items relating to Washington's death and are equally interesting.

     Old newspaper experts had about given up hope of ever seeing a genuine number of the January 4, 1800, "Gazette," when the Library of Congress, in November, 1930, received a letter from a woman living in Hudson, New York, saying that she had a "Gazette" of the famous date, and also each of the previous and succeeding issues. As this was the first time three consecutive numbers of these dates had been offered for sale, the Library was at once interested.

     Further correspondence developed that the writer, Mrs. Mary Crawford Lydon (Mrs. James Lydon, Jr.), was a descendant of an Ulster County Revolutionary soldier, Lieutenant Petrus Decker, of the 4th Regiment of Ulster County Militia, and that the papers had come down to her through his family. When the three issues were sent to Washington, they proved to be all originals, and were promptly bought by the library.

     Thus at least one paper of perhaps a million copies which have been in existence was proved genuine.

     It is possible, of course, that one or more others may eventually turn up. Rules for knowing an original are given in the "New York Library Bulletin." The title "Ulster County Gazette" should be in italic (slanting) capitals, not Roman (upright) ones (and measure 6 15/16" in length). There should be no comma in the second line of the heading, "Published at KINGSTON (Ulster County)," after the word "County." The issue should be printed on such paper as was used in 1800, handmade from rags, soft, pliable and rough in texture, with water marks, slender parallel lines slightly over one inch apart.

 


AND see - Famous Fakes
The Ulster County Gazette
January 4, 1800


The American Antiquarian Society suggests a single, conclusive test. Unless the first line of the fourth column of page 1 reads, "command the town, and not withstanding," it is not an original.

from: "Southeastern New York" Volume I, A History of the County of Ulster c1946 by Louise Zimm
Reprinted as "The Concise History of Ulster County" e-book $10.00

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