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Big bids for old papers

by Dave Adsett

Judging by the bidding for some old newspapers in a recent online auction sale, demand for newspapers is strong.

In fact, the winning bidder paid exponentially on the newsstand price. But it was worth it.

As seems to happen with online auctions, early bidding was affordable - maybe even a bargain. Closer to cut-off time the real bidders showed up.

We were on the way to Toronto at the time. Based on some advice in a previous column to watch the road and avoid distractions, we pulled over twice just to check the progress of our pending purchase. It wasn’t until the third stop at our final destination that it became clear we had outbid all others.

Amongst the finds were old incarnations of the Guelph Mercury, including the Evening Mercury, Wellington Mercury and Guelph Advertiser. Other competitors in the marketplace, like the long-forgotten Guelph Herald and Guardian of Guelph were other finds in the mix.

A special section featuring the 100th anniversary of Guelph City was a bid-lot on its own that wasn’t cheap, but for the price there are almost 100 pages of history.

We haven’t had time to pore over them in-depth, but there were significant historical moments like the Boer War, deaths of area soldiers in the First World War, the end of WWII and the surrender of Japan. Editions from the 1963 era chronicle the death of JFK and the resultant charges against Lee Harvey Oswald.

Another special item was a paper called the Weekly Globe and Canadian Farmer.

We look forward to spending some time with these items from the late 1800s to the 1960s. However, since the pages aren’t in pristine shape, it will need to be a white glove affair to save what is left. The requisite coffee one might enjoy alongside a good read will have to be well off in the distance too.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Information overload

There are few places to seek solace in today’s hectic world.

It matters little where a person goes, information of one kind or another is at the fingertips, blaring from a speaker or jumping off a screen. We intentionally used the word “information” as opposed to “news” because much of what the general public spends its time on is dubious at best. Videos of cats or Hollywood gossip hardly qualify as news. Instead they are a form of entertainment.

While entertaining, infotainment as it is commonly called does little to advance the questions of our time, nor make us aware of what is really going on around us. It amounts to a distraction.

It may be through that prism that we got caught up in a bit of a quandary with our editor trying to explain what pine cones had to do with news.

For a few weeks now we have noted an abundance of cones on spruce and pine trees this year.  Most weekends we are busy on the farm cutting grass and doing different things outdoors. Curiosity comes with this job, so we asked around and found it was probably due to the drought last summer.

Like most people who enjoy the outdoors we stand in awe of how nature seems to look after itself and fight for survival. Sad stories abound about wildlife and the destruction of natural resources.

Another important job for news organizations such as ours is to document what is happening. It wouldn’t surprise us decades from now, if an historian noted the bounty of cones found in 2017, particularly if foliage starts to fail (much the like decimation of ash trees by an off-shore borer).

Although it won’t garner as many likes or shares as glitzy dresses, flashy suits and goofy videos, the pine cone story on page 24 is just another form of serendipity readers get with their local community newspaper.


September 22, 2017


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