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Original or Reprint? A Guide to Noteworthy Newspaper Issues

Public Ledger (Philadelphia)

March 25, 1836

The issue of the Public Ledger from Philadelphia for Friday morning, March 25, 1836, is volume 1, number 1, and for this reason it has been reprinted. The original is on rag paper and is distinguished from the reprints by certain details in the cut of a locomotive which appears twice on page one and once on page three. In the original, the front of the locomotive forms a vertical line with the front of the smokestack, the rear wheel is larger than the front wheel, and the bell-like top on the back of the locomotive has two slanting lines projecting from its base toward the rear.

The following reprints have been identified:

  • 1873. This edition, printed on thin white rag paper, shows a man standing on the rear platform of the locomotive, and the wheels of the locomotive are of the same size.
  • 1876. This edition, distributed at the U.S. Centennial Exposition, is the same as that of 1873, except that it is printed on a slightly heavier grade of paper, which has shown a tendency to deteriorate.
  • 1886. Except for being on newspaper (sulphide) stock, this reprint is the same as the two earlier ones.
  • 1906. The regular edition of the Public Ledger of March 25, 1906, mentions a reprint of this date issued as a supplement and gives its dimensions as 9 by 13 1/2 inches (the dimensions of the original are 10 1/2 by l4 3/4 inches). The Library of Congress does not have a copy of this reprint.
  • 1926. This Sesquicentennial Edition is printed on newspaper stock and does not show a man on the locomotive platform. In addition, an asterisk appears at the bottom of the last column of the last page.
  • 1936. This is identical with the above except that it bears two asterisks.

A reduced facsimile appeared in the Public Ledger Almanac, 1889.

The Library of Congress has a most unusual copy of volume 1, number 1, dated Thursday morning, March 24, 1836. Its contents vary from those of the March 25 issue only on page 2, column 4, and page 3, columns 2, 3, and 4. It seems to be an advance number of which only a few copies were printed. The Library of Congress is indebted to the Free Library of Philadelphia for much of this information, especially the identification by date of specific reprints, and a description of the original of March 25, 1836.

None of the reprints or facsimile editions have any appreciable monetary value.

Source: Information Circular 15 (Revised 1965).

Library Holdings

The Library of Congress does not have an original from March 25, 1836.