Center for Archival Collections
March 2002: Volume 21, Number 1
Famous Fakes 4: Vicksburg Daily Citizen Facsimiles
Never had wallpaper been so appealing than in Louisiana and Mississippi during the Civil War when newsprint was in short supply. Never would a newspaper printed on wallpaper be as collectible as the July 4, 1863 issue of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen. Its souvenir status has spawned thirty or more facsimile editions since that original printing.
During General Grant's siege of Vicksburg, secessionist editor James M. Swords of the Daily Citizen, produced wallpaper editions for June 16, 18, 20, 27, 30 and July 2, 1863. Each of these was a single sheet, four columns wide, printed on the reverse side of a piece of wallpaper.
By July 4, Vicksburg had fallen to Grant, and Swords had fled. Conveniently, Union troops found Swords' type still set for the July 2 edition and printed the now-famous July 4 edition, with only minor changes to the fourth column news, the addition of the new date, and a note or victorious rebuttal to recent claims made by the former editor:
A second printing was initiated once the troops discovered that the masthead of the first set was misspelled. 'CTIIZEN' was corrected while other typographical errors remained in this second version. The total number of copies of the Daily Citizen that were printed on July 4, 1863 was not recorded.
Today, original copies of this newspaper are housed at such institutions as the Library of Congress, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the American Antiquarian Society. The Library of Congress has both versions of the July 4 issue - one with the misspelled "CTIIZEN" and the other with the correction on the same pattern of wallpaper. The Library of Congress also has two additional copies of the second issue.
The facsimiles are often difficult to distinguish from the originals since some of them were printed not long after the originals using similar type and wallpaper. Known reprints are listed in an essay entitled "Wall-Paper Newspapers" by Clarence Saunders Brigham in Bibliographical Essays - A Tribute to Wilberforce Eames (1924). Certain reprints were created to commemorate the death of General Grant in 1885, the performance of the play "Little Coquette" and a G.A.R. (Union veterans) encampment in Indianapolis, Indiana, September 20th to 25th, 1920.
The original newspaper has a list of distinctive characteristics that will help to differentiate it from its many reprints.
- Dimensions of the single type page are 9 1/8" wide x 16 7/8" long.
- Column 1, line 1, title, THE DAILY CITIZEN, or THE DAILY CTIIZEN in capital letters, not capitals and lower case, or capitals and small capitals.
- Column 1, line 2, "J.M. Swords,......Proprietor." Notice the comma (or imperfect dot) and six periods.
- Column 1, last line, reads: "them as they would the portals of hell itself."
- Column 3, line 1, reads: "Yankee News From All Points."
- Column 4, line 1, reads: "tremity of the city. These will be defended."
- Column 4, paragraph 3, line 7, first word is misspelled "Secossion."
- Column 4, article 2, line 2, fourth word is misspelled "whisttle."
- Column 4, last article before Note, final word is printed with the quotation mark misplaced, 'dead' instead of dead."
- Column 4, Note, line 1, comma following the word "changes" rather than a period.
These originals were printed on several designs of wallpaper. Known patterns mentioned in the 1940 Library of Congress Circular 3 include:
- A large brocade pattern in faded red-purple over a scroll design in faded rose on a cream background
- A design of white three-lobbed, palmate leaves placed close together with small flowers and leaflets, like veins, in the centre of each, all partly outlined with heavy dark blue
- Small flowers with connecting vines giving the effect of a diamond-latticed trellis; leaves, flower-petals and stems in faded yellow-green on a cream background, centres of flowers dark brown
- Library of Congress website http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm114.html features an image of one of the original July 4 issues with a wallpaper pattern that includes pink and red flowers with green leaves gathered in the center of a florette-shaped cream colored frame creating a lace effect over a medium blue ground.
East, Dennis, "Wallpaper Journalism," in Timeline, November-December 1996.
Gavit, Joseph, A List of American Newspaper Reprints, New York Public Library, 1931.
Rapport, Leonard. "Fakes and Facsimiles: Problems of Identification," in American Archivist, vol. 42, 1979.
Because people often contact the CAC wishing to authenticate documents, this article is the fourth of a series devoted to historic document reprints and the characteristics that distinguish them from the originals.
--Lee N. McLaird
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