A rare, pre-Revolutionary newspaper discovered in a South Jersey Goodwill store will be permanently available at the American Philosophical Society.
The historic archive in Philadelphia bought the copy of the newspaper printed in 1774.
The copy of the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser was printed just a few months before the outbreak of the American Revolution. It features the famous cartoon of a divided snake representing the colonies, called “Unite, or Die,” and articles openly advocating for rebellion.
“Everybody has been talking about the ‘Unite or Die’ cartoon, but to me, the content of the newspaper is more interesting,” said Patrick Spero, a librarian with the American Philosophical Society. “What you have is this really important moment in the coming revolution. The colonies had been divided up to this point, and there was a real call to unite together.”
The newspaper was originally left by an unknown person in a Goodwill store in South Jersey, where employees flagged it as possibly valuable.
Indeed, it was.
Appraisers estimate it could have fetched more than $6,000 at auction. Instead, Goodwill sold it for an undisclosed amount to the American Philosophical Society, which already has a large collection of Pennsylvania Journals, but not this one.
“Because it would augment their collection, they will take the best care of it, and the public would have the most access to it,” said Mark Boyd, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia. “And, of course, my board and my staff really wanted to keep it in Philadelphia.”
The newspaper will be ceremoniously handed over to the APS on Friday. Spero said it will be conserved, digitized, and posted online as soon as possible.