Staff At A Goodwill Discover A 1774 Pre-Revolutionary War Newspaper With America’s First Political Cartoon

The newspaper, which dates back to December 28, 1774, was discovered at a Goodwill in New Jersey and features the famous 'unite or die' logo which was reportedly created by Benjamin Franklin.

A pre-Revolutionary War newspaper from 1774 has been found in a New Jersey Goodwill.
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The newspaper, which dates back to December 28, 1774, was discovered at a Goodwill in New Jersey and features the famous 'unite or die' logo which was reportedly created by Benjamin Franklin.

Staff working a Goodwill store in New Jersey have been left stunned by the discovery of a pre-Revolutionary War newspaper that dates back to December 28, 1774, which was known as The Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser.

As the Daily Mail reports, this “rebel” newspaper also has the famous logo “Unite or Die” which was reportedly created by Benjamin Franklin and has been called the first political cartoon in America. Because of the extreme rarity of the 18th-century newspaper, New York auction house Cohasco have estimated its worth to be between $6,000 to $16,000, although it could, of course, fetch much more than this at auction.

The pre-Revolutionary War newspaper was left at the Goodwill in Woodbury, New Jersey at the start of the month and staff member Mike Storms was immediately intrigued and began investigating its history. With small holes found on the inside of the pages, it has been surmised that at one point string may have bound the newspaper together.

According to Heather Randall, who is e-commerce manager of the regional operation of Goodwill in Bellmawr, part of the joy of her job comes from discoveries like this 18th-century newspaper.

“It’s like a big treasure hunt, really, because you never know what’s going to come through. Sometimes, the things take a lot of research. We got a Bill of Rights the other day, but it was printed by the Phillip Morris Tobacco Company. It looked good.”

Three different items found on the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser are reported to have been signed by John Hancock himself, who was at the time the president of the Provincial Congress, which was an important group that worked on behalf of the Colonies which included Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland and Connecticut.

Amusingly, some of the advertisements featured in the newspaper include substantial rewards for turning in runaway apprentices or lost horses, while another blurb mentions the fact that the writer refuses to be held responsible for what he calls his “misbehaving wife’s debts.”

Despite how excited staff is over the miraculous find of the 1774 newspaper, Goodwill is planning to make good use of the rare discovery and will be selling it so they can put the funds towards the job-training and educational programs they offer. At the moment, there are currently three other copies in existence of this Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser, and all of them are safely tucked away and preserved in different university collections.

It is Randall’s fond hope that the Goodwill copy of the pre-Revolutionary War newspaper will eventually make its way to Philadelphia so the city’s public can also benefit from viewing it.