Selling Papers

Buffalo Newsboy by Thomas LeClear (Image courtesy of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery)

Thomas LeClear painted this in 1853, just 20 years after history’s first paperboy.

The publisher of The New York Sun had placed an ad for newspaper hawkers that specified “steady men” should apply. Ten-year-old Barney Flaherty inquired and he was hired in 1833 — on Sept. 4, which is why that date is national newsboy day.

Every country has had its paper boys and eventually paper girls who sold papers on street corners and rode their bikes all over the local neighbourhood delivering the newspapers.

Bicycles became a major delivery vehicle in the 20th century for everything from letters and telegrams to groceries, fruit and vegetables and newspapers. These 1950s Christchurch Star delivery boys (above) have specially made baskets on their bikes, loaded down with newspapers.(

Like this Tweet below says- it is difficult to find photos of newspaper girls. The text that accompanies the photo reads:

NEWSGIRL PRESENTED WITH BIKE: St. Joseph fireman and ex-newsboy Carl C. Conklin is shown as he yesterday presented the St.Joseph Herald-Press' sole girl newspaper carrier, Teddie Benjamin, 13, with a bicycle to replace her's, worn out by five years of delivering papers. She's the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Dee, Three Oaks. The fire department annually repairs and distributes toys. In a project headed by Conklin, four donated unusable bikes were converted into two bicycles. The other bike remains to be donated.

The blog about the demise of the Corner Store brought back so many memories.

Caroline sent this story:-

Our brother used to do the Sunday paper round. I joined him on many occasions, wheel barrow full of papers. He blew his whistle every couple of houses, regulars would come out have a chin wag buy the paper and the locals loved him. The 5 cent tips mounted up: he would shout me a Paddle Pop and a bag of mixed lollies and after he had had a milk shake the tips were blown. None of this would have happened without our parents making sure we got up at 6.00am- they ensured it happened!!

I think this photo looks just like Caroline delivering the newspapers.

The caption reads: Papergirl delivers the Syracuse Herald, ca. 1920.
A young girl throws a paper up the sidewalk on her paper route in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis via Getty Images)

My search lead me to find the paintings of John Walker and most appropriately ‘The paperboy and the policeman’ (2013, oil on linen, 71 x 107 cm) shown below. John Walker explains:

As a teenager during the 1950s I earned pocket money delivering Sunday newspapers in the East Marsh district of Grimsby close to Freeman Street. The paper round and several more were owned by a very ill shopkeeper – W. Barnett & Sons – located at 140 Victor Street. Early one winter morning I was admonished by a bored police constable for failing to stop at a crossing despite the fact that the streets were deserted. He then examined the heavy trade delivery bicycle I was using and found it dirty, defective and unsafe. We proceeded on foot to see the shopkeeper – who, ironically, sold and repaired bicycles – and he was given a dressing down. The following Sunday I discovered the bicycle had been cleaned and repaired. The painting features a composite of two streets one of which is Hamilton St. The industrial building with the chimney on the left was a soft drinks bottling factory – W. M. Hill & Son – which dated from 1890. The company closed down in 1967 and the building became derelict and is due to be demolished.

And I found some wonderful old photographs.

However,my favourite for today's exhibition is: The News Boy - a painting by Ralph Hedley (1851-1913).

Whilst I'm sure we all agree that it is good that the children selling newspapers on street corners have gone. However, I do miss the paper boys and girls delivering the newspapers to our homes, riding their bikes up and down the streets, earning as Caroline said- a few cents to spend on lollies.