Broadsheets were a common form of ‘mass media’ in the early 1800s: large single sheets of paper, sold cheaply in the streets, carrying a magazine-like mix of illustrations and text on a wide variety of subjects.
This example first appeared in the 1790s – hence the old-fashioned typesetting, with its long Ss – and subsequently copied and reprinted by several publishers; the version here dates from around 1838.
It consists of a purported correspondence (‘translated from the original Hebrew’ – in fact the language would have been Syriac) between Jesus of Nazareth to the Syriac King Abgar, concerning the nature of the commandments, cures and miracles. The text is apocryphal – that is, not part of the standard Bible.
The same text was still being published at the end of the century.
- Article by:
- Ruth Richardson
- Reading and print culture, Popular culture
From public notes and broadsides to catchpennies and printed songs, Dr Ruth Richardson examines the variety of street literature which informed and entertained the public before newspapers were readily available.