Many miss using card catalogues, as libraries change, and I fear newspaper sticks will be next. I bought this one at an antique store last weekend.(1) They functioned as a simple method of storing and binding the newspapers together, I suppose to keep them in order and free from additional folds and I would consider this a simple, temporary binding. Newspaper sticks are also fun to use, because instead of making the paper conform to you–by reading the top or bottom half, or in vertical sections, known as the subway fold–you have to look at the the entire page. It changes our perception of the newspaper–it becomes more solid, reliable, booklike and less malleable to our desires and interpretations. The obvious temptation to use it as a sword is never far from consciousness, especially for a young boy, and sections of the wood make a satisfying rattle when striking something.
But I would like to know if there was a normal, standard or correct way of mounting the newspapers on this stick. The wood is sawn into six sections and I can imagine a number of ways of sliding the various sections and pages onto it. A thick black rubber band at this end to hold the whole thing together They are still available from demco and other sources, but I haven’t seen many of them in use lately. And I doubt they will grow in popularity.
1. The dealer still has a number of them, $5 each, Charley Browns Antiques, Endwell, NY.
8 Replies to “Newspaper Stick”
I too fondly remember these from my home library but they are not used anymore there. When they were used, the librarian (sometimes with my help when I was small) would lift one stick, slide the newspaper in at its center (I’m not sure what they did with those single sheets you get sometimes), close that section, rotate the stick and repeat in the proper order until the newspaper was complete (usually 4 or 5 sections depending on day). Then, with everything draped neatly with the front page prominent, the stick went into its slot in the bin. I still love libraries but they seem to be getting more and more impersonal. You really can’t go home again!
Makes sense. I also miss aspects of communal reading, but a lot of that is my fault. Technology makes it so easy to isolate yourself.
The newspaper sticks also made good ad-hoc Kendo swords, although that practice was frowned upon by librarians.
They were used in European coffee shops, too, I think; a classic belle-epoque Vienna image would be of a prosperous middle-class man drinking coffee outdoors and reading the paper in one of these sticks. A coffee shop near my house in Berkeley still has them, I think; in any case, they did a year or two ago. But we’re a college town; we go in for slightly pretentious evocations of the gracious past.
A Viennese coffee house in Atlanta had these when I was a beatnik teenager with dreams of a Continental lifestyle. I spent hours in that coffee house, long before anyone had heard of Starbucks, when espresso was still darkly mysterious. I’ve always wanted a newspaper thimgamagiggy like that of my own, to have that image Mr. Conroy painted in my morning routine (Nespresso machine instead of a coffee house, but I still live stateside, so I make do!) Thanks for the link! A classic “newspaper stick”, as I now know they are called, is now at the top of my birthday requests.
At time of writing, they are alive and well in several cafes in London.
One more reason to move to London!
Just stumbled on this page. 2013 and Univ. of New Hampshire Law Library is still using these sticks. And yes they do make great swords.