Reader asks ‘What to do with Kennedy assassination newspapers?’
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    Auction Finds

    Readers ask about Fred Wesley’s lyrics & Kennedy newspapers

    Fridays at Auction Finds is readers’ questions day. I try to guide readers to resources for them to determine the value of the items that they own. I’m not able to appraise their treasures, but I can do some preliminary research to get them started. So, these are market values, not appraisal for insurance purposes that I suggest for items that have been determined to be of great value.

    Here are this week’s questions:

    Fred Wesley and the J.B.'s

    Fred Wesley and the J.B.'s performing at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in summer 2011.


    I’ve read your post about Fred Wesley and the JB’s on Me and my band we’re trying to play some good funk music. We are approaching “Breakin’ Bread” but we have problems with the lyrics. Can you help me, telling me where I can find their lyrics?


    Based on his name and greeting – Ciao – the writer is from Italy and his band, I presume, is Italian. Who doesn’t love the funky sound of James Brown, which you hear in the music and songs of Fred Wesley and the New J.B.’s? Wesley was an important part of Brown’s band and had an on-and-off relationship with him for years, leaving the band twice.

    I heard Wesley and his band play last year at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC. The band and the audience got off on “Breakin’ Bread,” which Wesley and his group recorded in 1974. So, naturally, I went searching the web for the lyrics, but I wasn’t sure if the band was searching for the sheet music or just the words.

    Normally, it’s easy to find lyrics to songs on the web, but I could find none for this one. Then I began to wonder if they were absent because lyrics are copyrighted. They are, and sites that offer them without permission from the artists are basically breaking the law. Yahoo  and are among the sites that offer them legally.

    Saxophonist Ernie Fields Jr. with the New J.B.'s.

    In October, music publishers won a lawsuit against websites operated by the owner of MySpace, nabbing a judgment of $6.6 million. Brad Greenspan was barred from setting up any other such websites without permission from folks who held the copyrights.

    It seems that the copyright law extends to the public performance of a song that someone else wrote – something called performing rights or public performance rights. So, if you perform the song publicly (even if you want to use music for callers to hear while they wait on the phone), you still need permission and a license. In the United States, you can get a license through ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music Inc), among others. According to the ASCAP site, you can find songs it represents at Clearance Express and others at the National Music Publishers Association.

    When I was searching for the lyrics, I came across several recordings of Wesley’s song on YouTube, all apparently taken from his albums. Those without permission are illegal, and YouTube has rules against it (enforced when the copyright holder complains). Wesley’s voice was very clear – and so were the lyrics. So I could see someone listening to them and copying them. That, too, would be illegal, so the best thing to do is to do it right.

    Kennedy assassination newspapers

    A Le Figaro newspaper reporting Kennedy's assassination. From the website British Pathe.

    I still get plenty of questions about newspapers about the Kennedy assassination (next year is the 50th anniversary).


    I recently found two newspapers at an estate sale. One is an International NY Times from Paris Nov. 23, 1963. The other is in French. They both talk about JFK’s murder with large photos and they both were in glass frames and well-preserved. No rips, tears, just yellow in color. I found the English one on Ebay that sold for $200 and it looked crappy. But I can’t find out anything about the French one. These are so cool. I wish I could attach photos of them. Any idea if they are collectibles?


    I haven’t come across any foreign newspaper accounts of John F. Kennedy’s assassination at my auctions, but the French one sounds intriguing. The $200 price you saw on eBay was probably a good price for the International New York Times. Ebay is a also good place to start any search because it is an international marketplace with millions of buyers.

    I also checked retail sites by Googling and found no sales. If I had, they would’ve been, like eBay, market prices – what someone was willing to pay for an item at a given point in time. Those prices can fluctuate depending on who’s looking and when they are looking for what you have to sell.

    Sorry you weren’t able to upload photos so I  could see the name of the French newspaper (Le Figaro? Le Monde?). It’s hard to search without a name. I did find some photos of French newspapers from that day, including Le Figaro, L’Aurore and La Parisien.

    Checking eBay, a Nov. 23, 1963, La Parisien sold for $15, but no others were listed as having been sold recently. That means you’ll have to keep checking the site until one turns up. A copy of the New York Times International Edition – probably the same one you came across – sold for around $196. There’s no indication of the popularity of the paper – whether one person was interested or 10 – because it was sold as a Buy It Now rather than through an auction.

    Coverage of the assassination by big-city newspapers tend to bring in bigger bucks, according to Timothy Hughes in a blog post I did on him and his website The site, which sells old newspapers, is another source, or you can contact Hughes at the email address or phone number on the site.

    Kennedy assassination newspapers

    A city edition of the New York Times from the Kennedy assassination. It sold for $9.99 on eBay.


    I have 3 papers, New York Times JFK assassination that I want to find a value on with no luck. I’ve only found them on eBay valued at 200.


    As I mentioned above, assassination newspapers from big cities (or the site of any event) tend to sell higher. The New York Times is one of them. If you were able to find one valued at $200 that’s a good price. In checking eBay, though, I found that price attached to an international edition (mentioned above). Some of the city editions were not selling (including one offered at $199). The highest sold price was $31 and the lowest, for a lot of four, was 99 cents.

    I’ve seen them sell for more at other times – indicating that market prices can fluctuate depending on who’s looking and when. Someone may be willing to pay somewhere in between for your newspapers, depending on the condition.




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