Regular readers of the News Letter will know that it is the oldest English language daily newspaper in the world.
Last year we celebrated the 275th anniversary of the founding of the title by Francis Joy.
On Monday, we reach another milestone: the 275th birthday of the first surviving copy of the paper.
While the Belfast News-Letter And General Advertiser (as it was then called) was launched in September 1737, no edition from the first 13 months is known to exist now.
The earliest copy is from October 3, 1738 in the then Julian calendar, which is October 14 in the modern Gregorian calendar. The differing calendars have caused confusion over the first News Letter (see below).
That first surviving October 1738 edition of the Belfast News Letter, which is held at the Linen Hall library, will be reproduced as a four-page pull-out supplement in your News Letter on Monday, on the exact day of its anniversary.
It is a remarkable document, in which you can see the seeds of every element of modern newspapers.
There are hints of the serious, candid reporting that has held authority in the western world to account for the best part of three centuries.
There are flashes of the lurid journalism that would fuel titles such as the News of the World, formed 105 years later, and lead to the soul searching that has culminated in the Leveson inquiry into the newspaper industry.
Many visitors to the Linen Hall, including Prince Charles, have admired the two-page document, but few people will have taken time to read much of it.
This is perhaps partly because, at a glance, the 4,000 words seem to offer little light relief for the reader, set in densely packed print without illustrations.
It seems like a black and white reflection of a long gone time of hardship.
But edition number 113 of the Belfast News Letter and General Advertiser bursts with vitality, and is crammed with varied news and advertisements.
It is a gripping, often amusing and at points moving, window on early Georgian Britain and Ireland and the world.
Consider the breathless snippets that are published below right, such as the woman in Europe who knifed a man to death “on seeing herself on the point of being ravished by him” or the chilling report about Indian “murders” in the early American colony of Virginia.
The first surviving News Letter has a report about a death by a cannonball of a British aristocrat “in the fourth action with the Turks”.
Advertisements for coal and millstones suggest thriving commerce in the then town of Belfast, which would within 150 years become one of the UK’s key industrial cities and later build the Titanic.
News and adverts almost fuse in early newspapers, with some paid-for space telling of noteworthy events: edition 113 has two ads that seek information on the theft of horses in Co Antrim — a major occurrence in those days.
Horse theft also features in perhaps the most intriguing news report in the whole paper, relating to Dick Turpin (below right).
You will be able to read all of these fascinating stories in the pull-out copy of the paper on Monday.
The News Letter will also run an On This Day column every day next week with snippets from the October 3 and October 6, 1738 News Letters (October 14 and 17 in the modern calendar).
Rankin Armstrong, the editor of the News Letter, said: “We are delighted to be able to reproduce next week this important part of Northern Ireland history.
“The early News Letters have British as well as local historical significance.
“Indeed they have global significance, with their early newspaper reports of events in Europe and the Americas.”