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Hello all! 

I recently acquired a large collection of National Geographic volumes dating from 1918 to 1983.  About 130 volumes total.  

I was curious if someone could tell me more about this set, and what they might be worth.  

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These all appear to be what is called the Albrecht 'plane-and-globe' binding, which most would consider one of the better or more attractive bindings for the NGM. It is very rare to find such an extensive collection covering the years 1918 to 1983. If you look up eBay, you'll see individual bound volumes of this type selling for anywhere between USD $10 to $30, The older ones would be at the top end of this range, and price would also depend of condition. Prices from the likes of AbeBooks will be higher. The material is a embossed faux-leather (sorry, not real leather). If we assume an average price of $20 per volume, this suggests the set might be worth $2600. If you sold them as a set, it might take considerable time to find a buyer as most collectors already have some or all the bound volumes. Also shipping of such a big set would be very costly. You might charge a premium or a discount for the whole set. In practice most such collections are sold piecemeal to fill gaps in individual collections, but this would definitely take a long time. I'd try to sell them as a set initially and if there are no takers after a few months, sell them individually or by year. If you were in Australia, I'd buy them to replace my collection of various covers, but shipping from the US is just impossibly expensive.

Good luck.

Thank you for this information! This is very helpful.  I also have two volumes that are not part of the larger set.  Volumes "LI and LII", 1927.  They each include 6 individually printed magazine covers tucked in the back, and a map of the DC area.  Is this another volume set?  How can I tell which was the first edition of bound volumes?

Hi Tobias,

National Geographic never bound their own magazines, at least not for public sale. There were a small number of independent publishers/book-binders, such as Albrecht, that published covers for the NGM. People could buy these covers and get their own collections bound by a local binder. The binding you have here is just from a different binder that clearly allowed individuals to bind their magazines themselves. You could buy the volume index (contents pages) from the NGS to put at the front of each bound volume. Generally, you were expected to remove the covers when binding so the volume appeared to be an actual book as opposed to a collection of magazines. Hence this person kept the covers in the back of the binding. The Volume numbering used here is in Roman numerals as Volumes 51 and 53. The NGS eventually dropped using Roman numerals as they became too cumbersome and undecipherable.

Since binding was a personal collector issue, there are no 'first editions'. The big problem for most collectors is that none of these cover suppliers, if they are still in business, continue to publish their covers, so collectors end up with a set of bound volumes with different covers. Albrecht did sell undated covers that allowed you to add dates for later volumes for the farsighted collector.

Well, I'm certainly learning a ton!  Thank you so much for this.  I couldn't find consistent information online, and now it makes sense.  I really appreciate you!



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