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the Genesis of my Nat Geo and "Titanic" passion . . . ( Part I of II )

Hello fellow NG Corner members & friends,


It's strange for me to go back to the beginning of my passion and love for National Geographic and explain how it came to be; harder to figure out how to share it. One crucial aspect however is its relation to TITANIC. It would be impossible for me to separate the two, as each bolstered the other at a crucial early stage.

A little context: I was 7 years old in 1985 when they found the Titanic, with my awareness of it only barely preceding its discovery. I came upon the film "A Night To Remember" only then-recently, and had become enthralled with the whole thing. I started asking my family lots of questions about it. A little bit later, and it was Sept. 1985.


Meanwhile, I was growing up in a family where NGM's were always on someone's coffee table, even if the memberships rotated sometimes between various family members. It was this marriage of NGM with Titanic (e.g., December 1985 issue, Dec. 1986), that really got my attention on Nat Geo. Of course in the meantime I was eating up any/all TV programs I could, plus the other films. Then came 1987's NG Explorer episode: "Secrets of the Titanic". I still remember our whole family in my Grandparents' living room watching that, and they all were chatting away about it, and really "into" it. My very first deluxe (pricier too) "adult" book I ever received was Robert Ballard's 1987 book "The Discovery of the Titanic". There was some wide degree of overlap between it, the Explorer special, and the NGM coverage of Dec 1985 + 1986. 


This brings me up to the phenomenal Centennial year of 1988, for the Nat Geo Society and Its Magazine. It goes without saying that NGM that year (in fact, that decade) under the brilliant Wilbur "Bill" Garrett was astounding! I ate up all that NGS history and self-introspection. I considered the Jan, Sept., and Dec. 1988 issues to be my most prized possessions. Then, in 1989, some close family friends dropped by one day with a mission: they were bringing all the NGM issues from 1967 - 1988 to me; with maps -- someone they knew was getting rid of them. I was thrilled! I thought 21 years of Nat Geos was a massive collection! (* silly boy). This also included the 1983 Index book.


By then I had asked for and received a "junior Society membership" via the WORLD magazine, back when it was a grand magazine, and the "junior membership" meant something. Starting with January 1990, I was nominated and given a full 'adult' membership in our Society. I received a personalized welcome letter on marbled/textured paper from Exec. VP Owen R. Anderson, and it was 4 pages of "Us" and "We". I was trembling with excitement and pride when I got that, with my first January 1990 issue of NGM. Later that same month for my 12th Birthday, I received the C.D. Bryan '100 Years' book, and devoured it !



Of course a lot has happened since then. My membership lapsed from 1995-2004, and at the time I wasn't too concerned. In 1996 I learned that my whole 1967-1994 collection had been damaged off-site in a freak flood. (ie, in storage at our friends massive finished basement). My collection was gone, and they waited a year to tell me. I had taken comfort knowing they were there and safe: out of sight was not out of mind for me. I was furious. I took consolation in knowing in any given month, I could always be reading the current NGM at my Grandparents' house; until they retired and moved down south. By 2000 Nat Geo was very much off my radar. Then while I was away at college I was noticing the then-new occurrence of NGM on the newsstands! I was appalled. But it got me thinking, and one time at-random, I was in a thrift store, and I bought a pile of the 1988 and some 1990's NGMs. Reading through them that week, I really got to missing them. I told myself, and to my friend/roomie "I don't know how, but one day, eventually, I am going to have all of my collection back, and then some!".


I didn't know about eBay yet, nor had I discovered the wonderful world of shopping and collecting opportunities on 'the web'. By the time I left Northern, the small pile of NGM's I picked up was damaged/discarded. 


Fast-forward to Christmas 2004, and out-of-the-blue, without ever having asked or mentioned it, my Grandma sent me an announcement card indicating I had received a new membership (aka subscription, now). I got the January 2005 issue by New Year's Eve. Well, by then I had discovered eBay for other purposes, and my first thought was, "I wonder if someone would have the 'Titanic' issues by themselves grouped as a lot for sale...".

Into January 2005, and I had my new first issue, and the 5 Titanic issues [ie, Dec 85, Dec 86, Oct. 87, Aug 98, Dec 2004]. My household family members said "we hope you don't think you're gonna try and get all the Nat Geos now, are you?" All I said then --and I believed it-- was: "nah, I just really wanted the Titanic ones again, they were my babies". 


Even then, I had an idea or wish of somehow turning them into a book.


Everything from this point forward was a rush and a blur in Nat Geo collection. This 2005 renewal and the Titanic issues triggered something in me, and thus opened the proverbial floodgates. By March ('05), boxes were pouring in from eBay purchases . . . and it never really stopped since then. 


By the end of 2006 I had just about every NGM issue, inclusive of the 1964 bound reprint set. It took until November 2013 to finally get the last few stragglers in my map/pic and issue list (esp. April 1913 in v/g cond.'). Now barely 9 years later I've got 300+ of the videos, all the supplements, the reprints, tons of the vintage books, half of the Special Pub series, several Pictorial Geography series sets, samples of every other NG magazine they've done, plus 99% of the full-run of Research and Exploration, a pile of press + promo items and press kits, Centennial memorabilia, mugs, flags, totes, medallions, pencils, Map Indexes galore with vintage Map File books, a bunch of ancillary related authored books, and how much other stuff I can't think of to mention. 


And to think, this all likely would not have happened had my late Grandma not renewed me in Dec. 2004. Ha-ha. Oh, maybe it would have happened anyway. Either way, it almost would not have happened without the combination of the TITANIC and the 1988 year of NGM~NGS. 


Today (and last night) is the 102nd anniversary of the RMS Titanic sinking.


Perhaps this is boring blah blah blah, or maybe someone here likes to see other people's NG collecting "story". At any rate, thanks for reading. Part II about my self-made Titanic-Nat Geo book to follow...


      ~ Scott S.

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This is what it's all about Scott.

Thanks for sharing this with us.


Wonderful family story Scott. Makes your new compiled "book" all the more rewarding.


Mel nailed it, Scott.  This is what collecting Nat Geo's is all about.


Thank-you for the nice feedback, Gentlemen! Appreciated, and happy to share.



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