National Geographic's Collectors Corner

Collaborative site for collectors, dealers, & anyone interested in our history.

What are some key issues of National Geographic magazines?

Please post me a list?

Views: 11275

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion


Well, there are a number of "key" issues, so to speak. The recent years I would call-out:

- 2013's January and October issues,

- April 2010's all-Water theme issue ; May 2008's all-China issue,

- people with a non-Nat Geo interest usually seem to appreciate the 6 "Titanic" issues (Dec. 1985, Dec. 1986, Oct. 1987, Aug. 1998, Dec. 2004, and April 2012's centennial issue w/ poster)

- Nov. 1993's WATER issue, which was a special issue, to make 13 for the year instead of 12,

- similarly, there is Feb. 1981' ENERGY issue - same thing--> made 13 issues for 1981. Often people are looking for both together..they are a good resource.

- Other key issues would be in general, ANY that cover a single topic (Sept. 2005's Africa issue, the late 90's had a Mexico issue, 1989 had an all-France issue, etc). The entire 1988 year is significant, being the Society's 100th Year, and most of them were enhanced from what was 'usual'.

Some people consider the "100 Best Special Numbers" list to be collectible; this was a list current up until 1971 compiled by a well-known dealer-advisor-collector, Edwin Buxbaum. He published 4 versions of "Collector's Guide to NGM" (1936, 1956, 1965, 1971). 

Quickie background for you: Buxbaum was the original "dean of Nat Geo collecting", a sort of godfather if you will. Some did not favor him or his lists, but he was considered an experienced and extremely knowledgeable collector/dealer. He had personal connections with the Grosvenors of N.G.S. , not a connection to sneeze at.

There have been a total of 3 special HOLOGRAM issues:

* Nov. 1985's Human SKULL-anthropological discovery,
* Dec. 1988's EARTH issue,
* a special Laser-imaged BALD EAGLE issue, March 1984.

There's also the 3 Recordings (mini "flex" LP's, removable) issued:

* Aug. 1965's "Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, w/ Excerpts from His Speeches" insert,
* Jan. 1979's "Songs of the Humpback Whales" insert,
* Dec. 1969's "Sounds of the SPACE-AGE" insert

These are considered more worthy if they are still intact/attached to the magazine, as issued (full-page size, with record not being "cut-out). People still seek out the records if they have been removed, because they fill in "gaps", or they want a listening copy and a "new" (still inserted) copy. [Officially called "Sound Sheets"]. I think it's regrettable they did not do any more of these after 1979.

September 1986 - featured a "Smell Survey" which was groundbreaking at the time. This was a sealed insert supplement which was intended to opened, and then various spots were to be "scratch-and-sniffed". A great many of these were used and sent back to the researchers; they reported on the results a year later. 

Key map supplements that are most likely in "demand" are the old art prints they issued back in the 1910' 20's 30's (i.e., 5 N.C. Wyeth art prints, 2 night-time photography prints by George Shiras III, and others...etc.). In the 1940's there were still a few very artistic World Maps, which featured cartouche designs and mini-information boxes placed around the layout.


Given all that, I would like to point out that for many, the key issues are simply those which hold the most interest for you personally, based on what topics, themes, explorers, photographers, writers you --or anyone of us-- like and enjoy. Any kind of "list" (even Buxbaum's) is subjective to personal taste, point-of-view and such. Besides the fact that Mr. Buxbaum passed away many years ago now (1989), and his last 'updated list' was now way back in 1970/71. However, much of his list and insights have stood the test of time . . . those issues are still valued and sought after. 

He wrote a chapter in his book(s) to go along with the list itself, and in it, he discussed his reasons for leaving out any NGM's prior to July 1911 -- simply put: he considered ALL NGM issues from 1888 - June 1911 to be "important" and "special" and in-demand.

There would be a lot of disagreement now if anyone tried to make that list all over again, with inclusions for 1971-2014, heh heh. Someone else said it more eloquently than me, but the true value in National Geographic is the wonder and discovery and knowledge you gain from looking at them, reading them, and re-visiting them again and again. 

Certainly the vintage-era issues can (and do) command high sums $$$$ but if one is looking for a substantial profit on NGM issues, you wouldn't achieve that with circa the 1920's forward. Many here on the 'Corner would also suggest that's not the point in collecting them. 

Jarod, I am attaching 2 versions of the Best Special Numbers (aka Top 100) compiled by Buxbaum. One is a xerox copy in PDF that another gentleman posted here a few years back; the 2nd version is my own Word.doc from about 2008/09 that I was making for myself. I was annotating it to show the links and relationships between the issues named, to some of the early books, reprints, or compilation books the Society made available to members back within the 1910-1950's era. Several of these special issues were issued in hardcovers very soon after the issue came out, due to popularity and demand.

* (I have a few corrections/additions I still need to add to it, but for now I am locked out).

Feel free to ask any more questions about any of this, and if you wish, please tell me what your interest is for this, or what you are looking to do (or find). Have a good day,

                  ~ Scott S. 

*** I can't get my old password removed from the Word.docx, so when it asks you, just click 'read only' and you can view it or print it to look off-screen. 


Further info. on Edwin Buxbaum, Jarod --

Mr. Buxbaum passed away in June 1989. His collector's guide book of 1971 was his final edition.

Mr. (Dr.) Buxbaum was mentioned twice in the NGM:

  • Gilbert M. Grosvenor's President's Page in March 1989 spoke of Nat Geo collectors, incl' Buxbaum and Roger Nathan;
  • in January 1990 announcing his death, in the GEOGRAPHICA section.


       - Scott



Legal notice about this site

Note: Any sales or trade arrangements are solely between users of this site; The National Geographic Society is not a party to and does not endorse or promote any particular sales or trade arrangements between collectors, dealers, or others. Due to the immediate nature of this medium, National Geographic Online also does not review, censor, approve, edit or endorse information placed on this forum. Discussion boards on National Geographic Online are intended to be appropriate for family members of all ages. Posting of indecent material is strictly prohibited. The placement of advertisements or solicitations unrelated to National Geographic also is prohibited. National Geographic Online shall review information placed on this forum from time to time and delete inappropriate material that comes to its attention as soon as it is practicable, but cannot guarantee that such material will not be found on the forum. By posting material on this discussion board you agree to adhere to this policy prohibiting indecent, offensive or extraneous advertising material, and to legally assume full and sole responsibility for your posting.

© 2018   Created by Cathy Hunter.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service