Variations to the Covers of the National Geographic
On the very first bullet of suggested topics for this group, Ephemera & Collectibles ~ odds n’ ends, Scott lists NGM variants. I’ve decided to take a stab at it, although I’m sure my list is far from complete.
First a disclaimer: I am NOT going to list issues with/without the red TV advertisement banners from the ‘60s, barcodes for newsstand issues, or additional advertisements like the October 2013 “Free Poster” which was only on newsstands.
With that being said, let me proceed with what I’ve got so far.
I. April 1905
This is the, now famous “red covered” reprint of the very popular Philippines number. Both Buxbaum and Nathan have documented this cover variant. Membership grew from 3,400 in January 1905 to 11,000 by the end of the year in large part to the popularity of this issue. While additional production runs usually use the same stock, this may have been a “kill two birds with one stone” moment that allowed the disposal of some leftover, red stock from 1903.
II. February 1915
This is the “Town of Many Gables” issue, but is it Hildesheim or Munster? The article is about Munster so that answers the question. I can find no documentation from any source about this variant so I'm claiming this “discovery” as my own. (Hold the applause, just send money.)
III. January 1917
The first cover lists three articles, the second one has four. The additional article, "100 British Seaports" does appear in both versions. It was just skipped on the cover until the error was caught. Image courtesy of Jeff Persons.
IV. March 1927
Does the second article have 18 or 17 "Natural Color Photographs"? The answer is 17. This means the erroneous "18" version came first. It was followed, mid production run, with the corrected "17" version. Image courtesy Jeff Persons.
V. May 1928
This is known as the "Acorn Issue". Mid production run, the border was changed not only upping the number of acorns, but also changing the globes. Notice Antarctica. Image courtesy of Jeff Persons.
VI. February 1946
Notice the two different banners at the top of each cover. One mentions the Map of the Western Hemisphere and the other an ad for U.S. Victory Bonds. Image courtesy of Jeff Persons
VII. December 1974
VIII. September 1977
My knowledge of this variant, with green borders instead of yellow is thanks to Jeffry Persons who has posted a discussion on it right here in this group. It is an interesting read and I’d recommend it. Thanks Jeff! It is a cover-only variant, they were bound with random pages, thus not a true issue. I must confess I do not have this variant in my collection. I just had fun modifying my image with Microsoft Paint.
IX. March 1984
The cover used has a hologram of an eagle, the other, which was ready for use if the holographic cover wasn't ready, has a photograph from China. Image courtesy of Jeff Persons.
X. December 1988
The holographic globe issue. But which foil to use? Silver or Gold? Gold proved better. Image courtesy of Jeff Persons.
XI. November 1999
The newsstand version of this issue has an attached strip and a different format of the contents. Image courtesy of Jeff Persons.
XII. May 2000
Newsstand copy has an attached flap and different formatting of the content. Image courtesy of Jeff Persons.
XIII. July 2000
Newsstand copy has an attached flap and differently formatted contents on the cover. Image courtesy of Jeff Persons.
XIV. December 2001
Another cover flap and alternate formatting on the newsstand version. Image Courtesy of Jeff Persons.
XV. November 2003
This issue had two different newsstand covers. In addition, the newsstand copy that has the same cover image as the subscription copy has a different content format. Perhaps to make room for the barcode. Images courtesy of Jeff Persons.
XVI. October 2005
This pair was posted way back on April 7, 2011 by Ricardo Tavares Dias. The "Nelson at Trafalgar" cover is actually the UK version of the magazine while the "Killer Flu" cover is the US/Canada one. (Not in My Collection)
XVII. January 2006
This is another example of where the newsstand cover is completely different from the subscription issue's. Image courtesy of Jeff Persons.
XVIII. April 2006
Still another example of where the newsstand cover is modified from the subscription one. Image courtesy Abramo Russo.
XIX. May 2006
This issue had two different covers: one for subscription members and another for the newsstand. Apparently the newsstand version was used to help advertise the TV special on the NGC titled “The Gospel of Judas”. Thanks go out to Philip Riviere for pointing this one out to me.
XX. March 2007
Here, the newsstand and subscription covers have the same photo but different formatting and verbage. Image courtesy of Jeff Persons.
XXI. August 2007
This alternate, newsstand cover about post-Katrina New Orleans was pointed out to me by JB Penn. It was a limited run, just for that region of the country. The subscription version, and apparently most of the newsstand copies were about the Maya. (Not in My Collection)
XXII. April 2011
The newsstand version of this issue has an attached strip with a Volcano picture and blurb instead of the table of contents. It superimposes half of the Inca cover photo, is lighter and is easily removed. The Inca photo underneath does NOT have the Table of Contents like the subscription version. This pair is courtesy of Abramo Russo.
XXIII. May 2013
The cover states “This baby will live to be 120” and has a picture of said baby. There are FOUR versions of this cover, one for each major ethnic group in this country. Philip Riviere has a photo album containing all four, and a fifth one on a Mexican NGM.
XXIV. April 2015
This is cheating a little bit. The Hubble cover is from the UK magazine and not the US one. When Thierry Lombry posted it, I just had to get one. It was delivered on April 24th, the 25th anniversary of the Hubble’s launch. All the articles are the same but the advertisements are British.
XXV. March 2016
Here's another subscription vs. newsstand variant. This one for March 2016. Photos courtesy of Abramo Russo.
XXVI. April 2016
The Society pulled out all the stops for this issue with ten different covers. The theme is "The Photo Ark: One man's quest to document the world's animals, one picture at a time". This entry is thanks to Scott Shier and Philip Riviere.
XXVII. January 2017
There are two distinct covers on "Gender Identity" for this issue. Image was found by Scott Shier.
XXVIII. February 2017
As with January 2017, there are two covers: one for subscribers and the other for newsstands. While the subscriber's cover is more eco-conscious, the newsstand cover plies the buyer with alcohol.
XXIX. March 2017
What seems to be a standard practice, when the covers use the same image, the subscriber's copy has minimal writing beyond the banner, while the newsstand's version has bold headlines. This newsstand copy happens to be the Spanish version, the U.S./Canada headline reads "Vikings".
XXX. April 2017
As with last month, the subscription and newsstand covers are different with the newsstand version including bold headlines. Photos courtesy of Scott Shier.
XXXI. May 2017
The U.S./Canadian newsstand version has the word "GENIUS" in large letters on it much like the Croatian version shown here. Photo courtesy of Abramo Russo.
XXXII. July 2017
Again, the newsstand has a eye-catching "Secret Antarctica" on the cover that is not needed on the subscription version.
I could sense this was on your mind more recently, so I was just waiting to see a post like this today!
A few of us were talking about "alternate" covers several years ago here on the 'Corner, and besides 2-3 of us that were interested in them and were attempting to gain copies of them, the general reaction was something between //yawn//, 'who cares', and 'these are not collectible; not old enough to be collectible or worth time, etc.' Or as one said it: to start collating and collecting alternate covers will become too tedious and never-ending...
One other person who is a Corner member and myself have been collecting all the "alternates", what you may be thinking of as a part of this "variant" concept, but I would urge a full conversation to dissect and parse the terms, as applied to what item is being discussed.
For instance, may I point out for thought that if April's Hubble/UK cover is a "variant", then there are 36+ variants of NGM every month (e.g, all the foreign editions, English or not). And even if we only included English-language, there are still 5+ "variants" on average, per month, since 2001 roughly.
I've been documenting and following these variants, or alternates, for years. For U.S. and N. American editions, I have a full photo file archive of all the versions, and an Excel sheet where I was notating the different versions, if/when/where they occurred. Note, NGM/NGS has never really been able to provide any kind of accounting of these, as on the operation side of things, NGS became too diluted, and sprawling for any one division, department, or staff member to really have a handle on it. By this I mean a 'forest for the trees' awareness and intimate familiarity.
Eventually, if I had sensed there was new/revived interest from future 'Corner members, I was going to re-present the situation as it stands, ever evolving. A tidbit: with foreign editions and newsstand domestic NGM's, there was a significant change made in the logic of cover-image choosing. Marketing & Advertising, rather then Editorial, started to have a huge impact on what our NGM covers would be, even to a lesser degree on our US member copies. It's no accident or organically grown instance how the covers were overhauled in late 2000, along with interior + content changes. More ads, more "busy" covers, the page #'s being eliminated, the termination of the gorgeous Garland/oak wreath atop NGM, the placement of ads on almost every RH side page in the Departments sections, the elimination of the Letters Forum a few months ago, the sporadic printing (lately) of the NGS & NGM masthead inside each...etc.
There are many instances where a newsstand cover was intentionally calibrated --and different from members'-- to smack your face in the store so you'd pick one up. Also, the tendency is that the foreign, or newsstand copies (again, when the covers are different from US), the headlines are more provocative, or even, more controversial in the sense of pushing buttons. For the most part, our N. American member's copies have hewed much more to a right-of-center, "vanilla" manner of presentation, in terms of cover text wording, and imagery.
This is all off the top of my head since I just saw what you shared. I have much more detail and photos I could share and expound on. But as I started to say earlier in, I think when there was a printing "variant" is much more applicable to things like a promo copy (the green one above), the 1905 wine color, or times when there was a slight modification made during a print run ... something along the lines of those October 1970, 1974 issues where the TV announcement banner, or book announcement was emended or altered. Even discrepancies like an error or flaw that got out into circulation would be a form of variant -- such as that 1985 Taureg skull hologram from Chris McIlwain elsewhere on the Corner.
These per country or retail venue covers in the 2000's - present are a completely different beast altogether, and seem to me to require being cataloged very separately. I've been saving all these images just for an occasion such as your post Tom, glad to see you bring it up.
(I too, already have a Hubble 25 NGM on its way to me, I love space + cosmic covers especially. Indeed, this is the 2nd time that Hubble was the cover for a UK edition, but not on ours).
Oh, and despite your opening comment, I don't see a way of diving in to this without bringing up newsstands, bar codes, the 1970's TV banners, and 2013 poster. He heh. I hope you didn't mean I can't bring it up : ) Speaking of which, I'd say that the 125 years posted from Oct. 2013 would be a better definition of variant, than even the May 2006, April 2015 UK covers are.
**Alternates are something that are completely different, and were planned that way - there's no "variation" of an existing U.S. NGM in this regard. Whereas a variant is something that slips in, like a TV banner, a defect, a mid-printing correction, and last-minute addition (poster) to some of the copies, etc. etc. Also, not to explode your head but there's actually, (I'm giggling here) 3 variants within the May 2006 "variant". Tee hee hee. : - )
As I said, the UK cover was cheating. I know from Abramo's many images that the foreign covers are, more often than not, different from the US/Canada issues. I was just having a little fun here.
BTW, I actually have a piece of the Hubble. It is on its third set of solar panels. The first set was discarded and burnt up in the atmosphere but the second set was returned to earth. I knew someone at the Space Telescope Institute here in Baltimore who gave me two cells from one of the panels.
I'M SO JEALOUS OF YOUR HUBBLE PIECES!
And yes, you gave me something fun to think about w/ your post. You come close to a particular sub-set of NGS minutia that I have a specific interest in!
* btw, I think your February 1915 "discovery" is most excellent, and truly one of the best single examples of a pure-bred "variant" !
: - )
Note: I just added a citation for the April 2011 issue courtesy of Abramo Russo.
Note: I just added the August 2007 Maya/New Orleans dual covers to this list courtesy of JB Penn.
Note: I just added an October 2005 pair courtesy of Ricardo Tavares Dias.
Note: I just added an entry to this discussion for the April 2016 ten-cover issue courtesy of Scott Shier and Philip Riviere.
Note: I just completed a major revision to this discussion thanks to a wealth of information and images provided by Jeff Persons. Fourteen additional entries were added to the list, all in chronological order.
Note: I just added a citation for the January 1917 issue courtesy of Jeff Persons.
Note: I just added a citation for the April 2006 issue. Image courtesy of Abramo Russo.
Note: I just added a citation for the March 2016 issue. Photo courtesy of Abramo Russo.