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How many complete collections of NGM are out there??

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I know of three complete "all-originals" sets, one of which stopped at the year 2012.


Do you know where they're located?

Florida, Oklahoma and Australia - that's about as much detail as I'm willing to divulge.

There may very well be others on this forum who choose not to advertise it. But, complete sets do exist.

Correct me if I am wrong Mel but I suppose in theory there could only be about 200 complete original collections as the very first issue or first few issue only had about 200 copies made? 

Of course I imagine the majority of those issues have been lost to time?

Quoting Edwin C. Buxbaum's 3rd Edition @ 1971, Chapter 24, last paragraph on pg. 381:

"To sum up the census situation, there are something like 215 to 225 complete sets of originals of the National Geographic Magazine extant in the world. As far as I know, most of these sets are bound {my emphasis}. the greatest rarity {my emphasis} of all is a set of original issues in the original cover and unbound. This does not exist in any public library that I know about but a few such sets do exist in private libraries of individuals for whom I have assembled them and one at the National Geographic Society. The presence of about 215 complete original sets of the Geographic is a rather large number when one considers that the number of original members of the National Geographic Society was only 165. Of course, more than this number of copies were printed."

As you can guess, Volume 1, No's 2 & 4 were "barely" over printed based on the number of members in the NGS at the time. As of March 1891, after No. 4 was printed, the members of all categories numbered only 399.

These two numbers go for between $7,500 and $10,000 each.

I personally know of two of each of the above issues that have been destroyed - hence two less potential complete sets...

Very interesting, thank you for the information Mel. 

Thanks for the input.

Hi... I have possibly a complete set from the beginning but I live in the Toronto area and was trying to find someone up here that was interested
My email is


Apologies for getting back to you so late on this topic but I was visiting my daughter who had her first child (my sixth grandchild) and it has taken me a while to get back into the swing of things.  I wanted to respond earlier but being away from my collection, I didn't want to rely on memory alone.  In the mean time, Mel made two excellent posts on the subject, but he only concentrated on "original" issues.  If you were thinking about completing your collection there is still hope.

In 1922 the National Geographic Society reprinted the two issues (Vol. 1 No. 2 and Vol. 1 No. 4) because of the demand for those hard-to-find issues.  They were marked with barely noticeable strips on the cover so thy could not be passed off as originals.  I am sure there are many near-complete collections that used these reprints to fill them out.

By 1964, with the number of issues printed per month in the millions, the Society decided to reprint the entire first twenty years of the Geographic which by then were getting harder to find.  For the first ten years, 3,000 reprints were produced (1,400 individual issues, 1,600 bound volumes).  For the next ten years, 2,000 reprints were made (500 individual, 1,500 bound).  An additional 5,000 individual copies of Vol. 1 No. 1 were printed with 1,000 more issued in 1974.

I lovingly refer to my collection as a "poor man's" collection.  Out of the first 20 years, 99 of my issues are 1964 reprints.  I also have the two 1922 reprints and a 1974 reprint, just because.  I hope this information helps.

Yours in collecting,

Tom Wilson

Thanks so much, Tom. So yes, there is hope! I'm not collecting to sell (except for duplicates). I would just love to own the collection (whether they're reprints or not).

How did people get the issues bound? Were they purchased that way?


Back when the Geographic was young, it was a common practice to have complete volumes of any magazine, not just ours, bound.  Back then binderies were common.  They would usually remove the covers and all advertisements from the issues before binding them.  Nowadays, bound volumes are bought and sold, but very few are produced.  My collection is solely individual issues, but I have seen some beautiful bound collections.




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