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Either in the masthead varieties of the olloy hardcover books from 1920s-1950s, subscription/invitation special publication variants that in 1990s were in all hard cover titles, to the split-hologram Taureg boy cover, there are several threads in these discussions about whether a print variation is rarer, and even when conceded to be, does that generate an premium over the value of the "reglar" issue. I think there is, others have opined not, the debate is unsettled.

On the general topic and again analogizing to the back-issue comics industry, this morning email included a noted dealer's opinions on just such. In summarizing s successful British buying tour in December 2008, the President and founder of Mile High Comics indicated he had “concentrated my purchasing efforts at the London convention at seeking out 1970's and 1980's Marvel and DC comics with British pence cover prices. There has long been a lot of controversy about British editions of US comics, with the traditional school of thought arguing that they are reprints, and as such should be priced significantly less than American editions. I quite beg to differ with that line of reasoning. I know for a fact that UK editions were actually printed at exactly the same time as American editions. This process was explained to me during the late-1970's when I actually went to Sparta, Illinois, home of the gigantic printing plant that was producing almost all American comics. Robert Craig, who was in charge of the presses, explained to me that the interiors of comics for US and UK distribution were printed at exactly the same time. The covers were then printed sequentially, with the US editions run first. Then the presses printing the covers were stopped for just a few minutes after the US run was finished, and an UK black plate (with the current Pence price) was substituted for the black plate that had US price. In my professional opinion, this changing of the black plate for British editions was the first concerted effort on the part of Marvel and DC to create variant editions. Print runs varied, but UK editions were clearly printed in far smaller numbers than US editions. My best guess is that UK editions may have constituted as few as 10% of the total print runs during the 1970's and 1980's.
As an aside, American comics with Pence prices being shipped to the UK were often sent in the lowest cargo holds of ships returning to British ports. As a result, many UK editions have water damage. UK editions are so scarce in America, however, that I really don't care about condition. I'm just happy to find them! Our experience has been that UK editions originally sold rather slowly when we first started listing them, but are now becoming increasing popular. Especially among serious fans who have completed runs of a given title (such as the first SPIDER-MAN (1963), X-MEN (1963), or CONAN (1970) series) and are now seeking all of the variant editions. I've always know that UK editions were relatively abundant in Britain, but given that I have been trying to stock our UK variants exclusively from individual issues that I've managed to find in cities along the American east coast, I have never been able to meet our growing demand for UK editions. Knowing that I can now periodically jump across to London and restock our UK editions, makes me very happy! Over time, I also hope to be able to document which American titles actually had UK editions. There may be such a listing that already exists, but to this point in time, I have never found it.” Chuck Rozanski, December 10, 2008 by electronic newsletter
Not only were there international copies of Geographics, most notable for the plain-paper stock used for plates rather than the heavier stock used for American subscribers’ copies, I think there may be more than a couple of issues with actual printing variety, though Society acknowledges only a few (Arabic or Soviet censor copies; one late 1960s were entire foreign run contains an article never printed in US edition of that issue). Like Chuck for UK Marvels and Dcs, Bill Cole, I and others have long made notation of varieties we have come across or at elast heard of, but so far as I am aware, there is no comprehensive list.
Anyone wishing to share insights or join the variant-value-added debate, you will be more than welcome
Paul Crist

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Hi Paul,

What was different in the Special Publications editions of the 1990's?

I read your post, with the correspondence to Chuck with interest. More food for thought I suppose. It's hard to make a correlation between the comics and Nat Geos, since priorities and interest seems to be quite divergent (amongst collectors).

I am not sure myself what I think of the printing variations/misprints myself....I suppose I feel that whichever is rarer "should" add to value, I do not know to what extent. Like with the hologram misprint, I certainly don't feel it would merit say a 4-figure asking price.

Other than that, I don't know what else to say about the "debate".

- Scott S.

p.s. >>

on a semi-related note: regarding newstand copies of the NGM vs. the subscriber (ie member) copies, I certainly think that the subscriber copies are to be favored (in demand and price) over the bar-coded covers of the newstand editions.
oh, NVM, I recall you talked about the "blurbs" being absent from subscription copies!

- S
I think the variant-value-added debate should be postponed until we have a fairly comprehensive list of what exists, with as specific information as possible. If a collector finds a variant of some kind, in many cases he does not even know if one or the other is actually rare, and to what extent. Specific information as to: year(s), month(s), edition(s), covers, articles or ads (and known quantities involved) should be included and shared, so as to allow as many collectors as possible to join in the search in order to establish the rarety, the range, and the possible explanations for these variants.
The NGS and veteran dealers undoubtedly have a lot of information on these subjects, but aren't always willing to share this information candidly. When I mentionned my July 2004 totally different cover var (see other discussions) to a NGS employee, I was told that there were lots of such variants, but I could not get any specific information on any of them. I have yet to see even one other example of a really different cover for a given issue. Veteran dealers have and sometimes list a wealth of information if and when it is in their interest to do so. I knew a top international stamp dealer who upon hearing of, or finding a new modern variety would immediately pull out all stops (and lots of $$$) in order to corner existing quantities of this variety (maybe 100's or even 1000's) in order to offer them on the market at a high price as if they were extremely rare or (almost) unique. This example is a bit extreme when applied to magazines, but still is at least partially applicable...So let's all try to get a much better idea of what is out there before risking a guess as to actual values, which are bound to increase if we can establish what is unquestionably rare, keeping in mind that the market for such varieties will always be relatively limited even in the case of the world's most popular magazine.

I agree with your appraisal of the situation (gauging values and prices on assorted unknown items). I do, and have in the past, found it frustrating that the NGS and various "hardcore" dealer-collectors are so stingy with information. For heaven's sake, it is just a hobby and we are all curious by nature! I do not see why all the secrecy.

I know, and have corresponded with, a few "serious collectors", and they do hoard certain items and then ask somewhat outrageous prices for them. That is just pure greed as far as I am concerned. It is not too hard to ascertain who has a genuine (historical) interest in Nat Geo - either the Society's history, or the Magazines evolution, etc. I am not into the NGM's to speculate and get rich. I merely attempt to acquire things of interest to me. The person I bought my complete bound Reprint set, 1888-1907, from, even remarked how happy it made him to know that I actually READ my issues, and treasure each addition like a new member of the family. He said he was happy to sell me the set at a discount, rather than to sell it for more to a hoarder who won't even look at it.

{ note: I know for a fact he gave me a favorable price, because he sold me the full set less than what he sold a duplicate set for on ebay - and I saw the item's sale history, so I know he wasn't acting like he gave me a deal! }

Anyway, Jean, see the other discussion "Cover Variances" for I have posted another tidbit of info. there. Meanwhile, I would love to get a comprehensive list of the varieties in the books and Magazine, even if only for the USA edition. Since 1996 or so, it has become an unwieldy and gargantuan notion to catalogue everything, since the Society has expanded so much into foreign markets with local foreign editions.

~ Scott T. Shier



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