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"World War (One)" individually bound articles by Berrien Book Bindery: product background questions

I have in my possession an old set of individually bound articles from NGMs between 1917-1920 entitled "World War'" bound by both the Berrien Book Bindery and Maplewood Press and Book Bindery. They are in a red case and appear to have been produced for library use, though maybe for public sale also.

From looking up the only other comparable information online, they were possibly bound in the late 1930s, and various other topics were afforded the same treatment by the same company.

Can anyone tell me more about this aftermarket product and the other subjects afforded the same treatment, i.e., the history of it, the distribution (product of NGM or other entity, the quantities produced, if the articles were reprints or culled from whole magazines... and anything else. They are interesting to me both for the subject matter and the nature of the binding treatment and packaging. Thanks.....

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There have been several small binderies in the US who would remove original articles on specific topics from the National Geographic Magazine and bind them together, usually with soft covers. Such binderies included: College (Place) Bindery, Maplewood, Shenandoah Valley Bindery, and of course Berrien Bindery. My understanding is that they mainly targeted schools and public libraries for these publications. The intention was to create an informative source of reference on specific topics, not to create a valuable collectible, and they were successful on both counts. Many hundreds or thousands of different topics have been bound.

These are definitely not reprints, just articles cut from the Nat Geo magazines. As such they are not worth a great deal to a NGM collector. That said, your World War collection is likely to be of interest to collectors of war memorabilia. I have come across similar bound collections of articles on a specific topic that have sold well on eBay.

I confess that I have had no interest in collecting these items but would be interested to hear from anyone else who sees any collectible character in these publications. I could have purchased many of them for 50c to $1 each from Koopman but declined.

Thanks for the reply, Dale.  Above and beyond the actual content of the articles and the age, I was interested in the aspects of Berrien Springs, Mich., not being far from where I live and that the original destination of the set, the Osceola, Ind. Library, was where I used to live. I guess the only question left would be how such masses of unsold (?) copies were kept intact and ultimately accessible for these binderies' projects, that is, they anticipated such later usages... unless, perchance, the binderies bought used copies from subscribers. I assume that NG printed more than they had subscribers for and that warehousing the overage was not a problem.


Where these binderies sourced their copies of the NGM from is a very good question. I had assumed they got hold of old second-hand copies of the magazine, but now realize that does seem to be a bit of a haphazard and unreliable process for anything other than small runs. It also means they would be releasing bound articles that were potentially years out of date. It is not clear why the NGS would print surplus copies for third-party bindery use either, since that would potentially undermine their own market. Since the magazine was copyrighted, the binderies would not be able to produce facsimiles of the articles without permission. Perhaps the answer is that they only did small runs from second-hand copies.

Certainly be interested to hear from anyone who has specific knowledge on this topic.



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