National Geographic : 1964 Nov
Reprinting Brings Earliest Geographics To Life By MELVIN M. PAYNE, Sc.D. Executive Vice President and Secretary National Geographic Society NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICS, handsomely bound in fine leathers, surround Executive Vice President Melvin M. Payne, who reads one of the 272 volumes collected by Robert S. Conahay in a 30-year hunt. Complete sets are so rare that the Society is reprinting issues of its first 20 years and making them available at $2 a copy. Inset: Original covers of October, 1888, the first issue, and January, 1901. BROWSING PAGES brittle and tinged by time, I recently came upon a brief but intriguing notice in a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC of more than half a century ago. "The National Geographic Society," an nounced the May, 1907, issue, "has five com plete sets of the Magazine, beginning with 1888... for sale at $100 per set, unbound." How collectors wish the Society could make the same offer today! Volume I alone, con taining the four numbers issued in 1888-89, now may command half its weight in gold $500 or more-on the rare-book market. A collector seeking all those first 18 volumes, once offered for $100, may today spend $3,500 -if fortunate enough to find them. Thus the Society attaches singular impor tance to its latest publishing program: a com pletely authentic reprinting of every issue of the magazine during the first 20 years of its existence-179 issues in all. Technicians have spent almost a year on this painstaking project. They carefully un bound fragile early volumes; then, using the 688 most advanced equipment and techniques, they photographed them page by page to pro duce by photo offset striking duplicates of the rare original magazines, covers and all. The reprints will include reproductions of all map supplements and charts-in color if color was used in the original-and all the advertising pages, which appeared in the GEOGRAPHIC, beginning in January, 1896. Reprints of these early years will not deflate the value of collectors' cherished originals; each cover and each supplement will bear the word "REPRINT." Initially, the Society is reproducing only 1,000 copies of each of these early magazines. Reprints of those published in its first decade, 1888-1897, will be available in mid-Novem ber at $2 a copy for individual issues or $100 for the set of 59 magazines, unbound. The 120 issues that make up the years 1898-1907 will be ready early next year at the same single-copy price or $215 for the set.* *A table of contents for the years 1888-1907 is avail able for those who wish to order reprints. Send orders and inquiries to National Geographic Society, Depart ment 202, Washington, D. C. 20036.