SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY COLLECTIBLES
Before we get too far, for those who do not know what I mean by the History of Civilization, here is the
I have some quibbles with the description above, but I'll save for later. This story starts with a letter from a man in Akron, Ohio. He was a long time collector who had just retired from a rubber company in Akron. Actually, retired is not entirely accurate. For those younger people reading this, you might not know that Akron was once the rubber capitol of the world, with several large tire companies located there. The year was 1980, and this was all coming unraveled, with rubber production departing for 3rd world contriesm and people like our long time collector losing their jobs. In his case, it was not a hardship, as he was within a year of retirement, and his company gave him a nice retirement package.
So why did he want to sell his collection? He didn't, but his wife was tired of the sheer volume of the collection taking over two entire rooms. When he was working, she tolerated the collection. But when he retired, she put her foot down and said the pulps had to go. He was looking to sell his collection to have some piece of mind.
This was one of the largest and best condition collections I ever purchased. The collector did not collect all pulps, only the traditional titles like Astounding, Thrilling Wonder, Startling Stories, and similar. No Weird Tales or Terror Tales, etc. But he had a large number of British pulps, including a full run of Scoops, a tabloid type publication from the early 1930's. I wish I had been able to keep Scoops, but my growing family dictated otherwise.
The amazing (didn't have this title) thing about the collection was the condition. He collected two copies of every pulp he was interested in. One he carefully read and put on the shelf. The other he wrapped in wax paper and put in his dry basement. They were in absolute mint condition. I did keep these, replacing the wax paper with mylar. These form the core of my personal collection for a number of titles.
Besides the pulps, he had a small number of paperbacks, and this strange set of boxed, leatherbound books by Doc Smith. I did not know what it was, but made him an offer for his entire collection including these books.
The offer I made was for over $10000. It was a fair offer for the time, but had a a totally unexpected result. I thought his wife was going to have a heart attack when she heard the amount. She had considered the pulps to be complete trash, and had said several times that if he happened to die before he got rid of the pulps, that they would be in the next trash pickup! To say she was astounded would have been an understatement.
Then, somehow, she decided that I was probably out to cheat them, and suggested to her husband that he should not sell, but save them as an investment. This in turn flabbergasted him. My wife and I decided to go out to lunch and let them fight it out. When we got back, he had talked reason into her, and the collection was mine. It took two trips in my van to get the collection home.
I put the History of Civilization box on the top of the piano when I got home, and promptly forgot about them. A year or so later, I was at a convention and thought to describe them to a fellow dealer from Detroit. He asked if he could drive down from Detroit from Toledo just to touch them! Now realizing that I had something special, I did a little research.
My research gave some different answers to the wikipedia description. The set was from 1955. There were 75 copies printed, but fewer than 50 copies sold, due to the high price. I once knew the issue price, but have since forgotten. I also do not know what happened to the unsold copies.
When my oldest son started college, I sold the History of Civilization set for $3000. It paid for a less than half a semester of tuition.
Was this article helpful? Any Comments?
Want to help support this page and keep an inexpensive source of Science Fiction and Fantasy material coming to your computer?
Help defray the cost of this page by clicking on the Amazon.com banner at the top of this page when you purchase items from Amazon. This costs you nothing extra, and provides credits to support this page. Thanks in advance!