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The long answer begins with the first 83 pages of this book. When I was getting started in bookselling and, also, beginning to buy price guides, this is precisely the sort of thing I was lusting for: a good, long list of collectible authors and illustrators richly annotated with specific things to look for and where - in short, a cache of major flashpoints, MANY OF WHICH APPLY TO BOOKS AS WELL. Look at this entry on page 36:

Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) of London, England, was the premier illustrator of children's book classics at the turn of the century. His first appearance in print was in Scraps Magazine in childhood. 1884. In 1900, he caught the imagination of the public with the publication of an illustrated edition of the Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales. His illustrated Rip van Winkle (1905) introduced him to the American public and, one year later, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens was published. His faeries and goblins could also be found in both black and white and color lithos in magazines of the era such as Cassell's (1896), Little Folks (1896), Punch, Or The London Charivari (1905), Scribner's (1906), The Bookman (1906) and The Century (1913-1914). He was commissioned to illustrate "The Nursery Rhymes of Mother Goose" for St. Nicholas in 1912 through 1914. In addition to his magazine story illustrations, Rackham also did a series of colorful ads for Cashmere Bouquet Soap that appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, Pictorial Review, Vogue, Asia and Good Housekeeping (1923-1925), which are of interest to collectors.

If you think that Arthur Rackham isn't a major flashpoint, a very short search session on eBay will disabuse you of this. In all, there are 100 of these entries in this guide (divided into 50 'stars' and 50 'sleepers'), and each and every one of them points you directly to items of value. When I think about how much time and effort - and money - I spent putting together my own list of magazine flashpoints, the first thought that comes to mind is, "Where the hell were you guys when I needed you?" The good news is that, if you're needing to get up to speed, you don't have to do the work I did. Here's the right stuff, served up fresh on a platter for a few bucks.

This guide doesn't end at page 83. The remaining 221 pages of Vintage Magazines, which takes up the task of illuminating 133 different collectible magazines, resembles (in formatting) many of the guides I have with several important differences. First and foremost, illustrations. They're everywhere, and everywhere in color. This page, for example, isn't the exception:

It's actually more typical than not. In all, there are a whopping 1100 illustrations, and we all know how much it helps to find something in the field if we know going in what it looks like. Illustrations also help us to understand instantly why, say, a particular illustrator is so appealing to collectors:

Also - and no less important - there's considerable textual content accompanying the illustrations that focuses heavily on why certain (or in some cases) all issues of a given magazine are collectible. A short article on Strand Magazine hits me close to home. Here's an excerpt which points to one of my favorites, P.G. Wodehouse:

Newnes and his editor, H. Greenhough Smith, actively sought popular writers, shying away from the "literary." As Reginald Pound, editor from 1941-1946, put it: "...Pedestrian writers in a non-derogatory sense. Their feet planted squarely upon common ground...they remained content with the surer profits to be earned toiling on the lower slopes." Those "lower slopes" produced Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and, with him, the popular acceptance of the modern mystery genre. Rudyard Kipling, Agatha Christie, W. Somerset Maugham, H.G. Wells, Anthony Hope, O. Henry, Dorothy L. Sayers, Aldous Huxley, Arnold Bennett, Grahame Greene, P.G. Wodehouse, H.C. McNeile (Sapper), Arthur Morrison and numerous other popular authors were published in The Strand, and several were introduced by it.

Best of all, following these articles are lists of high spots - specific, dated issues (sometimes runs) often accompanied by the very flashpoints that point to value. In this case, there are 7 issues identified as containing Wodehouse stories. Whether I'm a Wodehouse collector or a dealer, this is valuable information:

It's difficult to find anything not to like about this guide, but for the sake of editorial objectivity, I'll make a few token observations:

  1. Values in this guide are based on retail pricing. This isn't terribly useful for online booksellers because in many cases the prices are pretty ambitious. Issues 1, 2 and 4 of Eros Magazine, for example, are assigned values of $30, and yet I've seen these go unsold on eBay for $10 or less. Ambitious or not, however, prices do illustrate relative values. This is always useful for comparative purposes. In this case, issue 3, which is tagged at $75, contains the last studio portraits of Marilyn Monroe, and it's also interesting to note that a complete run of 4 issues is valued higher than a total of the individual issues added together.

  2. I would've preferred to see a deeper discussion of magazine collecting in the introduction. It would've been helpful to note, for example, that first issues of magazines are collected (and for that reason tend to be more valuable than later issues - with the obligatory exceptions!), also that magazines containing paper dolls have enhanced value, also that - well, you get the idea: a few more reasons why magazines are collected would have benefited the novice.

  3. No index. And it sure would've been nice. Maybe all that color ink busted Krause's budget!

  4. This isn't an observation; it's a request. There are 6 painfully short pages devoted to modern magazines in this guide. What we really need, Rick and Elaine, are 304 pages - i.e., a Volume II. When can you have it ready, guys?

Okay, enough nitpicking. It's time to get to my recommendation:

Fellow booksellers, I don't say this often, but this is must have. You should not only buy this guide, you should read it from cover to cover. You should not only read it from cover to cover, you should study it. You should not only study it, you should memorize it. Do this, and you'll soon be furlongs ahead of over 99% of your fellow booksellers. No exaggeration - this is one of the best guides I've come across in recent years. Buy it now. Buy it here:

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