Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hand-Drawn Basic Box Cover (1980)

This charming image is a small part of an advertisement in the Spokane Daily Chronicle, December 5, 1980, which was recently featured over at 2 Warps to Neptune. See the entire page below. The Chronicle was a daily afternoon newspaper (absorbed by another still-existing daily in 1984), and the ad is by The Crescent, a Spokane, Washington-area department store chain that lasted until 1988 (thank you Wikipedia). For the holiday season the store ad is labeled "The Christmas Crescent". D&D is advertised together with a number of electronic handheld games and video game systems ("Giftable Fun For The Family"). But for some reason the advertiser has used small hand-drawn images of the D&D Basic Set and the Players Handbook instead of photos. As 2 Warps points out, the picture is pretty faithful, except for missing all of the treasure! I note the wizard is also missing his belt & shoulder bag, and the TSR logo is missing. The PHB cover is also altered, which you can read more about over on 2 Warps.

The advertising copy to the left starts "The original adult fantasy role-playing game everyone is talking about. The basic set enables a new player to get into fantasy adventure gaming smoothly and quickly." This was to be the last big holiday season for the Holmes set as the new B/X sets would be released in early 1981.


  1. The use of a hand drawing is an artifact of the times - the low newspaper resolution, combined with the lower contrast of a color cover, would have rendered the cover as a dark blur. Which would have been nigh impossible to fix some 9 years before the public release of Photoshop.

    1. American Science and Surplus still do the hand-drawings in their catalogs. You can choose either rendering (drawing or photo) on their online webpage.

    2. Not impossible at all, it would have required time with photographic equipmet and a darkroom, fixingupthe image byhandwouldhave saved time and money

  2. Of course the treasure and the wizard's stuff is missing! That's because the party thief is also not present.