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Monday, December 12, 2011

Discover all the Fantastic Possibilities of D&D (updated)

     The Collector's Trove is running another set of auctions of items owned by Gary Gygax. The current auctions include a number of TSR promotional posters, intended for display by retailers, including this one for the Holmes Basic Set (16" x 23"). I didn't have a picture of this in my records, so if I've seen it before it was years ago and I'd forgotten about it. The auctions note that all of the posters are double hole punched (once at the top, once 3/4 of the way down), presumably for ease of hanging.

    An awesome feature of the Basic Set poster is that is shows more of David Sutherland's cover art unobscured. The edges are slightly cropped compared to what can be seen on the sides of the Basic Set, so it's not the full painting, but we see more of the cover without text or bending over the sides. Unfortunately the auction photo is low resolution (the above picture is the full-size of the auction photo). Last year, the Xeveninti blog created an excellent mock-up of Sutherland's original art by scanning the box at high resolution and filling in missing parts. But I'd love to get a larger photo/scan of this poster for the Zenopus Archives site (hint to the winner of the auction or anyone else who might have one of these posters).

     The auction states the poster is from 1977, and that is the latest copyright date shown, but I think the poster was produced later than that because it has the TSR Wizard Logo, which was started being used in mid-1978. The third printing of the Blue Book from May 1978 still has the Lizard Logo, and first with the Wizard Logo is the 2nd edition, Nov 1978. Also, some of the posters of the same size are for games that came out later, like Top Secret (dated 1980). It's possible they were all produced at different times from 1978-1980 or all at once as late as 1980.

     There are fourteen other fantastic posters from the same time period being auctioned, including ones for the AD&D hardcovers and contemporary TSR boxed games, such as Gamma World:

     The auctions all end in about a day and half (on Sunday the 11th). The Basic Set poster is currently up to $117.50, far beyond what I would pay, but these auctions have a history of going very high due the celebrity factor.

     Badmike posted some wise words about these auctions on the Acaeum last Wed:

"I don't want to put the kibosh on the auction, but I would be willing to bet other posters of this will be offered at some time. Note the wording Paul has on the auction, the fact he doesn't tout this as the only one in the collection, and the fact Paul has already offered multiple copies of several items. Still, I bet it would look nice framed on the wall....but there could be more copies to come.

If I may also say a few words, if you are buying these you should be buying them for the unique collectibility, not for the possibility of making a mint on resale. So far, items I have seen reselling from Paul's auctions have gone for a fraction of the original price. Being auctioned under the Collector's Trove banner seems to attract larger bids than such items would normally get, especially for more common items. But it doesn't seem to affect what the item will sell for later. "

Update: The auctions are over and this poster sold for 1,527.97....! :o

I believe the winner was ScketreWhisp® on the Acaeum. See here. He runs the NTRPGCon and says this poster and others he won (for ~$7700 total) will be framed and on display at the next con. So they are going somewhere useful.


  1. I love the fact that it says "The basic set contains all you need..." - words game publishers should live by!

  2. What an awesome poster - I love that you can see more of Sutherland's painting unobstructed. Does anyone know the whereabouts of the original?

  3. @bliss: yes, though note is actually says it has all you need to "start". A few times I've heard complaints that the Basic Set was a "rip-off" since it only covered levels 1-3. IIRC, these came from folks who were already playing OD&D at the time. However, it's more of a complete game than some of the more recent D&D beginner's sets (e.g., for 4E)

    @paleologos: I don't recall ever hearing anything about the original painting. Hopefully someone has it...perhaps the Gygax estate? I think he had one or more of the Monster Manual and/or PHB covers. Paul Stormberg (Collector's Trove) bought the original DMG painting from Sutherland (or his estate) around the time of his passing.

  4. A Copy of the Gamma World poster Just Sold on Ebay