After 25 years of selling used and collectible Role Playing Game items, it's not often that I am shocked at a price of a product anymore. I can be off by some here and there as the market changes, but generally I'll know what something is likely valued at. But I was truly shocked at the flurry of bidding on these mid-1970s catalog sheets from TSR. I had them in my possession since the mid-90s when I bought a collection from a young couple about to get married. They had the items from their uncle, and were selling them get some money for their wedding. There were some nice items in there, and I even got a copy of the Black Folder Palace of the Vampire Queen (which got traded to Paul Stormberg before either of us knew it's true value). But these catalog sheets I set aside with a bunch of other early game company catalogs and a copy of The Strategic Preview #5. I never really knew what to do with them. Flash forward to wanting to put together a nice collection of stuff to do a collector auction. I had some really nice items set aside over the last year (1st print Players Handbook and Monster Manuals, lots of Grenadier Gold Line items, a few other rare pieces I had trouble valuing and decided to include these sheets. And on February 27th, 2021, this item has now become the highest priced single item I have ever sold directly, though several items acquired in the Dave Arneson collection sold for more individually through Paul Stormberg's auctions, notably the Domesday Books.
When I set them out to take pictures, I was struck by the mix of product, the vibrant colors for something nearly 40 years old, and the fact that it had several order forms and even a TSR reply envelope to send in your order. The envelope alone is something that really can't be duplicated, and the batch of product makes it something I don't recall ever hearing about before. I've been an auctioneer and an attendee at many Gencon auctions over the years, and never saw anything like this come up. Bits and pieces of these forms have surfaced, but I can't recall seeing another intact batch of them. So the collectors jumped on it for sure.
Per the winning bidder "My first exposure to D&D was the Holmes set shortly after its release. Hobby shops near me at the time carried limited stock (usually box sets and a few modules) and the price lists on the rulebook back covers offered little information. Eager to learn more about the game and others like it, I made extensive use of mail to request catalogs and convention info (Gen Con programs were a real treat; I did not have the resources to be able to attend but looked forward to the day when I could). The highlight of my day would be an envelope from Wisconsin with a catalog or program inside."
To a TSR Collector, this is a glimpse into the earliest days of TSR. Games like Empire of the Petal Throne, the first couple of D&D supplements and even some other companies items were being pushed out into the marketplace to strike while the iron was hot with the release of Dungeons & Dragons. And kow that we have an idea what the value of these items are (multiple people were still bidding even at $5K) it's going to be a new item for TSR collectors to look for. Do any other copies of these catalog pages survive in an intact bundle in basically the same manner they were sent out? Maybe somewhere tucked away in the back of a closet amongst a pile of forgotten games they do, and the hunt is now on!