No, I Swear It Really Is All About the Articles, Playboy Magazine Back Issues

Ah yes, Playboy Magazine, I have fond memories, as if that’s a strange recollection for a man my age to have. Actually I do have old Playboy Collecting stories as around the time my Dad was collecting comic books back in the 70’s he was collecting men’s magazines as well. His collection stopped around 1980 and so it was probably around that time, no later than ’81, when I was nine and he had stacks upon stacks of nudie mags spread around the living room … and I entertained myself absorbed in this brand new world until he snapped at me asking what I was doing and I gave the now tired response of just reading the articles.

Playboy Magazine November 1965 James Bonds Girls Cover

In the mid-80’s when Dad was looking to sell I took what I felt was the appropriately jaded position of mocking my 8th Grade English Professor when he came to the house as a prospective customer. Well, not to his face, but I still chuckle thinking about it as he tried selling us on the fact that he was mainly interested in the literature inside those skin magazines. Dad eventually unloaded the collection to a fellow baseball card dealer during those card show days I so fondly look back upon, getting $1,000 cash and a few hundred in trade which he kindly passed my way.

But time marches on and suddenly half of my own business is dealing in magazine back issues and what title do I love to stock as much as any other? 1960’s issues of Playboy, and yes, it’s for the literature and the literature alone that I do so!

Playboy Magazine December 1965

Just this week I was pleasantly surprised to receive a dozen issues of Playboy from my favorite years, 1965-66, that were in such immaculate condition I felt like I’d just returned from a time machine trip to a Johnson Era newsstand. Forget that the pages are immaculate and the centerfolds are firmly attached, these are so nice that when describing them I’m noting dust-free covers and shiny staples in the binding. Bee-yoo-tees, they are, inside and out, and despite, yes, taking a quick gander at Catherine Deneuve in the buff, circa 1965, I swear, scout’s honor, it’s all about the lit.


  • Serialized portions of two James Bond stories by Ian Fleming, The Man With the Golden Gun over several 1965 issues; Octopussy in 1966
  • Serialized fiction by Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov
  • Fiction by P.G. Wodehouse
  • Fiction by Henry Miller
  • A Lee Harvey Oswald article by John Clellon Holmes
  • Interviews with Bob Dylan, Peter O’Toole, Bond himself, Sean Connery, among others
  • A wonderful nostalgia article by Jules Feiffer titled The Great Comic Book Heroes: Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel and all the rest of that marvelous crew; whence they came, who created them, and why they occupied a special place apart in the fantasies of our youth.

Plus them pictures. Sure, I may take a gander at Ursula Andress, er, I mean Catherine Deneuve, when paging through and noting contents, but the real meat inside vintage 1960’s issues of Playboy isn’t in the skin, it’s in the lit. I swear!

John Steinbeck on Antiques

After dwelling about how much I missed reading Steinbeck on one of my blogs I recently dusted off a favorite from the bookshelf and found myself immediately absorbed and quickly turning pages just like the old days. But when I came to an abrupt halt during the very start of Steinbeck’s journey in Travels with Charley in Search of America and realized I had to share. Here’s John Steinbeck’s take on antiquing back in 1962, the original publication date:

“I can never get used to the thousands of antique shops along the roads, all bulging with authentic and attested trash from an earlier time. I believe the population of the thirteen colonies was less than four million souls, and every one of them must have been frantically turning out tables, chairs, china, glass, candle molds, and oddly shaped bits of iron, copper, and brass for future sale to twentieth-century tourists. There are enough antiques for sale along the roads of New England alone to furnish the houses of a population of fifty million … If the battered, cracked, and broken stuff our ancestors tried to get rid of now brings so much money, think of what a 1954 Oldsmobile, or a 1960 toastmaster will bring–and a vintage Waring mixer–Lord, the possibilities are endless! Things we have to pay to have hauled away could bring fortunes.

“If I seem to be over-interested in junk, it is because I am, and I have a lot of it, too–half a garage full of bits and broken pieces. I use these things for repairing other things. Recently I stopped my car in front of the display yard of a junk dealer near Sag Harbor. As I was looking courteously at the stock, it suddenly occured to me that I had more than he had.”

There’s a lot there. Steinbeck kind of got it but largely missed it all at once. He’s disgusted by the pure amount of junk available, and it’s this very availability which makes it junk from his perspective. Here he’s dead-on to a certain degree–yes, there’s a lot of garbage out there–yet at the same time this is a case where his layman’s eye suffocated the imagination as certainly had he looked deeper into that pile of “battered, cracked, and broken stuff” he’d have unearthed more than a few gems.
John Steinbeck First Day Cover

The line about the ’54 Oldsmobile and other specific items of his time was funny both then and now for different reasons. But it’s this mindset that, for example, caused my grandmother to throw out shoe boxes filled with my father’s baseball cards. It’s only in recent years where we’ve begun to think about everything in terms of future value. That is we who are the confirmed pack rat. Ironically it’s this mind set which leads to a lack of value, something I’ve already observed when dusting off keepsakes hidden away in the 1980’s. Oh, it’s not universal, certainly items of value do exist which were manufactured in the past 20-25 years, however what I’m condemning is the manufactured collectible whose supply often far outreaches demand.

Returning to Steinbeck’s time and how his junk turned into treasure over the passing years: scarcity was created because Steinbeck, my grandmother, and yours too, paid to have their junk hauled away. Once the nostalgia boom hit the next generation had to work even harder to hunt down the very items their elders had carted to the junk yard. I am, of course, simplifying this all into a greater idea, but in the end it was his viewpoint which helped to create value.

Finally, what collector hasn’t found himself at a show or in a shop having that sudden realization that my stuff’s better than this guy’s stuff! This is how dealers are born!