Golden Guide Website

First Things First

Before I start talking about Golden Guides I want to talk about this page. This page will not view correctly in older browsers. You must have IE 5.X (for Macintosh) or better or Netscape 6.X or better. Using either of these browsers this page will look like it is suppose to. Using the dropdown menu on the "View" tab you can change the text size. If you use Netscape 6 (or Mozilla) there'a a way to change the stylesheets also. Go to "View" again on the dropdown. The default stylesheet is Seashells. But it can be changed to Pond Life, Fishes, Antiques, Tropical Fish or Fishing. As you scroll through the text the background image should stay with the image on the left, which gives the appearance they are one image. If the background image moves with the text that is because you're using Internet Explorer for Windows (any version), or possibly Opera (any version). Neither of these browsers properly support "background-attachment: fixed" for elements other than the body. With that said, I will begin my Golden Guide Tutorial.

About Golden Guides

During the past few years Golden Guides have become very collectable. Most everyone I talk to remembers these books when they were a kid.
In the trade they were seen as one of the first pocket sized reference books that could be carried with you for identification purposes. Golden Guides are still being sold today, but by St. Martins Press. For book collectors at least, the most sought after ones are those published by Simon & Schuster and the early Golden Press editions with the famous permaseal protective coating. This site was created out of the love for these informative books. Whether you collect these books or not, this should still be a site that brings back memories.

What To Look For

I will attempt to explain to Golden Guide collectors how to tell if your edition is a first printing or not. The first thing to look for on the early softcover Golden Guides is: on the inside front cover (lower left corner) there should be either "A100100" or just "100100". The "A" denotes a first printing. The "100100" denotes the price of the book at $1.00. A second printing will have "B100100", etc. If no letter is with the "100100" look on the last page for a letter.

Somewhere around 1955 they changed the way they denoted the printing. The inside front cover still had the "100100". But the letters were put on the last page, usually next to the spine. If you still see no letter and it meets the criteria below then it's probably a first printing.
So when you're looking at the first 18 titles you must look for the following:

  1. Published by Simon & Schuster
  2. Three digit # on spine
  3. A100100 inside front cover
  4. Also look on last page for a letter
  5. Make sure there's only one date on copyright page
  6. Northwest, Southeast & Everglades are exceptions

Hardcover Rules

For the small hardcovers in dustjacket look for a letter on the
inside flap of the dustjacket. An "A" would be a first printing.
Some of the very early titles show no indication of the printing
anywhere. Such as Birds. Around 1955 Golden Press started
showing the letter on the last page.

The Everglades paperback has the same numbering sequence that the other pbks do in this set. That is, T-1 thru T-5 etc. But the hardcover went to a 5 digit number. And the cover changed to a 3 color cloth binding. So I'm not sure it ever was issued with a DJ. The American Southeast was the first title to be published by Golden Press. Everglades was the last small hardcover Golden Press published. All of the hardcovers published by Simon & Schuster were reprinted by Golden Press.

From here on out it gets fairly easy to distinguish a first printing. The main thing to check is that there is only one copyright date. Many times Golden Press did revised editions. When they did sometimes they started the letter sequence "ABCDE" over again. Look on the last page for the letter sequence. If there is no letter it is probably a first printing. And if there is a sequence of letters it needs to start with an "A".

Breaking The Rules

Now I will talk about a couple books that breaks all the rules. I have two copies of Pacific Northwest. One has the cellophane permaseal on the book and no letter on the last page. The other has no permaseal and the letter "A" on the last page. Logic tells me the permaseal edition is a first printing. But the "A" edition meets all the criteria to be a first printing.

The other is Light And Color. One has a cover price of $1.00. And one has no cover price. Both copies have an "A" on the last page. Technically either one can be a first printing.

I will finish my tutorial by talking about the myths on Hallucinogenic Plants. Almost every time I see this book for sale it's mentioned that it was pulled, suppressed, recalled or words to that effect. I'm sure this book was frowned upon when it showed up in libraries. And Golden Press probably was pressured to quit publishing this title. But it took a while. The softcover went through 4 printings. And the large hardcover went through 2 printings. The ultimate reason Golden Press quit publishing this book may never be known.

I have been asked by several collectors about the existence of a Golden Guide titled Environmental Organizations. The full title of this book is "A Golden Guide To Environmental Organizations". With a title like that you would think it is indeed a Golden Guide. But it does not belong in the series for several reasons. First of all it has no illustrations. What it does have is a four page section with photos of Golden Guides available. The rest of the book is text. It is a tall book (7") with 64 pages and a photo cover. All of these factors rule out the possibility of it belonging to the uniform series. Not counting the pages of photos the paperback is all text listing all the environmental organizations with their address and a brief description of what they are about. This book was published in 1972 and has a 95¢ cover price.

Large Format Hardcovers

One last thing worth mentioning. Most (if not all) of the Golden Guides exist in a large hardcover format. These books were intended for public libraries. But they have circulated elsewhere, escaping the dreaded "pocket glued to the flap" syndrome that many of these books suffer from. My count shows at least 55 titles exist. And some exist in revised editions and cover variants as well. The most interesting of the bunch is one of the two versions of Antiques. It has a cover I have never seen on any paperback version. Officially titled "American Antiques". The contents are identical to the softcover.

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