Rare First Printing of Mickey Mouse Comic Book Found

Posted on 6/5/2012

Mark Wilson of the PGC Mint has recently discovered a very unique and rare example of the first printing of a Mickey Mouse comic.

It was back in the early 1990s that I discovered the only known example of the early second printing of the Mickey Mouse Bibo & Lang book. It was unique because it had a small Christmas greeting printed at the top of the inside front cover. It was dated December 27, 1930, which gave historians a time line to work with in understanding how early this book was printed. I quickly sold this book to a very eager premium collector who understood the uniqueness and rarity of such a find.

I have owned the first printing of this book several times over the years and have to say that it is more scarce than the second and third printings, which seem to surface on eBay more often. This is contrary to the Overstreet Guide information, but eBay has given us a far greater understanding of what actually exists.

Since I found that rare variation, I have actively searched all these years for another copy, but more so for a different variation — it occurred to me that we were missing a very important detail about this book. Why so many open spaces, as if something was supposed to be printed and was not? The inside covers are completely blank and the back cover had an open space that was filled with a cartoon daily strip on the later printings. If you are going to make money on the project, why give it away to children with no advertising?

History has shown us that the first printing was never priced on the cover and was first given to, or sold to, Mickey Mouse Club members based on a bulletin released on November 15, 1930. The Micky Mouse Bulletin reads, "Attached to this bulletin is a new Mickey Mouse book that has just been published." Based on this information it is then assumed that this was the release date of the very first printing. Or was it?

Just two weeks ago, I discovered a very unique and obviously rare example of the first printing that seems to change the original intent of this book's publication. It was discovered in Salem, Oregon. On the inside front and back covers are multiple advertisements by local businesses, all focused on reaching children and families. It indeed targets Mickey Mouse Club members and calls them "Mickey Mice." The back cover finally explains why there was a blank spot, as it was the perfect size for an imprint for the featured advertiser. Much like the later "March of Comics" it is now known that this comic book was originally intended for advertising purposes. And the reason there was no cover price was because money was intended to be made through advertising with the original print run. Later print runs had the ad spaces filled in with daily strips and were sold in stores.

About the ads: Most of the ads have a Christmas theme, enticing the children and their families to shop before Christmas of 1930. There is one theatre ad that lists a current movie entitled "Liliom," which had it's US release on October 5, 1930. Further, this ad gives a date for attendance, which is December 18–19, 1930. These books were printed in New York, at a time when business ran much slower, and were sent by truck or train to Oregon. In order for this publication's ads to be effective for Christmas shopping, and to give fair advance of the theater showing, it would have been ordered far earlier than the November 15 date we use as a first release date.

Maybe this book is completely unique and a failed attempt to make money through advertising by Walt Disney. Then the rest were simply given away to the hundreds of Mickey Mouse Clubs from coast to coast, complete with blank ads. Perhaps we will never know. But what is a certainty is that this book is a truly historic publication and does answer the nagging questions that I have had all these years.

Mark Wilson offers a wide selection of CGC-graded comic books with an emphasis on the highest possible grade. Visit the PGC Mint website to learn more.

This is a guest article. The thoughts and opinions in this piece are those of their author and are not necessarily the thoughts of the Certified Collectibles Group.

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