One of the most important events in the history of comics was the publication in 1970 of Robert Overstreet's first Price Guide. It was a work which he did with the crucial assistance of legendary fan Jerry Bails, and this incomplete but significant work transformed a ragged two-bit pastime into a full-blown hobby and and shiny new industry.
Whatever came from that, good and ill, can be traced very much back to the impact of "THE Price Guide".
The first Guide I bought was the fifth volume (found it on a newsstand), but it would be many years before I saw or bought another. Once I found comic shops, it became a regular thing. Since Gemstone took over publication of the Guide, I personally have lost some interest in it as an item itself. It has become like so many of the comic books it tracks so self-conscious of itself as a collectible that it undermines the charm of the activity it lionizes.
But I do rather love old Price Guides, the ones from the early days, when the format was still relatively simple and the text could be read easily by people of all ages and didn't require me to break out the magnifying glass I once upon a time reserved for the Oxford English Dictionary. The early guides speak to the fan in subtle but specific and effective ways.
Here are the first twenty-five of those early lovely covers, by some of the industry's true talents. The earliest three covers aren't much, but the ones that followed for many years are masterpieces in my estimation and it was a huge thrill waiting to see just what who would be featured and how the cover design, logos and all, would reflect the specific subject. Sadly the later covers become more and more bland as the material and logos become standardized.