Across this country, people are “scouting” used items for sale on the Internet. There is even a TV show about “thrifting” – something I have been doing for years. Buying low, selling high.
I’m going to give a little tip to eBay sellers who may happen upon this blog while researching prices for Thomas Brothers atlases: Los Angeles atlases are not as collectible as other areas. There is simply too much supply and not enough demand, as I figure those Thomas enthusiasts are pretty much all set on their collections for Los Angeles.
1975 Los Angeles-Orange County (fair) – $10 UNSOLD
1977 Los Angeles Zip Code (good) – $24.00 UNSOLD, relisted for same price
1978 Los Angeles (fair/good) – $14.99 auction UNSOLD, relisted for Buy It Now with Make Offer, $19.99
It is actually amusing to see the salesmanship of some of these auctions. Los Angeles atlases, especially 1970 on, are NOT RARE as these auctions advertise. Los Angeles was the first market introduced to bound atlases in the late 40s, so any collector with a nostalgic yen would have started collecting them as they came out in the 70s.
Eventually, Thomas emerged in other areas in the west. Some first editions appeared in the 1970s, and those are rare for two reasons:
One, nobody was thinking about collecting what was essentially ephemera in that geographic area back then.
And two, the circulation, based on population, of areas like San Diego, San Francisco, Northern California, Washington, was far below Los Angeles-Orange.
San Diego kept growing in population and in the 1980s was the second highest in the state. Since circulation kept up with the boom, I would also not call any of those map books in the 1980s as rare either.
So, for scouts picking up atlases to sell on eBay, I would avoid L.A. in the 70s on, San Diego in the 80s on and pretty much everything else after the 1994 (the year Thomas went digital).