Any course collectors out there?

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jcurc
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Any course collectors out there?

Post by jcurc » Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:36 am

I believe I have assembled the greatest collection in the world of all the classic bodybuilding/martial arts courses advertised in the comic books of yesteryear... The Universal Bodybuilding Course, Joe Weider Course, National Sports Council, World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets by Count Dante... and, of course, the Charles Atlas Course.

Most of these books are beyond rare. What sets my collection apart, is the extent I went through to obtain the related ephemera - order forms, letters, envelopes, brochures, membership cards... This is one massive collection! The courses all seemed to follow a similar sales procedure - in return for a self-addressed stamped envelope, or $.25, it was implied that you would receive the course. In actuality, you received information describing the course, with the sales pitch that, if you sent in $40, you would receive the actual course. If you failed to respond, you would periodically receive additional information regarding purchasing the course, with a lower price increment each time. These information packets advertising the course, are many times more rare than the courses themselves. In the case of the Charles Atlas Course, you would typically receive a booklet (Secrets of Muscular Power & Beauty/Everlasting Health and Strength/You, Too, Can Be a New Man/How Dynamic Tension Makes You a New Man), a brochure, an Analysis chart and order form. The rarest part of this package would be a letter enclosed with the booklet ("In sending for my book, Everlasting Health and Strength...") further detailing the course.

Some rare aspects of the original course:

When you placed your order, you specified whether you wished to gain or lose weight. The single letter entitled "How to Gain Weight" is rare, due to the fact that it was a single page not stapled to anything. Not many of these survived. For those who desired to lose weight, they were presumably sent three or four pages detailing aerobic exercise. I say "presumably" because I have only ever seen two examples, and although they were included with Charles Atlas courses sold on eBay, I am still not 100% certain that they are, in fact, officially part of the Charles Atlas Course.

Some other items included or advertised to be purchased seperately over the years: A set of 10 hygenics books; money belt; "Charles Atlas" inscribed pen; tape measure; tanning lamp; sports watch... not to mention the Charles Atlas medal and trophy.

There have been slight variations in the course over the years. If anyone has any specific questions, I can dig through my collection and try to find an answer for you.

I am impressed with the new addition of the course sold on this site. Updated just enough in style as to not deviate too much from the flavor of the original course. I have the new course right alongside my classic collection.

So, are there any other course collectors out there?

jcurc
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Re: Any course collectors out there?

Post by jcurc » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:36 pm

A quick update... "How to Put On Weight" is the correct title, not "How to Gain Weight." Also, as I was organizing my collection, I came across the letter I've been trying to locate for years: "How to Reduce Weight." I had it in my collection, and didn't even realize it!

geosta
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Re: Any course collectors out there?

Post by geosta » Wed Feb 15, 2017 4:03 pm

How to reduce weight... Hmm, that's something I could use!

Marine0861
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Re: Any course collectors out there?

Post by Marine0861 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:44 am

That sounds very interesting. I have some of the old stuff as well, PM me sometime on here I would like to inquire about some of the martial arts courses.

So are you telling us that you have an actual Atlas trophy in your collection? I bet we all would love to see a picture of that as well as the medal!

Henry Marczak
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Re: Any course collectors out there?

Post by Henry Marczak » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:52 pm

I have the 2000 binder edition of the Atlas course, an old UK version with blue leatherette construction paper backing and folded, and a US version unfolded with no backing. Also have the 10 steps to a better body boxed collection.
Image
Quote:
"The truest SUCCESS is but the development of self." ~ Charles Atlas

jcurc
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Re: Any course collectors out there?

Post by jcurc » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:00 pm

Marine0861 wrote:That sounds very interesting. I have some of the old stuff as well, PM me sometime on here I would like to inquire about some of the martial arts courses.

So are you telling us that you have an actual Atlas trophy in your collection? I bet we all would love to see a picture of that as well as the medal!
I'm ashamed to admit this, but I do not have the medal or trophy! I've been concentrating on paper items... I know, no excuses! The medal pops up on eBay from time to time, so I'm confident I'll obtain one eventually. As for the trophy, I DO have a "Championship Certificate" from 1944 that was awarded to applicants for the trophy - in my estimation, it's more rare than the certificate awarded to those who completed the course. While I do believe I have the most complete Charles Atlas collection in terms of books, letters, enrollment forms and envelopes, maybe I spoke too soon to say I have the most impressive Charles Atlas collection out there. If someone has a Charles Atlas trophy, I might have to rate their collection above mine. I have never seen a vintage Charles Atlas trophy in all my years of collecting!

I see by your handle that you are most likely a veteran. I served in the Army for four years. Something you might find interesting - there was a different version of the letter sent out with Charles Atlas' booklet during WWII, and another version sent out just after the war. Even more rare than these two, was a version of the letter that was only sent out to people in the service during the war!

Back to the trophy - do you know of anyone who has one? Am I right in thinking that the trophy is one of the rarest Charles Atlas items out there?

jcurc
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Re: Any course collectors out there?

Post by jcurc » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:36 pm

Henry Marczak wrote:I have the 2000 binder edition of the Atlas course, an old UK version with blue leatherette construction paper backing and folded, and a US version unfolded with no backing. Also have the 10 steps to a better body boxed collection.
The 10 Steps to a Better Body is a neat set. I have one still shrink-wrapped, and another in a binder. I have to check the year on my binder edition of the Atlas course. Are there any differences between the 2000 version, and later editions?

I've seen early editions of the Atlas course with red construction paper backing. Still kicking myself for not aquiring those.

One unique item I have - in the early 50s, Charles Atlas sponsored anti-smoking lozenges. I have a counter display, a cardboard stand featuring Charles Atlas in the familiar pose from the course booklets, which holds empty containers of the lozenges.

The greatest collection in the world does no good if you don't put into practice the information. Keep up the hard work. I'm planning on dedicating myself to starting the program again soon.

Jim
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Re: Any course collectors out there?

Post by Jim » Tue May 16, 2017 8:30 pm

Thank you for your very interesting post, jcurc. I bought a course in May 1968 and loved it, worked out 2x/day faithfully for the 3 month duration. I made some small gains, not what I had dreamed of, but I never felt better. Since that time I have followed Atlas exercises on and off, but I never again made the commitment to follow it as written. Now that I'm nearly 77 I could not handle that much exercise even if I wanted to, though as I said I do incorporate Atlas exercises in my various "workouts". I do have a question or 2 you might be able to answer. I vaguely remember sending in a small sum to start, and then $5 every 2 weeks or once a month... I'm not sure. Do you have any info on the costs of the course back then? And I've read about the course and have seen a photo of Atlas in a very early version where he uses a broom handle placed across the backs of 2 straight-back chairs turned facing each other, and with this arrangement Atlas got below the handle and did pull ups (kind of inverted barbell rowing). Do you have any info on that? Again, thanks so much for your post. Hope to read your messages again soon. Yours in Strength & Health! Jim

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