Back in the 1970s there were several full size facsimiles of old pre-war British comics published and available in two collections. The comics were presented full tabloid size, and loose leaf with no staples, just as they had been in their original form. The facsimiles were so convincing that today they're often seen on eBay and the like, sold as original comics.
To be fair, some sellers are completely innocent of the fact that the comics are reprints and not originals. Furthermore as the reprints are now over 30 years old they're collectible in their own right, albeit not as valuable as the original editions. Even so, I'm sure collectors would prefer to know if what they were buying were genuine items or not.
As a guide to help collectors know which comics were reprinted, here are the issue numbers and covers of the comics in question.
The first collection was part of a series published by Peter Way Limited called Great Newspapers Reprinted which, as the title explains, reprinted key issues of old newspapers. In 1972 Peter Way released the second Great Newspapers Reprinted Special, priced 20p, sub-titled Six Comics of World War One. (Cover above). The comics were reprinted from the collection of Denis Gifford and Denis himself provided an article inside the wraparound cover about the comics. The six comics it gathered within its outer cover were as follows...
The Rainbow No.168 April 28th 1917.
Illustrated Chips No.1477 December 21st, 1918. (First peacetime issue after the end of the Great War.)
The Funny Wonder No.72 August 7th 1915. (First Charlie Chaplin comic strip.)
Lot-o'-Fun No.453 November 14th, 1914.
Picture Fun No.307 December 26th, 1914. (Christmas issue.)
Comic Life No.893 July 31st, 1915.
Three years later, in 1975, Denis Gifford compiled another collection, this time for the New English Library, publishers of the seventies Target magazine and the notorious skinhead paperbacks. Under the title Collectors Comics, the hope was for it to be a regular series but a second edition never surfaced. Priced at 40p, Collectors Comics No1: Penny Comics of the Thirties followed the format of its predecessor; full size facsimile comics inside a new outer cover, again with sleeve notes by Denis Gifford.
This time the comics were even closer facsimiles by being printed on coloured paper just as the originals had been. However the print quality was murkier than the other collection, resulting in some detail looking clogged up in places. The four comics in this collection were...
Merry Midget No.1 September 12th 1931.
Sparkler No.20 January 23rd 1932.
Rattler No.105 August 24th 1935.
Target No.53 June 13th 1936.
Several years afterward, (late 1970s or early 1980s) yet another collection of old British comics appeared. However there is no danger of these being confused with the originals. Known as the "Tiger Tim Collection" these 16 comics were all printed on heavier quality paper, had staples, and were reduced to a size of 330mm x 240mm. The coloured paper used was also more garish than the original subtle tones. The 16 comics were issued within a dark green slipcase but I understand they were also bound into a book, so there were two versions available. The reproduction was mostly excellent and they're well worth seeking out.
The issues in this collection were:
Funny Wonder No.839 April 26th 1930
Kinema Comic No.547 October 18th 1930
Playbox No.306 December 27th 1930
Larks No.188 May 30th 1931
Tiger Tim's Weekly No.507 August 8th 1931
Puck No.1,430 December 26th 1931
Merry & Bright No.851 July 29th 1933
Jester No.1.692 April 14th 1934
Film Fun No.753 June 23rd 1934
Tip Top No.69 August 10th 1935
Comic Cuts No.2,371 October 26th 1935
The Joker No.431 February 1st 1936
The Rainbow No.1,277 August 6th 1938
The Jolly Comic No.197 October 22 1938
Illustrated Chips No.2,514 November 12th 1938
Butterfly No.1,162 July 15th 1939
Last year saw the publication of seven facsimile comics given free in The Guardian and The Observer, which I covered on my blog here:
Sadly, some of those Tammy No.1 reprints immediately went up on eBay by unscrupulous sellers as original comics, but as far as I could see they fooled no one and remained unsold. Recently, more honest sellers are currently advertising them as facsimiles which is an improvement.
The older facsimiles listed above still continue to turn up on eBay, often listed as genuine originals, so I hope today's blog will be a helpful guide for collectors to bid accordingly.
UPDATE: Reader Dave Whitwell has reminded me that there were facsimiles of six first issue D.C. Thomson comics published in 1978. These appeared as both separate comics and all bound into one book: D.C. Thomson Firsts. Covers below, courtesy of Dave. (I have this book but I've misplaced my copy.) More details about the book are in Dave's comments to this blog.