Gene Roddenberry realized in the late 1960s that people who love a TV show want to buy stuff related to it.
That had eluded most people back then, which is funny because the sports folks got it a lot earlier. The first set of baseball cards was issued by Goodwin Tobacco in 1886. Gypsy Queen or Old Judge smokers could collect cards featuring 12 New York Giants. And you’d be in the money today if you held on to the 1939 World Series program with the famous photo of Lou Gehrig’s big swing.
But Desilu and then Paramount did not market Trek collectibles in the 1960s. Luckily, Roddenberry was not known for missing business opportunities, and Star Trek Enterprises was born. Soon renamed Lincoln Enterprises, it began in 1967 as a mail-order business run by Bjo and John Trimble. It sold pendants, memo pads, insignia and postcards, plus subscriptions to the Inside Star Trek newsletter (which I am covering). It also sold film clips cut from production footage, which technically belonged to the studio, and scripts, while ignoring the percentage of those sales that should have gone to the writers.
But, for early Star Trek fans, these catalogs were a grand source of memorabilia when there was almost nothing else for sale. Here is my take on this 1969 catalog.
Research note: Catalog #3 is not dated but three observations lead me to believe it was published in 1969:
- It was produced by Star Trek Enterprises, which was renamed Lincoln Enterprises just before Roddenberry and his first wife Eileen divorced in 1969.
- It advertised issues one to 12 of the Inside Star Trek newsletter; issue 12 was produced in 1969.
- That issue would be the last until 1976, when it would relaunch under a new name, and as Catalog #3 references “subscribers” the company obviously did not yet know that the newsletter was about to suspend publication.
What I would have bought
I was too young to place an order with Star Trek Enterprises, but here’s what would have been at the top of my shopping list.
Star Trek Interstellar membership. $3.50. Film clips, a memo pad, issues of the newsletter and a membership card for a few bucks? Deal.
Star Trek Writer’s Guide. $2. I now have a copy of the third revision of this document, dated April 1967. It’s a wonderful resource for fans as well as writers. I will cover it someday.
Flight Deck Certificate. $1 for the deluxe version. I would have grabbed one of these based on the promise it was “signed by Captain Kirk and Gene Roddenberry!” Sadly, it was not. I got mine from a short-lived sci-fi store in Toronto. I tell its story here.
IDIC medallion. $7.50. Back then, I would have purchased one. Today, even knowing what I know, I probably would anyway.
Film clip frames. All 14 sets for $12. “These are the first print ‘daily’ originals from the very film that runs through the cameras as they film the show…Scotty tells us that these frames will fit into half-mount holders…for viewing in a home 35mm projector.” So, this is actual Star Trek film, from the set, that I can project on a big screen at home in glorious colour? For fans in the 1960s — accustomed to watching the show on tiny TV screens, often in black and white — this would have been amazing.
Star Trek is… pitch. $1. This is perhaps the most important document in Star Trek history — and you don’t have to pay a buck for it. Read about it and download a PDF here.
Star Trek scripts. $505 for every episode and variant. In the days before Chrissie’s Transcripts Site put all the Star Trek dialogue online, this would have been a Holy Grail of collecting. Before streaming and Blu-ray, we had reruns that were always chopped up to make room for more commercials, the James Blish adaptations that often differed from the screened version, and the Fotonovels that were great but often changed the dialogue. To have the actual scripts would have been wonderful.
How much for one of everything?
I added it up. A well-heeled Star Trek fan back in the day could buy one of everything for $554.50. That’s the best version of each item: six issues of the newsletter, all three sets of the two-color decals, all three seasons of the scripts, including the first and final drafts from season three, etc.
That’s the cost at the time. In today’s dollars? I can’t say how accurate inflation-calculation sites are, but two seemingly reputable ones (Morgan Friedman and CNN) say we’re looking at about $3,725 in 2019 dollars.
That’s a fair bit of money but, if I could use the light-speed breakaway factor to slingshot back to 1969, would I spend that much on Mr. Roddenberry’s mail-order store? You bet I would.
Also, my thanks to Florida’s Steven Whitaker for holding on to his copy of the catalog — numerous coffee-mug rings and all — so that I could buy it on eBay years later. He completed the order form but apparently never actually purchased his portraits, decals, insignia, postcards and film clips, so I hope he attended one of the early conventions and grabbed some great stuff.