|1980 advertisement for Holmes Basic. Click for larger view|
Here's a great scan of a Holmes Basic ad from 1980, courtesy grodog in a post at the Acaeum. This particular ad is from the Sept 1980 issue Fantastic Films, a sci-fi/fantasy movie magazine that ran from 1978-1985. The ad probably ran in other publications around the same time.I've posted a shot of this ad before, but it was a low res photo of a clipping that was being auctioned on Ebay so I had no idea of the source.
This ad shows later edition of the Holmes Basic Set, that includes the module B2 and chits instead of dice. This was the same version that I got as my first set, at the rather late date of 1982. The rulebook is probably the last (third) edition, which is dated December 1979 on the title page.
The module B2 has a copyright date of 1980. Frank Mentzer started working at TSR on January 20th, 1980, and one his first jobs was editing B2. The Library of Congress lists a date of July 2nd, 1980 for B2. So mid-1980 may be the date for the appearance of the Basic Set with B2. Which is not very long before the Moldvay Set appeared in early 1981 (January according to the title page, Feb 16th according to the Library of Congress listing).
One interesting detail is that the ad apparently shows a pre-production cover of the module B2. If you look closely, the cover is apparently black rather than purple. Also, the upper left corner with "B2" is white rather than purple. There are also two bits of text that are only found on the title page of the published version: The IBSN number, lower left, below "Printed in the U.S.A." and the last three lines of text on the cover that begin "Distributed to the book trade..." No actual printings of a module looking like this have been found; the consensus is that it is a pre-production mock-up. So the photo may have been taken before the module was actually printed, perhaps in the spring of 1980.
There's an earlier version of this ad showing the 2nd edition of the Basic Set with the module B1 and chits. The scan I have is black and white although it possibly was run in color as well.
"Gateway to Adventure" was also used as the title of TSR catalogs from around the same time period, which can sometimes be found with Basic Sets on Ebay. Here are several versions of this catalog:
|Grey "Demon" Gateway to Adventure catalog, circa 1980|
|Black "Demon" Gateway to Adventure catalog, circa 1980|
|Brown "Doorway" Gateway to Adventure catalog, circa 1981. Source: Tome of Treasures|
The second version has a t-shirt order form on the back cover, including a Sutherland Red Dragon T-shirt), but also still has a number of items listed as "Coming in 1981". When I bought the pdf of the B/X Expert Set from D&D Classics last year, it included a scan of the entire earlier version of this catalog at the end of the pdf. You can also see it via the flickr link provided by 2warps in the comments down below.
The third version also has the t-shirt order form on the back cover, but the interior has been updated with pictures for new items. It also replaces the OD&D listings on page 9 with new products like the minigames and the Fiend Folio.
(I updated this section of this post on 3/13).
|"Morley" Gateway to Adventure catalog, circa 1982. Source: Tome of Treasures|
|"Morley" Adventure Games catalog, circa 1983. Source: Tome of Treasures|