Porsche Literature and memorabilia prices have reached nose bleed territory recently. Most sellers are honest about their products, but we as buyers and connoisseurs must be on our guard. With all the hype, we must be forever vigilant for those who are less than honorable in their sales and hype.
Without the ability to compare them to originals, how do you determine the quality and originality of the item? Neophytes in the printed material arena have paid hundreds of dollars for the exact same item anyone can currently purchase at the local Porsche Dealership or reputable vendor for a mere pittance of what an online seller might charge for "NOS".
Photos of T6 B Driver's Manuals are being used here as the example, but this information applies to all 356 Driver's Manuals. Where there is a buck to be made, someone will find a way to make it.
So, let's examine some of the commonly used terms. But, before you venture into this market for ORIGINAL or NOS items, you must know your market. Even NOS original items can be over priced. For 356 factory literature, one of the best sources is Charlie White's website. By and far, this is one of the most authoritative websites for current prices on literature items.
Now you are armed with the power of the internet. Are you Porsche Literature Superman yet? Nope. Years of being on the stupid end of sales has taught me to first be well versed in the language of eBay and by looking and comparing.
First, the language of EBay. Just because a seller makes a claim, you are under no obligation to believe it. First and foremost, what does the term NOS mean? If you go to Webster's you will not find a definition. As a buyer, NOS means that Porsche made an item and put it on the shelf. It was made in the period, if it is a 1963 manual, it should have been printed in the period, not 2010. To some sellers the term NOS means it came from the factory or the OEM source and are new. Guess what? The Porsche factory currently reprints manuals. Yes, they came from the original source, but they are not period pieces. So, when you ask a seller, you must ask if it is NOS and also period correct/original. Don't go into a sale with rose colored glasses or without a bit of skepticism. [Editor: more comments about "NOS", "OEM", and other terms can be found here.
If you have the luxury of having an original to compare with what you are buying, then compare it. In most cases you will find differences in quality, even if it came from the exact same OEM source. It is the quality you are also paying for.
There are sellers who peddle reprinted manuals and calling them 'NOS', "Came from XYZ's auction/sale/collection", or "selling for a friend". Let's dissect these statements. First what is NOS to these guys? It could mean they bought it from a dealer...yesterday, but it is new. Second, the hype of the seller using a famous name. XYZ is long gone, the family does not care about cars, and there is no way to verify that statement. Also, unless it is stamped on the item, who cares where it came from? Third, if it came from an auction or estate sale, etc, other than intrinsic value of the auction, that value will be lost the next time it is sold. These are not unique enough items where that makes a difference, XYZ cannot come back and autograph it and say it came from his estate auction. Another point, autographs can be and are faked. One time at the local swap meet, I saw a vendor take a bad quality Ansel Adams litho and sign Ansel's name to it! Again, know what you are paying a premium for. The last statement is the one that gets to me, why would someone hide under an anonymous person. If you truly had a friend, you would teach him how to post and sell on eBay or to sign up for a free account on 356Talk to sell. Or my explanation, the seller knows the pedigree yet wants to take no blame or responsibility for the originality of the product. It's a cold cruel world out there.
Here is a simple test on what to look for on driver's manuals. It is not limited to these, but is SOME obviously dead giveaways.
We'll start with the cover. The original is on the left.
Note the number of spirals in the binding. More spirals on the original on the left. The perforations type and orientation are also different. Look at the horizontal lines in the illustration. The original appears crisp and sharp, the reprint is fuzzy. Same applies for the Porsche crest.
Another page from the manual is shown below. Compare the contrast and clarity of illustrations. Original on the left, reprint on the right. This is true throughout the manual for all illustrations. The reprint illustration appears dark and lacks contrast. This is due to the method used to copy the original for reprint.
Again, another page to highlight the differences in quality. Look at the car badges in the upper right hand corner. Also, look at the engine and coupe picture.
Below is another example to add to the confusion. The cover on the left is original; the cover on the right is a reprint. Notice the print dates. They are identical. In the reprints, Porsche did not change the print date. You cannot go by the print date. The manual on the right is a Stoddard reprinted manual from the late 70's. It was sold to me clearly stating that it is a reprint.
These illustrations are not doctored or Photoshop. They were all scanned within minutes of each other then merged in Photoshop unaltered.
Original manuals in nice condition are now in the hundreds of dollars. Reprints should not sell for more than the $92.50 at dealerships, or any reputable 356 Porsche vendors.
Now armed with "some" knowledge, be aware that there are crafty sellers in the world. If there is profit to be made, someone will find ways to reproduce exact copies to foil this test. Be on your guard and be a skeptic.
So, now, good luck with your hunt for NOS Original Driver's Manuals. Print out this story and take it with you.
Questions or comments, please email to Barry Lee Brisco, Website Technical Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org