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D&D General From the Q&A: did Chaosium founder Greg Stafford own the first-ever copy of D&D sold, bought directly from Gary Gygax himself?

Michael O'Brien


From our Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Did Greg Stafford own the first-ever copy of D&D sold, bought directly from Gary Gygax himself?

A: TL/DR - Yes.

As Greg himself told it in the now defunct Stafford Codex (retrieved via Wayback Machine):

The First Dungeons & Dragons Game Ever Sold​

"I'd like to share one tale about D&D, from way back when.

After high school I used to work for Bergamot Brass Works, a belt buckle company out of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Real hippie job. I'd take buckles, hitchhike around the country and sell them to shops. After a while, though, I moved to California and stopped doing that. My friend and business partner, Jeff Platt, remained in the Midwest, selling buckles (we were called Buckle-itis).

Through the various circumstances described elsewhere, I'd decided to publish my first board game, White Bear & Red Moon, on my own. As I was finishing up work on it, I got a package in the mail from my old partner Jeff. His cover letter said, “I was picking up my catalogues from the printer the other day and there was this guy waiting for his stuff. I asked what it was, and he said it was a fantasy game. I said, ‘Hey, my buddy in California is doing one too! Can I buy one from ya?'"

Of course the guy was happy to, and so Jeff sent me this strange little box called Dungeons & Dragons.

Later on I wondered, “Heck, I wonder if that was the first one ever sold?" Well, I asked Gary Gygax if he remembered this incident and he did, and confirmed that it was the first one ever sold.

Man, do I ever now wish that I'd not lent it to my DM! I never got it back!"

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Burt Baccara

Have read about this story in other places, though if I recall correctly when Gary told the story he sold the copy directly to Greg at the print shop.

Cute as the story is, we have to remember a few of things.

First, the print shop did not deliver complete box sets. They printed the booklets, reference sheets, and box labels. I believe the boxes were sourced separately, I always guessed from the same supplier as the boxes used for Tractics, but could be wrong. In any case, all of the parts were originally housed at Don Kayes's house and assembly happened there: labels were applied to boxes, then the booklets and reference sheet, etc. collated and put in boxes—and of course, boxed up for shipping.

So, could it have happened? Sure, or Greg got the booklets sans box, or whatever. Either way, both Greg and Gary have told versions of the story.

Found the quote from Gary, it was in the massive and amazing Q&A with him here on EN World!
Intersetingly, though, Greg Stafford was here in Lake Geneva for a time, a partner with another chap here and running a metal casting business doing 30 mm figurines. He left that enterprise about the time I moved back to Lake Geneva from Chicago, so I never met Greg here. His former partner hit is big with Bergamont Brass back in the 60s when large belt buckles were in vogue, and that company is still operating and doing well, having moved to Darien, Wisconsin where the rent is a lot lesds than spece in this tourist town.
So there's a long response to a couple of short questions :D
Correction to the above made.
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