3/27/05 - One of my main collecting interests lately has been researching the National Diamond Sales and Mark Jewelers inserts that were sent in comics bound to overseas military bases for over 20 years; starting in the early 1970s.  Very little hard info has been collected concerning these inserts that I've seen.  So I've taken it upon myself to collect, collate, track, and make sense of these inserts as much as my time will allow.  There is a lot of info to cover though and it'll take many articles to completely cover the topic to my satisfaction.  Today I'll feature the first article.  Hope you find this topic as interesting as I.  If you have any questions or information that may further spread light on this topic, please feel free to contact me.  More information is better than no information in my opinion...

Military Insert Mania - Part 1

National Diamond Sales Inserts

April 1971 - April 1973

In the early 1970s, an insert appeared in Marvel Comics that most comic collectors in the States were unaware of.  Centerfold advertisements targeting American service members were inserted in comics bought from overseas military bases.  These inserts would become a mainstay of most all comics purchased by the military stationed overseas.  The inserts would continue until the early 1990s while changing layout frequently through the years.  These first inserts, printed on glossy cover weight paper, are affectionally known as the "lingerie inserts" due to a rather risqué ad for women's underwear.  More officially though they are referred to as the National Diamond Sales (NDS) inserts due to the large center wrap advertisement offering wholesale diamond rings to service members to buy for their girlfriends, wives, or other applicable female friends.

The oldest comic I've seen that contained the NDS insert is Thor #187 cover dated April 1971.  They could have started earlier but I and others have never seen one older.  Until such time as one is found, I'm going with this as the first.  It can be assumed that other Marvel comics released the same month could have the insert.  I have an Iron Man #37 with the insert which despite the May 1971 cover date is a semi-monthly that was released the same month as Thor.  Other April/May 1971 comics that may have the first inserts:

Avengers #87

Spider-Man #96

Thor #187

Fantastic Four #110

Incredible Hulk #139

Captain America #137

Daredevil #75

Iron Man #37 

Sub-Mariner #37

Amazing Adventures #6

Conan #5

Creatures on the Loose #11

Sgt Fury #87

Where Monsters Dwell #9

Rawhide Kid #87

Where Creatures Roam #6

Kid Colt #153

Two-Gun Kid #98

Ringo Kid #9

My Love #11

Astonishing Tales 5

Monsters on the Prowl #10

Outlaw Kid #5

Millie the Model #189

Our Love Story #10

Squarebound Issues, those held together with glue bindings, are missing from the above list.   I have never seen nor heard of an insert placed in a squarebound comic.  Only saddlestitched comics, those held by staples along the spine, have been noted with the inserts.  Also, the first insert did not contain any lingerie ads.  Wholesale stereo equipment and record/tape advertisements made up the first and last pages.

Below is a typical NDS insert taken from Incredible Hulk #150...

National Diamond Insert Page 1 National Diamond Insert Centerfold Wrap National Diamond Insert Last Page

Overall, there were 8 different NDS inserts used.  The different ads can be easily identified by numbering on the order form on the inside centerfold wrap.  The different ads were as follows:

MVL 1-71

MVL 7-71

MVL 1-72

A1-M-1

A M

M-2

2M-1M

2M

The National Diamond inserts ran consecutively every month from April 1971 to April 1973 except for a two month gap, November and December 1972, where the insert were replaced by the Mark Jewelers inserts.  The NDS inserts restarted in January 1973 until finally ending in April 1973; replaced by the Mark Jewelers inserts permanently from that point on.  Actually, it looks as if there is a two month gap and the Mark Jewelers inserts didn't restart until July 1973 but that's another topic to be covered in Part 2.  Regardless, the days of the comics lingerie ad were over...