Close Up: The Survivors

closeupTom Godwin

There are a lot of issues with this book. There are a couple of interesting points also. I picked it up as part of a package that included The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag and Sixth Column, both by Heinlein and Shiras’ Children of the Atom.  The four books together (once I subtracted shipping) cost $490.  $210 for Hoag + the remainder for the other three.  I budgeted $180 for Sixth Column and split the difference on the other two: $50 each.  $180 is certainly a great price for a 1st ed Heinlein that’s in pretty good shape as you’ll see in a future Close Up, so I think $50 for The Survivors and the same for Children of the Atom represent excellent buys.  These are all sought after GP titles.  By way of comparison, an inferior copy of The Survivors went for $75 on eBay several days ago.

I like this cover.  It’s impressive, it’s dramatic and it bodes well for the content.  There is no artist credited for this in the book, but Wikipedia suggests that one Wallace Wood is responsible, a very well known illustrator and comic artist.  Well, at least to those in the know, I hadn’t heard of him before.

Well, it all looks good until we get under the covers…

A stain near the spine there and that nasty darkening is caused from reading the book without a dust jacket on.  Oil and dirt from the hands gets into the boards after too much handling.  How do I know this??  Because I have done it myself to another of my Gnome Press books, van Vogt’s The Mixed Men.  Here’s a closer view.

So let’s get all the bad stuff out of the way.  While we’ve got it stripped like this, we’ll continue to check out the exterior.

There is a split beginning to form along the fold (I don’t know the correct term for this feature) down the spine and when the book is handled, you can feel the looseness in this area.  The top and bottom of the spine are likewise damaged.

Some wear and a chip off the top there.

And some significant chipping at the base.

Enough of that.  When we put the clothes back on it doesn’t look so bad.  The top and the bottom check out ok if we ignore the aforementioned issues.

There is a little wear along the bottom edges of the boards, and you can see that the spine still sits reasonably square despite being rather loose.

The jacket looks great too.  Nice and clean with very little wear except two problems.  A closed tear at the top…

…and that unsightly open tear at the bottom.  You can see as I mentioned that otherwise the dust jacket looks great.  Once we look inside it gets interesting.

There is some debate as to how a bookplate actually affects a books value.  Some think it doesn’t matter and others consider it a blight.  Personally, I love them, as long as they are cool, like the one in this book.  I have one other with a bookplate – The Mixed Men, and I think the plate on that book is even better than this one.  You’ll see it sometime.  They add real character to the books and are a point of attachment from whence those lost days of classic science fiction, when people actually maintained their own libraries are tangibly brought forth.   I often talk about the provenance of a book and here is a fine example of what I’m talking about. I can feel the ’50s when I see things like this.  Great stuff.

Another thing I always mention especially in connection with GP’s later books is the browning of the pages.  There is very significant browning here.  You can see the extent of it when you contrast the pages against the front paste-down.

Wow.  I think this is the worst in my library thus far.  One cool thing that Gnome Press did in their books was to individualize them.  What I mean by that is applying nice touches such as the half-moons I illustrated in Agent of Vega, and in this book we have a nice array of stars helping to introduce each of the four parts.

Nice.  Some people think it looks tacky, and I guess from a contemporary perspective it does, but it’s classic ’50s.  I love it.

The rear of the jacket looks fine, it’s nice white aspect helps to hide the serious issues underneath.

This is the longest Close Up I’ve done thus far – a reflection of the poor condition of the book.  So, let’s finish on a high note and have a closer look at that book plate.

Beautiful.  But just who are Dorothy Jane and Marvin A. Eaton??

Year: 1958
Paid: $50
Art: Wallace Wood
Quantity: 5000 copies (1084 remaindered)
Binding: Sky blue cloth with dark blue lettering to spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated on copyright page.
Comments: The jacket is excellent despite those couple of issues but it hides some damage in the loose spine and obvious mishandling. Still, for a title such as this for $50, a nice acquisition.
Expand Upon:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database



2 Responses to “Close Up: The Survivors”

  1. Christophe Says:

    Funny! That bookplate definitely rang a bell… My copy for The Dawning Light also has their bookplate! Maybe we could try and create the virtual Dorothy Jane and Marvin A. Eaton’s library!

  2. Go figure. Hey, could you send us a pic of that too?

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