Close Up: The Mixed Men

closeupA.E. van Vogt

This was the second Gnome Press book I purchased after Iceworld.  It arrived back in November last year and I read it not long after.  I just love the cover.  As you probably know, I’m a huge Ric Binkley fan and this is period SF art at it’s best.  What a crazy setup for the bridge of a starship, and I just love it.
It’s a little tatty around all edges, especially at the head and tail of the spine there is some chipping.The spine is a bit loose, you can see in these pics that it’s standing on a slight angle.  With a tight spine it would stand nice and straight.

This is also the second Gnome Press book I read (or third? The Robot and the Man may have been second…), and is a victim of an early attempt at book care wisdom.  The staining you can see on the boards comes from my very own hands.  I thought in order to protect the dust jacket I should remove it to avoid undue wear because of all the handling that gets done while reading.  Big mistake.  I have read elsewhere on the Internet that removing the dust jacket is a good idea, but experience tells me otherwise, as you can see.  The staining comes from the oil on your hands – no matter how clean your hands are there is always a small amount of moisture and oil present.  Repeated handling like this rubs it into the boards.  The wisdom is, as far as I’m concerned and what I would strongly recommend: DO NOT remove the dust jacket for reading.  However, you MUST ensure that the jacket is in a Brodart or similar protective sleeve.  If not, don’t subject the book to any handling (or as little as possible) until you do get a sleeve on.  In my experience, having the jacket in a protective sleeve and on the book is excellent protection while reading.

So, lets move on and check out the rest of the book.
You can see the lean on the spine quite clearly.  I think this is the worst book I have for this particular defect.  Note the scuffing and wear on the bottom edge of the boards and the base of the spine especially.
A closer look at the head of the spine reveals that chipping I mentioned earlier.
Also present on the tail, and you can see very well that wear there.  The jacket also has a distinct crease on the front running the length of the hinge.
The front paste-down has a beautiful bookplate glued in.  Austin P. Haller, MD.  I wish I had some way of finding him, I’d love to ask him about the book.
That is one stylish bookplate.  The pages are fox-free.  Very little discoloration at all.
The back of the book exhibits a few chips and some wear.
Quite clean though.  I remember distinctly when I got this title, looking at the back and thinking, “Wow.. will I ever get these books?  They look so cool”.  Well, I have all of those four now.  Men Against the Stars, Journey to Infinity, Five Science Fiction Novels and Travelers of Space (which I haven’t read yet).

Year: 1952
Paid: $41
Art: Ric Binkley
Quantity: 5000
Binding: Navy boards with red lettering on the spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: The dust jacket is a little poor and I wish I was more aware when I was reading the thing.  Maybe a tad over-priced at $41.
Expand Upon:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database



5 Responses to “Close Up: The Mixed Men”

  1. I was curious about the bookplate owner Austin P.Haller M.D.
    It appears he lived in or near Los Angeles and wrote at least one book about postal franks.

    • Where did you find this info?? Postal franks?? What are they?? I don’t mind you answering the postal framk question here, but email me regarding any contact info for Dr Haller if you have it. I would dearly like to get in touch with him. The input is much appreciated Lew. Cheers and Regards, Aaron.

      • Dear Aaron,
        I got the information by searching Google.
        I believe postal franks are government issued postal stamps for elected officials but I am not certain.
        If you search by author you can find out exactly what books he wrote.
        Good luck in your quest.
        Lew Jaffe

  2. Christophe Says:

    Hi Aaron! Don’t worry too much about the “oily residue” you left on the boards… I’ve had the same problem with a few books (notably “starmen” by brackett with its light grey boards) but after a few months, the disgraceful marks had simply vanished.
    I still keep the dj on while reading the book, though…

  3. Re: Austin P.Haller M.D. – It appears he has crossed the great divide from this universe to the next. I have a book with his ‘previous owners’ name in it and ran it. “Find a grave” says his mortal remains were parked in Inglewood Park Cemetery, (Inglewood Calif) in 1994.

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