Archive for the Close Up Category

Close Up: Minions of the Moon

Posted in 1950, Close Up with tags , on January 27, 2013 by Aaron

closeupWilliam Gray Beyer
1950

I originally got this as one of three or four GP titles I picked up in NZ back in mid-2009. I bought it then because it was cheap $18 and would expand my collection. But like the rest of those I bought on that occasion (with one exception), I wasn’t satisfied. They were all of inferior condition and I probably shouldn’t have picked them up. However, I did, and disregarding the sunning on the spine that copy of Minions was in pretty good condition.

Fast forward three years and I got hold of a copy that didn’t exhibit the endemic issue that seems to plague certain GP titles of which this title is one.  The aforementioned sunning.  Just digressing a little and I think I have mentioned this before somewhere, there seem to be three or four books that are notoriously difficult to find without a (usually severely) sunned spine – Pattern for Conquest, The Porcelain Magician, Minions of the Moon and Castle of Iron.  You can get sunning on any book, and I of course have quite a few that are, but these four books…  I’ve been collecting GP for about 5 years, only a short period of time admittedly and due to my location here in Korea my experience is limited to online contact, but I have never seen a copy of any of these books that hasn’t been affected by exposure to the sun.  Just to illustrate the point, a mint unused copy of Castle of Iron‘s dust jacket went for about $325 on eBay a few years ago.  A crazy price perhaps, but it does illustrate the desirability of a pristine jacket for a book that jacketless in Fine condition probably wouldn’t fetch 40 bucks. What is it with the prevalence of this condition on these titles? Is it the color? Is it the grade of inks used?

Ok, back to what we have in hand here.

William Gray Beyer - Minions of the Moon

No sunning at all. Beautiful.  There is a little rubbing to the cover though.  The art isn’t exactly inspiring for me as to what the contents might be, but I guess we’ll find out in due course.

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The boards look nice. Clean and minimal bumping to the extremities of the spine.

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Immediately apparent here is the slight cock to the spine. The jacket edges are excellent – slight wear is quite noticeable due to the dark color of the jacket. In handling the book this is far less significant.

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You can see that the ink still retains that vivid quality which is so quick to disappear with exposure to sunlight. There are a couple of cracks and chips on the jacket at these points, but no big deal really.

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Some rubbing evident on the back, but this doesn’t detract too much from the overall quality and great impression this copy shows in real life.

Year: 1950
Paid: $45
Art: Edd Cartier
Copies: 5000 (Eshbach, Chalker & Owings, wikipedia)
Binding: Jade cloth / red lettering on spine, red title logo with crescent moon on the cover.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated
Chalker & Owings: MINIONS OF THE MOON, by William Gray Beyer, 1950, pp.190, $2.50. 5000 copies printed. Jacket by Edd Cartier.
Currey: Absent
Comments: I was very happy to pick this up as a replacement for my previous copy which itself was nice aside from the sunning. Not an expensive title but one I hold dear because of it’s condition – especially the spine of the jacket.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

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Close Up: The Wolfe Archipelago

Posted in Close Up, Gene Wolfe with tags , , , on May 15, 2012 by Aaron

closeupGene Wolfe
1983

Another small expansion to my collection of signed Gene Wolfe firsts, and another Wolfe title from specialty publisher Ziesing Brothers.  A long time ago, I picked up a signed The Castle of the Otter (not one of the 100 signed limited editions, but one of the 420 blue cloth bound regular editions that had been subsequently inscribed and signed..) which (as I understand it..) was Ziesing’s first real book publication.  I also have Free Live Free, which was Mark V. Ziesing’s (as they were now known) fourth book and Wolfe’s last with them.  The book we’re concerned with here was their second.  So, the brief history of Gene Wolfe as related to Ziesing publishers has been covered, let’s take a look at this lovely book.  Click the images for a larger view.
This copy is almost perfect.  It’s a solid Fine if not Mint.  That’s Mr Wolfe himself flying across the cover, by the way…  Presumably that’s his archipelago below.
Looks fantastic.
As issued with the DeMarco bookplate laid in.  I specifically asked about this before I made the purchase.  There was another copy I inquired about that did not retain the bookplate, and they were asking $80.  This is why resources like Currey and (in this case) Chalker & Owings are so valuable to collectors.  They tell you about these little details that are so important to the value of a book.  Do your research before buying collectable books!
A slightly unusual detail in this book is that the signature page is tipped in at the back of the book, not at the front as seems to be usual.
Signed by Gene Wolfe, Carl Lundgren and Rick DeMarco.  As you can see, this is one of the exclusive 200.

Year: 1983
Paid: $60
Art: Cover: Carl Lundgren, Interior: Rick DeMarco
Copies: 200 (a further 820 were bound differently, see below)
Binding: Orange cloth with gold lettering on the spine and Mr. Wolfe’s signature in gold on the front.
Publication: Ziesing Brothers; 1st edition so stated
Chalker & Owings: THE WOLFE ARCHIPELAGO, by Gene Wolfe, 1983, pp.119, 200 copies bound in orange cloth with tipped-in signature and numbering sheet, signed by the author and both artists in the back, $16.95; 820 copies bound in vinyl covered boards without limitation page, $35.00. Contents: Foreword/ The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories/ The Death of Dr. Island/ The Doctor of Death Island. Illustrated by Rick DeMarco; jacket by Carl Lundgren. Points: A Demarco bookplate that is a bookplate was laid in all copies. (huh??)
Currey: Absent.  I think because this was published after Currey was compiled.
Comments: Not much to add.  A beautiful copy.  Ah, the back of the jacket is blank – just solid white, which is why I didn’t feature it here.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com –  see Gene Wolfe’s page, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

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Close Up: The Forgotten Planet

Posted in 1954, Close Up with tags , , on May 13, 2012 by Aaron

closeupMurray Leinster
1954

Treasure.  I already have The Forgotten Planet (see that Close Up), but I’ve been looking to get my hands on a copy with this jacket for quite a while.  I first learned about this variant of the jacket from my good collector friend Chris over in France.  I made an entry about it on the Trivia Page, and put the acquisition of it into the category of meantime pipe dream.  Well, I have one now.  This is only the third time I’ve seen this jacket come up for auction in my almost 4 years of collecting.  The first was a pristine jacket with a married book (see the ‘Binding’ section at the end..) on eBay that I should (shouldn’t, upon reflection) have bid on, but went to the man himself for $102 (is that right Chris?).  Actually, I posted on that here.  The second was maybe a couple of months ago that came up at Heritage Auctions.  I competed for that, but it went for $350 – more than I was willing to bid.  I feel I was lucky to get this one, especially as this copy does have some special provenance.

Just a word on Heritage Auctions.  The people that participate in the auctions there are serious – real collectors.  That’s a generalization of course, but the sums I’ve seen paid for GP books there are generally greater than equivalent titles that come up on eBay.  Those people don’t mess around.  It’s another reason that I feel quite lucky to pick this up, despite it being my most expensive book so far.

Let’s look at it.  There’s little to explain and no issues with this copy at all, excepting one small thing which I’ll seek input on later in this post.  First the cover.

Beautiful.  It’s not flawlessly beautiful like Chris’ copy of the jacket, but it’s fine nonetheless.  If you check out the details at the tail-end of this post, you’ll see that there was some concern at the time of the jacket’s suitability for a library distribution.  Chalker & Owings make the comment about it being good Emsh art, but I don’t totally agree.  However, it does illustrate the story much better than the normal distribution artwork.  Without the jacket is at least as good.

No problems.  Slight bumping to the head and tail of the spine.




Top, bottom, head, tail.  No problems.  Well, some slight wear there, especially at the tail of the spine.  No rubbing at all though.  Nice.

I mentioned some provenance earlier, let’s look at it now.  This copy was the Gnome Press file copy and is signed to that effect by Martin Greenberg.  Nice association for such a rare issue!!

The back reflects the condition we have seen thus far and is beautiful and free from rubbing.

Zooming in though, we can see an issue that I have a query about.  Have a look.

Look closely at the listing for Children of the Atom and Wilmar Shiras’ name.  Can you see that the ‘S’ is slightly obscured?  Closer examination reveals that the view of the ‘v’ at the end of Mr. Asimov’s name is partially impeded also.  To anyone who has a copy of this, is this also the case on yours??  Let us know…

Year: 1954
Paid: $300
Art: Ed Emshwiller
Copies: 5000 (Eshbach, wikipedia)
Binding: Currey priority ‘B’ binding. Greenish-yellow boards with greenish marbling and green lettering on the spine. When I posted regarding this jacket a couple of years ago, I indicated that this jacket didn’t see release on a book, but according to Chalker & Owings, this is the correct binding as issued with this variant of the jacket, for the library market at least.  As an aside, like the Currey ‘D’ binding I have, there’s a nice sprinkling of celestial spheres on the front board.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Chalker & Owings: THE FORGOTTEN PLANET, by Murray Leinster [pseud. William Fitzgerald Jenkins], 1954, pp.177, $2.50. 5000 copies printed. Jacket by Ed Emsh[willer]. Points: Four bindings, cream cloth is first state, cream boards second, tan boards third. A small number were bound in gray cloth in 1957. Two jackets also exist; most have map design, but some have different Emsh cover of man facing giant beetle-like creature. Most of the latter went to libraries in second state and rarely show up; bulk were pulled when school librarians complained that the jacket was too repulsive, although it’s actually very good Emsh. Greenberg has over the years told different versions of this, the most common one indicating that none of the beetle jackets went to schools, but the ones in Baltimore public schools had it.
Currey: THE FORGOTTEN PLANET. New York: Gnome Press, Inc., [1954].  Four bindings, first two probably as listed, last two later: (A) Cream cloth lettered in yellow-green (copy thus deposited in the Library of Congress); (B) Cream boards with yellow-green marbled pattern lettered in green; (C) Tan boards lettered in green; (D) Gray cloth lettered in red. First edition so stated on copyright page. Murray Leinster, pseudonym. Note: The dust jacket incorporates a map design. A variant dust jacket depicting a man confronted by a giant scarab beetle was prepared to promote the only title in the short-lived Gnome Press “Gnome Juniors” experiment, an attempt to reach the public library juvenile market. Publisher Martin Greenberg states that this design was commercially unattractive and all copies of this title were issued with the map jacket. However, examples of the beetle variant survive and infrequently appear on copies of the book.
Comments: I want your opinion on a couple of things.  First, did I pay too much for this?  Second, if you have a copy, let us know about the aforementioned flaw on the back.  Interestingly, if you look carefully, Facsimile Dust Jackets‘ reproduction also exhibits this aberration.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

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Close Up: The Saliva Tree and Other Strange Growths

Posted in Close Up with tags , , on April 22, 2012 by Aaron

closeup Brian W. Aldiss
1966

This is a departure from the norm as this is the first ‘official’ Close Up I’ve done for a non GP book.  This blog contains a couple of pseudo-Close Ups of some Gene Wolfe’s books, but none conform to the regular GP template.  So, as one of my favorite short story collections, I have always wanted a first edition of The Saliva Tree.  I picked this up off eBay for a reasonable – though not bargain – price compared to others I’ve seen around the ‘net.  This copy has some special provenance which I’ll outline later.  It’s in pretty good condition, so let’s have a closer look.

The cover and, importantly the spine, are bright and exhibit no fading.  Two things to note on the cover are a sort of a graze mark that has deposited some dark substance upon the top right of the cover and a 1cm closed tear to the bottom edge.  The cover art by Charles Mozley is interesting.  Depicting a scene from the title short story (1965 Nebula Award winning novella, actually..) seems to be at odds with what was the normal SF cover art around that time, though it fits very well with that particular tale.  There is a nice little bio about Mr Mozley at the University of Reading here.

Nice cloth in perfect condition.

The top and bottom views reveal nothing we haven’t seen already.  It looks very nice.

There’s a little wear to the head and tail of the spine, but nothing really noteworthy or damaging.

The back of the jacket looks good except for a slight score just to the left of Best Fantasy Stories, and some staining across the blurb for Earthworks.

I mentioned some provenance earlier.  This copy was a complimentary issue, issued about three weeks prior to publication to one Ritchie Calder – then president of the H.G. Wells society.  We see in the laid in letter how The Saliva Tree ties into the association with H.G.Wells.  Also (if you’ve read it..), how the cover art relates very well to this association and the title story.

Click image for a larger view.

Year: 1966
Paid: $85
Art: Charles Mozley
Copies: ? (I’m trying to contact Faber and Faber regarding volumes..)
Binding: Currey priority ‘A’- Dark green cloth with gold lettering on spine.
Edition Notes:First published in mmcmlxvi” on copyright page
Chalker & Owings: Absent. Chalker and Owings only references independant/specialty publishers.  Faber and Faber are neither.
Currey: THE SALIVA TREE AND OTHER STRANGE GROWTHS. London: Faber and Faber, [1966]. Two bindings, priority as listed: (A) Dark green cloth, spine lettered in gold; (B) Dark green boards, spine lettered in gold. First published in mcmlxvi on copyright page.
Comments: I’m proud to have this.  It’s one of my favorite collections from one of my favorite authors.  Extra special is the provenance as I mentioned.  It’s a great collection!!  Highly recommended reading.
Expand Upon: wikipedia – see Brian Aldiss’ page, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

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Close Up: Mel Oliver and Space Rover on Mars

Posted in 1954, Close Up with tags , , on February 22, 2012 by Aaron

closeupWilliam Morrison
1954

It’s been about eight months since the last Close Up, and I just completed the review a couple of days ago so this is timely.  I have quite a few books on the Gnome Press Flickr site that are still waiting to be delivered here, and this is one.  This is one of those books that isn’t that expensive, but notoriously difficult to get a decent copy of.  Mel Oliver and Space Rover on Mars is one of the few genuine GP juvenile (or YA) novels and I’m guessing that the reason why it’s hard to get a decent copy is that they tended to fall into the hands of libraries where books get a hard time, and also into the clutches of said young people who themselves are not known for their upstanding book care practices.  I sure know I wasn’t when I was young.  Do I have a nice copy?  I think so, so let’s check it out.

Looks super, the cover art by the great Ed Emsh is still nice and bright, thought there is some slight rubbing around the title area.  The bluish stripe down the leading edge is an artifact of reflected light and not present on the jacket.  You can see at the base of the spine that this is proclaimed as ‘A Mel Oliver Adventure’, implying that there have been, or would be others.  Sadly, this wasn’t the case and we saw no more of Mel and Rover.  A shame.

Nice binding.  I like the Mel and Rover impression there.  Again, my lighting lets me down a little here.  The upper left area looks a bit dark.  It’s actually a slight shadow.  Let’s crack it open and have a peek inside.

Nice white pages and the images of our heroes are repeated here.  Nice touch, I like it.


The only issue in these views is the small tear to the top edge of the jacket visible just to the right of the ‘M’.  More prominent in the photo below, along with some slight wear and tear on the jacket at the head of the spine.


The base of the spine looks beautiful, but we finish on a slight downer with the back of the jacket with some obvious rubbing and soiling here.

Year: 1954
Paid: $15
Art: Ed Emshwiller
Copies: 4000 (Eshbach, wikipedia)
Binding: Yellow boards with red lettering on spine and red Mel & Rover design on front.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated
Chalker & Owings: MEL OLIVER AND SPACE ROVER ON MARS, by William Morrison (pseud. Joseph Samachson), 1954, pp.191, $2.50. 4000 copies printed. Jacket by Ric Binkley.
Currey: absent
Comments: Chalker & Owings have stated the jacket is by Ric Binkley.  Quite obviously Ed Emsh has his name on the cover.  It’s quite uncommon to see this title in this condition, and I’m very happy to have it.  15 bucks was a great deal.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

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Wolfe at the Door…

Posted in Close Up, Comparisons, Gene Wolfe, New Arrivals with tags , , on July 21, 2011 by Aaron

GENE WOLFE
The Sorcerer’s House, 2010
Home Fires, 2011

It arrived today.  Another very attractive addition to my signed Gene Wolfe first edition collection.  I’m now feeling like I’m wanting to pick up the first tome in this series, 2009’s The Very Best of Gene Wolfe.  These are getting pricey… I dunno…. but they are SO beautifully presented as I mentioned in the look we had at The Sorcerer’s House. I might succumb.

Well, lets have a look at them.  These aren’t super-detailed examinations like the regular Close Ups, just a quick look.  First is The Sorcerer’s House.  Click on the pics for a bigger view.

Beautifully tray-cased, and you can see the signature page there signed by Gene Wolfe and the author of the introduction, Tim Powers.

If we crack it open and have a look we can see how nicely its presented.  Unfortunately, you can see some nasty reflections there on the lower left of the jacket.  This is because of the jacket protector I put on it a while ago.

Having a look at my copy of Home Fires, note the identical presentation, though the signature page containing Mr Wolfe’s and Alastair Reynolds’ scribbles isn’t of the same high quality as that of Sorcerer’s.  Incidentally, I’m on an Alastair Reynolds fix at present having listened to Chasm City, The Prefect, Revelation Space and Redemption Ark over the past couple of months, and currently on Absolution Gap.

Although I mentioned consistency before, they aren’t consistent in one respect. The ribbon used to draw the book from the case is anchored on the left here, yet fixed to the right in the previous book’s case.  Check it out.

No reflections here – the jacket protector went on subsequent to this photo session. Back to the consistency thing, in the case of Sorcerer’s (pun intended..), drawing on the ribbon raises the spine end to be grasped whereas in this case (again, pun intended..), the open edge is elevated to facilitate withdrawal.

I’m very happy small independent publishers like PS Publishing can give us attractive editions such as these.  They are gorgeous editions from my favorite author and grand additions to my library.

Close Up: Limited Edition, The Thirty-First of February

Posted in 1949, Close Up with tags , on June 19, 2011 by Aaron

closeupNelson Bond
1949

Lucky, lucky me.

This is one of the Gnome Press titles that I didn’t expect to get for a long time, and certainly not at this price. Essentially it is the same as the regular edition except in a couple of cosmetic respects. You can find the Close Up for the regular edition here, and if you’re interested in the contents you can also check out the Review.

The obvious differences are in the binding.  The Limited Edition is bound in crimson boards with gold lettering and a black spine.  The top of the block is also blackened.  The other difference is of course the text proclaiming the limited nature of this book.  Lets take a look.

Not in as nice a condition as my regular copy, but ok nonetheless.  Taken a bit if a ding about halfway down the spine at some point as you can see.  Now we’ll compare the bindings.  First the regular edition in it’s burgundy cloth, and then the limited binding.

Very nice.  I normally do the rest of the Close Up with the jacket on, but the jacket is of little interest here as it’s identical to that of the regular edition.  Lets continue.  Note the blacked top of the block.

There’s a little damage to the head of the spine – it’s quite brittle at that point.

We’ll close out by looking at the signature page.  I have copy number 78.

Note the “…of which one hundred are for sale.” statement.  The remaining twelve were taken by Nelson Bond himself and are different again.  Those twelve copies have no dust jacket and are presented in a slipcase.  I (still I hope..) have one earmarked for me when I get around to paying for it.

Year: 1949
Paid: $52
Art: James Gibson
Copies: 112 (Eshbach)
Binding: Currey priority (A). Crimson cloth, black spine with gold lettering on spine and cover.  Blackened top of the block.
GP Edition Notes: 1st and limited edition so stated
Chalker & Owings: THE THIRTY–FIRST OF FEBRUARY, by Nelson Bond, 1949, pp.272, $3.00. 5000 copies printed, of which half were hardbound on printing, the rest paperbound in trade format for Armed Forces distribution a year or so later at $1.00. An additional 112 copies were signed and numbered on tip-in sheet with spine blackened, gold titling, in black cardboard slipcase, $5.00. The 112 copy fancy edition, the only one Gnome did, was done at Bond’s request. Although it is basically a kludge and uses the regular edition, there was an attempt to give it the “look” of Bond’s special limited version of Exiles of Time (Prime Press). Bond, who had a bookstore of his own in Roanoke, VA, reportedly took and sold almost all of the special himself. We’ve seen only one of the specials offered for sale in over 25 years, and we bought it.
Currey: THE THIRTY-FIRST OF FEBRUARY. New York: Gnome Press, [1949]. Two issues, no priority: (A) Crimson cloth, lettered in gold on spine panel and front cover, spine panel and top edge of text block stained black. 112 numbered copies signed by the author.  12 copies reserved for use of the author were enclosed in paper slipcase and apparently issued without dust jacket.  100 copies for sale were issued in dust jacket and apparently some if not most were issued without the paper slipcase.  Limited issue.  (B) Magenta cloth lettered in black.  Trade issue.  First edition so stated on copyright page.  Note: Reprinted circa 1952 in paper wrappers for distribution to US military personnel.  Although a later printing, the first edition statement is retained on the copyright page.
Comments: In any condition, this is a great addition to a Gnome Press collection.  Especially so at only $52.  I am ecstatic to have it.  Chalker & Owings miss what is mentioned by Currey regarding the special presentation of the 100 vs. the 12.  A discrepancy in the Currey description above as I pointed out in the Close Up of the regular edition is the color of the cloth and the lettering.  Currey claims magenta cloth with black lettering for the regular edition, but obviously you can see it’s burgundy with darker burgundy lettering.

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