Archive for W.I Van der Poel

Close Up: SF’57: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy

Posted in 1957, Close Up with tags , , on July 18, 2010 by Aaron

closeupJudith Merril, editor

The second in the series and the one I acquired third.  This particular copy has two sides.   Firstly, the jacket, while quite nice, has a couple of significant issues.  None are apparent on the cover itself which is quite… nice. But you can see some problems on the spine.  We’ll have a closer look at those soon.
I said two sides.  The other ‘side’ as it were, is the condition of the binding.  Which is Fine.  I’m inclined to suspect that this jacket may have been married to the book.  The wear overall doesn’t seem to be reflected on the binding.
I think I will have to exhibit a bit more care with my post-processing of the Close Up photos.  I’m not very happy with these in hindsight.  There are a few ragged edges where I haven’t removed the background carefully enough.  I’ll see if I still have the originals and maybe replace these ones.  In any event, you can see the boards are nice and clean and sharp. The pages are crisp without any discoloration.
The top and bottom view are pleasing from the binding’s point of view.  The block is white and sits nice and square.
The bottom of the jacket is quite frayed.  Thankfully there are no chunks missing and the dust jacket protector holds it together well.  The pink color on the spine looks a bit faded when compared to that on the front cover.
There is a nasty score on the spine, you may have noticed it earlier.  Here’s a closer look.
Now, there is no trace of this on the spine of the binding.  I thought perhaps there might be hence my suspicion about the jacket/book combination not being original.  Maybe.  Maybe not.
A little dirty looking shelf-wear on the back.  Not as bad in person.  Apart from the obvious fraying at the base of the spine, it is pretty sound.

Year: 1957
Paid: $16
Art: W.I. Van der Pohl
Quantity: 3000 (Eshbach, wikipedia)
Binding: Red cloth with black lettering on spine
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated
Chalker & Owings: SF:57—THE YEAR’S GREATEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, edited by Judith Merril, 1957, pp.320, $3.95. 3000 copies printed. Jacket by W.I. Van der Poel. Simultaneous edition: mass market pb, Dell, NY: 1957. Basically for the library market, explaining the short run.
Currey: SF’57. New York, The Gnome Press Inc, Publishers, [1957]. First edition so stated on copyright page. Note: Dell and Gnome Press editions published simultaneously.
Comments: Pages and binding are in beautiful condition, pity about the jacket.
Expand Upon:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database



Close Up: SF 58: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy

Posted in 1958, Close Up with tags , , on October 6, 2009 by Aaron

closeupJudith Merril, editor

Very nice condition. There isn’t really much to talk about with this, just a couple of things to point out – all on the dust jacket.

Nice, bright and clean. The only blemish on the cover is down on the lower right corner – you can see a small strange circular stain. The spine of the jacket looks like it might be faded as well. It’s hard to tell. I mean it’s definitely a lighter color, but I don’t really know if that’s by design or not.
The bare cloth boards look fantastic.

They are unblemished, bright and there is only one very small bump on the bottom front corner. The head and tail of the spine are
in superb condition. The view from the top looks just as good.

Just a bit of dust spotting to the top of the block. The bottom looks great.

Nice and white as the text block is within. Quite exceptional for a Gnome Press book of the later years. At least some noticeable discoloration is usually evident. Not so here.
The head and tail of the spine look great too.

Just a couple of very minute closed tears.
On to the rear of the cover and we can see the major defect.

It looks like a sticker has been removed at some point from the upper left hand corner. A disappointing end to a book in otherwise fantastic condition. Still, for 8 bucks… I’m not complaining!!

Year: 1958
Paid: $8
Art: W.I. Van der Poel
Quantity: 4000 copies, 1263 copies remaindered.
Binding: Currey priority ‘B’. Red cloth with black lettering on the spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: Excellent condition and a super buy at $8. Possible slight sunning to the spine.
Expand Upon:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database


Close Up: The Shrouded Planet & The Dawning Light

Posted in 1957, 1959, Close Up, Comparisons with tags , , , , , , on May 30, 2009 by Aaron

closeupRobert Randall (Robert Silverberg & Randall Garrett)
1957 & 1959

I’m doing something a little different for this Close Up. Since these two books are effectively one continuous story, we’ll examine them together.  Looking at the two together illustrates something immediately.  It illustrates one of the things I wish never happened.  One of the things I struggle to understand.  One of the things I find disappointing about Gnome Press.  This: Why did the cover art go from wonderful, colorful, imaginative and descriptive, to… crap??  I suspect there are several answers to this question, and I’ll attempt to address this issue in it’s own post sometime.  For the meantime, we can see what I’m talking about here.

On the left, nice art, attractive, makes me interested.  On the right… not.

I usually give you bigger pics to enjoy, but I’m trying to put them side-by-side on this occasion.  If you want to see in more detail, just click the image and it’ll open the appropriate page on  the Gnome Press Flickr site.

Both books are very similar in condition.  They look good from a distance, but up close not so much.  We’ll have a closer look at this later.  Let’s take the jackets off.

‘Planet’ is in a little better condition here.  ‘Light’ has a bit of spotting on the boards.  Looking at the top we can see the usual darkening of the block.

‘Planet’ is a bit ahead here too.  It’s difficult to tell from these pics, but time has been a little kinder to ‘Planet’s’ text block.

You can also see that ‘Light’ isn’t quite sitting flat.  This is because I photographed it just after putting a dust jacket cover on.  I took the pics of ‘Planet’ prior to doing so.  The spine is a little more secure on ‘Planet’, you can see a slight lean there on ‘Light’ though that is exaggerated by the Brodart cover.

The difference in the darkening on the block is a bit more evident here.  The jacket on ‘Planet’ is a little worn on all extremities.

Though the jacket on ‘Planet’ is a little worn, ‘Light is in pretty good condition around the edges.  However, if you look closely at ‘Planet’ you can see an issue that both jackets share and is also quite serious on both.  Foxing.  Let’s have a closer look at portions of the jacket now.

You can see it prominently now, especially if you check out the larger pics.  I didn’t take a pic of the inner side of the jackets, but it is worse there.  Very noticeable on the endpapers too.

‘Planet’ is obviously suffering less in this regard and ‘Light’ does have issues as you can see.  Check out a previous owner’s embossed stamping there on ‘Planet’, which also has another owner’s stamp on the front paste-down.

You also get a good view of the extent of the foxing on the dust jacket.  It’s evident all over, but this is about the worst spot on the book.

I mentioned both books have the typical Gnome block browning and ‘Light’ is the worst off.

Almost in the same league as the copy of The Survivors I have.  The back of each book is quite nice and rip/wear free, the foxing is the big turn-off.  If it wasn’t for this endemic problem on these two books, their grade would be VG to NF.

Alas, this issue relegated both of these copies down to G I think.  It’s a shame, as otherwise they are both in great condition.

The Shrouded Planet
Year: 1957
Paid: $23
Art: Wallace Wood
Quantity: 5000 copies (2038 remaindered)
Binding: Navy blue boards with sky blue lettering on spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: Text block darkening and foxing on an otherwise nice copy.  Two previous owners stamps.
Expand Upon:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

The Dawning Light
Year: 1959
Paid: $29
Art: W.I. Van der Poel
Quantity: 5000 copies (1530 remaindered)
Binding: Navy boards with red spine lettering.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: Significant block darkening and foxing on an otherwise nice copy.
Expand Upon:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

These two books to my mind are in exactly the same condition.


Close Up: The Philosophical Corps

Posted in 1961, Close Up with tags , , on March 9, 2009 by Aaron

closeupEverett B. Cole

I have almost finished this book, so it’s time for the photo review. I guess the content review will be up this weekend. This is Gnome Press’s final publication before they folded.  I’m very interested to find out the full story behind GP and their woes and eventual termination.  If anyone out there has any info on this, please let me know.  Anyway, the copyright page says 1961, but several other sources claim 1962 as the actual publication date.  See the book’s entry over at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

It’s in excellent condition.  The dust jacket is a little discolored with some wear at the wrap-arounds.  The boards are almost immaculate.

Wonderfully clean with only very minor bumping at the spine extremities.  Nice.  The only complaint about the binding is when we sit the book flat.

As you will notice, there is a slight lean on the spine.  It’s not much, but it’s definitely there.  If we look closely at the spine extremities we can see that it is indeed in nice condition here.

Beautiful.  The dark blue paint on the spine isn’t worn at all.  The edges of the boards are likewise undamaged.  This book has been looked after extremely well.  It has obviously been kept in a clean and dry environment for all these years.  The lack of foxing is very evident and those nasty yellowed pages we are used to seeing have been minimized here.

For a Gnome Press book of this vintage the pages have stayed remarkably (albeit comparatively) white.  There are a couple of closed tears on the dust jacket just to bring us back to earth.

Just look at the edges of the boards.  Pristine.  And that’s the bottom.

To round everything off, the back of the jacket matches up well with the front – very clean with minor wear evident.

Year: Copyright page says 1961 and the ISFDB follows this.  Eshbach claims 1962 as does
Paid: $15
Art: W. I. Van der Poel
Quantity: 4000 copies
Binding: Sky blue cloth with dark blue lettering and solid painted areas at the head and tail of the spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition
Comments: I think I picked this up at a very reasonable price.  The book is in wonderful condition and I think just those small closed tears on the jacket prevent an overall Fine rating on this book.  Very, very nice.
Expand Upon:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database


Close Up: Agent of Vega

Posted in 1960, Close Up with tags , , on February 19, 2009 by Aaron

closeupJames H. Schmitz

I got this book as part of a package. I bought Sands of Mars from eBay and picked up this and The Vortex Blaster as extras.  If I look at this objectively from a purely fiscal point of view, I think I paid too much.  I picked up Sands for $74 on eBay (which I thought was pretty good) and paid $150 for Sands with Vega and Vortex into the bargain.  I split the difference and decided I paid $38 for each.

As I said a little earlier, I was a bit disappointed with the condition of both Vega and Vortex.  Both books exhibit similar issues, and we’ll have a look at Vega’s now.  Incidentally, notice that the author’s name is printed incorrectly on the dust jacket.  It should be James H. Schmitz, not James A. Schmitz.

Ok, you can see where the problems are straight away.  Some pretty serious foxing going on on the dust jacket – very prominent in the discoloration of what should be a white spine.  You’ll notice the overall yellowish cast to the entire book.  This is highlighted below where you can see the impact of the foxing quite markedly.

Significant block browning as per usual with the cheap acidic stock that GP used in their later years.  If we look at the top and bottom we can see this theme continued.

It does sit square though there is damage to the spine extremities and along the edges of the boards.  And if you look carefully below the dust jacket is wearing very thin at these points.  Thank goodness for dust jacket covers.

The boards themselves are succumbing to what must has been a damp environment at some stage in the past.

Some mildewey-looking spots there.  This is the worst area on the book, but it is all over the boards to a lesser extent.  And there is what looks to be an oil stain along the bottom edges.

Now that I’ve got all that out of my system.  A couple of cool things about this publication.  Check out the half-moon designs on only the odd-page upper corners and their sprinkling on the beginning pages for each story.

Nice.  I like this kind of thing and kudos to Gnome Press for these little touches.  Likewise the off-beat embossing on the spine.  The review will come soon, I’ve just about finished reading it.  Good read it is too.

Year: 1960
Paid: $38
Art: W. I. Van der Poel
Quantity: 4000 copies
Binding: Currey priority ‘A’ – Light blue boards with gold lettering to spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated on copyright page.
Comments: Looks great from a distance but unfortunately has those insidious flaws – foxing and staining.  Someone tell me, is $38 too much for this??
Expand Upon:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database


Close Up: The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag

Posted in 1959, Close Up with tags , , on February 5, 2009 by Aaron

closeupRobert Heinlein

As I mentioned, I received this book earlier this week.  I kind of intimated that there were a couple of things bugging me about it.  And there are.  I guess I was unfair to introduce it as “The Unpleasant Impression of Jonathan Hoag” in that post.  This is a Heinlein 1st edition and it is in great condition.  That’s my layman’s description.  In terms of grading I am not sure how to place this, my first impression was Fine, but I think perhaps the couple of issues I’ll highlight might send it down to Near Fine.  Lets step through and check it out.

All good so far, what a lovely clean cover.  Beautiful.  Well protected by a Brodart dust jacket cover too…  But wait what’s that??  Lets have a closer inspection.


A nasty little patch worn on the cover.  Thankfully it hasn’t made it all the way through.  So, if we open it what do we see??  Oh, my goodness…


Price-clipped.  After the initial impression (I hadn’t noticed the small wear point on the cover then) I was somewhat deflated to see it had been chopped.  The seller, Jean, didn’t mention this little point in the auction.  In all fairness I didn’t ask any questions either.  Small lesson learned: Always ask pertinent questions such as “Has it been price-clipped?”  You will also notice a bit of what looks like foxing down the inner edge there too.  The other thing that jumped out at me at this point was this:


Mr Bruce B. Tinkel has stamped his name nicely into the book.  Well, at least he didn’t scrawl it in there with a magic marker or something.  I’ll add this to the list of questions to remember to ask in an auction.  OK, so if we look a little closer at the spine what do we see.


Nice.  Sits nice and square and the top and bottom of the spine look great.  You can see the dust jacket is superb here, so often focal points for wear and tearing.


I love the boards on this book, nicely embossed in three colours.  Cool.  The back of the dust jacket is nice and clean also.


Remember I mentioned that I have irrefutable evidence that this book has never been read??  How can I know this??  Check this out:


Between pages 18 and 19 the bottom edges are still attached to each other!!  Either the trimming process was  a little inaccurate or more likely the binding process was.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I think it would certainly be a major inconvenience to read this book and maintain this situation.  Especially over a 50 year period.  You can also see the text block is darkened as is typical for the later GP books.

Actually, after consideration I wasn’t too concerned about the price-clipping.  As far as I know, Gnome never released a BCE edition of this book.  I’m pretty sure the Gnome Press book club (called the Fantasy Book Club) was dead by the time this book was published.

I’ve been in regular contact lately with Jean whom I bought this off – there are a couple more Gnome Press books winging my way.  Many thanks Jean, I certainly appreciate this Heinlein, it’s the star of my collection thus far.

Year: 1959
Paid: $210
Art: W.I. Van der Poel
Quantity: 5000
Binding: Tan-olive cloth with three-color title embossing.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated on the copyright page.
Comments: Great shape. I think this would be Fine if not for the flaws I’ve highlighted. I would appreciate input from anyone who might advise me otherwise or have any comments about this book.
Expand Upon:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database