PAN Fans

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

PAN Fans - Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

‘Ben-Hur’ and James Edwin McConnell

With the launch of the latest remake of ‘Ben-Hur’ I looked along the shelf to find my copies of  X32 ‘Ben-Hur’ by Lew Wallace. I have the first printing from 1959 and the 6th printing from 1962 which seem almost identical apart from the adverts in the back although I’m sure I read somewhere there were other differences?

The cover is by James E McConnell. The signature has only been half trimmed off on the 1959 edition but almost all on the later. It looks like he signed ‘Jas’
not ‘James’

jmHe was the son of Thomas McConnell and Margaret Loadman and was born in Bedlington, Northumberland on 15th July 1903. He married Adelaide Godfrey Bambridge in December 1933 and they lived at ‘Katina;, Nork Hill, Reigate Road, Epsom. Adelaide died in 1946 and he then married Rosina Lince in Tadworth on 27th September 1947. McConnell died at ‘Low Barbary’, Amberley Lane, Milford, Surrey on 4th May 1995. He left £155,004


The MGM movie from 1959 was to the fourth adaptation of the book by General Lew Wallace following on from the 1899 play by Klaw and Erlanger which ran for twenty years.

Then came the 1907 and 1925 silent screen versions. Only time will tell if the 2016 edition will be as well remembered?

Three more example of the many covers by McConnell for PAN are ‘Guns Up’, ‘The Foundling’ and my favourite ‘Riot’

Disappointed in Dublin plus a couple of updates.

Having just got back from a couple of weeks in Ireland I was pleased to find the two scheduled blogs had launched on the right day. We had a great time travelling round in our camper and were very pleasantly surprised nearly every day when the dismal weather forecasts turned out to be wrong!

On the penultimate day we were staying at Rathdrum and my wife wanted to go into the capital and the station on the Rosslaire to Dublin line was only ten minutes walk away. As it was nearly thirty years since we last went I agreed. There was no intention to visit bookshops but if we just happened to see one it would be rude not to call in wouldn’t it? The reason I say I was disappointed in Dublin (not with Dublin) is that we came across four second hand book shops and only one, the’Secret’ one, had any 50/60’s PANs (I found three) On the plus side the gentleman in the ‘Book Exchange’ in Talbot Street was actually interested in PAN’s and I gave him my website address so if your reading this “Hi”


I was going to include ‘Ben-Hur’ this week as a film tie-in to the remake (sounds like another flop) but having run out of time it will be next week. The two updates are for covers I couldn’t find recently ‘Emma in Love’ by Honor Arundel from 1973 and ‘Whirlpool’ by Colin Forbes from 1991

Honor Arundel, Mary Dinsdale and Carol(ine) Binch


GeneralHonor Moryfdd Arundel (pictured left above) was a Welsh communist who wrote poetry and children’s books. She was born in October 1919 and wrote over nine stories for children, three of which were published by PAN under the Piccolo inprint. Arundel married the actor Alex McCridle who was a regular television character actor and later appeared in the first `Star Wars’ film in 1977 as General Jan Dodonna, leader of the Rebel Alliance. Honor died in June 1973.

It was while scanning in the covers of the three ‘Emma’ titles I noticed PAN had slipped up. PAN often used the same text pages but changed the covers over the years. The titles printed in 1972 all say the covers are by Mary Dinsdale (pictured centre above) The reprints from 1988 all say ‘Covers by Carol Binch’ (picture right above) on the back cover but ‘Emma’s Island’ still says ‘Cover by Mary Dinsadle’ inside as well!

I emailed Carol as she kindly replied when I mentioned her before but not heard anything back as yet.

A Couple of Proof Copies and a Piccolo Cover

I seem to have a hectic couple of weeks coming up so slightly more rushed blogs than usual (you hadn’t noticed I hear you say?)

For some reason or other, for someone who always says he does judge a book by its cover, I also like proof copies and as I’ve a couple on the desk before me I’ve scanned them in. The first is the 1971 proof copy of How To Play A Good Game Of Bridge” complete with coffee mug ring and the second “Whirlpool” by Colin Forbes from 1991. I’m not sure the cover I’ve included for the latter is the 1991 edition as I can’t find my copy to double check. I do like the messages on these copies saying ‘…. not for sale’ etc. I’ve scanned them in scale to show the relative size difference.

I’ve just got a copy of the 1984 edition of ‘The Piccolo Bumper Crossword Book 1’ to add to the other firsts. While trying to find a first I kept coming across the 1994 edition and now I realise this is yet another page where I need to rescan all the covers again at a large size. PS Anyone got numbers 11 or 12 which are included in compilation book 3?

……… and finally I’ve just spotted this on a news page. It’s intended to cash in on the Pokémon GO craze but reminded me more of Geocaching which seems to have gone off the radar. “Aveline Gregoire set up a Facebook group a few weeks ago, called Chasseurs de Livres (“Book hunters”). Members post photos and hints about where they’ve hidden a book, so others can look for them. Once you find and finish reading the book you’ve found, you can “release” it back into the wild for other players to stumble upon” Why was my first thought that it was a way of getting rid of those books neither I nor charity shops want but I can’t actually bring myself to throw them away!

Doctor Who etc.

One of those strange coincidences last Monday when I was watching the TV show ‘Pointless Celebrities’ while my wife was sorting through old photos.ColinColin Baker, the 6th Dr Who from 1984 to 1986, had just lost in the first round when my wife found the photo below His partner on the show was Simon Williams who incidentally appeared as Group Captain Ian ‘Chunky’ Gilmore in the Dr Who story ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ but with Sylvester McCoy as The Doctor. He was also in the Dr Who spin off ‘Counter-measures’Who2I remember very well the occasion when the photo was taken, it was the ‘Ford Hi-Tech Challenge’ from 1985 where children had to come up with innovative ideas. I can still recall the winning idea which unfortunately wasn’t the best and has never been seen or heard of since (I think they chose the most photogenic child!) Colin Baker came along to present the prizes and wrote on my programme  ‘You are welcome aboard the TARDIS anytime’ and signed it ‘Doctor ?’ as apparently due to BBC arrangements he was no allowed to use ‘Dr Who’ I just wish I could remember the ‘safe place’ I put it. I was proud of my A1 sized ‘electronic poster’ which was touch sensitive and plugged into the BBC Computer although the royalties barley scrapped into four figures as we ended up giving most of them away especially to Ford for ‘The Motor Show’ although I still have 3 in my garage and open to offers!

Who1Having mentioned the above title being offered on eBay for over £1000 I see someone got a ‘bargain’ when it was reduced by over £990 as it is now listed as sold.Doc

……. and finally with all the talk of it being 100 years this week since the introduction of Royal Navy fast boats it reminded me that it was a later one of these that PAN used to transport their books printed in Paris across the channel to Kingston. I am rewriting my Alan Bott page (very slowly) but the holding page shows the boat.

“Who got the job?” and Richard Ballantine

JOb Advert    In 1971 PAN placed the above advert in the papers. I don’t think they would be allowed to say it “… will suit a man…” these days. I wonder who got the job?


PAN had connections with Ballantine Books in the States and published many titles jointly such as these Shute titles with Coleman covers and I’ll put up some more in a couple of weeks. There was also a connection in that Richard Ballantine, the son of Ian and Betty Ballantine, had his best selling ‘Richard’s Bicycle Book’ published in the UK in both PAN and Piccolo editions plus by Ballantine in the States. Richard was born in New York in 1940 and moved to the UK in the 70’s. He died in London in 2013. PAN also published ‘Richard’s Mountain Bike Book’, ‘Richards 21st Century Bicycle Book’ and ‘Richard’s Cycling for Fitness’

RichardI was intrigued to see he is wearing the same jumper in the photo as on the book cover but then again I had a very similar favourite jumper back in the 70’s

Finally thanks to Peter who pointed out that I had a duplicate scan in the Craft Books series I mentioned last week. I have now added ‘Knitting Things’ which, although listed as one of the series, does not actually say craft on it!

“Flight of the Doves” and another ‘look a like’

Only a couple of items this week as having been in The Netherlands I’m just adding this at the last minute. Nothing to do with books but if you are in The Netherlands I can highly recommend a ride of the Stoomtram.

Flight11I recently noticed that PAN/Piccolo/Piper seemed to have published several editions of the Walter Macken title ‘Flight of the Doves’ made into a film in 1971. The Piccolo 1971 edition features the same artwork by Brian Bysouth as the DVD cover, film poster and LP cover. There is no mention of Brian Bysouth in the book but I did find he put a lot of his posters into an auction last year including this one.

PAN published two editions for the film with similar screen shot covers in 1971 but one has SP on it which stands for Scholastic Publications. In every respect, apart from the cover, they are almost identical although the SP one only has a price of 20p on the back whereas the other has several for different countries. Scholastic was a company that sent catalogues of books to schools for children to chose reasonably priced editions similar to adult book clubs. I was teaching at this time and remember this was the bane of my life, I couldn’t never get the money to balance and often had to make it up myself but on the plus side teachers got complimentary copies which were supposed to go on the classroom shelves but mine came home and I still have one or two.

Now I know it must be difficult to come up with new ideas for covers but the PAN cover for ‘Gold Mine’ from 1970 looks very similar to the PANTHER cover for ‘Pit’ from 1969 but as they both have a mining/death theme it might be just coincidence?Smith

Greetings from the Netherlands plus some Piccolo titles.

I hope this blog launches today as scheduled as I am currently enjoying the hospitality of the Dutch travelling on vintage steam ships and trains if all goes according to plan.

Hitch1I may need to take my ‘Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to Europe’ and so I’ve just added a scan of the first edition to the Travellers page. I spent a lot of time in the 60’s hitch-hiking around Ireland and when I looked at this book this week I though you couldn’t actually live on some of the prices quoted in the 1971 edition but on doing a few sums I think you could. It was written for the US traveller so prices tend to be in cents so 70 cents for a bed and 50 cents for a meal with an exchange rate of two and a half dollars to the pound.

CraftI mentioned the Piccolo Craft series of books and have now found a third title for knitters, the search goes on.

ColourI picked up a copy of the tie-in to the appalling children’s television series ‘The Double Deckers’ saying it was in the Piccolo Colour series of books but it just doesn’t seem to fit in with the ones I already have on the site, anyone any ideas apart from it does have colour photos in it?

Raymond Chandler

I meant to tie this blog in with a birthday, in this case Raymond Chandler’s  but as usual have missed it by just over a week (July 23rd) PAN published nine of the Chandler titles plus he also wrote a foreword to ‘Bang to Rights’ by Frank Norman.

While looking into Chandler’s background I found it interesting in that there was the possibility of a couple of links between Chandler and Alan Bott, founder of PAN Books. Chandler came over from the States and worked on the Daily Express newspaper in 1911 and again after the war in 1920 albeit for a week! This was the time (1909/29) the Express was edited by another American, Ralph Blumenfeld, whose daughter Josephine married Bott.RAFChandler was also training in the RFC/RAF  but didn’t finish before the war ended. Here he is in his RAF uniform but as can be seen he has not got his wings. Alan Bott was also in the fledgling RFC/RAF and was awarded the Military Cross and Bar.

HERE is a page showing the PAN photo covers with assorted credits plus the three collections of his work. The collections have covers by Nancy Slonims who I’ve emailed so hopefully a reply soon. She is currently Senior Lecturer in Illustration at Middlesex University.NSlonims_main_staff[1]
Just had a message from eBay asking if I was still interested in 9 Penguin Chandler titles so I had a look but noticed 8 were Penguin and 1 was PAN. I didn’t feel the need to buy them but I have grabbed the photo to compare cover styles. You can see it HERE

Tailpiece. Just had an email from eBay telling me that there has been a reduction on ‘The Making of Doctor Who’ and I will now save £992.97 – not a bad discount plus free postage!Doc

News from the Wirral and a Piccolo Series?

We have been away for several days so a very quick blog this week. We were camping on the Wirral where it has really been too hot to be pleasant so we looked for air conditioned places to visit. One was the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight where we kept coming across a film crew in almost every room. We tried really hard to stay out of shot(!) while I was trying to remember who it was that was presenting, the one with all the makeup who kept taking selfies? Turns out it was Giles Coren for a program on Sky Arts early next year. There is  a very tentative link in that there is a marble bust of PAN in the North Rotunda.PAN I also planned to visit the Williamson Art Gallery just up the road as it has a second hand book shop but we were ‘galleried out’ after nearly three hours so went down market and ended up sitting on the beach at New Brighton eating our sandwiches.

CrochetI spotted this title on a website and put in an order but still waiting for it to arrive to add a better image. Because it says ‘Piccolo Craft Books’ it sounds like a series but so far I’ve only found two titles., the one above and ‘The Piccolo Craft Book’ Anyone know of any more?

Just realised I’ve missed Raymomd Chandlers birthday on 23rd July. If he hadn’t have died in 1959 he’d have been 128. I’ll include his covers I intended for this week next week.

Finally I think this seller on eBay could be being a little too optimistic ……..Who