PAN Fans

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

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

A trip to Birmingham plus a few other things.

Back to BacksWe have just come back from spending a few days being tourists in Birmingham. Although almost on our doorstep we’ve never really appreciated how much it has to offer. We stayed in one of the last remaining examples of ‘Back to Backs’ in the country, not one open to the public I hasten to add. It was a three storey Victorian ‘cottage’ (the middle block on the right in the photo above) It made us appreciate how hard life was for them back then, the Wi-Fi was so slow, awful TV signal and the en-suite was really tiny but on the plus side it was in the Chinese quarter so great choice of restaurants and The Hippodrome theatre was literally across the road so we went to see ‘Let It Be’ a tribute to the Beatles. We went on a tour of the other houses open to visitors and was pleased to see in the tailors shop a PAN title and so have been able to add to my pages of ‘PAN as seen in a National Trust property’


SmallBloodA few books arrived while we were away including a copy of ‘The Fortunes of Captain Blood which I had felt sorry for as it got relisted so many times on eBay I thought I’d put it out of its misery BUT on closer inspection I noticed it was the first copy of this title I’ve seen that had been trimmed in such a way as to actually show half of the name of the cover artist. I already knew who the artist was as I have the original artwork plus another in the series both clearly signed.


Eye3Still helping Colin Larkin track down his unknown covers both for title and artist and managed to find them for ‘Where Time Winds Blow’ by Robert Holdstock.with a cover by Michael van Houten. Michael emailed “It is indeed one of mine. One of the very earliest covers I made. I’d forgotten about it in fact, though I remember creating the weathered surface was the most enjoyable aspect, I think I’ve still got it buried in my studio somewhere”

…. and finally I managed to pick up a copy of Exocet’ by Jack Higgins from 1993. The scan I had on the page was from the tiny thumbnails found inside the cover of another title so I wasn’t sure it actually existed. Only ‘Storm Warning’ and ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ from the same date to find now.

Bits and Pieces.

Recently I was lucky enough to be offered some PAN advertising material including 4 copies of the hard to find PAN Record, numbers 29 to 32, and some order sheets. I’ll put them on the site over the coming weeks, here is the first one. I’d love to get my hands on the ‘Goldfinger’ display box.GoldfingerDisplay

I’ve also added another screen capture to the ‘As Seen on TV’ pages and again it’s from an antiques programme namely ‘Bargain Hunt’ where there was a row of Fleming titles under a table they were looking at.


532-unknown.jpgThis weeks mystery cover looks really familiar but I just can’t bring it mind so any one recognise it?400….. and finally I was at little premature with my mention of Shakespeare covers a few weeks ago. I should have looked organised and tied them in with the commemoration of the 400 years of his death last Saturday 23rd April.

The JALNA Series by Mazo de la Roche

JalnalogoFor a long time I’ve been trying to track down all the different editions/covers for the sixteen titles in the ‘JALNA’ series but I had let it slip a little. It was a letter from fellow PAN Fan Jem Birch which including a wonderfully put together series of scans of his copy  of ‘Young Renny’ which he says “was a bit of a b* to stick together” that made me look at them again. Now I don’t normally approve of writing in books but this looks like a labour of love by the owner Margarita Norah N Purcell who appears to have been born on Christmas Day in 1906 and died in Camden in 1981. I’m wondering if she did this with all her books? She could possibly be one of the earliest PAN Fans detailing the dates and numbers etc. What a strange thing to want to do!

HERE is a page of large thumbnails of all the PAN ‘Jalna’ covers I’ve found up to now. Some are ‘gifs’ and cycle through the different editions and eventually there will be a page for each title showing all the covers in a larger size with their variations. I am also trying to track down more artists especially for the 1965 edition of ‘Variable Winds at Jalna’ as I have the original artwork. I’ve left a blank where I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a cover due to date etc. and a message if there could have been one. I would love to get hold of the 1978 edition of ‘Variable Winds at Jalna’ as the one shown was this size at the only place I found it, namely eBay. There is no way I can enlarge this and unfortunately I missed the book which was in Ireland and more annoyingly didn’t sell. If you are out there please relist it.

While helping Colin Larkin sort out some of his covers I did find a couple of interesting things on the early editions of ‘Whiteoaks’ It was while trying to find the cover artists I noticed on the 1959 edition it clearly says Hans Helweg on the tree trunk on the right but on the 1960 it has been disguised although you can still read it if you look very carefully, What I hadn’t noticed until Colin pointed it out was that the lady had become more modest! Probably fed up with the man looking down her top!


Colin Larkin and his PAN Book Covers

ColinA  few weeks back it was my pleasure to visit Colin and his partner Jenny and to see for myself his fabulous collection of original artworks used for PAN covers. There are over 550 pieces and I was so mesmerised that after several hours I’d still only managed to look at a quarter of them. Another visit is required soon as Colin is hoping to sell the collection to someone in The States as they were always intended to be his pension pot. I was offered them but unfortunately their price is a little too high even if I was to half it when I’m telling my wife! Jackie came with me on this visit but found the pleasures of wandering around the local village more interesting than covers – can you believe that!

I’m sure Colin  won’t mind me saying he is probably best known for all the music related books he has written over the years which total nearly 60 titles including works for ‘Guinness’ and ‘Virgin’ He is the brother of David Larkin who was Art Director at PAN in the 70’s and 80’s and so when PAN were having a clear out, having failed to reunite a lot of the works with their artists, he was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. When Ken Hatherley thought PAN could sell them to raise money for charity rather than put then in a skip Colin offered a sum of money which was accepted and given to the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

It was in 1991 that Colin found he had a serious family problem and would need to sell the artworks to raise money. As was widely reported at the time the Bonham’s auction was boycotted by disgruntled artists and so not as many works were sold as was anticipated.

I have a personal interest in the collection in that in 2004 fifty six works went missing and Colin asked me to keep a look out for them coming up for sale. I was able to tell him I had already been approach and had, not knowing they were stolen, expressed an interest in purchasing them if the price was right. After numerous emails the transaction just went dead at the sellers end so I was not left with the dilemma of whether or not I kept stolen goods! With my information Colin was able to identify the thief and a prosecution was due to take place in court. I had been interviewed by the police and was on standby to be a witness but it never got that far. Here are some more details still available on the BBC News website, I was apparently the ‘art dealer’ as mentioned in the penultimate paragraph. It never got as far as court as most of the works were recovered.

I was so overwhelmed by the collection I failed to take as many photos as I intended but HERE is a page with a selection.

There are still one or two ‘unknowns’ in the collection, not only for artist but also book title, so I’ll include one a week for the next few week.500-Ratoutou-_.JPG#0A9A

Harry Hants, Paperback & Pulp Book Fair and a Book-a-Like

HarryHants1951Still helping a fellow collector (more next week) identify unknown artworks/artists and we found five titles by HARRY HANTS. This was a name new to both of us but it turns out he was also, like many PAN artists, a member of ‘the Artist Partners’ agency. Harry was born in Rochford in 1913 and went first to Camberwell Art School about 1930 then Royal College of Art, Kensington about 1934. He joined the Cathcart Studios, London in 1937.

He married Joan Annette ‘Sara’ Meacher in 1939 on September 3rd at 11:00, the exact moment Neville Chamberlain declared we were at war with Germany. The reception was provided by the renown artists Jacob Epstein and Kathleen Garman.

As an aside our local art gallery in Walsall ‘The New Art Gallery’ was built to display Kathleen’s art collection which she gave to the town. She was born at Oakenwells Hall, Wednesbury while my wife was born at Portland House literally just across the road although there are a few years difference between the two events!

Harry returned to the Cathcart Studios after the war and also had a studio at 29, Mostyn Road, Merton Park, London where he can bee seen painting in the photo above taken in 1951, He continued working into the 1990’s but suffered from Alzheimer’s for 10 years before he died in Stroud in 2004.

PaperbackFairMaurice Flanagan of Zardoz Books has just upload the poster for the resurrected Paperback and Pulp Book Fair. I’ve managed to find some accommodation at a price that won’t break the bank so hope to meet up with some old friends and acquaintances there.

….. and to finish I picked up a copy of ‘The Roswell Woman’ with a cover by Oliviero Berni and thought it reminded me of another series of books. I’m going for the Retallick series by E V Thompson but I’m also trying to remember another title in a very similar style.

Shakespeare Series from 1972

I recently tracked down the book for which we we had the original artwork but not the title. It turned out to be ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with the painting on the cover by Michael Johnson. This made me look to see how many more might be in the series and so far I have another five. What I liked was that PAN listed all the cover artists plus several others who painted illustrations inside.RomeosI’ve scanned in all the six covers and also picked one illustration from each book by familiar names such as Brian Sanders, Ian Miller and Alan Lee.
Click HERE to see them.

Since making the page I’ve been in contact with Michael Leonard via his archivist Viv Lawrence. Michael did several of the paintings in the books. I sent them the link to the page and they have come back to me to say some of the accreditations are wrong.  I included the ones listed by PAN in the books but I didn’t realise that the artwork originally appeared in the 1970’s in ‘The Sunday Times Guide to Shakespeare’s Characters’ I think I need to find copies to check the discrepancies.



Gavin Scott, W H Smith and RIP Paul Daniels

GavinAs I mentioned last week I was really pleased to be contacted by Gavin Scott who has a very long list of accomplishments to his name. The best one I found was on Gavin’s page on (it’s not on the UK site) Gavin sent me an article about how PAN ties in with his latest book and you can find it HERE. I’m hoping for more in the future. Here are a few covers for a story by Gavin for a favourite film.

I recently bought a 1950’s FLIER for gardening books off eBay but was a little disappointed in that it only featured one title that I could possibly tie into PAN from the year 1950 but it does mean I can mention the delightful but sadly missed artist Val Biro again.


Finally goodbye to magician Paul Daniels who died on the 17th of March and who had two of his books of magic published by Piccolo in 1980 and 1981.

Prices, Peter Pann and a thanks to Gavin Scott

Over the last few weeks I’ve undertaken an activity which up to now has been alien to me, namely getting rid of books. My wife has decided I now have to have a ‘one in, one out’ regime so I’ve been passing on some titles I’m quite happy never to see again. It was while sorting some tatty duplicates to give to a great National Trust bookshop at Baddesley Clinton I started looking at dates and prices. I now present my equivalent of the Big Mac Index but for Nevil Shute titles from the mid 70’s.

It was comparing the prices on a couple of copies of ‘No Highway’ as below I noticed the huge variation over just a couple of years, was there rampant inflation then?


It’s interesting to see on the 13th edition there is just the faint remnants of pricing that must have been for the 12th edition as it says the Australian price was $1.20. All apart from ‘The Chequer Board’ are listed not for sale in Canada. The 1974 edition of this title is priced $1.25 and a year later had gone up to $1.95


The 11th edition from 1974 and the 13th edition from 1976

I mentioned in the last blog  the book ‘The Unborn’ and that it was inscribed to what I thought said Peter Parr but it turns out it was to Peter Pann, the nickname of Peter Tietjen who has appeared in previous blogs and  who worked at PAN in the 70’s. It was a complete fluke I found the connection but Peter says he auctioned off a lot of his signed copies only recently.

I was really ‘chuffed’ to be contacted by Gavin Scott (and not me doing the badgering as usual) He very kindly said “I’m a great fan of your site, which I think is superbly organised and very rich” Thanks Gavin and I’ll have more from Gavin in the next blog.

PS I don’t think my wife noticed I came back from Baddesley Clinton with three books under my coat. One is for a ‘Jalna’ page I’m putting together but as usual books are arriving very slowly from the States but should all be here in a couple of weeks.

PAN and W H Smith

While looking on the ‘Illustrated007’ website I noticed Peter had a photo of shop window displays featuring PAN and James Bond. It was credited to just ‘Robin’ but after a couple of searches I found Robin to be Robin Harbour, the very well know James Bond fan who happens to live just a few miles from me.

RobinI contacted him and he very kindly called round with his scrapbooks so I could scan in all of his cuttings from the magazine ‘Contact’ the Smith’s in-house journal. Robin told me he worked at our local branch in the 60’s and was asked to throw out old copies of the magazine but luckily he removed several relevant pages before doing so.

In the 60’s W H Smith ran competitions for window displays and gave prizes. I  have included all the ones we know of HERE plus a couple of other articles relating to PAN and James Bond. If anyone knows any others or has original copies of the magazine I’d love to hear from you.

I discovered that the W H Smith’s archives are held at ‘The Museum of English Rural Life’ based at Reading University. They kindly looked through all the copies they have of  ‘Contact’ and could only find a reference in number 22. They have scanned in the cover which features PAN in a window display. They contacted W H Smith to obtain their permission for me to use it on my website, fortunately they said ‘Yes’

JB1Just think how much some of those items on display would go for today when they probably ended up in a bin somewhere but then again their value is in their scarcity.

Updates plus David Shobin

I recently mentioned a newspaper article in which it was claimed Aubrey Forshaw came up with the name PAN from ‘Dent’s Junior Everyman’ I have searched high and low and have not found a book with this name. The nearest match I can find is ‘The Age of Fable’ in the Everyman library which was written for “young readers” My copy is the 1927 edition and on page 171 has an entry about PAN.

I’m pleased to say I was successful in connecting up Penguin with Neville Dear but was disappointed to find Penguin had no idea of which books the illustrations came from as they were only signed by Neville. I asked if I could have a photo before they were sent off but I was too late.


I’ve made a new page to show the various editions of ‘Red, White and Rose’ by Edmund Penning-Rowsell after I mentioned the possibility of another copy which was listed by a seller as hardback with a pictorial cover. On closer examination of their apparent ‘Booksellers Image’ I realised it was my copy of T27 as it has quite a few blemished which I managed to match crease for crease! This just proves you can’t always trust the photo even when it appears to be the genuine article.


TheUnborn1I picked up ‘The Unborn’ as an advanced reading copy by American obstetrician David Shobin which doesn’t seem to live up to the description as appears to never been opened apart from when it was signed on the first page.
Inside this book and the final published edition it states it is from 1981 but that clearly doesn’t agree with the cover which says 15th January 1982.
My copy is inscribed to a Peter Parr(?)  but a search doesn’t help too much although I did find another doctor in the States with that name.
I’ve added couple of other covers off the net while I try to work out if I actually like the PAN version?