PAN Fans Club

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks, the blog for those that do judge a book by its cover. Main site is at or

PAN Fans Club - Let's talk about PAN paperbacks, the blog for those that do judge a book by its cover. Main site is at or

Nile Bound, Hans Helweg? and Jeremy Birch

Most of the time I ignore bound copies of PANs as they are usually of the BYO (Bind Your Own) variety but this one on eBay I couldn’t resist as it appears to be a professional job. The title on the cover is from the paperback cover but they have gone to the trouble to deboss the section where it is afixed. The inscription inside reads ‘Stolen from Denis J McDowell’ and although I have nothing to back it up I’d like to think it is the Ulster artist who was born 1926 and died in 1990.

I’m still trying to match up the sketches and rough paintings I have from Hans Helweg with possible covers but I’ve been mainly looking at PANs although he did do a few covers for other publishers. I’m wondering if this might be his work for CORGI although I can’t see a signature or his intials?

Just to say thank you to fellow PAN Fan Jeremy Birch who is my unofficial ‘The Times’ press cuttings agent and regularly sends me a package of clippings. In the latest bumper batch they seem to show the newspapers continued fascination with all things related to ‘The Dam Busters’, James Bond and John Le Carre. Jeremy is currently reasearching as to whether ot not it is ‘The Dam Busters’ as PAN uses or ‘The Dambusters’, anyone who can help?

I’m hoping this blog will publish itself on time as I am currently staying at Warwick Castle for my birthday treat. This is the fifth time of booking as all the others have been scuppered by COVID rules and regulations.

‘The Book Guide’, Perry Mason and Spuds.

I had an email from Peter Miller asking if I would mind giving ‘The Book Guide’ a mention which I am more than happy to do. Peter wrote “There used to be an online secondhand bookshop guide run by Mike Goodenough at Inprint. I used to post frequent reviews. This site closed down a few years ago, to great lamentations from anyone like me who used it to inform our travels. It was resurrected last year in a new and improved version which retains all the data and reviews from the old site plus new updated information. The news hasn’t got around fast though, so the site creators have asked regular reviewers like me to try to spread the word” I use it a lot when I am travelling around as it lists secondhand bookshops in the UK and Ireland that are checked by ‘real people’ and with ‘real comments’ as to what they have found. It is very easy easy to navigate by county and welcomes suggestions for any shops not included or will remove one that might have gone out of business, something all too common these days. Please take a look and let them know if there is anything to change even if it is only for your local area.

Looking through a PAN catalogue from the 2nd December 1966 I saw a page promoting Perry Mason titles featuring the circles on the cover as above. It says there are 22 titles but I can only 17 in this format so as usual I am left wondering if they are also including earlier printings. Some are labelled as part of PAN’s ‘Best of American Crime Fiction’ series. I also have a couple of Gardner’s in the same style but featuring Terry Clane and Rob Trenton and not Perry Mason. Gardner wrote 86 Perry Mason cases out of his 127 titles in total although, as usual, there appears to be discrepancies in numbers either way. 

I do like the eclectic mix of titles published by PAN over the years such as ‘The Potato Cookbook’ In the book you will find ‘everything there is to know about potatoes from how they help with slimming, as an aphrodisiac, the breakfast pototo, potato picnics, flans and pies and fully illustrated!. While perusing this rivetting read I was reminded of a cartoon I quite liked in the latest copy of ‘Private Eye’ 

Farley Mowat, John Creasey and the National Trust

Back in April last year I made a page for Farley Mowat although I was still one title short. I had almost given up waiting for it to arrive from the States, having ordered it back in January, but being the optimist I though I’d give it a little more  time. The seller and I eventually decided it was lost and I got my money back but I was really pleased to find another copy appear just after Christmas. It was ‘Lost in the Barrens’ and although no picture it wasn’t expensive. When it arrived it had a brown paper cover (remember those on school books?) and removing it found it in excellent condition but sorry to say no cover artist credited. Now added to the page.

Looking on the shelf at the John Creasey editions I find I have eleven with Creasey’s name in the font as above. I am sure there must be more as some of these editions list other titles but are they in this style? Again we are back to sellers not showing images of the books but I supposed if you are dealing in thousands ‘stacking them high and selling them cheap’ it could be very time consuming. The eleven titles can be seen HERE.

Being convinced we would be in lockdown here in the UK at Christmas my wife and I went out visting local National Trust properties to make the most of our freedom. The visits were four fold 1) To get out in the fresh air 2) To see the houses decorated for Christmas, Attingham wins with 40 dressed Christmas trees 3) To drop off some books for their shops and hopefully 4) To buy a few more but not that successful in that department my wife was pleased to find!

One of the many book rooms at Attingham Park with a welcoming fire.
The one room at Shughborough Hall which has recently opened.
One of the book rooms at Moseley Old Hall.

The statistics are quite impressive and speaking to a volunteer at Shughborough he said they had only opened the shop in 2019 and in spite of all the closures they had made over £20,000 clear profit which they are allowed to do with as they want for their property. Baddesley Clinton Hall raised over  £50,000 just in their summer sale alone a few years back, hopefully it may return in 2022.

A Nice Mention, More Plaidy and James Herriot

Welcome to 2022 and to many more PAN related blogs.

On Christmas Eve I received a copy of the ‘Eden Valley Heritage’ magazine and was very pleased to see the article on PAN Books I was asked about several months ago. It was because of the link between PAN and Edenbridge which I had mentioned after a visit there to see the despatch centre a few years ago.

I’m going to finish off the Jean Plaidy titles over the next few blogs as you’ll be pleased to hear not there are not that many left. This time it’s for The Stuarts’

I was very pleased to come across a video uploaded to YouTube entitled ‘James Herriot – Portrait of a Bestseller as it showed Alf Wright, better know under his pen name of James Herriot, receiving his fourth ‘Golden PAN Award’ for selling a million copies of Vet In Harness I had some of these shots before as parts of the video were used in an edition ‘Countryfile’ on BBC1 in 2016 but not including the award ceremony. I’ve now included them on the page I made after visiting his museum in Thirsk.

Just noticed I hadn’t sent up the new version of the page for ‘The Devil Never Sleeps’ as mentioned last week. I added the page from the film publicity booklet where it refers to the PAN eiditon. In Germany the film was released as ‘China-Story’ 

Happy New Year, Louis Shabner and Pat Owen

Now Christmas has come and gone and with the New Year approaching fast who knows what 2022 might bring. Let’s hope it’s better than 2021 and that life can get back to some sort of normality.

I’ve mentioned Stuart Webb’s book about the life and work of Louis Shabner before so I was very pleased to have it arrived just before Christmas but then it somehow became one of my presents! ‘The Art of Louis Shabner’ is published by Telos who also published ‘Cover Me’ It is a fascinating look at the work of someone who may not be a household name but whose paintings had appeared in advertisements, on walls as calendar and as prints. What is of relevance to PAN Fans is that Shabner also painted 22 covers for PAN but under the name ‘SHELDON’ plus 14 for Arrow and 6 for Fontana which all featured in the book.  It was a strange coincidence but the first page I looked at had a photo of Betty Shabner in front of a painting that looked familiar. I have one print of Shabner’s work on a calendar featuring ‘Miss Felco 1978’  and this was it. (I hope Stuart and Bernard Crossley won’t mind me using this photo) Of course me mentioning ths book has nothing to do with a couple of name checks – thanks Stuart.

When I was helping Colin Larkin obtaining copies of the titles to go with his original artwork we were intially puzzled by ‘The Virgin Of Kwangtung’ as PAN didn’t publish a Pearl Buck under this tilte. It turns out it was published as G558 ‘The Devil Never Sleeps’ It could be that it was a mix up with the German edition which was’titled The Girl from Kwanngtung‘?This books was also published as ‘Satan Never Sleeps’and ‘Flight from Terror

‘Happy Christmas’ Pan Fans, My Present, Bertie Again And A Video.

I’ve always found the best way of getting what you would like for Christmas is to get it yourself and this year is no exception. Having acquired all of Johnny Main’s archives for his proposed ‘Horror Stories Scrapbook’, which unfortunately didn’t materialise, I asked Les Edwards if he was now selling his artwork for the cover as previously he was holding on to it. It was later used for ‘Back From The Dead’ This time he said I could have it and so this was my present, now to decide on a frame and where to put it.

Having mentioned Herbert van Thal last week I thought I would feature a book, although no real PAN connection, he wrote to impress a lady back in 1931. It is entitled ‘The Old Lady Makes a Cup of Tea’ which he had privately printed to prove he was published author! There were 250 copies of which the first 200 were numbered and signed. It is interesting in that he uses ‘B’ for Bertie and not Herbert when refering to himself. My scanner had problems with his signature and number being written in a light ink but hopefully it can been seen as number 10.

…. and finally just a quick end piece to say I heard from Jules Burt who recommended a video by Stephen Andrews. Stephen looks at the PAN S/F ‘lozenge’ books as he calls them. It is over an hour so you may want make yourself comfortable or just dip in now and again. Although Stephen is more intrested in the content it does remind me how fantstatic some of those covers were with only the occasional ‘clunker’

Pastiche Covers, Roger Malisson and a couple of page updates.

There are many sites with pastiche covers of PAN books which are usually Bond related although not always. I couldn’t resist buying some from Sean Longmore as they are real cards. Click on the images to see them enlarged.

I came across this postcard which was sent to an address in Manchester and was wondering if PAN actually published any of Roger Malisson’s three stories mentioned? On looking through the lists of authors featured in the ‘PAN Horror Stories’ series I couldn’t find any. While looking a little deeper I came across a reference on ISFDB giving more details;
“Catherine Gleason said that she wrote the Roger Malisson stories with a lady called Rita Morris, and the name is an anagram from both of their names. Catherine and Rita were both twenty when they started writing, fresh out of college. They tried to write Mills and Boon books, but got so far, and found that the stuff they were putting in was rather naughty. Then they tried ghost stories and they sent off the first story Lady Celia’s Mirror was sent off to four or five publishers, with R. Chetwynd Hayes taking it first. Herbert van Thal also said he would take it, and Catherine phoned him up, very innocent about it all, saying that that would be great as it was already going to be in Ghost 11 – and Bertie roasted her over the phone for quite a while! Roger Mallison would only be published by Bertie the once, in the 2nd Bedside Book of Strange Stories.”
This story was ‘Regression’ in which Clare Marshall suffers nightmares where she is confronted by a tramp-like maniac with a knife. These are so horrifically realistic that she’s taken to attacking husband Jim in her sleep. When she claws at his eyes, he realises it’s time to get her some psychiatric help ……….

Talking of Herbert van Thal I have just added to a couple of existing pages one of which was is for the later ‘Horror Stories’ where I have added the original artwork for four of the titles. I was particularly pleased to track down Rob in the States who owns the Josh Kirby cover for book number 13. He won it on November 9th 2014 for $448.13 from Hertage Auctions. The second page is for the PAN window display competition usually featuring James Bnd titles. I’ve added the entry form for ‘Goldfinger‘ after Robin Harbour pointed it out to me on a Facebook page. It is now there with the others from Robin’s scrapbook.

Jules’ Videos, Plaidy’s ‘Borgias’ & ‘Henry’ and Johnny’s Book Project

Once again Jules Burt has produced another couple of excellent videos with PAN Books themes. The first one is for the non fiction titles published as ‘Pipers’ between 1963 and 1970. These are not to be confused with the later children’s titles also published as ‘Pipers’or ‘Young Pipers’ from around 1987 onwards. To see the video click HERE and to see the list of PAN Pipers on my site click HERE All the Pipers need to be rescanned at a larger size but that will have to be ‘another day!’ The second video is where Jules had been following prices that PANs have sold for and produced a top ten list of those that seem to be most expensive, currently but they do tend to fluctuate. Click HERE and see if you agree or why not comment on what you would have/have not included?

This weeks Plaidy covers are for her ‘Borgias’ series of which there are only two plus the solitary title in the ‘Henry of Navarre’ series if you can call one a series? The good news is that these covers are all by Pat Owen and I’ve included photos of the original artwork.

Johnny Mains and Robin Ince are curretnly looking for sponsors for their third outing of ‘Dead Funny Horror Stories’ and if you like to help then click HERE to go to the ‘Unbound’ webpage. I’ve put my hand in my pocket but I think it needs quite a bit more support at the moment!

Jessamyn West, Gino d’Achille, Nevil Shute and an Update

I will confess I’d never heard of Jessamyn West until I saw someone selling an Uncorrected Proof copy of ‘The Massacre at Fall Creek’ PAN appears to have only published this one title out of the twenty one books she wrote. Mary Jessamyn West was born in Vernon, Indiana, on July 18, 1902 and die in Napa County, California on February 23, 1984 

Having had two cover artworks hanging on the wall in frames for a while I decided to take them out and see if there was anything written on the back. They are the Panther edition of ‘You’ll Walk to Manfdalay’ by John Sibly and the PAN edition of The Diary of a Desert Rat’ by R L Crimp (possibly Reginald Lewis?) Now I know the Sibly is by Gino’ d’Achille as it says so on the back of the book cover and, as I have discovered, on the back of the artwork. Unfortunately the PAN has nothing on the back but I am going to stick my neck out and say I am 95% sure it is also by Gino. I obtained both artworks from the same source, the make of board and the size are exactly the same as is the blueish mottled paper used as a cover to protect the artwork. Can anyone confirm it is by d’Achille? (Photo of R. L. Crimp)

Being a member of a Facebook page for Nevil Shute fans I’m grateful to Paul Pearson who back in October gave my website a plug. It caught my attention because Georhge Sharp was mentioned’.Paul is happy for me to include what he wrote here:
“It was on a family sailing holiday in 1980 or 1981 and during a spell of typically unsettled August weather on the south coast of England, the type that troubles all amateur yachtsman just like NS himself, that I saw a Nevil Shute novel – or should I say I saw a stack of seven. I looked up from another novel to see my father descending the companionway of our yacht balancing a stack of paperbacks. These were all Nevil Shute novels, newly purchased reading matter to last the several days it would take for the unwanted gale to pass. As a curious teenage reader I eventually took them down from the crowded ship’s bookcase and admired the beguiling cover art. I discovered much later, after I became a fan myself, that they were the work of the same artist – George Sharp – and understood that part of their appeal was that they were wholly suitable to Shute’s writing style: visually clean, uncluttered and accessible
The covers created by George Sharp for the early eighties Pan editions have remained my favourite Nevil Shute covers ever since and I have just completed collecting, via the usual online sites, a full set of good copies of this superb series.
Another and even bigger fan of this series is Tim Kitchen who has produced a fascinating online resource showcasing the extensive cover art work of George Sharp. Sharp produced many for other authors at Pan although none, to my eye at least, as good as the Shute covers. Tim is lucky enough to own several large scale cover original works, which look stunning. His page documenting Sharp’s work on many book covers and his career at Pan can be found at:
Whilst collecting the set and having found his site I contacted Tim who generously took the time to respond in detail. With his consent I include here some of the lovely information he shared with me:
“Thanks for getting in touch especially regarding George and his covers as they are amongst my favourites as well. You’re right in that there are only 22 of the 23 titles as ‘A Town Like Alice’ was a BBC programme at the time so that was a tie-in. I’ve spoken to George many times about doing the missing one, even offered money, but he says he just lost the ability to do it to the standard he would want.
The only complete run of the 23 Shute titles PAN published is in the Roger Coleman series from 1974 which are nice in that they are wrap around covers and were also used by Ballantine in the States. I often wonder if he got paid twice, probably not!
As for George’s original artwork it could be anywhere as PAN was not as careful as they might have been at returning it to the artist and pieces often ‘walked’ I have four, three of which George gave me when he was clearing out after moving home. I called in to see him and he just said did I want them? Well, it would have been rude to refuse. ‘The Chequer Board’ I got from the studio manager at PAN back in the 80’s (when George was artistic director there) and who had been given it as a wedding present by George.
George is OK and although not in the best of health he is always very quick at responding to my random emails although sometimes with very brief content”
Tim is absolutely right about the Roger Coleman wrap round art – my next favourite Shute cover series. My own favourite Sharp covers would include ‘Round the Bend’, ‘So Disdained’ and ‘An Old Captivity’ – what are yours?”

UPDATE Since posting about the passing of Wilbur Swmith a couple of weeks ago I have been looking for photos of the artwork for four of his titles painted by Kevin Tweddell I knew I had and have just been lucky. Click HERE to scoll down to see them on the updated page.

French Revolution Series, ‘The Boys’ and a Tom Sharpe Box Set

This week the Jean Plaidy titles are for the three in ‘The French Revolutuon‘ series and I was pleased to see that one of the covers has John Raynes signature which makes a change

I’m not sure why, as they are usually very uninspiring, but I do like to have ‘Uncorrected Proof’ copies and this week it is for ‘The Boys From Brazil’ by Ira Levin. PAN published two editions, the later being a film tie-in and my copy of this has a ‘With Compliments’ stamp in it leaving me to speculate as to whom the recipeint might have been?

I‘m always after boxed sets of PAN Books especially from the 60s, 70s, and 80s so I was particulaly pleased to find an 80s boxed set of four titles from Tom Sharpe with artwork by Paul Sample. They were for sale in the States for peanuts and for once the postage was acceptable – and came very fast. I’ve photograhed the box and scanned the four covers which are all dated 1980 and can be seen by clicking HERE