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

M6Toll Question, Proof Copy and Visits

Last week I posed the questions as to what might be the link between the M6Toll and PAN? Well the answer is Mills and Book, the publishers of romantic fiction founded in the UK in1908. They had an informal arrangement with Harlequin (Canada) up to 1971 when Harlequin bought Mills and Boon. Back in the 1950’s Harlequin jointly published 11 titles with PAN which can be seen HERE Note to self – yet another page where they all need to be scanned at a higher resolution..

One  example ‘The Four Just Men’  can be seen above on the back cover of this brief history which unfortunately, as I mentioned before, makes no reference as to why these 11 titles apart from listing them.

To finally answer the question the M6Toll surface contains over 92,00 pulp paperbacks per mile of which about 45,000 are Mills and Boon titles that were returned as unsold etc. Apparently it gives a springier surface, good job is was soft romance  and not hard core fiction! When we were visited by M6Toll staff recently who gave us money for our track clearing I asked if this was true and they said “Yes, 100%”

While sorting out bits and pieces on a shelf I came across an unopened package which turned out to be a 1975 proof copy of ‘Valley of Fear’ by Arthur Conan Doyle. I can’t remember where or when I got it which is most unusual as although I can’t remember things that happened yesterday, I can usually recall something about all my acquisitions. I’m not getting old am I?

Hopefully this blog will have launched itself as we are down in Kent staying with my son, his wife and the little one on the way. We have a list of National Trust properties to visit as most of them have second hand bookshops plus I haven’t added any thing to the ‘PAN Books as seen in NT properties’ for quite a while. Fingers crossed.
Next week I have a return visit planned to the home of a late artist. I’ve visited before but this time something has changed and I’ll say what if I am allowed later.
The week after that is a visit to a relative of a very famous, but unfortunately also late artist who’s name appears on literally hundreds of book covers.
I’ll post updates after the visits.

QUICK UPDATE Just spotted that Richard Booth died last Monday aged 80.
“Mr Booth’ King of Hay-on-Wye’  helped the border town become renowned for its book shops. The renowned Hay resident once owned the largest second-hand bookshop in Europe, and was crowned with an MBE. He was a determined entrepreneur who persevered in his quest to create a book town. Mr Booth even resorted to such stunts as his 1977 declaration of independence for Hay in which he proclaimed himself King and his horse was made Prime Minister” (Extract from local paper)

John Walsh, Derek Stowe and ‘A Painter’s Life’

Looking at later Steinbeck editions from around 1970 I find I have eight with similar style covers some of which are signed John Walsh. I am going to presume they are all by him but does anyone know if there are any others I’ve missed? Also if anyone has an information on this particular John Walsh I love to hear it as the two artists with that name I’ve found so far are not him.

A while ago I wrote about artist Derek Stowe who painted for PAN and also Panther and included all the Panther covers Derek could remember plus a few I found. So I was really pleased last week to spot a Panther cover with a very small but familiar signature which did turn out to be one of Derek’s, namely ‘The Unfair Sex’ by Nina Farewell from 1960. I managed to get a very nice copy which doesn’t appear to have been read. I haven’t been in contact with Derek for a little while so I have used this as an excuse to send him an email, fingers crossed for a reply. To see it you need to scroll to the bottom of his page.

It was just one of those times where you flick through Twitter and suddenly see something of interest and so it was with the cover of the latest album from Anthony Reynolds, ‘A Painters Life’ I emailed Anthony and he kindly sent me a signed postcard that goes with the album as a pastiche of a familiar style. Interestingly it has X236 on the cover which is of course …..?

Anthony came back with an offer for a copy of the LP too good to miss. Click HERE to see the album cover painted by David Roach. I was wondering if this was the same David Roach who painted for Marvel Comics and Anthony confirmed it was. I was hoping to have played it by now but unfortunately the needle on my music centre looks in need of some TLC and I don’t want to damage the vinyl. Maybe next week.

…and finally I’ll leave you with a question for which I’ll give the answer next week. Wearing my other hat I have on when clearing the disused railway track we were recently given £1,500 for a storage container by the company that runs the M6 Toll Road. What is the connection with the M6 Toll and PAN books? No prize, just a feeling of smugness if you get it.

Jules Burt’s videos, Pop-up books and this years NT book fair.

If you’ve not discovered them yet, it’s worth hunting out Jules Burt’s videos on ‘YouTube’ He is a fellow PAN collector whom I’ve know for a long time and who also collects many other publishers especially Penguin.
Here are links to some that have a PAN element including ones on The  Beatles, Agatha Christie,  James Bond and James Bond related titles. There are more, just go to YouTube and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss them.

Jules also has a video on ‘Star Wars’ pop-up books from Random House which made me look out any pop-ups from PAN and I found I have six under the Piccolo imprint. Two are in the larger format from 1981 and four small ones from 1983. They were made in Colombia like nearly all the pop-up books at the time, wondering if they still make as many today? Click HERE to see them.

Last week and this week is that time again when the National Trust holds its annual book fair at Baddesley Clinton. We try and get there on the first day, the Saturday, but due to commitments we didn’t make it until Monday but still managed to spend some money. Mostly duplicates but in better condition with the originals probably going back to a NT property with a book shop later in the year. Surprisingly my wife spent exactly three times as much as me which went someway to boosting the takings which were up to £3,5000 after only two days.

Hans Heinrich Helweg

Having mentioned prolific book cover artist Hans Helweg several times I am now pleased to be able to tell something of his life and to include as many examples of his art as I can.

I am currently working my way through a list and re-scanning the many PAN covers listed by Hans with date and how much he was paid plus it includes a few titles that aren’t PAN. So far I have managed to track down one as a Panther and one as an illustration in the magazine John Bull. Looking forward to finding more. I am also scanning the dozens of printer’s proofs that Sue lent me so I can get them back into her safe keeping as soon as possible.

Probably the character most associated with Hans ‘Olga Da Polga’

Click HERE to read what I have included so far, I especially like the story of his early film appearance. Don’t miss the links at the bottom to see many examples of Hans work in all fields.