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

Gordon Crabb, Printer’s Proofs and ‘Orlando the Marmalade Cat’

Having found some original artwork for a couple of PAN covers I enquired about the price and was very pleasantly surprised at what was being asked. It would have been rude to turn them down especially as they were coming directly from the artist himself, Gordon Crabb. His biography states Gordon was born in Richmond on Thames and studied at Twickenham College of Art. He graduated in Illustration (S.I.A.D.) and was first represented by the agency, Young Artists (later Arena) in London. He started by illustrating book covers for the UK publishing market then early in his career he visited New York with his illustration portfolio which resulted in working for many of the US publishers; firstly Bantam and Dell, but then also for Tor, Penguin, Avon, Pocket Books and Bookspan, largely for fantasy covers. He also produced many covers for Western novels and the original paintings became highly collectable. He sold them through galleries in Texas initially but now he sells directly to collectors. He has exhibited paintings, drawings, illustrations and prints in London, Cardiff, Manchester, New York, Connecticut, Texas and, of course, his home town of Aberystwyth. He currently works on the covers of many of the British bestselling historical fiction in the UK, and he’s well known for his attention to detail, particularly with the heroines and their costume. He has now built a library of stock images for this genre of fiction and this is used to great effect by many of the European publishers’ The first of the artworks is for The Snow Walker’ by Farley Mowat which I’ve put on page I’ve made for Gordon and I’ll show the other next week.

It was nearly two years ago that I was able to buy the original artwork for Pamela Belle’s ‘Heron’ series painted by the late Kevvin Tweddell thanks to his family who had it. It was only while tidying up the packaging last week I found I had also got the three printer’s proofs as above. 

PAN published two of the nineteen titles in the ”Orlando the Marmalade Cat’ series, written by Kathleen Hale (24/05/1898 – 26/01/2000) under their Piccolo imprint. I was looking at them with a mind to reading them to our Grandson when I began to wonder if anyone else thought them a bit strange but then again it could just be me?

‘Cover Me’, Piccolo Covers and ‘Gretta’ X 3

After mentioned the recently published paperback edition ofCover Me’ having an update which now includes a photo of Kitty Peffer posing for the cover I was really pleased to get a copy so I could check it out thanks to author Colin Larkin. Plus always nice to have a plug for the site.

By one of those strange coincidences I got an email from Kathy, Sam’s Great Niece’ the same day to say they had been having a tidy out and found the candlewick bedspread, as on the cover and photo, being used to cover some furniture and was I interested? I am now the proud owner of said bedspread and will pick it up next time I am down that way.

I still look out for Piccolo covers, PAN’s children’s imprint, as they are often by well know artists and this time it is a couple both called Alan namely Alan Cracknell (‘Rainy Day Ideas’ ) and Alan Lee (‘Bushrangers Bold’) the latter probably as the art director of ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘The Hobbit’ etc.

Having rescanned a cover of ‘Gretta’ by Erskine Caldwell for a recent blog I though it was a good opportunity to scan the others numbered G219. I am often left wondering why PAN felt the need to change the artwork so often, and not just a reprinting? I can understand for a film tie in or possibly a repricing which would need a new code letter (G as in G219 meant it was 2/6) but this is four covers over six years. Two of the covers are by Hans Helweg for which he got paid £42 (1960) and £50 16s (1965)

C. S. Forester, Digitising Negatives and ‘I Was Cicero’

I recently featured several ‘Hornblower’ titles by C. S. Forester so I thought I’d put a few more of the later ones on a page HERE. I’m not sure why PAN felt the need to change the covers so often but I’m happy as it makes the search for them more interesting.

After struggling to see what was on the several hundred negatives Kathy Ford kindly gave me by holding them up to the light I bit the bullet and bought a negative/slide digitiser. It was not the cheapest of items but as the negatives were in 120 format with sizes from 6×6 to 6×9 there wasn’t too much choice. It will also mean it will be a lot easier to digitize all the hundreds of 35mm slides we took in the 70’s when you had a family get together in the dark to subject them to what seemed like a never end show. The negative shown is of Kitty Peffer in a pose but for what cover? She is facing forward but on the cover backwards but same dress, gun and stance. Click on the photo for the answer.

Funnily enough the second strip of negatives I picked up to use with the digitiser proved to be of a cover of a book I already had but not identified previously from the negative. Although not PAN it still gets a place in the collection!

I recently got a email from Jules Burt asking if I had spotted that ‘I Was Cicero’ by Elyesa Bazna has two versions, one fat and one thin? I had to say I hadn’t only having one but as soon as it was pointed out I managed to get a copy of the one I didn’t have. I don’t know if one is rarer than the other as both seem to be readily available from sellers.

The covers back and front are the same as are the printing details but one has 192 pages, the other 176 plus the fat one has the photographs interspersed amongst the pages while the other has them all together in the middle.

‘Trouble in July’ Part 2, X or A?, ‘Cover Me’ and more Jules Videos

I recently mentioning the artwork for ‘Trouble In July’ that was up for sale and after some haggling where I think I probably spent a bit more than I wanted but the seller definitely got less than he wanted I now have it. I’ve still not found out if it was actually used for the 1964 edition but I’ve put it on a a page with other Caldwell titles from the same time and in the same style.

Having picked up a duplicate copy of ‘Death To The French’ trying to decide which was the copy to keep and which to donate to the National Trust I’m glad I had a good look. What I hadn’t noticed was that they have different price code letters on the spine with one being ‘X’ and one being ‘A’ The ‘X’ means it was priced at 3/6 while the ‘A’ was for 4/0 or 20p as it was on the cusp of decimalization. Now wondering how many more there may be like this and how many I may have given away!

Pleased to hear from Colin Larkin that his book Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965″ is now available in paperback with a few minor corrections made including a sex change for ‘Bip’ Pares who was actually a woman namely Ethel Pares, She was born on 27th February 1904 in the Thames-side village of Clewer, just beyond Windsor. She was the second child of the marriage of Basil Pares (1869-1943) and his wife Caroline Evelyn Whistler (1874-1959), who had married in Norfolk in 1902. Her father was a younger son of the well-to-do family of John and Katharine Pares.

This photo is of Kitty Peffer posing for the cover of ‘The D. A. Takes a Chance’ which Colin tells me in now included in the second printing.

Jules Burt continues to upload his excellent videos and here are the links to a couple of recent ones. The first is all about ‘Vintage Book Resources’ and the second is showing dozens of Books Jules Has for Sale. Most are PANs with prices from £5 right down to £1 with quantity discounts and postage worldwide at cost.

The first link has nothing to do with the great plug Jules gives my website!
Thanks Jules.