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

‘Olga da Polga’, Pearl Buck and later PAN Majors from Jules.

Having watched eight PUFFIN Easy Readers for ‘Olga da Polga’ on eBay in the States start at $400 and slowly going down in price with each listing I eventually bit the bullet when it got to $50. What made them attractive was that they are all signed by author Michael Bond. Although I already had seven with artwork by Hans Helweg there was one very elusive title listed on other sites from £45 to over £100 and not even signed. What also made up my mind was winning £50 on the Premium Bonds so how could I not buy them!

Returning to Hans Helweg’s sketches and original artwork this weeks selection is ‘The Three Daughters of Madam Liang’ by Pearl Buck. “After her husband takes a concubine, Madame Liang sets out on her own, starting an upscale restaurant and sending her daughters to America to be educated. At the restaurant, the leaders of the People’s Republic wine and dine and Madame Liang must keep a low profile for her daughters’ sake. ……..” As far as I can tell PAN only published the one edition in 1972 which is unusal for a Buck title,

Recently Jules Burt has completed his reveiw of the later PAN Majors from M101 to M274 in one of his very informative videos.. To view it on YouTube click HERE and if you missed the previous one covering numbers M1 to M100 then click HERE,

Interestingly the covers for both the 1959 and 1969 edions of ‘Not As A Stranger‘ are by Hans Helweg.

TOTEM Books, Sir Clive Sinclair and Richard Chopping plus Exhibition

I’ve been trying to obtain titles that were published by PAN but reprinted in Canada by TOTEM Books often with the same artwork on the cover. All the tiles from TOTEM, a Collins Publishers company, are either set in Canada or the author was Canadian. The problem is they were sold mainly in Canada so I started tracking them down last January from dealers over there with some arriving in weeks while some took months. I now have all the ones I ordered but I would still love to see if ‘Bomb Run’ by Spencer Dumore, published by PAN and TOTEM have the same artwork like most of the others by

It was sad to hear the news of the death of Sir Clive Sinclair at the age of 81. It was thanks to his ZX80 computer kit I took my first step on the IT ladder which resulted in me ending up as ‘IT Advisor’ for an education authority. PAN got in on the act but not until the Spectrum came along. I still remember the day the C5 appeared in the window of our Midlands Electricity Board showrooms. We went to look and the patronising salesman said “Would the little girl like to sit in it? with a smarmy smile. Well, he soon lost his smile when he realised that the keys were in, turned on and our four year old could press the accelerator demolishing the cardboard display on the way across the floor.

After last weeks unexpected ‘trip’ I’ve not managed to give as much time as I would like to the exhibition of Richard Chopping’s work at Salisbury Museum. I have put together a page HERE of assorted photos, not only mine but also from Matthew Dewhurst-Grice who posted on a Facebook page after his visit. PAN only published ‘The Fly’ written by Chopping for which he painted the cover plus ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ by Richard Condon.

Pat Owen, ‘Chopping’ in Salisbury and ‘The Bondmaid’,

I was really pleased to hear from Sue, Pat Owen’s wife, last week who has very kindly sent me some details of Pat’s life plus three photographs one of which is fantatsic as it shows the artist at work on a PAN cover. I think there may be another PAN on the far right in it which looks vaguely familiar. I’ve added these to Pat’s page listing his covers which can be seen HERE or by clinking on the Artists tab at the top of the main website page. 

I thought this was what I was going to write “After visiting to Salisbury last week  I managed to get to the Richard Chopping  Exhibition at the Museum as it is due to close at the beginning of October, the exhibition that is not the Museum!” Fortunately I did get to the exhibition, more on that next week, but my Salisbury trip was not quite what I was expecting as walking down some uneven steps I missed on and ended up with a fractured hip, ironically at a bookshop!. I would like to congratulate Salisbury Hospital on the very efficient service with only 21 hours between slip and back on the ward with a new hip. No complaints about the food, plenty of fresh salad and fruit., I’ve put on half a stone but maybe the new joint is heavy?

This weeks artwork by Hans Helweg again is the double page spread for the Pearl Buck title The Bondmaid published twice by PAN. Unfortunately all the parts from the back are no longer there.

‘Dragon Seed’, Miss Marple and Philately.

This weeks artwork and sketches from Hans Helweg are for another Pearl Buck title, namely ‘Dragon Seed’ I photographed the original artwork in Hans studio and was really pleased to find a preliminary painting for it in the folders I was given.

I was also pleased to hear from ‘James Bond’ aficionado Robin Harbour about another PAN book he spotted that once appeared on the silver screen. This time the film was ‘Murder Ahoy’ by Agatha Christie starring Margaret Rutherford but it wasn’t just one but several shelves full but the book Miss Marple takes off the shelf isn’t a PAN or even a real title!

PAN have never been into collecting postage stamps ‘big time’ but HERE are a couple of books  that might be useful to those who do as a hobby. Looking through the catalogue it almost, but not quite, makes me think of taking up collecting again. One day I might get around to listing all the PAN cover artists who also did stamps like Brian Sanders and Yvonne Gilbert. As for a contived link to PAN and stamps will this UK 2002 issue surfice?

‘Octopussy’, A Little Something I Liked and Brian Cooper

On my ‘Wanted but not at any price list’ was a Canadian copy of X668 ‘Octopussy’ and I eventually found one from a Canadian seller who wasn’t asking postage that was several times more than the cost of the book! With so many delays in the mail I had actually forgotten about it and so was pleasantly surprised when it arrived last week to to find it was a copy that I would call ‘good+’ and happy to put on the shelf next to the UK printing.

I like to look for any book publishers advertisements and I couldn’t resist this standee from Sampson Lowe. It measures about 8″ X 6″ and is cut out of plywood. I would love to find a copy with a dustjacket to match but none of the ones I have found so far does. I’m not sure of the date as the only edition which is listed with a dustjacket by artist Charles Edmund Brock (1870 to 1938) is from 1908 but the price of 7/6 is more like the 1935 edition might have cost.

This week the sketches from Hans Helweg are for M81 ‘A Touch of Thunder’ by Brian Newman Cooper (1919 to 2007) He was born in Stockport, Cheshire and was an author and Head of the History Department, Bolsover School, Derbyshire until his retirement in 1979.. He is the creator of ‘Lubbock and Tench’, a retired Detective Chief Inspector and a Detective Chief Inspector in England. As far as I can find he only had two of his eighteen(?) books published by PAN, this one and ‘The Van Langeren Girl’

Hans Helweg, a couple of ‘Look a Likes’ and ‘The Tudors’

Just to show these pages are not just thrown together(!) this weeks cover by Hans Helweg is one I bought last week plus I also have some of his sketches to go with it, namely ‘The Exile’ by Pearl Sydenstricker Buck. Hans painted many covers for Pearl Buck titles and I now have the artwork for ‘Death in the Castle’ plus several others I’ll include in the next few blogs. I also now have the artwork for I Leap Over The Wall’ and ‘The Tribe That lost Its Head’ which I’ve featured before and I have now added it to their pages. I have only just noticed that the same elements were used in the 1966 edition M4 of ‘The Tribe That lost Its Head’  so presumably also by Hans Helweg?

I am often surprised by the similarity of covers but then again I suppose if they are to truly representative of the narrative they could be ‘look a likes’ It was while scanning ‘Jamaica White’ I looked at other editions and saw the Batam cover from 1968 and wondered if Hans Helweg based his on it? The others were for Alathea and Mythago Woods’ where the trees in the middle are so similar even down to the kink in the one trunk! What do you think? Click HERE to see them. The scan left is of the back cover of the Bantam edition of ‘Jamaica White’, definitely an attention grabbing blurb.

This weeks Jean Plaidy series is The Tudors’ series and for once one of the covers gives an artist credt, namely Stuart Bodek, who has been mentioned several times before. It appears PAN published seven of the eleven titles so if any one knows if they also did ‘Katharine, the Virgin’, ‘The Shadow of the Pomegranate’, ‘The King’s Secret Matter’ and ‘Mary, Queen of France’ I’d love to know but if not ‘Why not?’

Had a most enjoyable visit last week to the family in Kent but disappointing in I found nothing that I could in anyway relate to PAN Books no matter how hard I tried to contrive something!

‘Animal Stories’, Artwork, another Plaidy Series and ‘Tricycle Tim’

This weeks Hans Helweg sketch if for the cover of ‘Animal Stories’ edited by John Montgomery. I was intrigued to see Berkley Books had published this as ‘Selections from the PAN Book of Animal Stories’Montgomery also wrote three books in the Foxy series published by PAN as Piccolo titles. plus ‘The Best Cat Stories’ as PAN.

After a meeting at a motorway services I am now the proud owner of another fifteen original artworks by Hans Helweg of which the titles will be revealed over upcoming blogs. In case anyone was wondering the reason for the motorway was because it was half between us.

This weeks Jean Plaidy series is a short one, just three titles in ‘The Normans’ series and once again no luck trying to track down the cover artists.

Just out of curiosity I looked up Prudence Eaton Seward, the cover artist for the ‘Foxy‘ series and am now trying to discover if she is still with us as I would love to make contatc. She was born in Kebnsington, London in October 1926 with a lot of the references such as “She lived at Syleham Hall Lane, Wingfield, Suffolk” make it sound as it she is not with us anymore? She painted covers for other Piccolo titles including the ‘Sula’ series of four titles. I’m really tempted to get a copy of ‘‘Tricycle Tim’ for which Prudence did the cover as it could have been me on my trike back in 50s.

‘Jamaica White’ plus another HH, Jean Plaidy and Louis Shabner

This weeks Hans Helweg sketches are for ‘Jamaica White‘ by Harold Underhill. I was pleased to find three sketches that corresponded to the three elements on the cover. A couple of days ago I received a copy of the Puffin edition of North Against The Sioux’ by Kenneth Ulyatt with a cover by Hans and it seems to be very similar to a ‘rough’ painting I have, especially the chief on the horse on the back cover. I’ve added it to all the other childens covers using the ‘bookmark’ option so I hope the link jumps straight to it eventually!

While looking at Pat Owen covers I noticed he did several for Jean Plaidy (Eleanor Alice Burford Hibbert, born London, 1906 and died at sea between Greece and Egypt, 1993) so I decided to sort them by series. This was easier said than done as PAN did not publish all the titles in a series and not all series. This weeks selection is the Georgian Series of which PAN did publish all ten titles. I’ve no managed to sort any of the artists but interestingly for the first six titles each chapter has a illustration as a heading as below by Balint Stephen Biro better known as Val Biro.

Having mentioned Stuart Webb and his research into Louis Shabner previously I was pleased to get an email from him to say his book ‘The Art of Louis Shabner’, better know to PAN Fans as SHELDON, will be published by Telos in December.

Heinz Konsalik, Pat Owen and ‘Prester John’

I have to admit I had never heard of Heinz Konsalik (Heinz Günther May 28th, 1921 to October 2nd, 1999) until I spotted one of his titles published by PAN. On looking for others I have picked up five of his six romance titles plus a war one. These cost a couple of pounds so why are sellers asking a silly price for the one it looks like I’m not going to get, well not at those prices.

The New York Times said “He was one of the most popular postwar novelists in Germany, whose books have sold more than 80 million copies worldwide” What stood out for me was how bad the covers were! I’ll leave you to see if you agree with me when you click HERE.

As I’m sure you know Pat Owen was another prolific PAN cover artist and I am very grateful to Pat’s wife Sue for sending me a list of his covers from his ledgers. Sue has promised me some photos and a brief biography which I will add to the page as soon as it arrives. I am currently going down the list making the titles into links and recanning the covers so it will be an on going project. We know there are even more and will add them as we find the, The Robe’ wasn’t in the list but I know it is one of Pat’s as I have the original artwork.

This weeks artwork by Hans Helweg is a couple of preliminary ideas for the 1972 edition of Prester John by John Buchan. I’ve added it to the earlier PAN editons from the 50s.

‘TTTLIH’, Alan Cracknell and ‘The Railway Children’

This weeks Hans Helweg artwork is for one of the many covers for the Monsarrat title ‘The Tribe That Lost Its Head’ I was interested to see there was a Monsarrat collection at The Athenaeum, Church Alley, Liverpool. On the site it shows a bookcase and within are some PAN editions. On close scrutinisation I think that ‘TTTLIH’ is there and if you want some help click on the photo.

Maybe I should have saved this one for Christmas but I was pleased to get a vintage Advent Calendar designed by Alan Cracknell from the States.

The weekend before last we had our first coach trip since lock down. I know a coach trip is not everyones idea of ‘fun’ but as my wife doesn’t drive I am happy for someone else to take on the responsibility. I can just switch off safe in the knowledge if something goes wrong I don’t have to sort it out. You also get good value for money as we had a comfy COVID aware coach with seats at the front, a excellent hotel with spa bath in our room, visits to several places and an included trip on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway’. Now you may be wondering what has this to do with PAN Books? Although they didn’t actually publish the book by Edith Nesbit at the time of the film. that was Penguin, they did publish two film tie-ins. One was a papersculpture ‘make two engines from the film’ book and the other The Story of the Railway Children’ was the book of the film, which was largely shot on this heritage railway.