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

Jackie Collins, ‘Castle Ugly’ and ‘I leap Over the Wall’

Although I have yet to read all of a novel by Jackie Collins I have mentioned her several times as she was one of PAN’s best selling authors receiving 9 (?) ‘Golden PAN Award’s for selling a million copies each of 9 titles. I am currently trying to track down all the editions with covers by George Sharp from around the late 1980s but again the old problem of no image from a seller and the same text block and date used for several editions. These are ones I have or have found on the web so far HERE but if you can help with others please get in touch. Some of the dates also need double checking as they are outside the range for this series. I contacted George to ask him about them and he said “As for the covers I did for Jackie Collins I can only remember one or two of them. My son Ben has the original artwork of one hanging in his office. I like it a lot! Jackie was a most likeable person, very relaxed and natural. Everyone liked her” Photo below shows George on Jackie’s left.

While going through the list of Hans Helweg covers I found one listed as ‘Castle Ugly’ which was not a familiar title. I know the list says they are PANs but I have also found there are a few from other publishers and magazine illustrations. Luckily I found one copy online from Maurice at Zardoz and was really pleased with the condition when it arrive but a bit disappointed with the artwork on the cover although it is clearly signed H.Helweg so Hans liked it as he didn’t sign all his work. As far as I can tell PAN only published this one title from Mary Ellin Barrett (born November 25th 1926) who was the daughter of composer Irving Berlin.

This weeks sketches from Han’s folders are for ‘I Leap Over the Wall’ by Monica Baldwin of which PAN published many editions with cover variants. Han’s cover goes with the 1971 edition.

Higgins Covers, Signed Penelope Lively and ‘Immortal Queen’

I’m always on the look out for more variants of Jack Higgin’s covers and spotted these two on an Indian website where they were shown as ‘SOLD’ I’ve not see either before as ‘A Season in Hell’  usually has a blue background) and Confessional’ is a new one altogether. Just wondering if anyone has got either so I can get a good quality scan and publication date?

Always a pleasant surprise to find a book that you get for a few pence turns out to be signed as in this case one by Penelope Lively.

While going through Hans Helweg’s drawings one that jumped out was for ‘Immortal Queen’ by Elizabeth Byrd. I have included two but I’m not sure if one is for the same book or if it reminds me of another cover I’ve not recalled it yet. Sarah Elizabeth Evelyn Byrd was born on December 8th 1912  in St. Louis, Missouri and died on May 11th 1989 in Tucson, Arizona. She had many jobs in broadcasting and journalism before moving to Aberdeen, Scotland. She wrote 13 books altogether of which PAN published 7.

FOOTNOTE: I bought a book from Antikvárium in Hungary and after a couple of weeks received an email to say due to the rising levels of COVID in the UK and to protect their workers they were no longer posting to here. I emailed back to say “Sorry, what?” but no reply. Am I missing something?

UPDATE As I was having problems with the default ‘comments’ option I have added in ‘wpDiscuz’ which appears to be working and all previous comments are now showing. This uses the existing ‘comments’ button but has a squillion more options so it will be a work in progress while I fine tune it. Reasonably happy with it so far apart from everyone seems to get the PAN Avatar!

Mystery Cover Solved, ‘Flash’ Titles and Wilbur Smith

Three blogs ago I posted a ‘rough’ of a cover by Hans Helweg and asked if anyone recognised it? Well I very pleased to say Tony Whitehorn emailed; “On your 28 Dec blog you showed a rough of a Helweg cover and asked if anyone could identify which book it was for. In case no one else has done so yet, I can tell you, because I wrote the blurbs for it and still have the cover, though not the book. It was for TO LIVE IN DANGER’ by Bryan Magee (Pan X184), which I remember as being a good thriller” Tony was featured in another blog HERE

I have been collecting up the Piccolo books I have called ‘FLASH’ titles as they have one across the cover. They are mainly jokes, riddles, limericks, poems and ‘funny’ newspaper cuttings and can be seen HERE. There are several other titles in the same genre but without the ‘flash’ and I’ve added a couple on the page. There are a few more titles I will add if I come across them but they are not that high on my priority list!

I was really pleased to find some preliminary sketches from Hans Helweg for his Wiibur Smith covers. I’ve added them to the page I made for him and his ‘Golden Pan Award’ I also found three photographs of Smith in his study that I added at the bottom and if you look carefully you can just about see the award on his desk.

Denys Parsons, ‘Miss Silver’, ‘Belle Catherine’

Denys Parsons collected together items from papers of mistakes, misquotes and double entendres. He was the grandson of actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. and originally worked in the field of scientific research and invention. He then became a film-maker and finally ended up as the Press Officer for the British Library. Click HERE to see the his PAN/Piccolo titles.

PAN published four of the thirty two ‘Miss Silver’ titles by Patricia Wentworth including ‘Pilgrim’s Rest’ from 1953 with artwork by Sax (Rudolph Michael Sachs) Hodder reused it for their 2007 edition of the same title but did not really do it justice. The other titles are ‘Miss Silver Comes to Stay’, ‘The Clock Strikes Twelve’ and ‘Grey Mask’

This week is the last of the Hans Helweg artworks I got back in October but I do have a lot more of his sketches for covers that I will add if I can identify them. The artwork is for ‘Belle Catherine’ by Juliette Benzoni from 1968 for which Hans got paid £58.16. He is also painted the cover for ‘Catherine and Arnaud’ as in this photo I took in his studio. I’m not sure who painted the later edition of ‘Belle Catherine’ but it looks like it could be John Raynes?

‘H.H.G.T.T.G’ Boxed Set, ‘A Taste of England’, ‘Death Is Our Playmate’

Having acquired, over the years, several boxed sets containing different numbers of titles from theThe Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ I was pleased to find the above on a site in the States as I didn’t have one with just the first three titles. I’m not sure of the exact date of publishing although it will be ’42’ years in 2021 since PAN first published book one on the 12th October 1979.

Another boxed set but with a different subject this time, namely cooking and it contains three titles in the ‘A Taste of England’ series of recipe books. They appear to be the standard UK PAN editions but put in a slip case for an American company ‘LANDS’ END DIRECT MERCHANTS, INC’ with a trade mark registered in 1984.

This weeks artwork by Hans Helweg is ‘Death Is Our Playmate’ by Patrick Turnbull. I also found a few preliminary sketches by Hans to go with it. I found a photo of Patrick in ‘Argosy’ magazine plus just a few details of his life. Patrick Edward Xenophon Turnbull was born on 17 March 1908 in Barberton, Mpumalanga, South Africa, his father, Hugh, was 28 and his mother, Ethel, was 28. He spent many years in the army off and on and was married four times and had three children. He died on 23 March 1986 in Chilton, Oxfordshire at the age of 78.

Christmas Present, Mystery Cover And No ‘Memoirs’

I hope you all managed to have a sort of festive time in spite of the current restrictions and got a lot of the presents you were expecting? I recently couldn’t resist 36 small artworks by Glenn Steward to go with two ‘Camberwick Green’ titles and thanks to my wife being the generous lady she is, she bought me 40 custom made frames as my Christmas present. They needed to be made to measure as there was nothing their size readily available. I have to admit they  do look good and replaced several frames of postcards of pulp covers with dubious images maybe not suitable for our Grandson to ask about if he is ever allowed to come up here! Glenn Steward did many covers for PAN of which I have a few but don’t really know much about him so if any relatives are out there I’d love to add at least one photo of him.

Now going through the folders of sketches from Hans Helweg and there are some real ‘crackers’ to use a festive metaphor. I’ll be adding them to the book covers and artwork if I have it and put up a link on here to make it easier to find. There are also some that look familiar but just can’t quite bring it to mind such as this example. Can any one help?

One disappointment was the supposedly six book boxed set of PAN Books Sherlock Holmes titles I found online in the States. The webpage said it was this, when it arrived the label on the package said it was this as did the invoice so how come it was just one hardback copy of ‘Memoirs’ from Reader’s Digest, no connection to PAN at all? I should have know as fellow PAN Fan Stuart Radmore emailed to say he didn’t think PAN published ‘Casebook’ or ‘Memoirs’ as did Alysoun at PAN but we held out the hope that they might be Canadian editions but unfortunately not. On the plus side Stuart gave me the names of all artists for the covers PAN did publish plus I did get my money back, no quibble but I would rather have had what I thought I had ordered. It makes me wonder if this box set did actually exist at one time.

Here’s looking forward to a better New Year.

‘Rogue Roman’, Yvonne Gilbert and ‘No Comments!’

What a year it has been! I’d like to say not being able to get out and visit places has saved a bit of money but I think I’ve actually spent more stuck in front of the computer searching online. On the plus side I have been in contact with some very interesting people who are trying to keep themselves safe as well and are hoping, like me, for the vaccine in the New Year.

This weeks Hans Helweg artwork is for ‘Rogue Roman’ by Lance Horner. Just looking at it through the overlay which has really gone brown you don’t appreciate the how vivid the colours have stayed over the last fifty years. I have also been lucky enough to get a preliminary sketch and possible alternative cover which I’ve put on the page.

I recently got a unread boxed set of Judy Blume titles in Piccolo editions with most of the covers by artist Yvonne Gilbert. Click HERE to see them. I emailed Yvonne and she very kindly replied “Nice to meet you! Wow! Thank you. How on earth did you find them? My goodness—that was so long ago. I don’t know if I’d even recognise them these days. I vaguely remember them and you’re probably right about the date. The artwork probably never came back to me because most of it didn’t in those days—there’s certainly no trace of it now. The 3 titles sound somewhat familiar but it was pre-computer days so I have no record. You have reminded me how much has changed—posting artwork, having to take photographic slides, never seeing the artwork again! I feel bad that I can’t be more helpful Tim. I had a look at your site—I love those pulp fiction covers. I would love to have had some of that artwork!”

RIP Le Carre, ’21’ This Week, Videos and George Macdonald Fraser.

I’m pleased to announce that this website has come of age being 21 years old on the 16th December. When I set it up back in 1999 it was cutting edge with frames, a higher than usual resolution and search etc. but time has moved on and every year I say I will update it BUT every year I manage to find ‘new’ old bits and pieces to distract me so the update gets put on hold. On the plus side a lot of the covers are now at a much higher resolution and size as I tend to rescan if I mention them in a blog but on the negative side it’s a really boring job! Maybe the update will never happen as I am a firm believer in if it ain’t broken then don’t fix it, it’s just a bit clunky and showing it’s age, rather like me.  Anyway here’s a joke from the latest edition of ‘Private Eye’ which amused me as it is pertinent in the trying times.

After trying for many years I’ve managed to obtain, thanks to Sam Peffer’s niece Kathy, two videos relating to the infamous Bonhams auction of ‘Original Paperback Cover Artwork from the PAN Archives’ held of 15th October 1991. They are self explanatory so I’ll just put the two links to ‘YouTube’ where I uploaded them for everyone to find.

Thames News Report from on the Day

The ‘Late Show’ from BBC 2

I captured this screen shot of the artist outside Bonhams but there is still one I have not managed to identify.

They are from left to right Rex Archer, Hans Helweg, Sam Peffer, ?, Edward Mortelmans and Pat Owen. Anyone help with a name as I’m sure I vaguely recognise him?

The author featured this week is George Macdonald Fraser. I recently picked up a few bits and pieces from his estate on eBay including a letter to him from PAN plus a PAN printers proof. As I have the other items I  include them on his page although not PAN but later titles PAN didn’t publish. George Macdonald Fraser’s extensive library was sold at auction and a catalogue can be viewed online by following the link HERE

NEWS JUST IN It was reported that John Le Carre died on Saturday. I’ll rescan all his covers for a tribute soon. From the web;
“LONDON (AP) — John le Carre, a spy turned novelist who became the preeminent writer of espionage fiction in English, has died at age 89
Le Carre’s literary agency, Curtis Brown, said Sunday that he died in Cornwall, southwest England on Saturday after a short illness. The death was not related to COVID-19. Born David Cornwell, le Carre worked for Britain’s intelligence service before turning his experience into fiction in works including “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy” and “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.”

Hans Helweg’s original artwork resumes next week. plus may have some great related news if the postman delivers by then.

Just one this week but it is a fantastic Christmas present.

I got an email from Sue Bell, Hans Helweg’s widow to ask if I would like a couple of folders of his sketches etc she had found while clearing out his studio. It would have been rude of me to refuse and what I received was a real treasure trove of preliminary sketches for covers for PAN, Puffin and a few other publishers. I will be adding them to the appropriate covers when I can work out which is which. Some are very obvious, so not so and some are a complete mystery so far but I do like a challenge.

This is just to show a random selection.

RIP David, ‘Ed McBain’ at last, Signed Printers Proofs and ‘The Reef’

I’ve just heard from Colin Larkin the sad news his brother, David,  passed away last Tuesday. Colin said he had only been speaking to him on Saturday as David had just got his copy of ‘Cover Me’ I’ll try and do a blog about his time as Artistic Director at PAN in the 70s and 80s later.

After spending more time (and money) that they justify I’ve decided to publish my updated page of Ed McBain titles although not finished but then again will it ever be?. The problem has been, like the Travis McGee titles, that PAN often just added a new cover to an old text block without amending the date so dating becomes difficult. This time I’ve put them under title in writing date order and I know there are still several variants to add as I have images but usually shown by sellers as the hated ‘stock’ photo! If I get another 1981 copy of ‘The Empty Hours’ clearly listed as the 1992 edition with photo of same! Luckily have got my money back on them all but I’d rather have the book I was expecting.

I spotted a couple of what I though were signed books on eBay but it turns out they were actually printers proofs signed by one of the authors namely Dan Morgan. They were for two of the four titles in theVenturer Twelve’ series, three by Dan and John Kippax while the fourth was a title just by Kippax. Still no idea who the cover artist might be, anyone know?

This weeks Hans Helweg artwork is for ‘The Reef’ by Keith Wheeler. Although Wheeler wrote several books PAN only seems to have published two, ‘The Reef‘ and ‘Peaceable Lane’ which might have a cover by Pat Owen? I like the way the artwork still has its colour ‘swatch’ for the title as this sort of thing, like the numbers, logos and even the titles, have got lost over the years.