Why RECOVERINGS Dust-Jackets Are More Like Art Than Reproductions

IN 1999, I BEGAN the Edgar Rice Burroughs Dust-Jacket Reconstruction Project. My intention was to produce the highest quality reproductions of what are some of the most exciting and sought-after dust-jackets in book collecting.

In order to bring these jackets up to the quality I envisioned, I decided that I would have to rebuild them element by element. This meant starting with new scans of the original art, when available, re-creating or cleaning the title lettering without destroying the integrity of the original production, and completely re-setting all the type in digital versions of the old metal letterpress fonts.

I digitally adjust the color, clean and restore each image to assure optimal sharpness. I work from several sources to obtain the finest reproduction possible. The type is completely reset even to the kerning and typos. The title lettering, and spine art, is re-traced from very hi-res scans and cleaned up for maximum detail when printed. The jackets are complete, including back cover and flaps, and printed in one piece on glossy paper. Each one is marked as a facsimile for the sake of bibliographic integrity.

Every jacket is carefully reconstructed from revitalized elements and assembled layer by layer to create — not just a reproduction — but a completely restored presentation of the artwork, lettering and typography. These are new works in themselves. Not simply cleaned up scans of the letterpress original. Recoverings dust-jackets give the originals new life while respecting the quality and palette of the cover illustrations — finally seen in their full glory and context.

In 2004 and 2005, Easton Press chose my restorations to use as frontispieces in their deluxe leather-bound editions of the Tarzan and Mars series. In 2013 I negotiated an exclusive licensing right to produce the reproductions of all the ERB, Inc. dust-jackets published between 1931 and 1948.

Here's what my customers have had to say about my restorations:

“The TARZAN OF THE APES [Letterpress] is a work of art. When I hold the book in my hands I am aware of what the first editions looked like in the book stores of the early 20th century. In looking at a G&D jacket for RETURN OF TARZAN there is no comparison to the McClurg Dust Jacket and what you produced. Correction of Tarzan's face is important, but so is the recognition that there were so many more details that are now visible. The Venus series dust jackets are also great. I was fortunate enough to have purchased ESCAPE ON VENUS new from ERB, Inc. In comparing the dust jackets there is so much more detail in your version — thanks to your efforts.
—J. Malachowski, Florida

“Your dust-jackets arrived safely from the Rocky Mountains and they lay on my table. I am old-fashioned amazed about modern times. It is said a thousand times to you but again: how very beautiful and I am most happy with them. Especially when I know all the trouble it takes to make these pieces of art. And I wonder why they are so cheap? I can imagine that you do not sell them in the thousands and have to make them not too expensive to have customers. Still $25 is not much.
—N. Hellendoorn, Amsterdam, Netherlands

“I received the two new jackets today. Thanks very much, they are both stunning to look at, especially the TARZAN OF THE APES signature jacket which is a work of art. Once again, thanks for the fantastic work you have done in restoring these jackets. The only original jacket I have is THE BEASTS OF TARZAN, and your jacket [for that book] has a clarity that's missing in my original. It's great to see Tarzan's face looking out from the cover. Now I've got all the McClurg and Metropolitan jackets to go with the books and they all look incredible. I love looking at them. A long held desire, from childhood right up to the present — to see these books as they originally looked — has finally been fulfilled. I'm really grateful to you for making these jackets available.
—S. Mould, Dartford, Kent, UK.

“…so much like works of art, I hated to bend them around the books!” —R. Hughes, South Carolina

“You do GORGEOUS work. More, more from your studio!” — George McWhorter—Former curator, Burroughs Memorial Collection, University of Louisville; Editor Emeritous of the Burroughs Bulletin the quarterly magazine of the Burroughs Bibliophiles

“Incredible quality. Don't ever stop!”— Robert B. Zeuschner — author of Edgar Rice Burroughs:The Exhaustive Scholar's and Collector's Descriptive Bibliography

“[Your dust-jackets] are the best I have yet seen . . . a superb job of highest quality.” — Darrell C. Richardson — ERB scholar and author of J. Allen St. John, An Illustrated Bibliography

“Just a quick note to thank you for the new 'alternate' SAVAGE PELLUCIDAR dust-jacket. I wish we'd been able to turn out a jacket like this back in Canaveral Press days. You've done a wonderful job on this. In fact, all of your dust jackets are gems.” — Richard A. Lupoff — author of the Lindsey and Plum series, numerous SF novels and stories and Master of Adventure, The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs

“On opening your package I discovered that the [TARZAN OF THE APES Letterpress] dust-jackets were as great as I expected them to be. Received the print and A FIGHTING MAN OF MARS 'fantasy' dust-jacket yesterday morning. Wow!! Metropolitan should have followed their original inclination and ignored Ed's comments about using the Blue Book cover. It is a real knockout!” — Robert R. Barrett — ERB collector, scholar and author of Tarzan of the Funnies

“Wanted you to know I received the jackets for THUVIA and EARTH'S CORE, and that I couldn't be more pleased. They are exquisite! Your work continues to astound me, and I look forward to ordering more to fill in the gaps of my collection.I've been wondering how it's going with the Metropolitan jackets, especially your experiments with paper for TARZAN AND THE LOST EMPIRE. You have taken on a huge task, but are doing a super job. I'm glad I found out about you and your project.” — J. Slaughter

“The A PRINCESS OF MARS dust-jacket I purchased from you arrived today. I had to let you know how impressed I am with the quality of it and your service! I had purchased one previously from a "phantom" seller on a certain auction-type website and paid almost as much and got quite a bit less than I liked. It seems that just about anyone with an inkjet printer thinks they can do replica dust-jackets. The sad truth is: they can't! The sharpness of the lettering and the coloring on your jacket are exceptional. I will soon be placing an order with you so I can cover the rest of my ERB first edition Mars books. Thank you for your great service!” — V. Sherlock