Crossing the Finish Line… (and maybe going a few extra yards)!

The EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS FIRST EDITION DUST-JACKET RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT is complete! After 20 years and a push of hard work over the last three months I’ve finished the final six ERB, Inc. dust-jackets to 1948, plus a colorized version of the 1957 Beyond Thirty and The Man-Eater, from Brad Day’s Science-Fiction and Fantasy Publications.

This completes the reconstruction of all the well sought-after dust-jackets for the 57 first edition hardbacks published during ERB’s lifetime. I also created alternate covers for three of the first editions published by Canaveral Press in 1963 through ’65.

There are other producers of reproduction jackets for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels online, however they are all cleaned-up scans rather than complete reconstructions. For my project, I found as many of the original cover paintings as possible, removed and cleaned up the titling from the jackets and placed them on the scans of the art for a sharper, cleaner reproduction than the heavily screened originals.

Through the help of ERB, Inc., and many ERB fans and collectors, who trusted me with their original jackets, press proofs and high-res scans of their original art, I’ve rebuilt 35 of the 57 original jackets with new, and more detailed, scans of the actual paintings. For those whose original art had been lost, I conducted extensive comparisons of multiple samples, to return the covers to the sharpness, accuracy and brilliance that they must have had.

Besides the restoration of the cover art, I spent many hours identifying, finding, and in some cases, building, digital fonts to replicate the type used on dust-jackets over 100 years ago. Re-setting the type included copying the spacing and kerning that the Linotype operators used as well as adjusting the sizes of the fonts to make sure they took up the same space as the originals. Each sentence and paragraph required detailed work.

Tracing and cutting out the titling is not an automatic process. I outlined letters by hand and removed art elements inside their loops and counters to make the painting show through cleanly. I often repainted each letter to get a solid color without the mis-registration sometimes present on old letterpress or offset-litho reproduction.

Over the years I was greatly encouraged by the wonderful George McWhorter, curator at the Burroughs Memorial Library for many years, who trusted me with an actual dust-jacket for Tarzan of the Apes so I could scan and trace every outline of the art and match the color and weight of the paper used on the piece. He also sent me numerous jackets from the collection, as well as the color separation proofs for A Fighting Man of Mars which helped me create a true reproduction of that jacket from the original press material.

Robert R. Barrett, long-time Burroughs fan and scholar, was another invaluable aid to me. When he found a tear-sheet of the back panel of an original jacket for The Return of Tarzan, he sent it to me immediately so I could get closer to a true reproduction of that very rare piece. Bob was also extremely generous with his collection of rare press proofs and the abundant information he had gained from his friendship with ERB’s grandson, Danton.

To all those who have supported this project by purchasing my dust-jackets over the years, I am deeply grateful. You have let me know that what I set out to do was worthwhile and a welcome addition to your collections and your appreciation of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I am honored to have become a part of your enjoyment in this hobby.

In celebration of this milestone, I’m putting all dust-jackets, including the Letterpress Tarzan of the Apes on sale—at 20% off—for the entire month of March.

Jackets will remain available for purchase at Recoverings for the foreseeable future. I am still deciding whether to do color versions of the remaining three Canaveral Press first edition jackets. It will depend on demand from you, my customers and supporters. Please let me know, by email, as a reply to this blog post, or on Facebook, if you would purchase colored Canaverals for your collection.

Now that this labor of love is done, I’ll be taking a few deep breaths, then scratch my head and ask, “So what’s next?”