Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Man-Made Satellites (1957)

This is my 200th posting!

You may have wondered why I have never blogged about this book, Man-Made Satellites. First, because I think everyone who loves old 1950s children's books has seen it. Secondly because I have been saving a story about it for my 200th blog post.
(1957) Ley, Willy. Illustrated by Polgreen, John. Man-made Satellites. Poughkeepsie, NY: Guild Press Inc. (44 p.) 29 cm.
John Polgreen's space art is astonishing. He has a dreamy air-brush style that is part of the core memories of a lot of 1950s kids.
Since his art is so good I have been trying to learn more about him for years. Ever since I first had a website I loved to find and show off his work.
I did discover why there seemed to be so many copies of this particular book.
Sugar Jets cereal had a promotion where you could get a copy of this book for $0.50.
One of the first real cool things I found on the internet was a copy of this book still in the mailing cardboard box from Sugar Jets. But something cooler was yet to come.
As I searched Google for any mention of John Polgreen I came across some Heritage Galleries auctions for John Polgreen paintings from this series. What was even stranger was how familiar the wording on these listings sounded:
John Polgreen - "Space Travel" Illustration Original Art (Adventures in Space, 1958). America's future in space had become a nation-wide fad by the mid-fifties. It was not a question of if we would land on the Moon but when. The Adventure in Space books were at the forefront in their technical sophistication of how men would travel to the Moon. John Polgreen's acrylic on board painting captured the thrilling moment of a lunar touchdown. The image area of the painting measures 13" x 12" and the art is in Excellent condition. From the Random House Archives.
Compare that to this text from my website "Dreams of Space": http://dreamsofspace.nfshost.com/1954-1956.htm
Strangely two of the other painting's descriptions also seemed very familiar:
John Polgreen - "Space Travel" Cover Illustration Original Art (Adventures in Space, 1958). John Polgreen's airbrushed painting captured the stark light and harsh conditions of this cosmic scene perfectly. In the fifties, science author Willy Ley opined, "The younger generation of rocket engineers is just beginning. They are of the new generation to which space travel is not going to be a dream of the future but an everyday job with everyday worries in which they will be engaged." The acrylic on board painting has an image area of 20" x 13", and the art is in Excellent condition. From the Random House Archives. vs my page:
AND this quote ALSO from that page:
John Polgreen - "Man-made Satellites" Cover Illustration Original Art (Adventures in Space, 1958). With the discoveries of liquid-fueled rockets in the 1930's and the use of V-2 rockets in the 1940's, rocket travel went from science fiction to science fact. In post-World War II America everything seemed possible, even traveling to the Moon. A new trend in children's books predicted the space-age era the "Baby Boomers" would grow up in -- a thrilling time of limitless exploration. The image area of John Polgreen's cover painting measures 19.5" x 13" and the art is in Excellent condition. From the Random House Archives.
Yes someone at the auction house had trouble finding information about John Polgreen so when they "Googled" him they found my quotes. When I called them they apologized and I was sort of flattered. They gave me a subscription to free catalogs for a couple of years, but more importaly they told me that this painting was up for auction.
After all that who deserves (to be very immodest) more than me to own the John Polgreen painting for the cover of the first book in the "Adventure in Space" series?
As I said, this may be my greatest treasure of space book collecting. It is both a beautiful painting and signifies the best of the children's books I love. Happy 200th post to me!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Space Story Omnibus (1955)

(1955) Boyd, Edward and Allward, Maurice. Illustrated by North, T E, Branton, R.A. and Gaffron, Bruce. Space Story Omnibus. London : Collins. (128 p.) 26 cm.

An "annual" with a mixture of fictional stories and factual articles. The non-fiction articles were written by Maurice Allward on subjects such as the "history of rockets", "construction of a space station", "space medicine", and "a landing on the Moon". Includes a future space travel timeline predicting the first space station by the late 1960's and a Moon landing in the year 2000.
The headers for these Allward articles were very nice. Really gave a nice vision of moving outward.

I also like this particular color (or colour) plate. It is a nice combination of the older idea of gliding back with the parachute return. I don't know why they chose to combine them but it is a nice painting.

My next post will be post number 200! I will be sharing one of my greatest treasures. See you then.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Space Models (1960)

I love punch-out books. It is like getting a toy in book form. I have a number of space related punch-outs so I thought I would share a few more. This particular one is space-related only by virtue of the cool rocket ship and the space platform in the book.
Space Models (1960)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tom Corbett: A Trip to the Moon (1953) / Tom Corbett's Wonder Book of Space (1953)

Two books with different titles yet identical content. I don't share much juvenile space fiction but this one is an exception because of its beautiful art. One of the best remembered TV space heroes was Tom Corbett. Out of the many products that came out this is the one that appeals to my visionary sense.
Martin, Marcia. Illustrated by Frank Vaughn. Tom Corbett's wonder book of space / Tom Corbett: A Trip to the Moon. New York, Wonder Books. 18 p. 21 cm.
Around this time, along with the idea that space was a real place you can go, came illustration of children in space. The cover with Tom Corbett showing the children what the Moon is like is a vision of a future when children expected to go to the Moon some day.

This is strong stuff, to show that the Moon is more than a light in the sky, it is a place where you have to wear a spacesuit to walk around.

The artist Frank Vaughn paints a little like Norman Rockwell. His children are beaming with energy and excitement at going to such a cool place. Frank illustrated a number of children's books.
The other vision of the future, which I may have mentioned before, is the power of children staring back at the earth. The very idea of standing on the Moon and looking back to the Earth opens a child's mind to how big the universe really is. People have suggested that the photograph of the whole Earth from Apollo 8 led to the ecology movement because we suddenly saw how small the Earth was. This same vision from 15 years earlier leaves a similar impression on me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Moon for Young Explorers (1963)

Back to the salt mines with a charming yet twisted book. The content is pretty standard for 1963 but the illustrations in this one seem strangely warped by artist license.

Fenton, Carroll Lane. Illustrated by Fenton, Carroll Lane. The Moon for Young Explorers. New York : John Day. (64 p.) 21 cm.
I think it is because the drawings were based on some of the first Apollo prototype drawings, so they seem much more speculative than real.

This is a basic book about conditions found on the Moon and the present and future exploration of the Moon.

Those of us who loved Major Matt Mason also loved this space suit. Very much like how Bonestell paintings of Moon mountains were much "better" than the reality. This space suit "rocks". It seems much more futuristic and cool.

Although when you see a lot of them together it does look a little like an ant colony has invaded the Moon :) Maybe it is just the dual antennas.
Where's my moonbase!
Finally here are 3 moon cars. each one is bizarre and beautiful it its own way. As much as there were lots of possible space suits, I miss the wide variety of moon vehicles that were predicted to be used on the moon.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Destination Space (1960)

Just a simple one today with a great cover. Popular Mechanics would put out special issues on different topics. Right before there were manned launches they released this one.
I love these aerospace company speculative space paintings. There were so many possible designs that it seemed like the future was limitless.

I also like how the science fiction ideas from the early 1950s, such as Space Marines or a U.S. Space Force were shown as the protectors of the sky. I think a lot of companies' responses to Sputnik ended up with a vision of a "cop on the beat" protecting U.S. skies.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Space Puzzle (1970?)

Yes I do seem to have fallen off the face of the planet. But really it was vacation and other deadlines that left my blog dead in the water. Fear not I still have lots of stuff to show.
Today is a first for Dreams of Space, an actual toy! I have no idea of the actual date of this puzzle but as you can see it has some great images. I recall a lot of these very simple puzzle from my childhood. they usually had a theme like a farm or a school so I was thrilled to find this one. Its theme seems to be a landing on the Moon and collection of samples (although I am not sure what Saturn has to do with it).
The reason I think it is around 1970 or so is the image of the lander. It looks vaguely like a UFO but somehow has a 1970s style to my eyes.
My favorite puzzle piece is probably the space dog. I love the images of space suits for dogs and cats and wonder why the image of taking pets into space went away so completely. It could be because spaceflight is so difficult but space seemed friendlier with "Fido".

The large launch vehicle is also very impressive. It looks like a stylized Saturn V but sort of soft and friendly.

Finally a generic space ship. It looks more like the Jetson's than something from the space program but it seems the space age still needs "jet cars."