Friday, January 14, 2011

Space Patrol Official Handbook (1952)

This is a re-run for you fans of my old Dreams of Space site but I wanted to tell the story again.

This is a booklet that I was amazed to find and even more amazing was that the only mention of it was buried in the introduction of a totally different book I had read 8 months before I ever saw this book. And it has nothing to do with the old Space Patrol TV series.

From the Introduction to Space Aces! Comic Book Heroes from the Forties and Fifties by Denis Gifford 1992.

"My own entry into the sci-fi world really happened in 1952. I was drawing 'Flip and Flop' and other comic characters for Mick Anglo's comic-books when I conceived my great idea. Within a month I had compiled and launched Space Patrol Official Handbook, from the Space Patrol Headquarters, 16 Sydenham Park, SE26! 'Your Passport to the Planets', as I advertised it, contained 'Everything you want to know about the Life on Other Planets, Space Suits, Spacecraft Recognition, Insignia, Interplanetary Languages - plus Space Patrol Membership Certificate! Secret Codes of the Spaceways! Interplanetary Passport! Gazetteer of the Galaxy! Real Photographs of Spaceships! (pinched from space films, of course) and the Space Man's Code of Honour!' Also a 'Free Jet-ex Jet-propelled Rocket Ship in Easy Competition! - It Flies!' All this and more in one twenty-page blue-covered booklet for a one-and-sixpenny Postal order! A word of warning - don't send a 1s 6d PO to SPHQ, will you? I sold out and moved! Anyway, as there are only two known copies left, the Handbook would now cost a little more than seven and a half pence!"

There was even a copy of the old advertisement he had reproduced in the book:

Well with only 2 copies around I never thought I would see this book in my space book hunting.

The booklet is a marvel of homemade early science fiction fandom. It mixes movies, old science fiction ideas, and a dash of space science.

Since it is so "rare" I am happy to share with you this essential guide to spaceflight.

As you can see he was shameless in borrowing from the science fiction films of the time.

The question is this raises is simple. Is this a unique item?  It is certainly obscure but I have had some else write me to say that they had one too.  So is this simply amateur science fiction or is it the ultimate expression of that child within us that wants to tell everyone about how cool spaceflight is?

I think the guy was hoping to make a little money off of cashing in on the latest fad. This book represents to me why I started collecting these things. They are obscure and forgotten but someone needs to save them and make sure future generations can appreciate how wonderful the early space age was.  For I do believe we are part of the early space age and there is a lot more to come.

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