Monday, March 29, 2010

Boy's Own Paper : Moon Wreck (November 1953)

Eye candy for today. OK I am feeling a little lazy. It is the end of the month and I have a bunch of non-fun work to do. The cool ship on this cover is awesome in design. (By the way, did you know if you click on the first image in each of my posts you can get a nice large image to download?)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Space Talk (1961)

Here is a fun little piece of ephemera. It is a tiny dictionary of astronautical terms. When the space race first started in earnest, there was lots of new vocabulary in the news. Republic Aviation Corp. issued this little booklet in a publicity effort to highlight their involvement in the new space age. What made this booklet one of the most common pieces of ephemera out there was when it was reissued/reprinted in the 1963 Marx-Atomic Cape Canaveral Play Set.

I quote from ToyNFo: The Vintage Toy Encyclopedia (

Marx Atomic Cape Canaveral Missile Base
This is one of the most popular of the Marx Playsets. This baby came with a tin litho building, space record, fencing, four-stage rocket, bomarc rocket, somarc missle and launcher, scientists gantry and launch pad, flying saucer, searchlight, radar antenna, space capsule, flying saucer and launcher, helicopter, fuel truck, missle trailer, dome, fuel tanks, scientists, NASA ticket, missle men and more!

You can just see the booklet in the upper right hand corner of the box. This playset was one of the great toys of the 1960s. This booklet got into the hands of lots of space hungry kids.
The booklet itself had no illustrations just some rousing text about the future of space.

And of course a few pages of dictionary entries. The entries were pretty straightforward and dry but seeing this booklet makes me remember when it was all a new exciting world and the kids were some of the first to embrace it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beyond Mars (1960)

Two covers today. The first (above) is the version you would have seen in your school library. The second (below) is a poor copy of the actual book cover you would have seen if you were lucky enough to have bought this in a store.

Today at last it is Beyond Mars! This one, the last in the Nephew/Chester space quartet, is special because of how it marks the edge of non-fiction and science fiction. When everything seemed possible in the late 50s those "wild" ideas about where people would be in 100 years also seemed possible.
In this one the authors take us into the outer solar system, use solar sails, generation ships, hibernation pods, and travel to other solar systems.
Nephew, William and Chester, Michael. Illustrated by Buehr, Walter. Beyond Mars. New York: GP Putnam's Sons. (72 p.) 23 cm.

First off is traveling to Saturn. You can see that they use the same sort of ships found in Planet Trip. They hook them to a solar sail and travel outward.
It will be a long slow trip so they all grow beards and play cards for the several months it will take to get there. But the trip will be worth it for the view.
Once you are there, you use your ships to descend to the ice-covered surface of one of Saturn's moons.

So once we have conquered the solar system, what's next? Why on to the stars of course. Again (I am open to alternate arguments) I find very few children non-fiction books that present the idea of travel to other solar systems. Especially innovative is using the concept of hibernation or "cold sleep" to get there.

What is even more startling is the concept of multi-generation ships where part of the crew stays "awake" while others sleep the voyage away. The idea of hydroponic plants and rotating the ship to maintain gravity is pure science fiction yet presented as a logical solution to extended space travel

This illustration in particular is interesting. It shows a 2033 "sleeper" waking up, obviously years later. But in addition you can see that the 2098 capsule above her is not due to "awaken" for even more years in the future.
Here is a nice drawing of the ship from the outside plus their landing on the new home. Beyond Mars to another Earth in another solar system. Is it science fiction or an alternate path we have yet to take?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Planet Trip (1960)

Planet Trip is all about how we will get beyond the Moon and to the other planets. The first stop will be Mars.

Nephew, William and Chester, Michael. Illustrated by Buehr, Walter. Planet Trip. New York: GP Putnam's Sons. (72 p.) 23 cm.

But before you can get to Mars you need to build and prepare your craft. The authors suggested that to combat the problems of weightlessness, you will rotate the ship while it traveled. The inner ship would remain weightless while the outer ring revolved.

From my experience with these books this one is one of the earlier if not the earliest non-fiction children's book focusing solely on a manned trip to Mars. There were other books about Mars but this one lays out the mission in detail.

The landing is a combination of retrorocket and parachute. Mars looks like a mud-cracked desert (with plants in the cracks!) I have been told this mud-cracked appearance is a leftover from the Destination Moon movie where they put in cracks to give the moon set some depth and dimension. So the astronauts immediately go to collect samples.

Since this is just a sample run they quickly return to their ship for a return to the orbiting Mothership.

When we have finished conquering Mars, then it will be on to Venus where the authors admit we know very little about it (except of course they have great calamari!)

And what is beyond the inner planets? Of course it is onwards to the outer planets and the stars next week in the fourth book of the quartet: Beyond Mars.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Moon Base (1959)

Number two in the series: Moon Base. Just saying the phrase "moon base" brings me a sense of excitement and nostalgia. In fact one of my treasures is my talking Dr. Evil Doll that says "Welcome to my moon base".

Nephew, William and Chester, Michael. Illustrated by Buehr, Walter. Moon Base. New York : GP Putnam's Sons. (72 p.) 23 cm.

And what a moon base it is. Building on the 1st book this one discusses a permanent settlement on the Moon. Many full page and double-page illustrations of rockets, Moon vehicles, and Moon base. Number 2 in Nephew and Chester’s space quartet.

This winged ship still looks impractical to me. However I like the "under construction" aspect where repairs are made as needed. Ladders on the Moon! How much does it cost to get a ladder to the Moon and given that you want to make it out of light strong material, will it be alumium or something more exotic (inquiring minds want to know).

Here is a lunar construction site, complete with 2 people who just stand around and watch :)

But we are not stopping at the Moon, in a couple of days it is a trip to the planets!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Moon Trip (1958)

Some of you are familiar with the Ley-Polgreen 4 book "Adventures in Space series (Man-Made Satellites, Space Pilots, Space Stations and Space Travel). If not I will have to do a series about those later.

But today it is about a 4 book space series you may never have seen. Michael Chester and William Nephew also did a great series of books about the grand space flight progression. They may be less remembered because while their illustrations are great they used a limited color pallet.

Nephew, William and Chester, Michael. Illustrated by Robinson, Jerry. Moon Trip: True Adventure in Space. New York: Putnam. (63 p.) 23 cm.

This book gives a basic description of rocket theory, astronaut training and how a trip to the Moon could be accomplished.

But this is just the first book in the informal "series" of: "Moon Trip", "Moon Base" (1959), "Planet Trip" (1960) and "Beyond Mars" (1960), all by Chester. In this "quartet" he moves from travel to the Moon to planetary exploration to interstellar travel.

So look for Moon Base later this week.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Space Base (1972)

Freeman, Mae B. Illustrated by Mora, Raul Mina. Space Base. New York : Watts. (63 p.)

Although the paintings are reproduced in black and white, Space Base is another of those remembered books. After the moonlandings the next step seemed to be a space station. Surprisingly this is one of the few books about that possible next step.

The book is a story about a child visiting a space station and learning about the construction and use of space stations. I like how the delta-winged ship and the circular station are combined.

The text gives a complete basic description of how the station would be constructed, what power sources they would use, and what life on a space station would be like.

The best part is the many full page illustrations of the exterior and interior of an imaginary circular space station. In some ways this is the last non-fiction book about circular space stations. After this they appear only in fiction.

I like also how the Apollo modules suggest how this station would be used as a transfer point. Of course that ship makes no sense as a trans-lunar vessel since the re-entry capsule is unneccessary (plus it makes for cramped travel).
On the other hand I always though of space travel as a kid's ride. Zero-G vacations anyone?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Intra-Space Stamp Album (1953) (Part 1)

OK here is my latest "catch". It is a 1953 "stamp" album produced with the
supervision of the Director of the Fels Planetarium, I.M. Levitt.It consists of facts about the planets and amazingly detailed stamps for all the different ways you could travel between the planets via the regular rocket liner service.

I think the educational goal of this particular item got out shown by the artist who designed the stamps. Each one is a little engraved masterpiece.

Also there were 8 or 9 stamps designed for each planet (plus the Moon) so the whole book has over 80 different space flight stamps. Here are the Earth stamps:

And here are the Moon stamps:

This is a unique little item. The creator of the book had a plan so each planet has its own currency, its own shuttle services, and many illustrations of astronauts, different rockets, and space stations. It was designed like a stamp album so the reader had to glue stamps in on each page in the correct spot. Opposite each page of stamps was an information page about that planet. Here is the page for Mars:

I suspect that only myself and my loyal readers can really dig how amazing this little booklet is. Here is Saturn and Pluto:

UPDATE JULY 28, 2010 See part 2 of this post: