was back to “Back to the Stone Age” for about 300 Edgar Rice Burroughs
fans this Spring as they were able to acquire a unique edition of the fifth
book in the Inner World saga.
This special reprint, designated as the “Publisher’s Edition,”
was guided to realization by ERB fan Jim Gerlach of Irving, Texas, who
oversaw the project every meticulously detailed step of the way and maintained
the highest degrees of quality control as well as tender, loving care.
The result was the first book published by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Inc., Tarzana, California, in 50 years -- a book printed in New York, bound
in San Antonio, fitted with its gorgeous wrap-around dust jacket in Chicago,
packed for shipping in Jim Gerlach’s garage, and delivered to customers
by Federal Express.
Gerlach said ERB Inc. and Jim Sullos, president of the corporation,
deserve lots of credit for jumping back into the publishing business after
all these years.
And Gerlach certainly deserves the highest plaudits for conceiving
and seeing through this unique and memorable endeavor.
The project took root when Gerlach “…came across 460 original
copper printing plates used to print the first editions of three Edgar
Rice Burroughs books: “Cave Girl,” “The Chessmen of
Mars,” and “Back to the Stone Age.”
In a news release about the new edition of BSA, Gerlach reported:
“These plates are made with typeface set in molten copper. The technical
term to describe them is 'electrotype.' Electrotyping was the standard
method for letterpress printers for generations to form a model of the
typeface to use in printing. It's the way all early ERB books were produced,
starting with McClurg and going through the 1950s. Each plate is 4x6-inches,
1/8-inch thick and weighs about a pound and contains a page of print in
reverse. The first edition plates were passed to the reprint publishers
like Grosset & Dunlap, which would use the same plates for as many
as 30 additional printings."
Gerlach said he "discovered that 300 of the plates were for Back
to the Stone Age, the only pre-war ERB book that was not reprinted
by ERB Inc. or Grosset & Dunlap."
He came up with the idea of reprinting that book, using the original
plates, and including one plate with each book to create a unique collector's
It was a great idea. Burroughs fans didn't really need an incentive
to take advantage of the opportunity to obtain such a treasure for their
collections, but one was offered anyway. The pre-publication price of the
$249.99 (plus $10 S&H) book was listed at $224.99, so many, many fans
took advantage of the offer!
The book's binding is just like the original – the distinctive
royal blue color with orange lettering. “The cloth was located only after
weeks of searching…a few days before production,” Gerlach said. “It was
custom-grained with a process very similar to the one used by ERB Inc.
back in the 1930s. The bindery had 100-year-old metal plates that they
stamped into the cloth and boards to achieve the grained effect.”
The 318 pages of text inside are just as they were in the early
edition. Since 300 of the original plates were located, the remaining dozen
and a half had to be recreated, and it was done in expert fashion. The
pages were letterpress-printed.
However, the illustrations in the new edition are much different
than the ones in the original. They are all in color, there are more of
them, some are panoramas that fold out, and they are representative of
the variety of artists and styles which have illustrated ERB books over
The original First Edition had seven illustrations, all printed
in black and white.
The new edition has eight illustrations, but they are spread
over a total of 12 pages, when you count the extra space needed for the
one triple foldout and the two double foldouts that are in the new book.
Gerlach said the illustrations were produced in Dallas. They
are by Tom Grindberg, Joe Jusko, Roy Krenkel and Bob Eggleton. Plus, there
are two paintings by the late Jeffrey Jones, along with a reproduction
of the “Argosy Weekly” cover which featured Emmett Watson's art for the
pulp version of the story, which had been titled “Seven Worlds to Conquer.”
Krenkel's work is his preliminary version of the cover of the first ACE
Books edition of “Back to the Stone Age.” Gerlach said “Bob Barrett
provided the Krenkel art. That was a late addition to the book as the plan
all along was to use the finished ACE cover.
“Jeff Jones’s family gave us special permission to have his two
pieces included in the book,” said Gerlach. “I sent them a complimentary
copy of the edition.”
The Grindberg and Eggleton oil paintings were specially commissioned
pieces of artwork just for this book.
This new edition also features the same dust jacket art by original
illustrator John Coleman Burroughs, ERB's son. Phil Normand did a superb
job recreating the original dust jacket and preparing the other color artwork.
is also an extra illustration, if you count a page at the beginning which
has a photo of JCB doing one of the original pieces of artwork for the
“The photograph of JCB painting the cover of BSA used on the
dedication page,” said Gerlach, “…as best I know has never been previously
Beneath that photo is a tribute from Jim Sullos, dedicating this
edition of the book to JCB as well as to his sons, Danton and John.
In addition to the jacket, one of JCB's original BSA illustrations
is retained in this book, the one which faced page 236, to illustrate the
line: “Five great tarags were slinking onto the floor of the canyon..."
But this time, that JCB artwork appears in full color, the way he originally
painted it! (It faces page 242 in the new edition).
The book has a color map of Pellucidar on both front and back
endpapers. It is designed from a map of the Inner World crafted by Bob
Barrett and Reed Crandall back in the 1960s. The map is map #7 on page
31 of David Critchfield’s great book, “The Gilak’s Guide to Pellucidar”
and can also be seen as the third map on the page at http://www.erbzine.com/mag30/3042.html.
(Critchfield’s book was first published in 2007 and is all about
ERB's seven-book Inner World series. In online ERB discussion lists, Critchfield
likes to call himself Von Horst, the name of the hero of “Back to the Stone
Age.” He still has copies for sale.)
Gerlach said, “I wanted the map to have the feel of an ancient
map/parchment like something from “Lord of the Rings.” The lettering around
the edge was a guess at what the language of Pellucidar might look like.
Critchfield has noted that there is reference to a written hieroglyphic-type
language in the Inner World series.” Gerlach said the Pellucidarian enthusiast
“was very helpful in adding and editing the names and locations on the
Robert LoMascolo did the exacting printing work. Special help
also came from Bob Zeuschner, Fred Daubert, John Gerlach, Buddy Saunders
and Robert Wiener.
The entire book, along with the page plate, comes in a striking
black clamshell case with a gold silhouette of an Inner World mammoth on
the front, back and spine. In addition to identifying the contents of the
case as the book, the spine also reports the case contains "First Edition
Printing Plate 1937."
The new book, identified as the "Second Edition" as well as “Publisher’s
Edition,” is slightly thinner than the original, since the newer paper
is of a higher quality and not as thick as the paper originally used. The
spine on the original dust jacket has the notation: "Illustrated." Instead
of that, the spine on the new book has the "Publisher's Edition" identifier.
On the spine of the book itself, the original has an outline in orange
of a side view of a mammoth. The new edition's spine has the silhouette
of the mammoth's head, full frontal, in orange.
“All 300 books were signed five times on the third page following
the last page of the story (318),” said Gerlach. “So if it were numbered
it would be page 321. The 300 signature pages were flown all over
the country to get the signatures…from Union Springs, NY, (LoMascolo) to
Brooklyn (Grindberg) to R.I. (Eggleton) to Tarzana (Sullos and John Ralston
Burroughs) to San Antonio (bindery). I was the last to sign the book.
I numbered them at the same time.
“It was a crazy day of signing, assembling the plates, shrink
wrapping, driving the 300 books from San Antonio to Irving, Texas, in a
rented truck,” said Gerlach. He was ably assisted along the way by his
teen-age children, Matthew, 16, and Annalise, 15.
Recently, Gerlach said he still had about 20 copies of the book
for sale. They will probably go fast.
He is sold out of the "Chessmen of Mars" printing plates but,
in early July of 2015, had about 40 printing plates left for “Cave Girl.”
These printing plates and other related material, as well as the book itself,
can be purchased through the website, www.bsalimited.com
Other items available:
*An advertising postcard and limited edition advertising
dust jacket was produced in early 2015 to promote the publication of the
edition. There are about 15 left of the original 150.
* A poster-size print of the Pellucidar map
* A limited edition 18x24 signed and numbered “giclee”
(high quality print) of Grindberg’s painting, and
* A few of the promotional packs featuring the advertising
For more information about those, visit the website
or contact Gerlach at firstname.lastname@example.org