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
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 item.
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
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 published.”
Beneath that photo is a tribute from Jim Sullos,
dedicating this edition of the book to JCB as well as to his sons, Danton
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
(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 map.”
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
* 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 dust jacket.'
For more information about those, visit
the website or contact Gerlach at firstname.lastname@example.org