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Volume 5358
Back to "Back to the Stone Age"
By John Martin
Book Scans by Bill Hillman
It 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 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 years.

  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.

There 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 book.

  “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 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

  (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,

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 dust jacket.'

    For more information about those, visit the website or contact Gerlach at

For more on the earlier releases of Back to the Stone Age see the ERBzine C.H.A.S.E.R. Entry
Cover and Interior Art ~ More Rare Art ~ Publishing History ~ Links, etc.

Click for larger images

Behind the Scenes Photos
by Jim Gerlach

Jim Gerlach signing the Back to the Stone Age Special Editions

Project Photos by John Martin

1. View of slipcase
2. Spines compared, without jackets
3. Spines compared, with jackets
First edition B&W frontispiece shown with 
Publisher's Edition new, color art frontispiece
John Martin's grandson with the slipcase open 
showing the position of the printing plate.
The tarag picture, printed in B&W in the orginal book 
and printed in color, the way JCB painted it, in the new edition.

 Jackets, from left, original, Canaveral, erbgraphics variant jacket and the new jacket. 
The erbgraphics jacket art is the first color art the world saw of Back to the Stone Age,
since it was used to illustrate the pulp version. 
That color picture is also one of the illustrations in the new book


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