Collecting Lovecraft, Part I

Collecting Lovecraft, Part I

HP Lovecraft Ballantine Paperbacks-small

Last month I wrote about the first Arkham House books I ever bought, the beautiful 3-volume 1964 edition of the complete stories of H.P. Lovecraft. It was a splendid purchase, and a great introduction to the master. But, as I mentioned last month, collecting Lovecraft can be a lot of fun, and that initial purchase robbed me of the joy of tracking down his fiction in paperback. Until I finally decided to do it anyway.

Now, if you’re going to start collecting Lovecraft in paperback (and why wouldn’t you?) I recommend starting with the 1958 Avon paperback Cry Horror!, originally released as The Lurking Fear. That’s a terrific little book.

Of course, it’s just one book, and one that’s pretty easy to find, really. Amazon has copies starting at $7.95, and eBay has around a dozen copies, starting at $6.99. You want more of a challenge than that, don’t you?

The Lurking Fear HP Lovecraft-smallOf course you do. So let’s look at our other options.

Jove books published a handsome two-volume paperback set of Lovecraft’s finest stories in 1978: The Colour Out of Space and The Dunwich Horror and Others, with great covers by Rowena. Also pretty easy to find (I bought copies of both for about five bucks each),

But if you’re looking for a more comprehensive library of Lovecraft in paperback, I highly recommend the Ballantine paperbacks edited by August Derleth and published by arrangement with Arkham House in the early 70s.

There were a dozen volumes, including two books of Lovecraft pastiches by Derleth himself and a Lovecraft bio by Lin Carter. What I really like about these volumes — in addition to the striking cover art by Murray Tinkelman — is that they collected Lovecraft’s fiction thematically with each volume, including his Dream-Quest stories and his revisions.

These can be a tad more challenging to find in good condition, but still less expensive than buying new paperbacks, of course. I recently bought the seven volumes above on eBay — most in nearly brand new, unread condition — for less than six bucks each.

I’ll explore these volumes a little more in future posts. For now, I’ll leave you with a pic of the core set (above), and the cover of the very first Lovecraft paperback, The Lurking Fear, published by Avon in 1947 (click for bigger versions).

And remember: collect what you love and share your collection when you can. Collecting is a social hobby, when it’s done right.

If you enjoy looking at pics of vintage paperbacks (and who doesn’t?), our other articles on SF & fantasy series and collecting may interest you:

Collecting Lovecraft, Part I
Collecting Lovecraft, Part II
Collecting Lovecraft, Part III: The Arkham Hardcovers
Collecting Karl Edward Wagner
Collecting Robert A. Heinlein
Collecting Philip K. Dick
Collecting Arthur C. Clarke
Collecting Isaac Asimov
The Collections of Tanith Lee
The Novels of Tanith Lee: The Wars of Vis
James Bond in Outer Space: The Croyd Spacetime Maneuvres Novels of Ian Wallace
Clones, Deep Space Ships, and Surviving the Apocalypse on a Submarine: The Pocket Richard Cowper

See all of our Vintage Treasure posts here.

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Joe H.

Love those covers! That was my first edition of Kadath (before it was lost in the flood; sigh). The replacement was the original BAF edition, but I really wouldn’t mind getting that one again as well. And the other covers are all brand new to me.

smitty59

My first Lovecraft book was the Lancer paperback, “The Color Out of Space and Other Stories,” with a hot pink border, surrounding a skeleton in a bridal gown and veil backlit in neon blue. I got it the year it was published: 1964 — and I still have it. I picked up most of the Beagle paperbacks as they were published, found a few of the Ballantine reprints a few years later, and had two of the three Arkham House hardcover collections before losing one to basement flooding. Several years ago, I started what is now an annual tradition for me: in October, I read nothing but horror fiction. Like some of the other folks who have posted here, I tend to have books for a few years before I get the chance (or inclination) to read them, and my Lovecraft collection is no exception. I guess it’s sort of like parceling out your fine wines over time, rather than consuming them all at once. Can’t wait for October 1…

westkeith

Good timing on your post, John. I’ve been in the mood to read some Lovecraft lately.

BTW, were the books shown above published before or after the BAF Lovecraft volumes? (And yes, I will include those in the BAF series.)

Joe H.

Interesting — I didn’t remember that my original Kadath didn’t have the Cater introduction. Is the Carter introduction included in Sarnath? Are they otherwise printed from the same plates? (If you have both editions, just check a couple of pages to see if they’re identical.)

Technically I’m not sure if Survivor and Fungi were BAF titles — they were definitely associational, at least (like Peake and Eddison), but they don’t have the Unicorn Head. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that edition of Survivor — I’d be interested in the contents.

smitty59

John — That’s it! I try to keep my copy free from exposure to the elements. Looks like I misspelled “Colour” and got the title a little wrong. I did eventually replace the damaged book, and found a rather expensive copy of the 3rd Arkham House collection.

Joe H.

John — Thanks! Very informative. (And I didn’t twig to the fact that Survivor was another Derleth volume — I was getting the title confused with Lovecraft’s The Outsider.)

I wonder why they kept the Carter introduction in Sarnath but not in Kadath. (Actually, as I think about it, my original Sarnath (also lost to the flood, dammit) was the Whelan edition, and it too was internally identical to bhe BAF edition.)

Actually, as I think about it,

Joe H.

Hmmmm … Not sure if it was cut off, or if it just ended up with a sentence fragment at the end there because I was flipping back & forth to the ISFDB (a potentially very evil site) to check details on the Sarnath & Kadath reprints.

If I get a chance I’ll have to reread the intros to see if I can find any indication there of why they might have dropped the one but not the other.

westkeith

Sorry to drop out of the conversation over the weekend, guys. Joe is correct that there were some associational Lovecraft collections that never had the unicorn head colophon and as a result aren’t considered part of the BAF series itself. I’m not sure why that is, because the ones I’ve seen (I don’t have all of them) all have covers done by the same artist. I’ve got the associational volumes in with my BAF volumes, fwiw.

westkeith

John,

That was pretty much what I assumed. Considering the other HPL volumes look identical to the BAF versions except for the colophon, I tend to treat them as though they were part of the series, at least as far as my collecting and shelving is concerned.

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