ERB: In Focus

ERB in Focus

Robert Zeuschner




Bob Zeuschner

If you have a question about some aspect of the life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, or about how to identify a first state of the first edition of Jungle Tales of Tarzan from the second state, third state, or fourth state, then you need a Burroughs bibliography. Let me take you on a brief tour of the major reference works available to those interested in Edgar Rice Burroughs and his writings.

If your question is about specific printings, color of cloth covers, number of pages, interior illustrations, etc. then you need a Burroughs bibliography. There are several which can answer most questions.

Henry H. Heins, A Golden Anniversary Bibliography of Edgar Rice Burroughs (Rhode Island: Donald M. Grant, 1964)

The first title is the "Burroughs bible," the classic in the field, the book published forty years ago in September 1964 by the late Rev. Henry Hardy Heins, who passed away in 2003.

In this book Henry Heins did a ground-breaking job of sorting out the various Burroughs printings prior to 1964. This large volume also includes extensive appendices which include original A. C. McClurg and ERB, Inc. advertisements for the various titles, and a great appreciation of J. Allen St. John, the Burroughs artist par excellence. There are very few places where later scholarship has determined that Mr. Heins' analysis was problematic, and that there are so very few is a tribute to the painstaking effort that Heins put into the creation of this reference classic.

The strengths of his volume is its extraordinary reliability and its comprehensive treatment of all the books published through 1964. It is clearly a labor of love. No foreign printings are discussed except for a few Canadian titles.

The actual 1964 first edition of this is hard to find, and has sold for very premium prices for many years. Luckily, in August of 2001 the original publisher, Donald M. Grant, brought out a slip-cased reproduction of the original book, signed by and with a new postscript by Henry Heins.

Henry H. Heins, A Golden Anniversary Bibliography of Edgar Rice Burroughs: Complete Edition Revised (Rhode Island: Donald M. Grant, 2001).

The contents are identical with the 1964 print, except for several pages added at the end of the book, Part Three: Postscript and Errata - 2001, where Heins provides a corrected description of the actual first edition of Tarzan of the Apes, The Girl From Hollywood, and a few Canaveral titles. It does not include any of the reprints published after 1964.

The book is still in print and can be purchased new for $100 from the publisher, Donald M. Grant at

You can also read about Heins at this url:

After waiting almost thirty years for someone to publish an update to the classic bibliography by Rev. Heins described above, long-time collector Robert Zeuschner decided to start work on bringing together all of the information compiled on all the Burroughs titles published since 1965, and to also include updated information on some of the very few errors in Heins's book. After lengthy consideration, Zeuschner decided not to use the format that Rev. Heins had used, but chose an alphabetical listing format. After six years of various drafts, shared with other Burroughs collectors and improved by them, in August of 1995 Zeuschner submitted his completed ms. and several hundred photos and artworks to the publisher McFarland & Company of North Carolina, under the title The Fantasy Realms of Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Reference Handbook. The publisher accepted the manuscript, but then proceeded to change the book to match the editor's own conceptions, which included eliminating all the photos of books, magazines and the artwork, rearranging, renumbering and retitling the book. After extended discussion, the publisher finally agreed to utilize many of the photos that Zeuschner had submitted, but insisted that they had to use their own title over Zeuschner's vociferous objections. After a year of waiting, the book was published as:

Robert B. Zeuschner, Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Exhaustive Scholar's And Collector's Descriptive Bibliography of American Periodical, Hardcover, Paperback, And Reprint Editions, with a Forward by Philip José Farmer (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, November 18th, 1996).

Many Burroughs collectors fondly refer to it as the bibliography with the absurdly long title.

The amount of misinformation and misunderstandings about Burroughs editions continues to this day, especially on such places as internet auction houses like eBay, and the Zeuschner book was written with an eye to alleviating this condition. Thus the book was designed not only for Burroughs specialists, but also intended for book shop owners, rare book dealers, auction houses, and all the others who buy and sell Burroughs items. For this reason, each title was listed alphabetically on the assumption that a dealer might not know which series a particular title belonged to, but the title itself can always be found easily. Books with two titles, like The Oakdale Affair and the Rider were listed under both to assist the user. All alternate titles are cross-referenced in the extensive index. The book has a long biographical appreciation of ERB as an introductory essay. In addition to listing all of the books alphabetically, there were numerous additional appendices on unpublished works by Burroughs, Big Little Books, pastiches, the value of ERB first editions, and an attempt was made to compile the most extensive bibliography of book titles, magazine articles, and fan publications relating to Burroughs. There were also essays on pricing and values of Burroughs first editions, chronological lists of Burroughs hardbacks by publication date, descriptions of the major first edition and reprint publishers of Burroughs, and newly discovered information on actual print runs by McClurg, etc. A great deal of effort was put into making the index of the volume as comprehensive as possible; just about every fact about Burroughs publications is listed in the fifteen-page index.

The strengths of the Zeuschner volume is that it clarifies the various editions, states, and printings of the American hardbacks and the earlier pulp publications which preceded the hardbacks. It also includes actual publication numbers, where that information was available. The book is weaker when it comes to paperback printings. The American paperback descriptions are not intended to be comprehensive, as the book's introduction makes clear. The first appearance of ERB's novel in paperback is listed, and then the only subsequent paperback reprintings listed were those which were significantly different from the previous printings, such as having a new publisher, new cover art, a new introduction, etc. When Zeuschner's book was finished in late 1995, the publisher Donald M. Grant had announced the imminent publication of two new Burroughs titles, You Lucky Girl! and Marcia of the Doorstep. Relying on Grant's dates, the bibliography lists the dates of publication for these as 1997. Due to unexpected delays, Grant didn't bring them out until 1999.

No foreign printings of Burroughs titles are included in the Zeuschner bibliography except for a thorough discussion of the differences caused by similar book titles, one of which was published in England: The Man Without A Soul (the second half of The Mucker published in England by Methuen) and A Man Without A Soul (The Monster Men).

The Burroughs bibliography by Zeuschner has two states. The first is the uncorrected first state. After publication, some factual errors and typographic errors were discovered. Several pages of corrections were sent to the publisher and were incorporated into the text, resulting in the second state, the CORRECTED REPRINTING (noted on the back of the title page). It is unknown how many books exist in the uncorrected first state of the first edition; perhaps five or six hundred.

The book is still in print, although the publisher reports that it's stock is nearly depleted. It can be ordered from the author, Robert B. Zeuschner.

Dr. J. G. "Huck" Huckenpöhler, The Edgar Rice Burroughs Collector's Pocket Checklist, 6th edition, August 2003, 112 pages, compact paper format, $10.00

The two reference works by Heins and Zeuschner are hardbacks, are bulky, and are intended to be put on the shelf of the book's owner and used whenever the need arose. However, a serious Burroughs collector who is essaying a complete collection has another need. The collector trying to amass a comprehensive collection needs to have a much more compact listing which provides the title and edition of each ERB text, so that the owner can mark off which are already in his or her collection, and which are not. The life-long scholar, bibliographer and collector, Dr. J. G. "Huck" Huckenpöhler created a smaller pocket checklist in the form of a small booklet, to satisfy that need. A new edition is published about every two years. The most recent one that I have is the sixth edition, dated August 2003.

Reflecting the purpose for which the checklist was created, instead of listing each book by title, Dr. Huckenpöhler breaks the listings up in terms of (a) magazines, (b) first editions, (c) hardbound reprints, (d) paperback printings, (e) Burroughs tales in anthologies, (f) stories adapted for young readers, (g) non-Burroughs additions, (h) Big-Little Books and Fast Action Books, (h) comic books, (i) secondary works, (j) Canadian hardbacks, and (k) Canadian paperbacks.

The obvious advantage of The Pocket Checklist is its size. It will fit easily into the back pocket on a pair of jeans. It does not provide descriptions of each book (that information is included in the first two bibliographies described above); rather, it provides the title and a place for the collector to check off those titles in the collector's library.

This is in print, and the latest edition can be obtained from its author, Dr. J. G. Huckenpöhler.

George T. McWhorter, Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Collection: A Catalog (Sierra Madre, CA: Bottleneck Blues Press: House of Greystoke, 1991)

Another interesting bibliographic resource is the out-of-print book written by the curator of the Burroughs Memorial Collection and rare book librarian at the University of Louisville, George T. McWhorter. Mr. McWhorter built what is very likely the world's largest collection of Burroughs books and related materials in honor of George's mother, Nell Dismukes McWhorter, and that collection was ultimately donated to the University of Louisville. New items and entire collections are continually added, increasing the size and range of the Louisville holdings. In this book, Mr. McWhorter provided a profusely illustrated descriptive catalog of the wide range of titles in the Louisville library through 1990, including many foreign printings.

McWhorter's book is a wonderful resource. The black-and-white photographs provide an illustrated descriptive catalog of some of the extensive Burroughs collection at U of L. The book also includes excellent and informative introductory essays which list the Burroughs titles and information on publishers. Unfortunately the book is now out of print and unavailable except on the rare book market. However, it is hoped that some day McWhorter will produce an updated version.

Bottleneck Blues Press is Robert Zeuschner's desktop publishing service. The House of Greystoke is the publishing arm of the Burroughs literary society, the Burroughs Bibliophiles. If one would like to contact the author, his address is:

George McWhorter

Department of Rare Books

University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky 40292

Glenn Erardi, Guide to Tarzan Collectibles (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1998)

Glenn Erardi, Collecting Edgar Rice Burroughs: With Price Guide (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2000)

Glenn Erardi has written two large paperbound books specifically aimed at the collecting market. One of them focuses on the Tarzan books and related items, and the other focuses on non-Tarzan related Burroughs books, hardbacks and paperbacks, a few foreign editions, and other collectibles.

In addition to the descriptions collected in these two paperback volumes, their major strength is that each is profusely illustrated with color photos on every page. A handful of world-class collectors provided photos of items in their collections for these volumes. It is a real treat for Burroughs collectors to see photos of all of the titles that are not yet in one's personal collection, or to see really fine examples of really rare titles. A range of values is provided for each item.

The Guide to Tarzan Collectibles also provides photos of many of the toys and other doo-dads (a term Burroughs collectors use to refer to things like Tarzan-related bread wrappers, Tarzan dolls and toys, puzzles, statues, pins, Tarzan rings and swings, underwear, party gear, etc.) that have been produced and sold with the name "Tarzan" on them. Although there are many hundreds more doo-dads than are included in this volume, it does provide a great survey of the major collectibles. Mr. Erardi could easily double the size of his reference volume if he ever chooses to bring out a second edition.

There is always a problem when a book attempts to provide values for rare books. Mr. Erardi publishes a syndicated newspaper column dealing with rare and collectible items, and he and others recognize that it is very difficult to describe condition on a rare book sold at auction, and authors are also aware that it is only those books in excellent condition and excellent dust jackets which can command the premium prices which he lists. Nevertheless, some book dealers see the high prices listed in the Erardi book, and the Bergan book described below, and assume that their poor condition editions should get a comparable price.

James Bergan, ERB Reference Price Guide ($60) (paper, Golden Lion Press, 1996)

Another bibliography somewhat similar to the Erardi guides is James Bergan's much earlier series of self-published paperbound guides to the values which Burroughs books bring in the rare book market. Beginning in the early 1990s, Bergan collected together some bibliographic information, and as much information as he could find about what Burroughs novels tend to sell for at auction and at used book shops. Like Erardi's books described above, Bergan recognizes how difficult it is to determine the condition on a rare book, and knows that condition is essential to the value of a collectible volume by any author. Only those books in excellent condition and excellent dust jackets sold to wealthy collectors can command the premium prices that Bergan lists.

Mr. Bergan's reference book includes reproductions of black-and-white art by many Burroughs artists, including numerous illustrations done by the author himself, and the book has been available in numerous different printings, some hardback, some paperbound. If the newest edition is available, it can be obtained from the author.

A reference book focusing on the specialized field of the Big Little books was recently written by and published by Brian J. Bohnett, and appeared at the end of 2003. It is:

Brian J. Bohnett, with the assistance of Robert Barrett, Tarzan Big Little Books: Edgar Rice Burroughs Collector's Treasury (Holt, Michigan: The Mad Kings Press, 2003).

The 54 page book is paperbound and is a history of the Tarzan Big Little Books, small illustrated paper books from the 1930s through the 1950s, aimed at the children's market. Bohnett's book is not just a listing of each title. There are four pages of color illustrations at the center of the book, but just about every page has several black-and-white illustrations. In addition to the Big Little Books published by Whitman, there is a comprehensive discussion of the similar Fast Action books. This also includes the free give-away service station booklets and the Perkins Premiums. This is an update of the previously published A Guide to Tarzan Big Little Books (Mad Kings: 1996) published in cooperation with the Big Little Book Collectors Club of America).

You can order a copy of this book by sending a letter to the publisher:

Mad Kings Publishing

1909 Chestnut Street

Holt, Michigan 48842

Robert R. Barrett, Tarzan of the Funnies (Holt, Michigan: Mad Kings Publishing, September 2002). 114 pages.

If your interest is the newspaper comic strips devoted to Tarzan, Robert R. Barrett has compiled an erudite and exhaustive study of and analysis of the daily and Sunday Tarzan comic strip from 1929 to the present. For anyone seeking to understand the artists, the writers, the Burroughs materials adapted, and the newspapers involved, this is the research tool. If names like Hal Foster, Burne Hogarth, or Rex Maxon are familiar to you, this book is a great resource.

Mr. Barrett had access to the voluminous correspondence and other records stored in the Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. warehouse, and has unearthed many new facts and resolved some mysteries. The Tarzan funnies were put out by the Metropolitan Newspaper Service and the United Features Syndicate, and the correspondence between Burroughs and these corporations was in the files. Copies can be obtained by writing to George McWhorter at the University of Louisville library

George McWhorter

Department of Rare Books

University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky 40292

or from the publisher.

Mad Kings Publishing

1909 Chestnut Street

Holt, Michigan 48842

Bill Blackbeard, Tarzan in Color (New York: NBM, Flying Buttress Classics Library), 1993- If your interest in the Sunday Tarzan newspaper funnies extends beyond research, you can try to locate and purchase an eighteen-volume collection of those pages reproduced in color and full size. A few of these were printed in paperback. The rest are hardback. They are now out of print.