GALLERY OF FRANK R. PAUL's SCIENCE FICTION ARTWORK
COLLECTING FRANK R. PAUL ORIGINAL ARTWORK
Every once in a while, I get a note or email from someone inquiring about collecting original Frank R. Paul artwork. My first, flippant response is: Good luck.
The sad truth is that Paul's are now extremely rare, and quite expensive.
The largest collection I have ever seen go on sale was from the Sam Moskowitz collection at Sotheby's, in June, 1999; the catalog cover is reproduced above. The catalog notes, regrettably, that "Not a single black and white illustration or cover painting from the Amazing Stories period are today known to exist." This, straight out of the premiere auction house's mouth. Quite a travesty, as this means that Paul's original visions of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Land that Time Forgot, with dinosaurs clambering over a submarine, and H.G. Wells' Martian war machines - are all lost forever. Moreover the catalog (p. 31) notes, "There are only three [cover] paintings in existence from the year 1929 from Science Wonder Stories and only a handful from the following year 1930." In addition, at least one 1929 Air Wonder Stories original artwork still exists. "After 1929, Paul's paintings became more common, with the majority surviving being examples from the famous back-cover 'themes of life on other worlds' series that was featured for Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures.' (p. 61)
The original artwork offered for sale at auction in this catalog (with pre-auction estimates) were:
Air Wonder Stories, October 1929, $20,000 - 40,000
Science Wonder Quarterly, Winter 1930 (see above), $20,000 - 40,000
Wonder Stories, April 1936, $15,000 - 25,000
Lot 736 of Paul and Alex Schomburg cover art for Forecast issues for 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1966 (Dec. 1951, 1952, 1953, 1966). 1966 cover is by Schomburg; unclear which artist did covers for other issues. $1,500 - 2,500
Lot 737 Forecast 1956, Dec. 1955, $1,000 - 2,000
Lot 738 of covers for Forecast 1955 and Forecast 1957, Dec. 1954 and 1956, $1,250 - 2,250
Lot 739 Forecast 1959, Dec. 1958, $800 - 1,200
Lot 740 Forecast 1961, Dec. 1960, $1,000 - 2,000
Lot 666 Forecast 1962, Dec. 1961, $1,000 - 2,000
Lot 667 Forecast 1963, Dec. 1962, $1,000 - 2,000
Magazine back covers:
Science Fiction Plus, August, 1953, End of the Moon, $1,000 - 1,500
Lot 655 of Science Fiction Plus back cover (date not given) plus four misc. interiors, $1,000 - 2,000
Interior artwork includes:
Science Fiction Plus, June, 1953, Saturn - Queen of the Sky, $1,000 - 2,000
Science Fiction Plus, August, 1953, End of the Moon, $800 - 1,200
Science Fiction Plus, June, 1953, The World in 2046, $800 - 1,200
Lot 558 of three Paul interiors, 1950's, including Evolution of Modern Science Fiction, $1,000 - 1,500
Lot 559 of five Paul illustrations of futuristic cars from Forecast, $800 - 1,200
Lot 656 of eight Paul illustrations, from Forecast and Science Fiction Plus, including The Celestial Brake (from Science Fiction Plus, no. 6), $1,500 - 2,500
Lot 657, Paul painting of a Martian, $1,000 - 2,000
Lot 658 of eleven Paul paintings of futuristic televisions, from Forecast (1955 and 1958) and Science Fiction Plus, 1950's to 1960's, $1,500 - 2,500
Lot 659 of ten Paul illustrations of future warfare, from Forecast and Science Fiction Plus, $1,500 - 2,500
Lot 660 of ten misc. Paul illustrations, from Forecast and Science Fiction Plus, $1,000 - 2,000
Lot 661 of eleven misc. Paul illustrations, from Forecast and Science Fiction Plus, $2,500 - 3,500
Lot 662 of twenty-three misc. Paul illustrations, from Forecast and Science Fiction Plus, $1,500 - 2,500
Lots 664 and 665 both featured Paul illustrations mixed in with those of other artists (inc. John Giunta and Ed Valigursky), $700 - 1,000 (lot 664); $800 - 1,200 (lot 665)
Forecast 1960, Dec. 1959, Future Spaceliners, $700 - 1,000
Lot 669 of a Paul illustration of a futuristic hospital from Forecast, $800 - 1,200
Lot 670 of Paul illustration from Forecast of electroencephalogram, electrocardiograph, electropsychometer, polygraph and totalizer, $1,000 - 2,000
Forecast 1954, Dec. 1953, Television-Guided Spaceship, $700 - 900
Lot 672 of Paul illustration of satellite and space construction, from Forecast, $700 - 900
Lot 673 of Paul illustration of moonbase, from Forecast, $800 - 1,200
Lot 674 of six Paul illustrations of TV, Mars, Space TV, a spaceman lab suit, solar system, and a futuristic lab, from Forecast, $800 - 1,200
Hugo Gernsback's Ultimate World, 1971, Walker & Company, New York, $1,000 - 2,000
I occasionally see Frank R. Paul's artwork appear on sale at eBay. Mostly these are interior art, e.g., Electronic Duel from Forecast 1955.
The original painting for Paul's illo for Fantastic Adventures back cover Feb. 1940 (Life on Pluto) was also sold at auction for $15,412 at Askart.com.
Other Pauls known to still be extant:
The May 1933 Wonder Stories cover painting is still around, though it has acquired some mold damage. The owner is interested in selling, so please email me if you're interested in buying.
The Nov. 1942 Fantastic Adventures back cover painting sold on eBay for $5,250. It was sold by Heritage Gallery and Auctioneers. Here is their description:
Adventures November, 1942 (Ziff-Davis). Number five in a 13-painting series
titled Greek Gods & Heroes. These early-1940s back cover paintings are
considered to be some of Paul's very best work. Ziff-Davis Publications had a
strict policy of no nudity on their covers, yet Paul managed to feature a number
of nude women in this painting. As best as can be determined, this is the only
surviving painting from the "Greek Gods" series.
Mixed media on board, approximately 18 x 13.5. Signed lower left.
In addition, Forrest J. Ackerman had a number of original Pauls. Unfortunately, it appears that he had to sell most of these to pay for his litigation over ownership of Famous Monsters. When I was at his Ackermansion in early 2001, he still had a few Paul interiors. He did have a number of reproductions of Paul's work re-painted by Anton Brzezinski.
AS FAR AS COLLECTING PULP MAGAZINES WITH PAUL's ARTWORK...
This isn't so bad... for most things. Old issues of Amazing and Air/Science Wonder should set you back ten to twenty-bucks each. Occasional issues in particularly good quality might go for fifty to seventy-five. The exceptions are the first issue of Amazing and the "Buck Rogers" issue, Amazing, Aug. 1928, which I have seen go on eBay for $300-$400 and $800-1000, respectively, depending on the quality. The other rarity is the only issue of Amazing Stories annual, from 1927. This annual has been dubbed (I don't know how accurately) as the "rarest of all pulps" and I saw one really nice copy sell on eBay for $2,500 (wow!).
Most of the other magazines will go in the more reasonable ten to thirty or forty dollar range. Exceptions include Comet Stories, which is really hard to find. Gernsback's Forecast magazines also seem to be very rare, but there doesn't seem to be much interest, either, to drive up the prices. Superworld Comics in any condition are also extremely rare, with the first issue typically going for $300 - $400, and the other two $100 - $150. I also only occasionally see Electrical Experimenter available anywhere (hence info on Paul interiors in that magazine on this site is scant). If you see any of these come up on eBay or elsewhere, snatch them up if you can afford it, because you probably won't see it again for a long time.
Undoubtedly the most precious publication with Paul's cover artwork is Marvel Comics, issue no. 1, from Nov. 1939. The Moskowitz auction catalog noted that "Overstreet states that less than 50 copies of this book are known to exist and only a handful exist in higher grades" and set a pre-auction estimate of $20,000 - 30,000. Good luck getting THAT one.
Some dealers selling pulps that I have bought stuff from are:
Kayo Books, 814 Post Street, San Francisco CA 94109, email@example.com; http://www.sfo.com/~kayo, 415-749-0554, open Wed-Sun 11-6. They have lots of old Amazing Stories issues.
Also try Bill Slater, based in Grants Pass, Oregon, at 472-9015; he does a lot of the west coast sci-fi cons (I just saw him at WesterCon '01), and he has piles of old pulp magazines for sale that are (surprise surprise) really well-organized.
OFFICIAL FRANK R. PAUL GALLERY
ROOM 1 (Amazing Stories, Air Wonder Stories, Science Wonder Stories)
ROOM 2 (Wonder Stories)
ROOM 3 (Other Magazines)
ILLUSTRATED CHECKLIST of Paul's work Parts I, II, III and IV.
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