Friday, January 21, 2011

Whitman TV Books

I'm in Seattle for a week starting today, but I had a post saved up so you faithful Uncle Atom blog followers won't miss out or go through withdrawal.

Collecting stuff that ties to classic TV shows from the 1950s and 60s and early 70s is a big focus of the things that gathers dust at the Uncle Atom crib.  Here's another example.

I'm still working on a good way to display a vast collection of future dust gatherers, my horde of kids books published by Whitman.  Whitman also published those tiny Big Little Books.  You probably see these books all the time.  I do too.  I used to pick up the best examples a lot, until I think I found nearly all of the TV themed books.

While some later ones had photo art on the cover, the earlier examples had either photo art or an illustration with a glossy plastic coating on the colorful cover.  Most also had a logo on the cover that said something like "Authorized TV Edition." A lot of these you find today have peeling covers.  Over the years I was buying these, I cherry picked the ones that didn't have peeling or loose covers.

The art on some of these is really great.  They kind of remind me of the lunchboxes I also collect - very colorful, graphic drawings or photo illustrations confined to a standard size.  I can't help it, I love em.

I've never actually read one of these. I doubt if I could tolerate the writing for long.  But they capture an era before videos and video games, when you might get three TV channels if you were lucky, and stuff like comic books and board games were all you had.

I plan to make a display shelf that would show the covers of these rather than the spines.  It's on my to do list, but then, that's a long list.  In the meantime, I will scan these little by little and throw them up on the blog.

Does anybody else have these Whitman TV books?  How do you display them?  Am I nuts?


  1. These are great!! I used to collect 1950's/1960's movie tie-in books (anything with a still from the movie on the cover, be it Planet of the Apes or The Misfits) dozens of 'em, but, like yours, mine are just collecting dust on a shelf. I also have a blue million of those old "Doc Savage" paperbacks I picked up for nothing at an estate sale. They're all too neat-looking to pass up, but I'll be interested to see what other people say about displaying them, as I'd like to know myself! :)

  2. Those are pretty cool! I actually read a MASH themed one once. It must have come out after the show ended because it was about what the characters were doing after the war. They were at some medical convention, chasing nurses per usual. The writing style was pretty tedious! Remember all those Sci-Fi books I scored a while back? The same day but at a different sale I got a little wire store display made for brochures. The books fit perfectly! I put the ones with the best covers in the front slots and the rest fit nicely on the bottom of the rack. It actually takes up minimal space. Def, less that a bookshelf! Enjoy your trip :-)

  3. Of all my favorites, Cheyenne would top the list. I actually have this one. Westerns were always my favorite. My collection also includes Have Gun Will Travel, The Rifleman and others. Great post. Thanks, Richard.

  4. I don't have this exact brand, but I do have many childhood books and Mom collected quite a few from different eras.

    I put mine on book shelves, some on end, alternating with some stacks on their backs, a few facing outward for viewing. Then I rotate when I dust. A vintage book display shelf (where fronts face outward) from an old book store or library would be ideal!

  5. You are definitely NOT nuts! I LOVE those old Whitman books - any of 'em- but I'll admit, the TV ones are some of my faves! I don't have the ones you do, but I have some others. And I continue to purchase them, despite the fact that I most certainly do not need them, and that we ran out of book shelf space LONG ago!

  6. Thanks for all the comments! I made it back from Seattle, and brought jet lag and a mild case of food poisoning with me, so I don't have a new post as I had hoped. But, I do have more Whitman books so I'll post some more pics of those.

  7. Does anyone know how many Whitman t.v. books there are? Thank you!

  8. This book has a great list of them. are a far I have collected about 100 in my collection...and as far as displaying them..on a bookcase..I have no room to display the front covers though I wish I could!