Collecting ASE's


ARMED SERVICES EDITIONS were cheaply produced and distributed free in the expectation that they would not only be read, but read up, as well. As it happened, some Gl's brought copies home when they came back from the war; and even today, odd ASE volumes are easily and cheaply acquired in second-hand bookshops (the going rate for run-of-the-mill copies is about $2).

The Library of Congress owns a complete set of ASE's, acquired under copyright. The most important other surviving sets of ASE's were originally put together by persons with a connection to the Council on Books in Wartime.

The UVa Library's virtually complete set, acquired by purchase in 1963, was formerly the property of Philip Van Doren Stern, an editor at Pocket Books who became the general manager of the ASE project. Because Stern's copies of these books were never distributed (or possibly even read), they are in a remarkably fine state of preservation, in general much better than those in the collection of the Book Arts Press.



Comic books never appeared as ASE's, a circumstance that has not prevented collectors from making the ASE of George Lowther's The Adventures of Superman (the novel on which the comic-book figure was based) the most expensive ASE on the market.

Inevitably, another desirable ASE is Tarzan of the Apes; most copies were read to bits, and the relatively few surviving copies of Tarzan and a sequel, The Return of Tarzan (also published as an ASE), are most likely to be found in file sets like the one owned by the UVa Library.

ASE's with fantasy/science-fiction themes were popular during World War II and collectible after it; the war ushered in a golden age of science fiction and fantasy, and the series included a number of classics old and new in these genres.