Find it Friday! – Week 29.

On this day, December 6th, in 2006 NASA revealed photographs taken by Mars Global Surveyor that suggested the presence of liquid water on Mars! So, in honour of this today’s Find it Friday is a celebration of the exploration of and the race into space.

This album titled ‘The Race into Space: Man’s first 50 steps into the universe’ holds 50 cards showing various images of space, space exploration equipment and “space experts”. The picture cards were found, free, in packs of Brooke Bond tea and tea bags. The cards and the album were published by Brooke Bond Oxo LTD, and were part of a larger collection of albums including ‘The Saga of Ships’, ‘Prehistoric Animals’, ‘Famous People 1869 – 1969’, ‘History of the Motor Car’ and ‘Flags and Emblems of the World’. (There were many, many more available but these are the titles we hold in our collection.)

‘The Race into Space’ was first published in 1971, however a reprint was issued in 1974. To date the cards and the album is fairly simple; the first edition cards had the text on their reverse printed in blue, whereas the reprints were in black. Of course, if the cards are glued securely into the album it would be almost impossible to see this without damaging the cards and/or the album. However, luckily for us, three of the card in the album are not glued in, although held in their right place in the album they are not glued to the actual page, making dating the cards simple. The cards in our copy are first edition, they have blue text.

Dating the album is slightly more difficult.  Whereas the cards were free to collect you had to order and pay for the album to store them in. The price was 5p(1/-) and this is written on the front cover, how it is written is how you date the copy. On the first edition it is written in a medium font that is wide in style but on the second edition the ‘5’ is more compact and the ‘p(1/-)’ is much thinner than the earlier copy. Unlike the cards, this is difficult unless you can compare the two types and although I am inclined to say that this copy we have is a first edition as the text seems quite wide, I can’t say with any certainty that this is correct.

Along side the cards the album is full of detailed diagrams, beautiful illustrations and scientific information presented in various clear ways. The back of the album states that this series of picture cards are offered in the interest of education, and rightly so; whether you are just a card collector or a space enthusiast the information is knowledgeable, detailed and thorough yet still easy to read, understandable and engaging, there is even a glossary, despite the small size of the book, to explain the harder words and the not-so-familiar terms that pop up.

This collection is in perfect condition and a beautiful and wonderful piece to have, it even comes with an introduction from the late Sir Patrick Moore, which reads as follows:

Sir Patrick Moore.

Sir Patrick Moore.

“We are living in the Space Age, Science fiction has become science fact, and great advances are being made every year. The Moon has been reached; our rockets have been sent out to the planets Venus and Mars, and within the next decade or two we should be able to receive television pictures from the very boundaries of the Solar System.

Space research has become a part of our everyday lives, and we can watch its progress; by now there can be few people who have not seen starlike points crawling across the sky – the artificial satellites, circling the world and sending back their information. And it is more than likely that some of those who are starting to collect this series of cards will actually go to the Moon – perhaps even beyond. It is a staggering thought, but is by no means unlikely.

I commend this series of cards; it is factual, comprehensive and well-produced. If you collect the whole series, you will learn much from the pictures and texts. After all, we have entered a new age. Earthly isolationism ended at that moment on July 21, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin stepped out on to the Sea of Tranquility.”

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