Messing With "The Stripe"



Signet 710           Signet 724            Signet 817



Signet 735           Avati Prelim


Signet 1001










Vintage paperback collectors can spot a book from a distance and tell you exactly which company published it. Each had a distinctive style and appearance.

The distinguishing characteristic about NAL Signet? The colored "stripe" at the top and bottom of the cover, which sometimes held the title, but most often was the portion of the presentation which was dedicated to copywriting (the publisher's "sales pitch" for the book). The top stripe also held the Signet colophon and book number in the upper left corner.

On very rare occasions, the illustration was allowed to encroach on the bottom stripe of the cover. At times, it was subtle, such as #710 (art by Jonas), where the art extends slightly into the top stripe, as well. Other times, such as the Avati cover for #724, the Graphics Department didn't do a very good job of merging the two areas. The Barye Phillips cover for Signet 817 seemed to merge the two areas almost flawlessly.

"Prelims" (artists' preliminary sketches and paintings) are often difficult to identify, since the finished cover is often radically different from the first imprecise drawings. This signed prelim by James Avati is pretty simple to place, however, because of the concept of the key dangling into the lower stripe. Fewer than ten Signet covers (as far as I can find) allowed the artist to infringe on that area.


Signet 1001 (5th printing only) had white top and bottom stripes. I know of no other Signet book that had that characteristic. (Many thanks to "paperboybob" for allowing me to use that scan).