The Rarest Dust Jacket - The Return of Tarzan
Ironically, for a jacket so rare, the painting itself still exists.   In a foreword to
Robert Lesser's
Pulp Art, Danton Burroughs, grandson of ERB, wrote:
"This Wyeth painting [left] has an interesting , and partly apocryphal, history. In
1913 my grandfather attempted to buy one of the two Wyeth paintings done for
New Story. The one he wanted would only be sold by Wyeth for a hundred
dollars, a princely sum for anything in 1913. Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote back
to A. L. Sessions, the editor of New Story, and in a letter dated June 14, 1913,
Burroughs stated, "I want to thank you for the trouble you have taken relative to
the cover design by Mr. Wyeth. I am afraid, however, that Mr. Wyeth wants it
worse than I do, so I shall be generous and let him keep it." Many years later, in
1965, Hulbert Burroughs learned of a Wyeth Tarzan painting that still existed;
he purchased it for fifteen hundred dollars, believing that it was the same one
his father had been unable to afford in 1913. In fact, the one my grandfather
sought in 1913 [right] has apparently been lost to the ages. Oddly enough it
wasn't even as interesting a painting as the one we have; the picture Edgar
Rice Burroughs sought to purchase shows two men in ordinary desert garb
riding horses (presumably one of those men is Tarzan). The painting Hulbert
bought  is actually more significant, because it shows Tarzan in his traditional
setting. "
The first edition dust jacket for this book has simply disappeared over the years.  
Today, according to Phil Normand at, only one partial and one
complete copy were known to exist.  No one really knows why.  Only recently
has Phil Normand gained access to the one that exists so that it could be
copied.  Consequently, Phil's facsimile is the most accurate available on the
facsimile market.  I've tried to ascertain what the value of this book with an
intact jacket might be if it came up for auction, but how can anyone make an
accurate estimate on an item so rare.     
Bruce Wood's facsimile version of this rare jacket.

In the fall of 2013 on their SWAG page posted an ad selling a first edition copy of THE RETURN OF TARZAN in a chipped, but still
good copy of the original DJ.  Thus announcing that a second copy of the first edition of this title, in DJ, did exist.

On February 4, 2014, a noted bibliography and ERB collector posted the email below onto the bulletin boards of erb-cof and erblist:

Kaor all --
ERB, Inc. has just purchased a copy of the first edition of _The Return
of Tarzan_ in a full and complete first edition McClurg dust jacket. The
jacket is not fine, and has some chips, but it is certainly very good.
The book and jacket now sits in the ERB, Inc. safe, alongside the near
fine _Tarzan of the Apes_ first in dust jacket which Danton Burroughs
purchased for ERB about 25 years ago.

For those who don't collect the hardbacks and first editions, this is
the rarest dust jacket in all of ERB collectibles, and one of the rarest
in all the used book market.
It is good that ERB, Inc. finally has this title
[Signature removed]

NOTE: It may or may not be important that no sale price was mentioned in the above anouncement.

In response to the above another noted ERB collector and popular raconteur posted the following:

Several years ago, some books were stolen from ERB Inc., perhaps from the safe itself. I can't remember the details, but at the
time a letter was sent out to ERB fans asking that they telephone any tips, and named an L.A.P.D. detective who was working on
the case, and gave his phone number.

Was that case ever solved?

I looked at to see if there was a story about the theft and found only this line:
"1982 A theft at ERB Inc. at Tarzana - the only known perfect copy of RT in dust jacket & 25 other rare books are stolen."

It mentions a perfect copy of Return. Since the copy they just acquired is near-perfect, any chance it's the one that was originally
stolen, and been buffed around a bit since then? The line above doesn't specify whether the other 25 books were ERB books or
other authors from his library.

The single line of info is at:

Is there any more on erbzine about that theft that I missed?

[Signature removed]

A third collector and enthusiast posted the following:

Several of the items were anonymously returned to ERB, Inc. a couple of years ago, in a briefcase--I believe they were reprint
editions, not the big dollar items. Jim Sullos [Current CEO of ERB Inc.] has mentioned this at public gatherings, so this facet of
the tale is not a secret.

[Signature removed]

The web master of also responded:

There is more on this, [name of correspondent removed] - but I'd rather not report or speculate here.

[Signature removed]


A personal note on all this from Charlie:

Is this the copy that was stolen in 1982?  Who knows?  Until ERB Inc. reports on how they obtained their copy, we will probably
never know.

Like almost all the fans on the two primary bulletin board blogs, I'm happy that ERB Inc. has obtained a copy in DJ.  I can not
imagine a better home for one of the only two known copies.
To Jim Sullos and the staff of ERB Inc. "Congratulations."

                                                                                                                                                      February 5, 2014
March 8, 2014 erbzine entry:

(Purchased from Terry Lee by ERB, Inc. -
1st edition Return of Tarzan in 1st edition dust jacket

NOTE from Charlie:

I'll use the above visuals to update the facsimile that I sell.  Sadly, m
y version of this jacket contains so many errors that
immediately following
this entry, I'm taking it down and making the necessary corrections that I can easily see in the images

Erbzine doesn't say how much ERB Inc paid for the book and jacket.

Now we know for sure that two copies of the dust jacket do exist.   However, this dust jacket remains the rarest Burroughs
dust jacket and one of the rarest of any title on the antiquarian market.  

                                                                                                                                         March 8, 2014
N. C. Wyeth cover illustration for THE RETURN OF TARZAN in NEW STORY
MAGAZINE, August 1913.  
N. C. Wyeth cover illustration for THE RETURN OF TARZAN in NEW