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These images, from the book By Spaceship to the Moon, held my fascination from preschool to junior high. But it wasn't until I located and re-acquired a copy of the book at Missile, Space and Rocket Used Books and had it in my hands again a couple of weeks later that I appreciated the graphic quality of these paintings. I'm publishing them here, by permission of his estate, with the goal of extending the recognition of Jack Coggins as a master of this genre of illustration.
The subject treatment in the paintings is unfailingly mythic, heroic, optimistic... and visionary. Published in 1952, "By Spaceship to the Moon" describes a massive multi-stage launch vehicle, an airplane-like orbiter, and moon lander with articulated legs supporting a central pod-shaped lunar module.
These paintings predate the days of doubt and caution. Technology and the machine are poised to bring us into an American Golden Age. Even the humans are seen as extensions of the machines that manipulate the components of a space station or sample the lunar surface.
The design of the rockets show a clear debt to the V-2. The spacesuits could be equally at home in the deep sea. And clearly, from the perspective of 1952, the space program would be aggressively monastic.
"By Spaceship to the Moon" was published simultaneously in New York and Toronto by Random House. The text was by Fletcher Pratt [google], with an introduction by Willey Ley [google].
Interested in learning more about books of this type? Visit John Sisson's outstanding website on the subject.[site]