[The idea] initially grew out of Cowley’s desire to gather & showcase the vibrant Sci-Fi art exploding onto bookshelves thru the 1960s & 70s. Modelling the first one after the many volumes of the British comprehensive war reference compilations, JANE’S FIGHTING SHIPS, Cowley always intended to engage a writer to formulate a detailed militaristic future-history around chosen art-pieces, but deadline pressure lead him to do it himself.
Spacecraft and Spacewreck (both published in 1978) use Dynamo for the title and Gill Sans for the rest (with Spacewreck introducing a condensed version of Gill Sans). As part of the Galactic Encounters series (with a logo in Quicksilver) — which is tangential to the “Terran Trade” books — Star Quest (published in 1979) uses Marvin for the title and Helvetica for the rest. In 1980 there’s a new “Terran Trade” book, Starliners, which goes back to the initial layout with the first and last letters as bookends (known as “EndcapS”, see also the Saberhagen paperbacks) but switches to Marvin (following in the footsteps of Star Quest) and uses Helvetica for the subtitle and Gill Sans for the author and series name.
The French (as well as the Dutch, Brazilian and Swedish) version of these books sticks to Dynamo and enforces the “EndcapS” treatment (even though it causes some strange spacing and readability issues).