Judging a book by it’s jacket

A nice title to a post, but it’s not really mine… While looking around for the books that i still miss in my collection i sometimes end up finding some other interesting stuff instead. Like this article from a publication called The Flyleaf – some kind of quarterly published magazine/leaflet thing by “The Friends of Fondren Library” at Rice University in Houston.

The first article is written by a guy called Randy Tibbits and it’s titled Judging a book by it’s jacket. It’s basically a story about his hobby of collecting dust jackets and how it all started when he stumbled upon a copy of The Madhouse in Washington Square at some kind of duplication sale thing at a library and picked it up for a dollar. He also mentions that Warhol did another eight dust jackets and that he has been able to find all but one of these in the ten years he’s been collecting them. So, since this article was published in 1990 a fair guess is that he started collecting them in the early eighties. And even though it’s now known that Warhol did a lot more than just nine dust jackets i must say it’s impressive he found that many in the days before the internet… I wonder how he did it? And also which these eight ones he found were?

I’ve only been at it for a little over a year so this also gives me some hope that my collection might actually be complete someday… Just need to try and stay persistent. It’s also been a while since i stalked someone and i eventually found the guy on Linkedin. And because of this i actually went against all my principles and signed up on that site and sent him a message, at least i think i did… Just on the off chance that he has a couple of spare copies somewhere…

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Pistols for Two – Aaron Marc Stein (Doubleday, 1951)

This is another post that i was beginning to have doubts about ever getting to make. Ever since i first started to read up on this area of Warhol’s work this dust jacket has been right at the top of my list. And natually it’s also been one that i’ve had the most difficulty in finding. All i could find were some old listings on etsy and some other site, both already sold and also with a price tag in the hundreds of dollars… I think those were from the same seller and he also offered me another copy in pretty bad shape for $350 if i remember correct, an offer i did not bother to follow up on.

Since many of these dust jackets are a rare find on ebay i’ve had to find other hunting grounds. And none of the most obvious ones like Amazon, Abebooks and Alibris have a neat little app that gives you notice when something you’re looking for is available. This has resulted in me developing an almost OCD kind of behaviour where i need to check my lists and search these sites many, many, maaany times a day. Good thing i don’t have THAT many to look for anymore or this thing might turn into something unhealthy… Anyways, standard procedure is that i have a quick look when i wake up, then again when i get to work and so on… And in this case all the magic happened in the few hours between one of these checks.

In the beginning of August i made this post about my attempts to fish for this book at different rare book forums and as expected this didn’t result in anything. Then i couple of weeks later i found out that ebay also had a community kind of thing and i made a post in the booksellers forum there. The post i made has now been deleted and i also got some kind of warning from ebay for posting a “wanted add” or whatever they called it… Anyways, i asked about other sites than ebay to look for rare books and one of the suggestions was the site Bookfinder that i’m already a frequent user of. The user had also included a link with a search for this book ready to go and even though i had already looked everywhere just a couple of hours before i clicked it and to my surprise there were now two hits instead of one! And amazingly the asking price was just $50 or something like that… I can’t remember exactly what was in the listing but i think words like “spots” and “soiling” was mentioned and something about a “black edge cover” or something like that. The few readers of this blog probably know by now that i’m not that picky about the condition of things and a couple of spots and some soiling is probably something i could live with, but the “black tape edge cover” thing had me a little concerned. I’ve since learned that this edge thing is there to protect the jacket from tearing. But at this time i didn’t know what to make of it at first, i couldn’t see that there might be two different covers to this book. But then again, who knows about these things…   Eventually i got to see some images and then any worries i might have had could be laid to rest. Not only was it the cover i was hoping it would be, it was also in absolutely fantastic condition! So… even though i would most likely have found this anyway later in the day had it not already been sold i thought it was pretty amazing coincidence.

It’s no shocker to anyone that i don’t know that much about the dust jacket… The obvious facts in this case is that it was published in 1951 by Doubleday as part of the Crime Club series popular at that time. As far as i know Warhol designed the dust jacket for three books in this series, this being the first one and the others are The Runaway Pigeon and The Saint in Europe, both published in 1953. The author is Aaron Marc Stein who also wrote under the name of George Bagby and seems to have specialized in mystery fiction. I have found another image of what seems to be an early draft of a cover at this site. As with the alternative covers to The Runaway Pigeon this one also seems somewhat finished with the title and the name of the author present in the design. There are also some other images in the same “series” or whatever it’s called, the style and subjects are very similar to the one on The Nation’s Nightmare which was also released in 1951 and an original drawing is up for grabs for anyone with some cash to spare. I’ve also found one or two other “pistol images” like this one from a book of Warhol’s drawings from the 50’s. But that’s about it…

About a month or so ago this also made it’s debut on ebay, at least in the time since i’ve been collecting these. The first time around the starting bid was $500 and it didn’t sell. The same book was then up again and this time at $400 if i remember correct and i’m pretty sure it didn’t sell that time either. So it might be back soon, third time’s a charm perhaps?

When it comes to the condition i think the images speak for themselves, this really is in spectacular condition! Without a doubt the best one in my collection so far. At least of the ones i’ve found myself so to speak, The Runaway Pigeon and According to the Evidence are also in great shape, but i can’t take full credit for finding those two copies… Anyways, i’m pretty thrilled that i was able to find this particular book in such great shape, both because i believe it to be quite rare and also because it’s such a cool looking dust jacket and a personal favourite! It’s in a standard plastic protection thing and the only small little thing about the condition is that the front cover is a little uneven under this plastic. It’s only visible when looking from a certain angle and… well, who cares!?

Oh, and note the misspelling of Warhol’s name – Andy Warhaw…

Pistols-For-Two-Warhol-1 Pistols-For-Two-Warhol-2 Pistols-For-Two-Warhol-3 Pistols-For-Two-Warhol-4

No regrets…

Well, that’s not entirely true… After losing an auction for Chopin’s Nocturnes a couple of days ago i started thinking about other lost chances and opportunities. I couldn’t really think of that many though, but of course a few things came to mind. My biggest mistake is without a doubt this post that i made back in april. In my opinion the cover to Cool Gabriels is one of Warhol’s best looking covers and this time the record was even being sold in Sweden and no one besides me seemed interested. In the back of my head i thought that the reserve price would probably be at 1000 SEK, that’s about $135. But for some inexplicable reason i still left my bid at 850 SEK. When the record got listed again someone else had apparently gotten their eyes on it and once we had battled it out i had to let it go at 1700 SEK.

Of course i can’t know for sure that it was my post that made this guy find the auction. But whatever the case i feel incredibly stupid about both making the post and of course not bidding those extra couple of dollars the first time around just to see if the reserve really was at 1000 SEK. It’s also annoying since it’s such a great looking cover and even though it turns up now and then, there’s two on ebay now for example, the avarage selling price is probably somewhere around $500. Oh well, not much to do about it now…

I also kind of regret paying what i did for the Ratfab single. But when i started this blog getting a hold of that record was the main focus and on the current market at that time i probably got a fair deal, not a great deal but i certainly wasn’t ripped off. This was also during a period of time where seeing the record on ebay was a pretty rare thing. Lately though this record has sold for around $250 which is about half of what i payed for my copy, so in retrospect not my best buy. I do however think that my copy is in a little bit better shape than some of these that has been sold lately, so maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Then finally, and this is just proof that i’m not much of a business man or in this thing to make money, is the fact that i gave my copy of the yellow version of High Priority to Richard Forrest as a thank you for all the amazing looking “mock-ups” of covers i would never get a hold of otherwise – The Night Beat box, Progressive Piano, Waltzes just to name a couple… I also don’t care much for the cover to High Priority so i can’t really say that i regret this trade in any way. But from a business point of view that record would have been my best investment so far. I think i got it for $15-20 on ebay and this summer some idiot payed almost $450 for a yellow copy, insane! I feel a little bit better when looking at popsike and seeing that even bigger fools payed almost the same amounts for standard red verions back in 2006…

Oh well, on to bigger and better things!