Uncle Andy: The Andy Warhol Family Film

Not much is happening with books or records lately but there are some other exciting things up ahead. I’ve already mentioned the upcoming exhibition Warhol by the Book that will open in just over a week and which i’m really looking forward to. There is not much news to be found about this but hopefully more will come once it gets going…

Also happening next week is the start of a pretty cool Kickstarter campaign for a documentary film about Andy Warhol by his great-niece Abby Warhola and her husband/partner or whatever. I guess the working title is “Uncle Andy” and apparently they have been interviewing family members for the past eight years and among all this are more than ten hours of interviews with older brother Paul Warhola who passed away last year. It looks like a pretty interesting project with untold family stories spiked with a bit of Pittsburg style Americana. The project will go live on Kickstarter next tuesday and there are not really any super exciting rewards, t-shirts, digital downloads and the usual stuff… I’m still planning on backing it though and will probably go for the $50 reward with a digital download of the film together with some postcards of paintings and photographs…

Short and sweet.

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Another wild-goose chase…

New and exciting finds are in short supply lately so this will just be a brief summary of what keeps me busy when there is nothing to wait for on ebay basically. And what better way to spend slow days at work than trying to find some more crazy, teeny-tiny leads towards the holy grail that is now known as The Butterfly Tree. Merriam-Webster defines a wild-goose chase asa complicated or lengthy and usually fruitless pursuit or search” and i can’t disagree with that definition. I don’t mind going on one though and i’ve been on plenty during the last couple of years. And you can come across some funny things in the process, nothing new and spectacular but i found an old review of the book from 1959 in The New York Times archive. What else? Well, i eventually came across this article from some magazine i can’t figure out the name of with an interview with Eugene Walter. Nothing spectacular here either but the “good” part is in the top right corner were he talks about his taste for regional writers. Both this guy Eugene Walter and Robert Bell have connections to Mobile, Alabama. So i might not have been totally crazy when thinking that local book stores might be good bet, i would assume that people were more aware of local writers and things like that in the 50’s then they are today. But let’s do some simple math, people who bought this kind of book in 1959 were probably around 30 years old at the time, so they are in their mid to late eighties today. This of course means that there is a chance they have passed away, as was sadly the case with Eugene Walter who died in 1998.

Not that i think that it would have been an easy thing to get in contact with him but i would definitely have enjoyed the quest of trying. I did however find the author of the article and i’ve emailed her on the off chance that she knew Eugene Walter personally and/or might know what happened to his stuff. As always i’ll stick to low expectations, and considering it was more than 15 years since he passed away i don’t know… pointless to even try i guess. It’s just that there is so little information about most of these books, and in many cases it’s the same with the authors. With this in mind even the most ridiculously small lead that’s out there is worth picking up just to see where it might take you…

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The Immortal – Walter Ross (Corgi Books, 1960)

At one point i think i’ve said someting along the lines that i won’t be looking for pocket/paperback books or include anything but hardcovers in my collection. This was early on and at that time i thought there actually might be quite a few pocket editions using the same design as the hardbacks, i know now that this is not the case. I think this one is the only title with different editions and publishers that use the same basic design, so how could i not have tried to find a copy?

There are a quite a few different editions of this book which i remember was a little frustrating when i was looking for the original edition by Simon & Schuster. Well, things hasn’t changed and it was equally frustrating this time around. Fortunately i didn’t have to put THAT much time into it. Ayways, this is ONE of the paperback editions published by Corgi Books. There are in fact two different editions of this Corgi pocket book and i think both were published in 1960, i’ve also been informed by Guy Minnebach that the second edition without Warhol’s design on the cover still has the text “The drawing on the cover of this book is by Andy Warhol” on the title page. The UK hardcover edition (to the right in the image below) was published the year before by Frederick Muller and just to get all the edition talk out ot the way there is also a US paperback (left below) that was published in 1959 by Cardinal. The cover design for all editions carry the same theme with the James Dean reference in one way or the other. Peronally i think he looks least cool in the Cardinal edition, or was playing bongos considered cool or what made you popular with the ladies in the late 50’s? Maybe, but i doubt it…

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I don’t intend to go on to long of a detour here but there is one pretty cool thing about the Frederick Muller edition. This is in no way Warhol related unless you want to take a looooong journey and finally getting into the whole Bowie+Warhol connection. I used to be quite into Bowie myself a long time ago, nowadays not so much. Anyways, i guess you don’t have to be a Bowie fan to recogDavid_Bowie_The_Immortalnize the cover for the Diamond Dogs album. The cover design was done by a Belgian artist named Guy Peellaert and featured Bowie as half-man, half-dog. It was apparently quite controversial at the time since it had the morphed creatures genitalia out and about on full display. Quickly pulled and airbrushed a few copies still hit the stores and are now super rare and of course MEGA expensive. The most recently sold i could find went for a crazy $5000. Anyways, i’m getting way of course here… but to get to the point, the basis for this painting by Guy Peellaert was a photoshot with Bowie by Terry O’Neil. Basically it featured Bowie and a dog and some images from the series you can see here. But what’s funny here is what’s by Bowie’s feet. So… recognize the book? Would have been cooler if it had been one of the editions with Warhol’s cover design, but still… This particular edition as well as the others with Warhol’s cover has also been mentioned on Bowie’s official site in some old and short posts here and here. Well, that was once again a whole lot of nothing…

So, to get this back on track. I became aware of this book pretty early on. One of the first copies of the original edition by Simon & Schuster i found was the one on Etsy, and that same seller also had a copy of the paperback. Due to the outragous asking prices it’s not surprising to see that both of them are still there now. Or maybe the price tags on these are actually resonable, it’s just that i’ve become obsessed with finding these at bargain prices. But not everyone has the time or interest to hold out and wait for it i guess. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time looking for the paperback, but sometimes when i’ve been bored i’ve spontaneously contacted some sellers on Amazon and Abebooks about copies where the edition wasn’t clearly stated. Almost all of these have been for the edition published by Frederick Muller. But then somewhere around new years this appeared on ebay… I’ve mentioned this many times before but ebay is certainly not the place for book hunting. So in one way it was a good thing that it happened to show up there, but on the other hand “Andy Warhol” was in the description which naturally could make it attract unwanted attention. Even though i hadn’t spent that much time trying to find it i was pretty set on making sure i got this copy seeing as it was basically the second copy i had ever seen. And even though there were more bidders (6) and interest than i thought no one besides me seemed to be overly interested and i ended up paying about $20 or so for it which i think was a pretty great deal! Shipping however seemed to have been done by horse and wagon to the docks followed by steamboat across the North Sea. It took about a month to arrive and i was starting to question if it would ever show up or if the boat had sank, but all is well that ends well.

I don’t know a whole lot about the design, or to be precise it’s more like i don’t know anything. I The_Immortal_Drawingshave seen some similar drawings which are obvously from the same series or whatever it’s called among the hundreds of early Warhol drawings discovered in 2013. And it is the exact same drawing that is used on both of the covers, but anyone can see that. And that’s about it. I have however tried to figure out if there is any connection between Simon & Schuster and Corgi Books in order to work out and understand the how’s and why’s regarding why they got to use the same deisgn for their edition. I haven’t been able to find anything though, and i don’t know how things like this work, so… i’ll leave it at that.

When it comes to the condition there is not much to be said. I’m pretty amazed that a paperback that’s 55 years old could have survived at all not to mention remain in such great shape. It basically looks unread, it still has it’s gloss as well as bright and clear colors. Though that might be expected since the design is black and white. I also suspect that this book has not changed hands that many times, if any. And it seems that the person who bought it in the first place really wanted to read it. While i was flipping through the pages a peice of paper fell out, at first i thought it was just a loose page but when i checked it out more closely it was actually a cut out review of the book from some old newspaper. It has some scribblings on it that i can’t make out apart from the year “1960”, so i take it someone read this review and found it interesting enough to promptly get a copy and keep the review as a bookmark. To bad it wasn’t signed “Warhol” though, that would have been a nice surprise. But i like the stories things like this tell in a way and it adds some nice patina to it all. And looking at the books side by side it’s hard to determine which one i prefer, but they do look pretty good together.

Since i don’t really see the Moderna Museet catalogue as part of my collection of dust jackets this will be put down as the first book of 2015 that i got my hands on. And i think it’s a pretty cool addition. More to come soon!

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Speak of the devil…

Let’s see now, not even 48 hours passed since i “complained” about not wanting to cough up $125 or so for Forbidden Childhood until something new was in my wish list on Amazon. And this new thing was a copy of that particular book for an incredible $5(!). As always i tried to keep my cool though and not just go nuts and click on everyting all at once. The discription also made me a bit hesitant, even by my standards the following sounded anything but good. And i quote: “Ex library, taped on jacket protector (with consequent tape residue), call# on jacket (not on book), stamps on top edge and title page, card pocket in rear, taped hinges, broken spine, first 98 page section has separated from spine, needs glue repair, otherwise unmarked an clean”. To me this sounded like i would basically get a package full of loose pages, a LEGO style spine to put together and a jacket with tape all over the place. So i didn’t get overly excited and waited for images from the seller. And i just got them. And i must say this was one cautious seller. At least when it comes to the discription of the jacket which natually is the thing i’m most concerned about. This looks fantastic by my standards! It actually looks a lot better than some of the +$125 copies that i’ve tried to haggle for, wow. I did get some other images as well and granted what’s behind the cover is pretty beat up, but who cares about that part?

It will however have to make a stop at what i like to call my personal US mailman before i can get my hands on it. What’s up with sellers on Amazon refusing overseas shipping? Maybe one day i’ll understand that… Whatever the case this was a pretty damn great find if i may say so! And seeing how smooth and quick things moved along in this area during the previous year i thought i would enter a status quo kind of thing now. But it’s only february and i’ve already been able to add two books to my collection, never thought that would happen.

Slow and steady wins the race…

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High hopes of a fair chance in Fairhope!

I rarely give myself much credit when it comes to anything really. But when it comes to what i’m doing here and this whole thing i actually think that at times i’m pretty good at digging and occasionally i’ve found some interesting stuff or leads to something. Most of the time these don’t go anywhere though, which can be a bit frustrating but what can you do, the only thing is to stick with it. And it’s both easier and more fun when it comes to the books, mainly because as i’ve said a hundred times before the general interest is much lower and that there are more placed to look. I actually got a new book for my collection yesterday but even after this i’m still missing four that i know of. One of these i could order today if wasn’t for the fact that i don’t want to pay +$125 for it, so for now i’m keeping my cool hoping for a bargain. Then there is two of them that sadly are just big black holes as far as the internet is concerned. But then we have The Butterfly Tree by Robert E. Bell…

This book is probably the one that i have spent the most time trying to find. And by that i don’t mean that it’s the title that i have punched in the most number of times on BookFinder, but as time has gone by i’ve gotten more and more leads to work with. If i remember correct it all started when i got my eyes on the “sister book” Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree written by Mary Lois Timbes, pictured here while holding a book with a very familiar dust jacket and now blogging here. Not only did she know Robert Bell personally but she had also both lived in and still regularly spent time in the area where the book is set. So in my head all this combined created a good case for potential success in finding a copy of the book. After a little stalking i found a number of her old blogs and on one of them an email adress. All said and done and an email later i got a very friendly response and a promise she would ask friends in the area and look around herself and keep an eye out for the book on my behalf, extremely kind and forthcoming in every way. This has yet to result in anything but you never know, great things happen when you least expect it! Some time later she also gave me the name of Robert Bell’s partner and informed me that after his passing in 2009 all writings and stuff was donated to The University of South Alabama and that it might be a chance that they could help. A nice lead and a great tip but it didn’t take long to get a reply saying they had no spare copies… bummer! But the woman from the University did have one good piece of information, and that was a newspaper/blog called The Fairhope Courier.

So, what’s up with this place Fairhope and how did we end up there? Well, from what i’ve read Robert Bell first spent his summer vacations there and then later in 1949 became a permanent resident. Although i haven’t read the book in question it is as i understand it  basically a coming-of-age story set in a fictional town based on Fairhope. What better place to look for this book other than the place where the author lived and based his novel on? There should be a copy in every house on every street, right!? And there very well might be, i’m soon to find out. When posting on forums i sometimes get the advice to try placing ads in newspapers and rare book magazines or whatever. Though this is definitely good advise seeing as these books were published in the 50’s and 60’s and people who now have them stacked away and forgotten on some shelf somewhere are probably in the age category that prefer reading a newspaper or magazine over using the internet. However, i don’t think that placing an ad like this is the easiest thing to do from half way around the world, and so far i have not tried this and doubt i ever will. Anyways, back to The Fairhope Courier… after a couple of emails back and forth, bounce back reports, redirected email adresses and whatnot i now have an ad up on the site and i’m also told that it will be in print this friday, or well… today basically! The owner or whatever you say of the site is also the second foot soldier in what is turning into my personal “butterfly army” and is checking local book stores and also know people in said stores, so all possible hooks are out there…

There is of course a good chance that nothing will come of all this. And as always i’m keeping my expectations low. It is however my best chance so far of finding this great looking book and getting to tick another box in my collection. Pretty exciting and yet another good example of the fun of all this and of all the places a chase can take you. Fingers crossed!

Andy Warhol – Moderna Museet, 1968

This one is pretty cool. I must admit i didn’t really know about this catalogue nor the relatively high scarcity of it until a couple of months ago, i basically came across images of it while searching for other books. Perhaps a bit embarrassing since not only was the exhibition held in Stockholm, Sweden but it was also a pretty big deal at the time and according to Guy Minnebach one of the most impressive Warhol books/catalogues ever. I did however of course know about the exhibition, and mainly for two reasons. The first being that it featured the now (in)famous Brillo Boxes dubbed “Stockholm type boxes” which i hope to return to in a coming post but in short this is my favourite Warhol design (if you can call it his design?) and the object that started my interest in Warhol in the first place. The second reason are all the famous quotes that are now on a couple of million posters, postcards and other stuff like that. The most famous of these is of course – “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, personally i am not a superfan of these posters and things but in the book they are also translated to Swedish which is pretty neat in a way and something i hadn’t seen before. Anyways, i don’t know a whole lot else about the exhibition in general. It was held in 1968 and organized by Pontus Hultén, a long time friend of Warhol’s and as far as i know it was the first big exhibition of Warhol’s work in europe. In exchange for one extra silk screen for the exhibition Hultén also managed to provide Warhol with plane tickets and flew him to Stockholm. One funny thing about the famous quote though, and that is this article (sadly it seems it’s only available in Swedish) written by Olle Granath who was one of the editors and responsible for putting together the text for the book. Preparing for his work he says he was handed a box by Pontus Hultén containing “everything” that was written of and about Andy Warhol. After working his way through it all he then presented his basic manuscript, the feedback from Hultén was basically “great, but i’m missing one quote… the one about being world famous for 15 minutes” to which Olle Granath supposedly replied “had that quote been somewhere in all this material i would have made a note of it”. After a long period of silence of the phone Hultén then replied “if he didn’t say it he just as well could have, so go ahead and include it in the book” and thus one of the world most famous quotes was born, a pretty funny story!

Since i didn’t really know it existed i obviously haven’t been looking for it. But once i got my eyes on it i of course got that feeling that i had to try and find it. Naturally the first strategic strike was on Amazon, Abebooks and ebay but with prices starting on $190 for a supposedly damaged copy i had to look elsewhere. So i started looking around, i found a number of old listings like this one at Swedish site Bukowskis Market from 2013 where the book sold for 1000 sek which at that time was about $150 or so, and that copy looked pretyt beat up. Another Swedish auction site is Stockholms Auktionsverk where this copy was sold in 2012 at about the same price. And i don’t know if this is for real or not but another copy was sold at the same site in 2011 for 40 000(!) sek. It was also on Christie’s at about the same time selling for almost $2000, some people truly are crazy… Then i found what appeared to be a flawless first edition at some other Swedish site here with a price tag of 3000 sek or about $400. So… both highs and lows but the conclusion was still that it might be possible to find a copy and at the same feel that i made a pretty good deal.

Turns out i was right, and perhaps also lucky. A couple of days after new years i spotted this auction at the site i love to hate – Auctionet. As with a lot of other sites if offers you to keep saved searches of items and topics that interest you. However, in my opinion most of the “Warhol stuff” that turns up is crap aimed at stupid/uninformed/ignorant people with too much money. For example this reissue of The Velvet Underground & Nico that sold for 1000 sek, poor unenlightened buyer… To me putting things like this up for prices like this is almost a little dishonest, but that’s another story. Occasionally something cool and “real” pops up though, i don’t enjoy to relive my story with Cool Gabriels, but whatever the outcome it was pretty cool that it was listed at a Swedish site. And there’s this signed copy of Love You Live that sold the day before yesterday for 5000 sek. Anyways, the book looked to be in very good condition and as always i can’t keep my cool and placed a bid right away. Interest was surprisingly high with five bidders myself included and i didn’t think i would come out on top since i was hoping to not have to pay more than 500 sek for it. Anyways, my initial bid was quickly trumped and for once i then stayed away from it until the auction was ending and i then thought about the stupid situation with Cool Gabriels and put in a much higher bid than what i had first planned. I’m trying to get my head to understand that, regardless of how much fun it is to look around for stuff, not spending a couple of extra dollars are not worth the time and effort to wait for something to turn up again. But as it turned out i didn’t have to stretch my bid THAT much as it closed at 600 sek or around $70…

A fantastic deal? Well, basically yes… but i’m not a frequent user of auction site other than ebay and have never really been to any “real” ones expect some hillbilly style auctions held in barns and places like that during the summers at our vacation house. And then it’s just for the fun of it and not to actually buy anything. Anyways, i’ve now had to learn about things like “hammers fee” and “buyers premium” and what they mean. I’ve also learned that shipping a book a couple of miles between two places in the same country can cost more than what shipping the same book halfway around the world would do. But whatever, all in all and with everything included i payed just short of $120 for this book which i still feel was a pretty good deal. Not fantastic, but good enough… After i had won the auction i emailed a little bit with fellow collector Guy Minnebach who then crossed his fingers for me that it would be a first edition since no mention of it was stated in the listing. Edition, you say? I just accused other people of being uninformed and i guess when it comes to this book i’ll have to include myself in that category. Even though noted in some of the listings on all other places i had looked it had complete flown over my head that there were different editions of this book. But oh well, had i known it would have not have been a thing that’s would have kept me away from it and at this point it was already to late to worry or care about things like that. So i just crossed my fingers as well. In lack of a better word it was sadly not the first edition but the second, but as said that is of little importance to me and whatever the edition i’m pretty thrilled i could get it for what i ended up paying.

And it really is a fantastic book! I haven’t had time to really sit down with it so i’m going to have to return with a proper review kind of thing later, but wow! I would guess there are more than 300 black and white photographs of Warhol himself, his superstars, work at the factory and also what i assume are stills from some of his films. Granted i’m of course very intested i can’t say that i have a good enough basic knowledge or whatever of all areas of Warhol’s work so in that aspect this book is a real goldmine and a book i plan to spend many nights with! When i got my hands on i just started looking a this page and that page and a pretty funny coincidence was that the second of third page i turned to was the one with the Orange Disaster pictures from the Death and Disaster series. Not a funny image in any way but a funny coincidence because it’s an image that is used on a record cover for a pretty rare VU bootleg called Orange Disaster. Other pictures also have a connection to the record covers, for example there are a lot of images of the Flowers design and Warhol’s work on that. Although as it turns out it wasn’t the exact design that was used on Arab Spring’s Literature album it’s pretty clear where they got the inspiration for it. As said i haven’t worked my way through the book so there might be other references as well, to be continued… Among all the tons of cool photographs i’ve also found a couple that feature my favourite topic – The Brillo Box – also very cool!

When it comes to the condition it really is excellent. The discription said “unread” and this actually seems to be the case. The only teeny-tiny little issue is a crease or wavey kind of thing on the front cover about 2 cm from the back which runs all the way across the cover, top to bottom. It must have been stored with other books or things on top of it which caused the cover to slide a little bit and then left like that for a while… or something along those lines. I’m in the process to see if it’s possible to even this out a bit by putting some heavy books on top. But if not it doesn’t bother me in any way. And the cover really is cool, the Flowers design is another personal favourite out of all of Warhol’s work and it looks pretty damn amazing on this book. And the colors are still very bright and clear so… all things considered a great looking copy as far as i’m concerned.  And though not a perfect fit in my collection of dust jackets i think it’s very cool and a thrilling addition to my collection in general! I’ve also been fightning with both my camera and photoshop but sadly i’m not an expert at using either of those, so i apologize for what appears to be a blue background in some of the images. I’ll sort that out sometime in the future…

Even though it’s only february this will quite possibly be one of my best and most exciting finds of the year. Hope i’m wrong though….

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