On Record: 11 Artists 1963 (Giant Size $1,57 Each cassette and booklet)

After trying to create a cloud of suspense and anticipation as thick as what NASA did a couple of weeks ago it’s time to get to it. Contrary to common practice i figured i might as well start off with a huge bang and not continue to take things slow. After all, there are about five people who might care anyways. So on a classic four count, 1-2-3-4… Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!

This will once again be a little bit of déjà vu, but this time around it’s heavily spiced up. I was going through some old emails and i also looked at my first post about this item and i can’t believe it’s been almost two years since this thing started to brew. I guess it’s true what they say about time flying by when you are having fun. Anyways, i had to read my old post to refresh my memory a little bit when it came to how i became aware of the cassette and it turned out that it was the images on Discogs that lead me to it. And that “discovery” then started a loooooong journey which seemed incredibly promising at first only to quickly have said promise turn into frustration together with massively lowered expectations. But since i never really got a definite answer in the form of a “no” or a “sorry, not for sale” to any of my inquiries i just kept on asking. Since i am well aware of the fact that i have at least half of a stalker gene in my body i had to try pretty hard to compose myself and not do this is an obnoxious, intruding or just plain out crazy-in-the-head-mental-patient-style. Luckily this turned out to be a winning strategy…

So, what about the details of this roller coaster ride? Well… call me paranoid or even a selfish douchebag but i have decided to not go into details and throw out names, websites or things like that. This is not because i want to keep this to myself like the people hoarding leaks from Chinese Democracy back in the day (which by the way turned out to be a big steaming pile of crap anyways), but only because i don’t want to aid in creating a ton of work in the form of emails and questions for the people who ended up giving me a great deal for these even greater items. And not only a great deal, but just to part from a copy at all was incredibly kind. I know that they are terribly busy with at least one ongoing exhibition as well as working and planning for an upcomping exhibition due to the 50th anniversary of the Experiments in Art and Technology in the coming year. And i realize that the traffic this blog gets might not justify the fear of creating “a ton of work” but whatever… anyone who cares enough about getting a hold of this could still embark on the same journey that i did and quite easily end up at the same location, and then just pray and hope for the best…

Sadly i can’t remember all the details but here is the gist of what happened. Almost exactly two years ago to the day i found a site that seemed to have a remote connection to the E.A.T. and after a couple of emails back and forth i eventually got information on who to inquire about items from Billy Klüvers collection. More emails followed and i quickly got a response from the archivist of the E.A.T. archives, and this is where it started to sound incredibly promising. I was told that they were in the process of inventoring and would soon get back to me with information on “how many booklets and cassettes we have for sale”. Naturally i was pretty blown away by this reponse, could it really be that easy to find this? And as i always do when i think i’m on to something “remarkable” i broke the news to the WCCC and considering what was said in the reply i got i was hoping and actually thinking that i would be able to score five or so copies! Well, it didn’t take long for this initial enthusiasm to go south as i didn’t hear back in weeks, months and eventually even years. In the meantime i followed every lead i found in hopes of getting a hold of it somewhere else, for example the set is cataloged on the site Librarything with one user claiming to have a copy. After contacting that user who was in fact some company/organisation or whatever called Aboutdrawing i was told it was not for sale but i was offered the chance to come visit their space in NYC and read the book and listen to the tape. The site now appears to be defunct and even though it was a nice and friendly offer i had to turn it down. It’s difficult to justify that kind of trip to stare at, and listen to a cassette tape… There are also three people on Discogs that claim to have it, and i know from experience that none of them are interested in selling their copy. Anyways, in a way i couldn’t understand why i never heard back after that first reply so there is actually another episode of all this were i in the style of a heartbroken 14-year old tried to find the archivist via two other sites where she had held exhibitions featuring her own work. They wouldn’t give out any contact information but promised to pass on any message i might have. Nothing came of this etiher, nothing besides me feeling like a true stalker. But what can you do, desperate times call for desperate measures…

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. Before going home from work i checked my stats on WordPress and noticed that i had a couple of hits on my previous post about the booklet. And that in turn made me go check when it was that i sent my last email, turns out it was late 2014 so i figured what the hell, it’s about time for another stab at it… As usual nothing came back but then about a week later there it was – a response! And what a response it was. After all of the hundreds of emails i sent out regarding The Summer Dancers negative replies have become standard procedure so i was both shocked and amazed to see an email that actually contained wording like “offer you a copy”. Nothing short of unbelievable, in a way i still can’t believe it.

As mentioned i was hoping to score more than one set of this for my friends in the WCCC but as time has moved on i’ve realized that this would most likely not be possible, and at times i thought that the fact that i did ask for so many copies was part of the reason it took them so long to reply. I thought that maybe they only had so and so many copies left and needed to figure out if, and if so how many, they might need for the current and upcoming exhibitions. However, the reader with a good memory might recall that i traded my first copy of this with fellow collector Guy Minnebach. And to be honest that was not even a trade, it was more like an incredibly generous give-away of amazingly cool and rare items. And had that “trade” not happened i would still be short two of the rarest books and an equally rare record cover. That considered i thought i would do what i could to even out the balance of power when it came to that trade, so i took a gamble and explained the circumstances and asked if it might be even the sliiiiightest of possibilities that they would sell one more cassette. I figured worst case scenario they just say no, i found it far-fetched that such an inquiry would piss them off to such a degree that they would recant their initial offer. Luckily, as it turned out they were willing to part from one more copy. Sadly i am not a wealthy man so i ended up being able to thank Guy for his generous trade by making him pay a quite healthy sum for a cassette tape out of his own pocket. What can i say… i’m the definition of a generous and giving person…

So…. what exactly is all the fuss about? I don’t know very much about it but i guess you might call it a spin off to the iconic and incredibly rare cover/record – Giant Size $1,57 Each that was produced in 1963 in connection with The Popular Image Exhibition in Washington D.C. I don’t know enough about either the exhibition or the record cover so i’ll keep it short and sweet and stick to the basics. And the name of the item gives away it’s content fairly good, it holds interviews with 11 artists – Jim Dine, George Brecht, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, John Wesley, Robert Watts, Tom Wesselmann, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Jim Rosenquist and Robert Rauschenberg. The interviews were all done by Billy Klüver and the booklet and cassette were produced as a later, alternative version to the LP and the reason was simply that Klüver wanted to to make the information available to another new audience since the record was out of production. There is a signed and dated (at least by year) introduction kind of thing by Billy Klüver in the booklet with a mention that the cassette is available from the E.A.T. in NYC so to the best of my knowledge these were produced sometime in 1981. However, i learned from the seller that the booklet and cassette were produced and sold at the opening of The Andy Warhol Museum which from what i understand took place in 1994, so i don’t know what to make of it all. And it’s really not THAT important. What i do know is just how rare they are, and what i’ve learned from the seller is that there were initially 50 sets of cassettes and booklets produced. The booklet alone was then printed in greater numbers but apparently no more than 500 copies were produced. So yeah… both of these are pretty rare. And without question the cassette will take the place of the rarest item in my collection. I have an old cassette player around somewhere but i won’t risk playing this old tape so i’ll have to make do with reading the transcriptions in the booklet.

Even though i was able to get some information straight from the source there are still a couple of intriguing things though. First, and this in minor, there is a sligt difference when it comes to the label on the cassette. My copy has “Side One” and “Side Two” printed below the title and on Guy’s copy (as with the one in the images on Discogs) these are printed on the side of the label or whatever. Not a thing that i will lose a lot of sleep over, but still pretty interesting. If nothing else it must mean that the labels were printed on at least two different occasions? And then to real mystery… on the side of the cassette the number “64” is printed so it appears we have a LOST style number mystery on our hands. I first i thought of the obvious – that they were in fact numbered. But then Guy told me his had the same number so that sent that theory out the window. The seller didn’t know for sure but made a guess that it might relate to the lenght of the tape. I’ve been forced to read up a little bit on the compact cassette format and it seems that the standard lenghts were 30 or 45 minutes per side and these were labeled C60 and C90. From what Wikipedia has to say there seems to a lot of other, less common capacities but there is no mention of C64. In fact, bascially the only stuff you’ll find on that are hits for the Commodore 64 computer and the tapes used for that. So i don’t know… i can’t say that i’m totally convinced it has something to do with the lenght after all. The number also appears to be stamped on the cassette and not printed beforehand, would Klüver really care enough to time it all and then stamp them in this way? I don’t have much of a better suggestion as to the meaning myself, one thing caught my interest though and that’s the fact that the cassette was introduced in the US in 1964, but i don’t know… Interesting and intruiging, though not important.

In conclusion, not only was it a great feeling to finally get a hold of this again it was also very good and almost necessary for the general motivation to actually see something get to the finish line. I’ve also always thought that it’s a really cool item that fits perfect right in between my book and record collection, and since i’ll of course never see the actual original record + cover this is as close as i’ll ever get. And without a doubt it’s close enough! When it comes to the condition there is not much to say. It’s absolutely fantastic in every way and basically looks and feels untouched! It’s been about two weeks since i got this now but i’m still pretty excited! And by that i mean excited enough to just hold it in my hands, staring at it… and thus it’s also the latest example of an item that makes my girlfriend think i’ve finally gone mental. I don’t waste time trying to explain anymore. But there is a certain way and a specific tone that someone can use to say “what the hell are you doing?” that makes me stop and think for a second, but then i just go into the other room and continue staring…

This was without a doubt the best find of the year, at least for a couple of days… I’m hoping the new number one will be shipped in the days to come, so as promised there are more cool things coming up!

giant-size-157-each-cassette-booklet-warhol-1

giant-size-157-each-booklet-warhol-2

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giant-size-157-each-booklet-warhol-5  giant-size-157-each-cassette-warhol-6

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4 thoughts on “On Record: 11 Artists 1963 (Giant Size $1,57 Each cassette and booklet)

  1. Pingback: The Butterfly Tree – Robert E. Bell (Lippincott, 1959) | ratfab

  2. Pingback: A look back at 2015 | ratfab

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