The Summer Dancers – Clyde Miller (Macmillan, 1961)

There are many kinds of endings. There’s the good or the bad. The happy or the sad, and of course also any combination of the above. There are endings that leave you satisfied and there’s the ones that leave you frustrated and angry. The ending to Lost is a good example of the latter, i still can’t believe i wasted six years on that show and countless hours on nerdy forums and i still get mad when thinking about it today… But that’s not really relevant here. The point is that eventually everything will come to an end. And how to best write the ending for the story here? Sounds a bit over dramatic… it’s not like it’s the end of the blog, but in a way it is the end of a long and exciting journey. But maybe i should save the thoughts on that for a later post and just get to the point.

When trying to read up on these books and things i will sometimes start planning out the basics for a future post in my head even though i haven’t found the actual item yet. I’m starting to get sick of writing that i thought i would never get to make this or that post, so i can imagine that it must be equally boring to read about it… But here it comes it again. And this time it’s true. I had basically come to terms with never getting a hold of this book and that i would forever be stuck with having that one small, but still HUGE, hole in my collection. Without question this is one of the absolutely most rare dust jackets and i figured that with the ongoing exhibition and more and more people finding them interesting that even if one did show up somewhere it would either be ridiculously priced or show up on ebay where there is always that someone who has a little more money than you do. So yeah… all this considered i didn’t really start making plans for this post ahead of time.

I really, REALLY wish there was some spectacular and thrilling story behind all this as it would make for a much better post and endning. But sadly there is nothing like that to be told. There could have been though. The few but avid readers might remember this post from late last year where i wrote about an old article in something called The Flyleaf that i happened to stumble upon and that had a very familiar cover. The magazine/monthly leaflet or whatever was put together by something called Friends of the Fondren Library and through them i was actually able to contact the guy who had written the article. He was now retired and had developed other collecting-interests than Warhol and his dust jackets. If i remember correct he had found about seven or eight of them, and he had done so without any help from the internet so i must admit it’s a pretty impressing achievement. Anyways… for some reason i initially didn’t think about asking him if he would ever consider selling his copy of the book. At the time i was also looking for a number of other jackets than just this one and i thought it was great enough to actually find a guy who had it, and that if i would ever be in the situation where this was the only hole to fill i would start pestering him then. And of couse that time came. And i don’t really know how to define “pester” but i did send him more than a couple of emails. My final offer or whatever was of course money together with my spare copies of The Strange Case of Lucile Cléry and the Corgi edition of The Immortal. Oddly enough i never heard back. I don’t feel i was overly pushy in any way and he seemed genuinely interested in talking about these old books and to someone who now shared one of his old interests and who dug up his old article, so yeah… i don’t really know what happened. And it doesn’t really matter, but it would have been a somewhat better story than what actually went down.

the-flyleaf-cover

Another thing that would have made for a better story or ending would have been if my crazy quest to contact hundreds of book sellers would have been successful. The final number ended up being more than eight hundred. And even though a surprisingly high number of these replied none of them responded with anything but no’s, sorry’s and unfortunately’s. The only thing i learned from this is that it was highly demotivating and i don’t intend to ever embark on such an endeavour ever again.

So… let’s get to the actual ending however non exciting it may be. If nothing else it made me feel a little bit like Nostradamus. A little over two months ago i wrote this post before i started with all the emails which ended with “most likely what will happen is that i’ll send out +500 emails and shortly after that the book will just appear in my wish list”. And even though i was way off when it comes to the number of emails this is basically exactly what happened. Sometime at the end of september it was just there… not on Amazon but on ebay of all places. As i’ve also ranted about in the past i was so sick of seeing nothing but my little ponies all over the place but this time there was actually a blue little dot thing next to the saved search for “summer dancers miller”. Before this i had also noticed that copies of Pistols for Two and The Butterfly Tree were also on ebay all of a sudden so even before i checked out this new mystery listing i had a feeling it would in fact be for the book this time. And it was! It may sound dorky but i almost couldn’t believe my eyes. I don’t really have anything to compare this feeling to… never before have i tried so hard to find something and to just see it available somewhere was pretty amazing. I have an old friend who for some reason is into bird-watching and once upon a time we were set to watch a fotboll match at a pub somewhere after work and i was sitting there waiting, waiting and waiting… eventually he calls and says that he has to cancel because there had been a sighting of a rare bird of some kind way up north. Way. Up. North. Almost 800km or about 500 milers to be exact, so he decides to call in sick the next day and drive all through the night just to maybe, MAYBE be able to see this bird… This was many years ago now and although i didn’t understand what the hell he was thinking or doing at the time i think i have a better sense of understanding now. But it’s not an easy feeling to explain to someone who hasn’t been there.

Anyways, any inital excitment i felt was, as always, quickly turned into anxiety. How the hell was i going to be able to win this auction, and what would it end up costing me… Considering that this was the first and only time i had ever seen this anywhere i decided early on that i would try and get it no matter what. Well, maybe not exactly no matter what but i would at least be prepared to bid more for this single book than what i had basically payed for all the others combined. I’m still not much of a great strategic when it comes to ebay but i think i did fairly good this time. I did however place an early bid but once i got trumped i actually decided to compose myself and wait until the end of the auction and not continue to help drive the price up early on. I remember that the auction ended on a thursday night, and even though it was far from in the middle of the night i remember i still set one or two alarm clocks which was a good thing since i fell asleap early. I ended up going to war with primarily one other guy, and he does not appear to be no Sun Tzu either. He hit the button more than 30 times raising only the minimum bid each time, and for each bid i think my heart rate went up by a couple of beats per minute so needless to say it was quite high at the end… As this was going on i was of course also terrified that the late, sniping rich guy would appear and spoil the day. And he did appear, but for once he didn’t spoil the day! Even though i ended up paying waaaaay more than i have done for any of the other twenty dust jackets, well… that’s excluding The Butterfly Tree of course, i’m still very happy with what i ended up paying and i think i got a fantastic deal in the end! I know i’ve said it hundreds of times but i really have been trying to put this all together on a pretty tight budget but what can you do… i guess the holes in your pockets gets bigger the smaller the same holes gets in your collection, if that makes any sense. Perhaps i was a little bit lucky the seller (who is a great and friendly guy from France) had a couple of other rare jackets listed and ending at the same time thus forcing buyers to chose between all these great books. Or perhaps it’s just me who has to beg and chose… Whatever the case i’m absolutely thrilled about the way this all played out.

Like a selfish douchebag i’ve also tried not to mention this book in any of the previous posts thinking this would increase my chances to keep it under the radar or whatver… I doubt this was called for though, this book is mentioned and shown in at least one of the articles on the dust jackets that i always mention and it should have been obvious which one i was stuck looking for in the end for someone willing to put in a little time and effort. I still haven’t forgotten about the previous little “sabotage attempt” though so maybe it wasn’t stupid to try and keep it on the down low after all. But seeing as it all ended up going down out in the open on ebay it didn’t really matter when push comes to shove.

So… what is this thing that i have been so childishly excited about? Well, if the title of the post didn’t give it all away this is of course the absolutely spectacular dust jacket for the book titled The Summer Dancers written by Clyde Miller and published by Macmillan in 1961. I say spectacular because there is really no other word. This is without question one the best looking jackets and as said it’s also one of the absolute rarest. I love this for more reasons than one but i particularly love how is uses the entire jacket – both front and back. Well, maybe the “entire” jacket is a bit of an exaggeration but even if it’s just by a little bit over the spine and on to the back cover i think it’s such a wonderful little detail. I also love how the remainder of the back cover has been left white and not been cluttered with short little excerpts from reviews or a synopsis kind of thing. The only other dust jacket to feature this kind of a back/front design is Borderline Ballads. One might argue that The Adventures of Maud Noakes also makes good use of the back cover in similar fashion and it does, but at the same time it’s also just the same stamped faces and not really the same kind of “continued” design as these two.

On to Clyde Miller… and as usual this will be short and sweet. Record breaking short to be exact – i’ve not been able to find ANYTHING at all about him. Again, the few but dedicated readers of this blog will have learned that the “Warhol dust jacket authors” were hardly Nobel Prize winning material but it’s still a bit unusual to not be able to find anything whatsoever… The small contribution i can make comes from the inside of the back flap where there is a little bit of a biography kind of thing and some short additional information:

“Clyde Miller was born in 1926 in Louisiana. His short novel The Gentle Season attracted favorable critical attention when it appeared a few years ago. He has taught at the University of Florida, has frequently traveled the lenght of the East Coast, and now lives and writes in New York City”.

Not much of use there. Being born in 1926 i guess he could actually still be alive, but this will NOT mean the beginning of a new stalking endeavour. And at least there is a lead to Florida… And that lead made me find a guy namned Gene Baro who apparently, among many other things i’m sure, organized over 150 art exhibitions, was a consulting curator of prints and drawings at the Brooklyn Museum, senior editor of Art International magazine in Lugano (Switzerland) and a former director of the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. To top this all of he was also a member of the graduate faculty in the history of art at Williams College in Williamstown which coincidentally held the Warhol by the Book exhibition from March 7 to August 16. I’ve just copy/pasted all this from this site so who ever might be interested can find more information there. My main interest in this guy though is that apparently he was good friends with Clyde Miller, you can learn that by checking out this site which is another collection of these “Person X papers”. The same kind of thing that i found on Robert E. Bell, run a search for “Miller” and you’ll find quite a bit of correspondence between Clyde Miller and this Gene Baro. Among A TON of other things there are of couple of at least remotely interesting lines. For exampel:

Miller, Clyde. Letters to Gene Baro, 1960 – Neiswander, Rosemary. Typed transcript of a very unfavorable review [of Summer Dancers] Library Journal, December 1, 1960, with ANS “Clyde”.

TLS to Gene Baro. 1961 May 2 [New York] 2 p. Does not know what happened to Baro’s books, which were taken from Cross Creek house to the UF library. Comments about the condition of Baro, who apparently has been injured in an automobile accident. He is moving into Herschel’ apartment. Making final revisions to Summer Dancers [published 1961] He does not think it will be successful, but can do no more.

Miller, Clyde. The Summer Dancers. Uncorrected proofs. 1961.

I guess that last one is perhaps of little interest, but i find it somewhat funny and interesting that he appears to have not been fully satisfied with his work himself. To bad there is no mention of Warhol among all that stuff. Oh… one last thing. He actually did publish a couple of other things. I’m not sure these would be called “books” or whatever but for starters there is the title that is mentioned on the back flap – The Gentle Season. This is part of some kind of collection of novels and can be found cheap on Amazon or Abebooks, sadly it does not come with a previously unknown Warhol jacket. There are also some other published things here, but good luck trying to find images of these…

clyde-miller-titles

OK, so that’s that about Clyde Miller and moving on to the actual cover design.To the best of my knowledge the drawing first appeared in the self published book In the Bottom of My Garden from 1956. I’m actually not sure how many drawings are in this book but if this site shows them all that would mean there are a total of 20 drawings. Now and then i think you’ll also see some of these sold individually at Christie’s and then i believe they are sometimes refered to as “plates”, i don’t really know what this means… But anyways, there was a veeeeeery cool auction for one of these just a couple of days ago that Guy Minnebach told me about featuring a very familar drawing… Sadly i couldn’t convince my better half to cut a couple of thousand dollars out of the house budget. Maybe something like this would better suit my budget, but that thing is of course a lot less cool. But after all, ’tis the season… But my of my, what i wouldn’t give to someday be able to get one of these orignal drawings related to one of the dust jackets. Someday…

I wasn’t sure where to squeeze this next thing in but i guess here is as good a place as any. I’ve also found an alternative cover at The national Galleries of Scotland website, this also features a drawing from the previously mentioned book In the Bottom of My Garden and although it looks great as well i think someone made the right call and went with the design that ended up on the actual jacket.

the-summer-dancers-christies

the-summer-dancers-alternative-cover

Throw some kind of art history test on the desk in front of me and i would most definately hand it in with a terrible score. But i know a little bit about Andy Warhol, and from what i’ve learned these angels, fairies and/or cupids was a common theme early on in his career. When it comes to the dust jackets this is of course obvious on the cover for Three More Novels as well as on the alternative and somewhat finished cover for Borderline Ballads. I don’t know anything about two these other two guys though – Raphael and Marcantonio Raimondi. I had of couse heard the name Raphael but, perhaps embarrassing, i doubt i would be able to single out one of his paintings in a line up. And that other guy i had never heard about at all but apparently he is a key figure in the rise of the reproductive print in the early 1500’s… So why are these guys important here? Well, even though i’ve been unable to find to orignal design by Raphael i’ve found plenty of works that have words like “after” and “follower” attached to them. I don’t know how these things work but what i’m trying to get to is that it’s blatently obvious were Warhol got the inspiration for this drawing from. And that’s from a work titled (i think) “Dance of Cupids” by Marcantonio Raimondi after Raphael. So yeah, to the best of my knowledge this “after” thing means the original was done my Raphael and then reproduced by Marcantonio Raimondi… There are quite a few of these with minor differences and you can get a high resolution image of the most obvious basis for the design here. As mentioned there are also others, like this one, credited to Follower of Marcantonio Raimondi, i guess this means pretty much the same thing…

dance-of-cupids

follower-of-marcantonio-raimondi

Phew, i guess that about sums it up… And to follow standard protocol i always wait until the end to say something about the condition. And in this case i think it’s absolutely fantastic! I would have settled for a copy of this book in any condition whatsoever, torn, taped, barely in one piece… it wouldn’t have mattered. So to be able to get a hold of one in as great shape as this is nothing but fantastic. There are some small tears and tiny smudges, but what the hell. Considering how rare and old these books are i’m surprised some made it through in one piece at all. Oh, this is also one of the books that give credit to Andrew Warhol, the other being Three More Novels if i remember correct. The last couple of days have been exciting times when it comes to these books and ebay with a lot of the rare ones being sold lately. The interest in this collection of mine from my better half has been non-existent but when i showed her what they were selling for and told what i had payed for most of them she all of a sudden became a little more interested and we sat down and looked at them all. And it’s pretty cool that a lot of the most hard to find ones are in really good shape. But i don’t understand that some people (at least one particular woman) need to see dollar signs on a screen before they raise an eyebrow and become interested in even having a look at all these great looking books….

In a way this is also the end. And it’s a good, happy and in a way sad ending all rolled together into one. Even though there are still a number of books with Warhol’s on the cover, all from the 80’s i believe, that i still need to find this post concludes what has been a two and half year something long journey towards completing what i intend to title my privately published book someday – Andy Warhol: The Dust Jackets, 1951-1963. I plan on doing some kind of summary of this whole thing later on so i’ll leave it at that for now. But it’s a pretty cool feeling to lay them all on the floor and see a complete collection. I also think it’s pretty great that this blog has now become a decent source of information on all these, at least it comes with images of them all. Of course there is also the great book Reading Andy Warhol, but if i remember correct that doesn’t feature The Strange Case of Lucile Cléry, so at least there is some extra spice here… And i of course haven’t given up on finding that previously unknown jacket so i’m sure i will find plenty of things to waste my time on during the coming year. I also plan on rewriting/revisiting some of my previous book posts, many of the early ones are embarrassingly short and really need to be done right. And then there is of course also the AIGA book… And magazines… And record covers… Maybe i should see this as a way to finally get to focus more on those again. Anyways, time to wrap things up for real. Happy, thrilled, excited, exhausted and in a way also a bit sad…

The end.

The-Summer-Dancers-warhol-1
The-Summer-Dancers-warhol-2
The-Summer-Dancers-warhol-3
The-Summer-Dancers-warhol-4

 

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “The Summer Dancers – Clyde Miller (Macmillan, 1961)

  1. Congratulations on a wonderful post and a fantastic book! It just shows that hard work pays off! This post provides a wealth of information not only on the cover art but even on Warhol’s influences. Great reading! Thanks.

    • No worries, definitely just the end of the post. I need to rewrite some of the early and short book posts, find the AIGA book, maybe pursue some of the things that i’ve learned when reading up on some of the books. And there are still plenty of record covers to find as well. And of course also find all the books all over again so i can sell a complete collection. Pretty sure i’ll be busy for many years to come… 🙂

  2. Pingback: A look back at 2015 | ratfab

  3. Pingback: Background noise | ratfab

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s