Kenny Burrell – Blue Lights Volume 1

Things are slow at work today and i’m also highly unmotivated so i figured why not get this out of the way as well. I’m not really sure what i might have to add though after Guy Minnebach did a short but sweet post on the album a while back. There you can see all the versions and colors as well as the original image. Early on this record and cover was a big mess to be, some were selling for thousands of dollars, some where basically given away and foolishly i couldn’t work it all out. Eventually i got my act together and the professor side of me figured out that it’s all about stereo and mono. And by then i also realized that an original mono issue would most likely never grace my shelf. This is one of the best looking covers so i still wanted some kind of copy, and eventually i somehow got the not so good idea of getting the Andy Warhol’s Jazz Album Covers Vol.2 box set. Clearly, with hindsight, this was a stupid decision as the covers in those boxes are nothing but terrible in every way.

I got the book From Silverpoint To Silver Screen based on Guy’s recommendation and it really is a fantastic book filled with more than a couple of drawings familiar to those interested in the record covers and/or dust jackets. A definate must have! Anywho… as said originals of this record are selling for big money, right now i could only find one, well two if you don’t mind some water stains. And even if prices have gone down a little i guess you would still have to consider yourself pretty lucky to find one of those for under $1000. I don’t want to pay that right now so i’m taking little baby steps up the ladder towards the sky going from something terrible to something that’s at least a little bit better.

What i got is the stereo reissue of Volume 1 that i think was released in 1967, at least that’s what Discogs tells me. It’s far from a rare find on ebay and these days i don’t keep track of prices in the same way that i did before. So i might have gotten a little overexcited and triggerhappy when i saw this a while ago. I think i payed $30-35 or something like that and had i bothered to check Discogs i might have gotten a better deal since there are several available there. At least i wasn’t completely ripped off. And i still need to get Volume 2, so a note to self – check Discogs. Always check Discogs.

This record is also one of the few of these old ones that has a Wikipedia article. It doesn’t say much but it at least it mentions Andy Warhol. Apparently the album has also been released on CD, both as seperate discs and as two disc set. I mentioned that i think this issue was released in 1967 but i don’t know… I know i said this was less of a mess to me now but to be honest i’m not so sure. I mean, look at this from Discogs. There are apparently three reissues as BST81596 released in 1967, 1973 and 1975…. I have no idea which one i have and i doubt it matters much. Maybe i should go and have another look at the actual cover. There are also several and more recent reissues, primarily from Japan. For anyone interested in those there are always A LOT of them on ebay.

blue-lights-versionsSo yeah… for now stereo will have to do. And when it comes to the condition there is not much to say and it’s also another thing that’s of little importance, at least when it comes to these reissues. But anyways, it’s partially still in shrink, has some tiny stickers and a cut corner but that’s about it. If nothing else i can put my previous copy back in it’s jazz box and never look at it again. And it does look a lot better in blueish/greenish than the pale almost grey version that i guess was meant to serve as a sorry excuse for pink. And who knows, now that the book collection is nearing completion maybe i can get back to putting more focus on the record covers again. And as time moves on maybe my brain will start convincing itself that $1000 is cheap for getting rid of the word “Stereo” and the Blue Note logo or whatever. Hmmm, now that i think about it the cover would look better without them…

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Books, books and more books on ebay

For more than two years i’ve not seen more than a handful of Warhol’s dust jackets on ebay. But for a couple of months now things have been the direct opposite and now you see them left, right, up and down and all over the place. Pretty much every rare title has been listed lately and currently you’ll find nice looking copies of The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole, Three More Novels, Love is a Pie, The Madhouse in Washington Square, According to the Evidence, Borderline Ballads, Who Cooked Mother Goose?, The Runaway Pigeon and finally The Saint in Europe. They are all sold by the same guy and i can’t say that i know him but we’ve emailed a little bit and apparently he is the guy who discovered the most recent Warhol record cover Melodic Magic. I believe he also had one of those up for sale not that long ago but surprisingly it didn’t sell.

Personally i would never list all these at the same time and also having them end at the same time, but to each his own, i suppose. Let’s say this had happened about a year ago then i would have been torn between excitement and frustration when seeing all these great books on there and having to choose which one, or at the very best, two copies i might be able to get. At this moment there is one guy who has placed bids on most of them, and he has also gotten at least one other book in the past. I don’t have an opinion on the bids and prices but i’ll at least say that i’m a little bit surprised to see The Madhouse in Washington Square and The Saint in Europe getting bids right away. Granted everyone might not have the same amount of patience that i do but i would imagine that at least The Saint in Europe would be possible to find at a bargain price. And considering i payed 40 cents for one of my copies of The Madhouse in Washington Square it’s pretty fun to see it sell for at least $300…

I’m more than pleased with the condition of all my books but if i had to upgrade any of them i guess Borderline Ballads would be first in line as mine has a little tear and a piece missing. It doesn’t really affect the drawing though so i’m not in a panic to do so. And even though the copy on ebay looks pretty good i won’t be going to war over that one. Anwyays, it’s great to see the books are starting to show their faces and that they are also generating some interest and bidding, even if it just from one guy so far. Most of the books not listed lately and that would be needed to complete a collection should be possible to find without it taking forever and ever. So personally i would have loved to see these sold as an entire/complete collection. But i guess i have to work that out myself one day…

The Butterfly Tree – Robert E. Bell (Lippincott, 1959)

Time is slowly working it’s way towards the end of the year and i really need to get a move on if i want to cover all the years finds before it’s time for the usual yearly summary kind of thing. But my oh my… How and where to start with this? I actually went old school yesterday and sat down with a good old pen and paper trying to piece together the timeline or whatever going from the knowledge of it’s existence to the successful acquisition. I’m not sure it made me any wiser though, there have been so many twists and turns and crazy attempts and endeavors involved in trying to get a hold of this book that it’s hard to remember them all. But i’ll do my best…

I’ve probably mentioned this a couple of times already but when i started my collection of dust jackets what i had in front of me was basically a blank piece of paper. But luckily a couple of people had already done the legwork so i didn’t have to go and completely invent the wheel from scratch. I also think i’ve already mentioned these sources more than once but they are certainly worthy of yet another mention and in the beginning my bibles were the two acticles in Rare Books Digest and Polari Magazine. Even though these are an excellent starting point none of them (not even when combined) are complete and for example the book of interest here is not mentioned in either of the articles. So how did i learn this book existed? Well, i’m pretty sure this is another thing i’ve already mentioned before but (as usual) i owe a great deal of thanks to Guy Minnebach and his extensive lists of books and magazines. So i guess that completed phase one – i knew the book existed. But i still didn’t know what the cover looked like as searches for anything relating to the title, publisher or author didn’t bring up anything useful at all. Luckily Guy sent me some images later on, not that this brought me any closer to finding it but then i at least knew what to look for, both in words and image so to speak…

Had i been a less patient and/or wealthier man this whole thing could have been over in a lot less time than two-something-years. Early on i found the book on Amazon for $500 or something like that and i’m pretty sure but not entirely sure that the same copy is still on there now. The few but avid readers of this blog will have learned by now that prices like that are generally of little interest to me even though i’ve been forced to change my ways a little bit as time have moved on. At the time i didn’t pay much attention to this listing though, if it is in fact the same one as back then i did manage to get the price down by $50 or so but it was still nothing nothing that was ever going to happen. So as with a lot of other books i was forced to play the extremely boring and tedious waiting game.However, there was this one thing that surfaced in connection with this book that actually called for action instead of just waiting, and that thing was a book titled Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree written by Mary Lois Timbes Adshead. As i was going along with my daily and obsessive image searching this book kept popping up and eventually i also noticed that Robert E. Bell was actually noted as the (co-)author on this book as well. Once i finally got that fact in my thick head i put two and two together and figured that Mary Lois obviously must have known Robert E. Bell in one way or another. Luckily she had a couple of blogs and i was able to get a hold of her email adress and sent out a shot in the dark email with questions and whatnot, of course i was hoping that she would have a whole box of old and prestine butterflies lying around and that i would be able to pick up a cheap copy. Unfortunately she didn’t. But what followed was a fantastic and nowadays very rarely seen commitment and effort on her part in trying to help me in this quest. She has really gone out of her way with this thing, asking friends, and friends of friends, checking used book stores and asking the owners to keep an eye out and if i remember correct even trying to contact Bell’s brother… Quite remarkable to put in such an effort for someone you don’t know in any other way than as a name in an email. Even though she was unable to track the book down for me i am forever grateful for these efforts, thank you so much!

It was also by advice from Mary Lois that i found the newspaper The Fairhope Courier. The word “Fairhope” comes up a lot when it comes to this book and maybe i should have gone into it a little bit more earlier but it’s really not THAT important. Anyways, at first i had no idea what is was. Was it a place or just some… thing? I’ve now learned that it is in fact a city in Alabama and to keep the biography thing short and sweet this is where Robert E. Bell spent his summers as a child and as far as i know also where he lived for a time later on in life. Most importantly it’s also the city on which the fictual town of Moss Bayou in his book is based upon. For some reason i got the idea that the book would have been sold primarily in Alabama and the surrounding states. I’m not really sure why i got this idea but i figured that since it was far from a bestseller it would have generated the most buzz and most interest among local people, thus making local book stores a good bet for finding a used copy. Turns out this wasn’t the case, i got a few replies from people saying they had it but all of these were for the reprint published by University Alabama Press.

Anyways, back to the Fairhope Courier… I had already played around with the idea of placing an ad in some local newspaper based on the assumption that the book is quite old and most people who in 2015 read newspapers made of actual paper are also… well, old people. I never did anything with this idea though, seemed like to much hassle to place and pay for an ad from halfway around the world. But then this site/magazine came along and all of a sudden the whole thing seemed much easier. After a couple of emails back and forth i ended up with an ad placed on the site,  this was sometime back in January/February and i also posted about this endeavour in this old post. I can’t say i expected much from this but as always i figured it couldn’t hurt. What i didn’t count on though was to immediately get sabotaged from beyond the grave. In a matter of days after my post Andy Warhol himself made a comment on the ad post asking “Is that the copy that has a dust jacket drawn by Andy Warhol and is extremely rare?”.

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Maybe i’ve been incredibly lucky but everyone i’ve ever come in contact with since i started my collections have been nothing but helpful, friendly and very forthcoming. So i guess this thing and this guy is the exception that confirms the rule… This is the kind of douchebag who before class in 7th grade would go and tell the teacher i just spent resess copying some other guys math homework. No personal benefit to be gained, just something done to sabotage another person. I can’t say i lost much sleep over this though. But i must assume this guy will be reading this post as well. So to whoever you are i just want to say that i hope you never find the book. Never. Ever. Ever… Ever.

Moving on… to sum up all the crazy adventures i guess i have to mention this attempt at contacting some journalist who interviewed a guy who mentioned the book. Crazy and fruitless indeed…There has also been a similar thing with some guy who mentioned the book in some blog post, needless to say this didn’t amount to anything either. Phew… i think that pretty much covers all the failed attempts so it’s time to get to the good stuff and the happy ending. Subconsciously i’m still working on my post about trying to “rare rank” the dust jackets and i’ll get around to it sooner or later and without a doubt this will be in the top five, at least. Besides the one, or perhaps two, copies that i’ve seen on Amazon this has been a rare sight. Almost rare enough to start coming to terms with the idea of never finding it. But i’ve come to learn that things have a funny way of working out, eventually… As said i placed my ad and contacted all the book stores in late january or early February. I can’t remember the exact dates and things when it comes to what happened after that, but luckily most sites store your message history. And what happened next took place on Etsy. I’ve refreshed my memory with the help of said message history and on March 10 i sent my first message about a newly listed item… I can’t find the first listing now and i might be mistaken but i think it was originally priced at $400 or thereabouts. And what followed was a number of attempts of haggling but seeing as the book was just put on the site the seller, understandably, wanted to wait and see what happened and not just jump on the first idiot who offered just short of half the asking price.

At this point i was missing more than a couple of the books, had this been the only hole to fill i most definately would have jumped on the opportunity even with it’s original price tag. But as it happened i decided to wait, i kept checking the site now and then up until the start of the summer and the book was always still available. Then sometime in June i went to have a look and to my surprise it wasn’t there. After the initial depression had worn off i sent more than a couple of messages to the seller asking if it was still available or if it had been sold. In the couple of months since i first noticed it i had picked up some of the other books i needed to find so at this point i was only missing one or two and i was just about to contact the seller and make a resonable offer. Unfortunately this was right in the middle of us selling our apartment and getting everything in order with the new house and for some reason i was incredibly stressed out by all this and figured i would wait until everything had settled down. So naturally i was terrified and kicking myself over potentially blowing what in my head was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Turns out the world hadn’t come to end though. Apparently you need to renew your listings on Etsy after a certain amount of time, something the seller had forgotten to do so the book was still available and to cut to the chase we settled on a price of $275 which i was very pleased with, and as i recall the price was suggested by the seller so i must assume she was pleased with the deal as well. All said and done and the book went back online, and i even got a special listing reserved just for me…

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It took a while before i got my hands on it though. The seller was kind enough to order protective mylar which took a while to get sorted out and then i also shipped it to Frank Edwards where it stayed and got some rest before finally ending up with me. So… there it is. That’s the (short but still way to long) full story about how a lot of failures eventually turned into something with a very happy ending. Regardless of how frustrating and annoying the chase for some of these things can be it’s journeys like these that are the most rewarding and most fun to look back on once you get to the finish line. I’ve had a lot of fun chasing this book and together with the Giant Size $1,57 cassette and booklet  it’s really one of the highlights of my entire “collecting career”. One of the reasons this post has been somewhat delayed is that i had a million questions for the seller that i was hoping to get the answers to. Well, maybe not a million questions but i was very curious about when and where she found it and also what it was that attracted her to the book. Did she notice Warhol’s credit on the cover or did she just like the cover design and by chance happen to pick it up for a couple of dollars and see the credit later on? I’ve asked her repeatedly but so far i haven’t heard back. Things and information like this are perhaps mainly of interest to me personally but i still enjoy to know and to be able to add stuff like that to a post. If i ever get an answer i’ll get back with an update. One funny thing she did tell me though was that i wasn’t the only one who contacted her when the book went AWOL, apparently there were more than a few people who did so who all (like me) had been waiting for the price to be lowered. I guess that sometimes it pays off to be the annoying stalker sending messages left and right and all of the time…

The last couple of months have been exciting times on ebay when it comes to Warhol’s dust jackets, but i’ll get to the details of that in a later post. Anyways, this book made it’s first appearance on ebay (at least that i know of) about two months ago and ended up selling for $230. I have no intention to pat myself on the back to much but i think my copy is in better condition than this one so i’m still very happy with what i ended up paying. And i couldn’t have bought this one anyways since there was something else ending at about the same time that i just had to get. But again, more on that later… Hopefully one of those who missed out on my copy was able to get this copy instead. For those still on the prowl who also have deep pockets i can recommend this listing for a signed and very nice looking copy, the price tag isn’t as nice though.

This post has gone on for way to long already, but there are still a couple of things i want to get to so bear with me. Unlike some of the other authors who’s biggest claim to fame ended up being that they had a book published that had a dust jacket designed by Andy Warhol and where it’s basically impossible to find any information about them things are are a little bit different with Robert E. Bell. That said he’s still no Dickens or Hemingway but there are more than a couple of sites with good information and biographies. I’ve also learned a little bit from my emails with Mary Lois. I don’t intend to go on copy/paste spree, anyone interested can go read up on any of the sites at The University of South Alabama, The Alabama Literary Map or at the Encyclopedia of Alabama, all of these are great resources. I think it’s safe to say that he had a passion for writing, reading and books in general since he, from what i understand, spent the better part of his life holding various positions within the “literary society” or whatever one might call it. He held various positions at different libraries, was the director of The Book Club of California and opened book stores in both New Orleans and San Francisco. And in the midst of all this he still found time to write and publish a number of books where the most noted one just happens to be The Butterfly Tree. I can’t say i’m confident enough to claim i know exactly how many books he published, but after a couple of laps around Amazon i keep ending up with the same number of titles and besides the two already mentioned my guesstimate would be there are (at least) four more books. The first book he published was in 1956 and was titled A Bibliography of Mobile, Alabama. It seemed he also developt a love for classical mythology and apparently he published three award-winning reference books on the subject titled A Dictionary of Classical Mythology: Symbols, Attributes, and Associations, Place-Names in Classical Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary and Women of Classical Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary. Finally, and this might be considered overkill, but amazingly his dissertation from Berkeley titled History of the Grabhorn Press is also available on Amazon. Images of some of these titles are available online and i’ve also seen the others and i can say that none of them have covers by the hand of Warhol. Not that i was expecting that…

However, and this is a big HOWEVER. There are at least four alternative covers for this book that the world has yet see, and in all probability they will remain a mystery forever and ever. As i recall this was first noted by Guy Minnebach and to get to the how and where we need to once again return to the “sister book” Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree. I now have a copy of this book, not only is it a great read but it also uses the same tree design done by Warhol as the original book so if you’re not interested in the book for the sake of reading it i would still get it for that little cover design detail alone. Anywhooo… as said Guy was a little more creative and a lot smarter than me since he used the “Look inside” feature on Amazon and in Bell’s first letter to Mary Lois he mentions that he has five original drawings made for the cover, pretty freaking cool! Naturally this started another quest but nothing of value has surfaced so far… But i would looooove to see these one day, but yeah… i doubt they will ever see the light of day.

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Where they might be? Well, of course i have no idea but had i been able to i know where the first place i would look would be. Robert Bell passed away in 1999 and if i remember correct it was Mary Lois who first told me that after his death, or perhaps even after the death of his partner Mark Hanrahan in 2009, most/all of his work was donated to The University of South Alabama and that it’s now archived there and the details of this can be found here. I’ve come across similar things like this before, for example the New Directions archives or whatever, and interestingly there are also mentions of Warhol in these “Robert Bell Papers”. More specifically there are entrys/postings/whatever like “Correspondence re: Warhol Collection, 1989 – 92, 1996”, Retrospective: Andy Warhol by Heiner Bastian and Andy Warhol Stamps, Ebay Info”. The one in the middle is this book and apparently Bell was also an avid stamp collector and there is an image of the commemorative Warhol stamps among other Bell related items from an old exhibition here. So that just leaves us with the first one… i guess this could also be something relating to a book or something? Whatever the case i doubt the drawings are hidden in that material, but who knows. Lately i’ve not had the energy or time to embark on some new looney adventure but i’m sure this will change soon enough and then stuff like this and the New Directions archives thingy are all highly possible projects. I would assume The University of South Alabama got the bulk of Bell’s work but it seems parts of it also ended up at the Fort Worth Public Library in Texas. The details of the material kept there are less extensive and the only things that are mentioned are “a scrapbook, a novel, and some biographical information”.

Time to wrap things up… and why not begin to end with a funny little thing. I haven’t read more than a couple of pages of the book but someone who did read the whole thing and who also seemed to have enjoyed every word of it was Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Apparently The Morgan Library in NYC (i think) at one point displayed a collection on things relating to Harper Lee and among these were some letters from her sent to Robert Bell, images of these can be found here. There are some funny lines in there, especially the way she starts the letter and her anger towards Lippincott (who was also the publisher of her book) is also pretty funny. There is also another, less angry, letter found among one of the images here which yet again praises Bell’s book, maybe i should actually get around to reading this one. And while on the topic of Lippincott… this is the second book by that publisher with a Warhol jacket, the other one being The Madhouse in Washington Square which was published the year before in 1958. Both also follow the same concept with a drawing on the front and a photograph of the author on the back. I’ve of course googled this photograper, Squire Haskins, as well. Besides learning that his real/full name was Lewis Benjamin Haskins, Jr and that the company he once founded is still up and running today i didn’t find anything usefull or interesting. I do however love the fact and little detail that Bell is holding a cigarette in the photograph, i’ve always enjoyed how people smoked ALL THE TIME and EVERYWHERE in the 50’s and 60’s. Must have been good times…

Oh yeah, what about the book itself. Even though i didn’t get the information i had hoped for from the seller i can still use my eyes and tell that it’s an old library book. And taking that into consideration i must say it’s in absolute spectacular condition. It’s definately one of the best looking ones in my collection, which is quite nice since it’s also one of my favourite jackets. As said it was also one that i was starting to doub’t i would ever get to put on the shelf. And that would probably also have been the case had i not been willing to up my budget a little bit, it’s funny how you somehow and magically get more money to spend as the holes in ones collection gets fewer and fewer… Oh, i’ve also tried to contact Lippincott (which is now Wolters Kluwer as far as i understand) to try and find out how of many of these books that were printed, but as usual i’ve not heard anything back. I just noticed that apparently Wolters Kluwer also owns Swedish publisher Liber, maybe i could try taking a detour via them… Whatever the number of printed books may be i’m still extremely happy that i managed to find one of them and it’s great to finally get to write the post i thought would never be.

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Teambuilding!

I hate teambuilding. Once or twice a year i’m usually forced to spend a day or two with people from work who’s company i don’t enjoy or who i have no intention or will to get to know better. And it usually involves some kind of activity where the purpose is for everyone to make a fool of themselves in some capacity, absolutely dreadful… But then there is a more fun kind of teambuilding!

I’ve had a lot of fun chasing after these books, in a way the whole thing has been more exciting and rewarding than the record covers. But what the hell am i supposed to do once the collection is complete? It’s a funny feeling, you spend all this time and money trying to keep adding things to your collection but with every gain and small step forward it also feels a little bit like you’re loosing something. You lose the thrill and the excitement that comes with tracking down and finally finding that particular rare book, record or whatever… And with only one or two things to look for the rewarding moments are more scarce and further apart. But what are you going to do, it’s all part of the game i guess. Anywhooo… luckily i still have that “impossible” hole to fill, and even though it’s perhaps not a dust jacket per se i baaaaadly want to find the AIGA catalogue of children’s books that Guy Minnebach has posted and mentioned in this post. That will without a doubt keep me busy for a couple of years… so what to do in the meantime and until that finally pops up somewhere? Well, i’ve never been one to resist a bargain and i also do enjoy a game of Concentration, or Memory as it’s called in Sweden. So why not try and put together a pretty unique and also somewhat expensive version of that…

I’m also very curious as to what a complete collection of dust jackets would sell for at auction. I can’t remember now but i think i’ve seen at least two big collections of record covers sell for what in my opinion has been absolutely shocking prices but i’ve never seen anything like that when it comes to the books. The closest thing i’ve found is this listing for a collection of books and magazines with an asking price of $50.000. It’s not really what i’m looking for though since it does not have a couple of the rarest jackets but at the same time it has a lot of magazines, and i know almost nothing about those so it’s difficult to add it all up and weigh it for comparison. It’s also been available for quite some time so it’s obviously not something that has attracted a lot of attention. So who knows, since obsessively checking Amazon & Co. is now very deeply rooted in my system maybe i can manage to keep the steam up for a couple of years and end up with two complete collections and try and sell one and see what happens. I can’t say the spontaneous feeling is that this is very likely to happen, but who knows. Would be pretty cool.

As said i can’t resist a bargain so i’ve at least taken a couple of steps towards this new fantasy goal. First in line was a copy of The Madhouse in Washington Square that i found on Amazon for an incredible 49 cents(!). As i recall it was from that Betterworldbooks place so i couldn’t get any images but for such a price it would be stupid to not take the chance, and once again it turns out i got lucky. Next in line is the book that i thought would be impossible to find and that i spent a huge amount of time on trying to track down just one copy of, and that’s The Strange Case of Lucile Cléry. There’s no exciting story to be told here either, one morning it was just there on Amazon… It was however a couple of months after i wrote my post about it. Not that i thought that post would make thousands of people go crazy and check Amazon +100 times a day but it has gotten a couple of hits here and there and if nothing else i at least thought that those interested enough would have found it on Amazon and added it to their wish list. Maybe i have a messed up and totally exaggerated feeling about the interest for these books… Anyways, i think this cost me about $30-35 or so, a bit more than what i payed for my first copy but still very reasonable considering that my general feeling is that this is without question the rarest of the three “Dolphin” books. Last but not least, though perhaps the least cool, is the UK pocket edition of The Immortal. I’ve seen this on ebay once of twice since i first got it but i’ve always forgot to keep track of the auctions but i doubt it generated a huge crowd. And people didn’t come running this time either and i think i ended up paying $8 or thereabouts. Even though it’s not one of the most desired titles i quite like it…

Besides the fact i just couldn’t resist these bargains the real reason i started picking up spare copies, doubles or whatever was that i figured i might eventually have enough of them to have something that at least packed a little bit of a punch in a hypothetical trade for The Butterfly Tree or The Summer Dancers which at the time were the only books i didn’t have. I also did try to offer two of them as partial payment for what at the time was the only copy of The Summer Dancers that i knew about, and that was to the guy who wrote the old article i posted about last year. He never got back to me though, but luckily things worked out anyways… If one wants to get picky i guess i have one or two books that could use an “upgrade” but i’m not too worried about that but unfortunately none of those are among these three. When it comes to this trio the copies i had were all in pretty good shape, and these new doubles are all in similar or, when it comes to The Strange Case of Lucile Cléry, in somewhat better shape.

There you have it. And who knows… even if i can’t find the time and/or energy to put another collection together maybe i’ll find enough of them just in time for that guy who holds a spare copy of the AIGA catalogue to come around…

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More alternative covers and more from Warhol by the Book

I didn’t get my long awaited book yesterday, seems the post office and/or delivery people are now sending out messages that you have something to collect the day AFTER you get the actual notice. Oh well, good things come to those who wait i guess…

Besides waiting on that package i’ve been reading each and every review i can find on the Warhol by the Book exhibition. And it’s really great to see that it’s getting nothing but praise everywhere. Time really does fly because apparently it’s been at least five months since i last checked out the site for the exhibition. The reason i know it’s been at least that long is that they now have a bunch of videos on the site that i haven’t seen before and one was added way back in may, at least on YouTube. Embarrassing to miss such a thing for so long… Anyways, i haven’t checked them out yet but there seems to be at least five or so hours of Warhol and book talk. I only recognize the names of two people though and that’s Matt Wrbican and Kathryn Price, who was kind enough to send me some stuff when the show opened. I’m sure the others know what they are talking about as well so it will be great to spend the weekend listening to what they have to say.

I also stumbled upon a review of the exhibition on this blog covering art, history, culture and what not in and around Pittsburgh. What’s interesting is not what they had to say about the show itself but instead some of the photos. Among some more familiar ones there were two i had not seen before, and those were of alternative covers for According to the Evidence and Borderline Ballads, both complete with title and the name of the author. I’ve seen a couple of other of these alternative covers for books like Pistols for Two, The Runaway Pigeon and Love is a Pie and it’s always interesting to see the changes going from a draft or whatever to a finished design.

Both of these are pretty cool, but i still prefer the ones that ended up being on the actual books. Stuff like this helps with the depression caused by most likely never being able to see the exhibition…

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The Adventures of Maud Noakes – Edited by Alan Neame (New Directions, 1961)

In an effort to try and avoid doing a repeat of my previous post about this book where i basically just wrote about how, where and when i found it i’ve spent the better part of the day trying to find anything about the book and/or it’s cover. Unfortunately i can’t say that i found anything of use. I’ll have to try and get a couple of lines down anyway so let’s get the obvious out of the way. I think i’ve already mentioned that i got this after having seen it in my wish list on Amazon for a very long time. The reason i didn’t get it sooner was first and foremost that in the beginning the asking price was much higher and another thing was that the seller stated that it was impossible to provide images. I can’t remember exactly how the price developed over time around but as i recall it gradually went from $150 or thereabouts down to about $10. And once it got there i figuered i might as well have a look, turns out i got lucky. Other obvious facts are that it was published in 1961 by New Directions (a year before the british edition published by Chapman & Hall that i previously had) and that it’s the last dust jacket that Warhol designed for the company and one of the last ones he did altogether. Not surprising considering that this was done at the beginning of his rise to superstardom.

The copy i got is an old library book so it has the usual issues and markings that i’ve learnt to expect when it comes to these kinds of copies, nothing too bad though and the stickers are on the protective plastic so eventually i’ll get around to removing them. It’s also a good example of the issues with printing the color red that Guy Minnebach gave me a crash course on when i got my/his copy of The Runaway Pigeon. In short, apparently red is notorious in the printing world for being difficult to work with. Not only is it darker than black in greyscales (to be honest i can’t say i understand the exact practical meaning of this, but i figured that if i mention it i might seem like i know what i’m talking about), it also does not react kindly to being exposed to sunlight. Guess it’s the vampire of the printing world… Anyways, as said this is a good example of that. The title of the book together with the name of the author and publisher that is supposed to be on the spine has faded to such an extent that any trace of it actually being in red at one point have disappeared completely. It’s still pretty crisp on the front cover though. Not being a huge bestseller and/or a hit at the library i guess that’s what happens when a book is never checked out and just left of a shelf near a window with the spine exposed for a couple of decades. However, all this is based on the assumption that the text was in fact red on this edition. There isn’t a huge number of images of the book available online but among the ones you can find there is not a single image of a New Directions edition where the text is not faded and/or greyish. So i don’t know… maybe it’s wasn’t ever red after all, in that case most of the above was a whole lot of nothing…

Personally i think this is one of the better jackets and that it’s interesting in a number of ways, so it’s really a shame that there is not much information to be found. New Directions has written a handful of words about it on their now apparently defunct blog, but apart from the obvious that it was perhaps a bit of a controversial yet humorous design i can’t say they bring up anything else of interest. The most interesting thing to me is that it’s the only dust jacket to feature the use of repeated images, a technique he apparently started using early on in his commercial work. And of course also later on in some of his paintings, where i guess the Marilyn Diptych is perhaps the most famous? Anyways, there is a great “gallery guide” to the Warhol by the Book exhibition that mentions a little bit about how the faces of the africans were created and apparently Warhol used hand carved rubber stamps which i then assume you just dip in ink and start stamping away… This is basically everything that is mentioned about this book but the guide is great and can be found here. Another thing that makes this jacket design somewhat unique is that it’s one of the few books where the design is not only focused to the front cover but also continues on to the back, the other two being The Summer Dancers and Borderline Ballads.

What else… well, when i got my first copy of the Chapman & Hall editon and noticed that Warhol was not credited on the cover i remember that i was wondering if that was also the case on this, the New Directions edition. And now i can say that it is. So that’s another thing that makes this jacket somewhat unique, the only other book where he is not given any credit for the design is Love is a Pie by Maude Hutchins, also published by New Directions. I know a little bit about how many books that were actually printed but i’m still trying to get more information about this, and on all the other books as well so i’m saving that for a later post. The little information i do have i got from a guy namned Aaron who has a shop thing on Etsy and a “normal” site as well called Projectobject. He has a lot of cool stuff and usually one, two or more Warhol books available. Once upon a time he also mentioned that he remembered reading something along the lines of Warhol not getting paid for the british version of something and that he was a little upset by this. I have looked everywhere and all over to try and find what this little quote or whatever might relate to, but sadly i have not been able to find anything. But i agree that it does sound like it might have something to do with this book, but who knows… Guess we’ll have to dub it as an unsubstantiated rumor.

Last but not least… during my mostly fruitless searching i did find two things that are at least remotely interesting. The first being a couple of reviews of the book in magazines from the year it was published. These magazines are The Harpers Monthly, The Nation and Commonweal, all of these appear to still be active and running in at least a digital format. Unfortunately they all also require you have a subscription thing to access the archives that holds these old magazines, it’s not incredibly expensive though so i might get that set up and have a look eventually. I can’t say i’m at all interested in what they had to say about the book itself but i’m very curious about if the mention the jacket design in any way. I’m not a frequent reader of book reviews but i doubt such a thing is regularly discussed though.

The second, and more interesting thing i found is definately not as easily accessible, at least not to me. Anyways, it seems there are plenty of truckloads of stuff relating to New Directions at Houghton Library/Harvard College Library at Harvard University. To be more precise there are 286 linear feet and/or 860 boxes containing the New Directions records from 1932-1997, the list with details can be found here. The entry/posting/whatever of primary interest here is 2721 or more exactly “Neame, Alan. The adventures of Maud Noakes : promotional materials, 1961 and undated. 1 folder. Includes hardcover book jacket”. I would LOOOOVE to check out what might be hidden among that promotional material… That would mean taking a bit of a trip though, and it would definitely not be as cheap as a magazine subscription. But who knows, maybe it would be worth it… I have no idea how things like this work but it says there are no restrictions on physical access to the material, so i guess that means anyone can dive head first into the boxes and check it out. I doubt the people at the library will go pull up one specific thing from all this stuff but maybe it’s worth a try, or maybe it would be time better spent to find someone at Harvard willing to go check it out. Maybe i should make this my new project…

There are two more cool thing in that list as well, first there is entry thing number 3036 where there similar things relating to The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole“Rolfe, Frederick, 1860-1913. Promotional materials, undated. 1 folder. Includes hardcover book jacket for The desire and pursuit of the whole and a press release for Nicholas Crabbe”.
Second… go to entry 2282 to find the same stuff on Three More Novels“Firbank, Ronald, 1886-1926. Production and promotional materials, 1949-1986 and undated. 1 folder.Includes materials for titles: The complete Ronald Firbank; Five novels; The new rhythm and other pieces; Two novels; Valmouth, and 3 more novels”. Of course there is nothing to indicate that there is anything by Warhol in this material but needless to say i would love to find out and make sure. There is nothing of the same when it comes to the forth title on New Directions – Love is a Pie. There are however plenty of entries for the author Maude Hutchins containing correspondence with various people. Oh… there is of course an entry for Andy Warhol as well, there is basically nothing mentioned but for anyone interested it’s entry 3214…

So… i guess that’s it. I can’t say i was terribly unsatisfied with the first copy i got even though it wasn’t the edition i thought it would be and/or wanted. If nothing else at least it made me aware of the fact that there were two editions on differents publishers using the same cover. And even though finding a copy of the New Directions edition has not been a priority i’ve still wanted a copy, and i’m of course happy i was able to do so in what turned out to be a cheap and lucky gamble. The last thing (for real this time), and this is of strictly academic interest, is that there seems to be a slight but obvious difference in the color of the cover between the two editions where the New Directions is much whiter than the one by Chapman & Hall which seems to be more tanned. I can’t say for sure this is the case, but it sure looks that way in most of the images i’ve seen and it’s definitely hard to miss when comparing my copies side by side. But yeah, whatever…

In more exciting news i just checked the tracking number for a package i’m waiting on, and it looks like it’s made to Sweden. Fingers crossed it’s there waiting when i get home!

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Jack Wolfgang Beck, Andy Warhol and some Concert Gems by the Warwick Symphony Orchestra

While on the topic of new discoveries i thought i might as well get this out of the way. And before anyone goes falling out of their chair i just want to say that in all probability this is NOT something that we’ll see in a third edition of Maréchal’s book. I also have no intention to join the crazy crowd of people who’ll put any random cover from the 50’s featuring a line drawing on ebay as a “possible Warhol cover”. When it comes to this particular cover there are however plenty of small pieces out there to put together and even if the puzzle can’t be completed what’s on the table is still pretty interesting. At least to me it is, and it’s always fun to speculate…

It all starts with a guy namned Jack Wolfgang Beck. But why him and how do i even know he existed? Well, i noticed his name on the jacket for Forbidden Childhood where both he and Andy Warhol is credited with the design. I don’t have all the books in front of me right now but besides the three Dolphin books where Warhol is credited with the drawing and George Giusti with the cover design this is, as i recall it, the only dust jacket where the credit for the design as a whole is shared between Warhol and someone else. Naturally i started googeling this guy and i won’t get into a whole biography thing, primarily because i didn’t find that much. But anyone interested in reading up a little bit on him can check out this page that has some information. What is interesting though is what he did in the late 40’s and early 50’s. It seems he, like Warhol, got started in commercial art and advertising and eventually received his share of praise and recognition from art critics in NYC. Apparently he also had a big studio with a lot of extra space, and at some point Vito Giallo, who would eventually work as Warhol’s commercial art assistant for a brief period during the laste 50’s, suggested that they use all that dead space and turn it into a gallery. And thus The Loft Gallery was born, there is a lot of further interesting information about all this here. I don’t know who half of these people were and what they were all about but supposedly one critic said that they were all a “bunch of commercial artists who wanted to be painters”. Anyways, the artists who presented their work were Wolfgang Beck, Allan Hugh Clarke, Vito Giallo, Gillian Jagger, Edward Rager, Jacques B. Willaumez and last but not least Andy Warhol. What all this boils down to is that i think it’s safe to say that at this point in time Beck and Warhol were in fact friends to whatever extent.

I then figured if they worked together and shared the credit for one design maybe they did more stuff together? Unfortunately i haven’t been able to find anything else… and that could have been the end of that. But then i did find this record cover where Beck is clearly credited on the front cover. Perhaps not somthing to get all worked up about but then i also noticed that the record label was Camden, and even though the general design is quite terrible i got attracted to the small drawings of instruments. I immediately thought of the ones Warhol did for Madrigal’s Magic Key To Spanish and more specifically the drawing of a guitar. I don’t yet have the record(s) or the book but for some reason i thought there were more drawings of instruments in the book. Frank Edwards has done a great job of photographing all the images from the book as you can see in the previous link. But i don’t know… i think even i could draw a guitar of similar quality, at least if my life depended on it. I’ve looked for other drawings of instruments by Warhol and there is one on the cover for Latin Rhythms by the Boston Pops for example and some others can be seen here, here and here. But again, i don’t know… i guess there are only that many ways in which a simple drawing like this could be done. I will say this though, when looking at other stuff done by Beck i can’t find anything that resembles these instruments. I couldn’t find a lot of stuff but you can see some here, here, here, and here. But who i am to judge someones style or “art”, and just because i can’t find anything surely doesn’t mean that he couldn’t draw a guitar, i’m sure he was quite capable to do so. And even if Beck didn’t do the drawings himself that of course doesn’t mean that it was Warhol who did them. Or as Guy Minnebach very wisely put it in an email – “I think we’ll never know who did these, probably Beck. As it is not always really certain if AW himself did all the drawings he is credited for, sometimes he let friends do it…”. But as said, it’s always fun to speculate.

The final piece of the puzzle is that it is in fact on the Camden label where you’ll also find the incredibly rare and most recent discovery Melodic Magic as well as the equally rare Waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr. If you look at the catalog numbers those are numbered CAE-193 and CAE-158 respectivly, this record is numbered CAL-123 (i’m not sure what the deal is with CAL and CAE… LP and EP maybe?) and i guess that could be considered somewhat close but not really THAT close to the later and confirmed Warhol’s on Camden. However close one thinks it is this is of course yet another thing that means nothing when it comes down do it. Oh, and i actually got the record i didn’t just find an image of it. The image i did find led to a listing on etsy and since it was cheap enough i figured i might as well get it and go in for a closer look. For anyone wanting to do the same i’ll just add that there seems to be at least two versions of this with different coloring, if we call this the pink version then there is also a greenish version, one was sold on ebay a couple of months ago.

So… there it is. That’s my case for a possible Warhol cover. Basically two friends who without question shared the credit for one design in the mid/late 50’s and where one happened to be credited for a record cover on a label where the other one then later did two designs. I can’t say that i’m convinced by my own evidence…But then again, i’m not convinced about Warhol’s hand in the covers for Violin Concerto, Porgy and Bess and the Rhapsody in Blue/Grand Canyon Suite and the “evidence” laid out there either… The real loons and crooks who like to list “possibles” on ebay should ge check out this record… There are some nice fits there too, Camden label, violins, Erica Morini and even a catalog number that’s REALLY close to Melodic Magic… also available in not just one, but two colors. As for me, even though i found the cover and the whole thing interesting and worthy of a post i’m done speculating. At least for now…

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