The Strange Case of Lucile Cléry – Joseph Shearing (Doubleday/Dolphin Mystery, 1963)

I’m going to try and set the mood for this. And i realize that since the title of the book is also the title of this post it’s perhaps not the easiest thing to try and build suspense and anticipation… But let’s try. In lack of a better song and even though it’s pretty overused or whatever go set this tune on repeat and then continue reading.

This is a pretty big deal for me. Why? Well, this will most likely be the closest i will ever get to post something “new” and previously unknown. It’s not entirely unknown though, but i’m pretty sure that to most people interested in this stuff (which seems to be an entire handful of people) it will be news in one way or another. This book is not mentioned anywhere in any of the articles and stuff which feature this area of Warhol’s work. It’s also not mentioned in the catalogue for the exhibition Reading Andy Warhol. It is however on display at the current show Warhol by the Book so to those that have been to see that great show i guess it’s not really news. My dream of finding something totally new will have to live on though because sadly this wasn’t my discovery. And i believe in giving credit where credit is due and as with a lot of other things i have to thank Guy Minnebach for giving me the heads up. As i recall he found it on ebay where it was listed together with the words “warhol cover” and eventually got it for chump change. At the time i was pretty amazed that i had missed it considering all the saved searches i keep but i guess one can’t keep track of everything all the time. Anyways, i was going through some old emails and oddly enough it’s pretty much exactly one year ago that i found out this book existed. I got an email from Guy about his find on 6/5-2014 and even though i found it about a month ago it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that i finally got to hold it in my hands. There are plenty of books that i have spent a lot of time looking for but nothing compares to the time spent on this one. I really have spent a HUUUUGE and almost unhealthy amount of time looking for it so to finally find it was almost a surreal experience and a pretty fantastic anniversary gift of sorts.

Where did i finally find it? Well… i wish there was a great and exiting story here but there really isn’t. One afternoon during one of my OCD checks of my wish list on Amazon it was just there… There are a couple of different editions of this book and as usual in these cases i thought that the seller has just incorrectly listed one of these other editions under the one i’ve been looking for. And even though it was listed under the Doubleday edition and had the correct cover image the image shown was an old one that i recognized all to well. This image was uploaded by some woman that i actually stalked and contacted more than six months ago only to find out that her copy had been sold as part of a big collection and that she had only uploaded the image for some reason. Anyways, after just a quick look and seeing as the description featured the word “Dolphin” it became obvious that this was actually the real deal and after a couple of skipped heartbeats followed by my usual fumbling and panacking with the phone i had placed the order. Since this has basically been my biggest unicorn to date i didn’t bother to waste time waiting for images and even though the description featured wording like “cover has bumping, scuffing and dust smudging… lightly tanned” and so on i pretty much had to take a chance and jump at the opportunity. I must say that a lot of sellers of these paperbacks are pretty conservative in their grading of the books. But i can’t complain, without a doubt this looks pretty damn good for a +50 year old paperback.

So… what do we have here? I guess this is pretty self-explanatory but the title of the book is The Strange Case of Lucile Cléry and it was written by Marjorie Bowen under the pseudonym Joseph Shearing. I did not know of this author before this but it seems she enjoyed writing quite a bit and also kept herself busy doing it considering her total output exceeds 150 volumes/titles or whatever… This was originally published as Forget-Me-Not in 1932 and as said there a couple of other editions among which the edition published by Pocketbooks in 1949 is the one that has pretty much always been the one i’ve been sent images of when asking sellers about copies listed without any mention of the edition or year and so on… Anyways, the edition that is of interest here was published in 1963 by Doubleday on the imprint/printer’s mark/colophon or whatever it’s called Dolphin/Dolphin Mystery. This will also not be the first time that i have to say that i don’t know anything about this design. But unlike a couple of other books where i’ve been able to piece things together i’ve not been able to find any information about this whatsoever, nor have i been able to find any similar style drawings by Andy Warhol so this is pretty cool. And once again i’ll also have to say that i would never ever not in a million years have looked at this book and thought that the drawing might have been done by Warhol.

I do know one thing though that is pretty interesting. And that thing is a guy named George Giusti and this might actually be worthy of a future and more detailed post but anyways… The credit on the back of this book states “Cover design by George Giusti, Cover drawing by Andy Warhol” which is exactly the same as on Manon Lescaut and The Red and the Black, both of which were also published by Doubleday/Dolphin. I haven’t found any good information on this George Giusti other than that he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 1979 and that if you image search him you will find a ton of stuff. I have no idea if there was any kind of business or creative relationship or whatever between Warhol and Giusti during this time but i would guess that Warhol was just asked to do a drawing for a cover and that Giusti was in charge of cover design at Doubleday at the time or something along those lines. It is pretty interesting though, and of course it’s far from a crazy thought that if there are three books, hey… there might be four. Or five. Or any number of others… For anyone getting the same thoughts i can save you a lot of time and effort by saying that i have already spent countless hours staring at images on Google. And i will most likely continue… Don’t take my word for it but there are no obvious others that i have found so far.

As always i need to say something about the condition and all things considered it’s pretty spectacular! There is some minor smudges and things like that but the binding is solid and not much else to mention. Naturally i would have settled for a copy in any kind of condition but to be fortunate enough to find one that’s in as great shape as this is pretty thrilling! And even though i’m still trying to do this thing on a tight budget i would have payed a lot for this book had it been necessary, so i’m almost embarrassed to say that it only cost me $11, poor seller… I don’t want to sound like more of a dork than i probably do but once i opened the package i held this in my hands like it was a newborn baby and just stared at it while my better half was doing an equal amount of staring at me asking what the hell it was that was such a big deal about a stupid book… But anyone into any kind of collecting can probably relate to the feeling of finally seeing that “holy grail item” sitting there on a shelf, and it’s a great feeling! But it also leaves you (or at least me) with a strange empty feeling. Even though i’ve not spent hours and hours straight looking for this i’ve still thought about this book every single day for almost a full year. And as with any race it’s of course extremely satisfying and a lot of fun to finally get to the finish line but at the same time it also leaves you with a feeling of “what now”? Luckily i do have two more books that i need to find. In a way i’m dreading the day when i have all of the dust jackets and might have start looking into starting collecting magazines… That will not be good for finances.

As said this is featured in the exhibition Warhol by the Book and Guy Minnebach had told me that it would be in the show before it opened and i saw this as both a good thing as well as a terribly bad thing. A good thing because it might raise awareness and finally make the book show up on various sites. And of course a terrible thing because this might also make prices rise to where i could not get a copy. The show has not been on for that long but so far it seems i was wrong about the awareness part but i’m really hoping that it helps raise interest in this area of Warhol’s work and that maybe more copies of this, and the other books as well, will become more available.

In conclusion – The unicorn has been caught! Now i just need to find the mermaid, dragon, phoenix or whatever i’ll decide to call the missing ones…

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Warhol by the Book

Out with the old and in with the new is right. I’ve posted earlier about the first (at least that i know about) exhibition of Warhol’s books called Reading Andy Warhol held at the Brandhorst Museum in Munich and how that exhibition catalogue helped with me images of some dust jackets i didn’t know about. Well, that exhibition is already yesterdays news since it ended almost a year ago. And there is also something bigger and most likely also better on the horizon.

I can’t honestly say that i’m up to speed with what”s happening in the art world in general, most of it is just weird and pretentious to me. I don’t keep track of current and/or upcoming exhibitions at different museums and things like that. However, i do try and look around for Warhol related shows from time to time but i can’t say i spend that much time on it. So, with that said there’s probably a 50/50 chance i would have caught this upcoming thing. But thanks to fellow collector Guy Minnebach i didn’t have to worry about missing out. Anyways, time to get to the point!

In just a few months, march 7th to be exact an exhibition called Warhol by the Book will open at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown and this will be the first US exhibition to focus on Warhol’s book work . Even though i will not be able to go see it and don’t have any more information other than what’s on the site and in the press release i’m very excited about these news! The exhibition is organized by The Andy Warhol Museum and the curator is Matt Wrbican – chief archivist at The Warhol. I’ve never had any contact with him personally but from what i’ve heard from Guy Minnebach he is (perhaps obvious) extremely knowledgeable and a true gentleman, so all things set for a great exhibition! Just yesterday i mentioned my small “Warhol library” but maybe i shouldn’t brag and boast too much. My twenty or so books definitely pales in comparison to the more than 400(!) items that will be featured in this exhibition. I can’t even start to guess what’s among all this stuff. Besides the obvious dust jackets that i’m mainly interested in i know that there are lots of books with illustrations by Warhol such as cookbooks, children’s books and a ton of other stuff. Add to that a couple of extreeeeeeemely rare and sought after books what were privately published in the 50’s, for example In the Bottom of My Garden and Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother which were both up on Christie’s just a couple of weeks ago. Maybe the little booklet that i was once so proud of finding will also be on display. But how to get to +400 items… can’t wait to see it all!

I also know that Guy Minnebach has lent at least one book to the exhibition. I’ve actually invited him to guest blog about that particular book so i won’t spoil the surprise in case he decides to take me up on my offer. But he has sent me some images and i will say that it’s an amazing looking book, and since not even The Warhol has a copy i would guess calling it rare is nothing but a huge understatement. Another thing i know for certain is that the only book cover that i’ve chosen to keep “secret” and that Guy Minnebach found just a couple of months ago will also be up for display. I won’t spoil that surprise either but maybe that will be a good thing for me personally. This book is probably the one item i’ve looked for the most, ever. I’ve contacted tons of users at Librarything who claim to have it, every single seller at Amazon for each and every edition i could find just in case is was wrongly listed, then in some cases annoyed the same sellers by also contacting them on Abebooks, obsessively checking sites like BookFinder several times a day and finally image searched for hours an hours, … And all for nothing! Hopefully soon when this cat is out of the bag more copies will surface.

Even though the exhibition does not seem to focus primarily on the dust jackets i’m very happy that this area of Warhol’s work will get it’s place in the spotlight. I guess some of it might have been there already as part of other exhibitions, as i said i’m not really up to date with these things. But whatever the case it’s very cool to see another exhibition centered on Warhols’s books. I’m also very selfishly happy that i’ve been able to accumulate as many dust jackets as i have before this happened. I have no real opinion about what the previous exhibition in Munich did for the interest of this area of Warhol’s work but i would guess that this upcoming show will get much more attention and hopefully also help raise interest. Not only is it in the US but also, as said, organized by the heart of it all.

I’m really looking forward to this and can’t wait to see images from the show and read reviews and whatnot! And i didn’t get the exhibition catalogue for the show in Munich but i will definitely try and get a copy of it for this one! Good luck and best wishes to all involved!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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According to the Evidence – Henry Cecil (Harper & Brothers, 1954)

If it was hard to find any information at all regarding The Runaway Pigeon it was basically impossible to find anything whatsoever about this book. It’s not in any of the articles i’ve found or anywhere else. It wasn’t until Guy Minnebach very gracefully shared his list of “Warhol dust jackets” with me that i found out the book even existed. As i remember it he also shared images of some of the books so i would know what to look for. So then i of course went straight to Amazon with the crazy idea of making an easy pick up. This was also before i understood that Amazon US and UK were two seperate sites and at first i had a hard time finding it at all on the US site which was a bit of a bummer of course. Not even something to put on my wish list… But once i caught the drift i starting looking around the UK site where i at least got to see a familiar image. I was a little stunned to see that there were about 10 copies available and thought that for sure one of these would be the correct one. But after a lot of emails back and forth i can now save anyone with the same idea both the time and trouble and let you that none of these are the “Warhol edition”. As with The Adventures of Maud Noakes there is another edition published by Chapman & Hall, but unlike that book this edition has a different dust jacket design.

As i’ve said i’ve never seen it anywhere before, a couple of the hard to find ones you will at least see laying around somewhere with crazy asking prices of $600 or something like that. But with this one, nothing. Not even an image from some old listing on ebay. Anyways, even though it’s in my saved searches thing on ebay i still somehow managed to miss this listing that Guy tipped me off to a couple of months ago. By then we had already worked out our trade and though in pretty good shape that book was missing the lower part of the dust jacket that appears to have been torn off. But had i not gotten offered a virtually flawless copy i would definitely have been all over that auction. I’m saving my general thoughts about the interest in these dust jackets for a post where i was planning to sum up my first year collecting these. And this post is actually long overdue but i’ve gotten so many additions in the last months that i want to post those first. Anyways, even with the tear a selling price of about $15 for this rare and great looking dust jacket is just ridiculous!

So, what else… well, the book was written by a brit namned Henry Cecil and this edition was published in 1954 by Harper & Brothers. The author seems to have been a predecessor to todays king of court room stories – John Grisham. Apparently Cecil was a judge and wrote more than twenty books in the crime fiction genre, most published in the 50’s and 60’s. As this time period seems to be the heyday of Warhol designed dust jackets and book covers i’ve been trying to find images of all his books. But so far i’ve yet to come up with anything interesting…

I don’t know anything about the design really. To me the drawing is similiar to the one on The Immortal as well as the one on the cover to The Nation’s Nightmare but that’s about it. I know a little bit about the story though. And i assume the man on the cover is either murdered or a murderer. Or, quite interestingly, he might actually be both. Apparently the book starts of as a murder mystery where a woman is killed and all the evidence points to this one man who is later aquitted in court. Naturally, shortly after this another woman turns up dead. And then shortly after that the aquitted man himself is found murdered. So now the murderer of a murderer has to stand trial. Reward him or start assembling the guillotine? I’ll have to read the whole thing to tell that you the answer to that though…

As usual i’ll end with a few words about the condition. And in this case, once again, there’s really not that much to say. It really is in fantastic shape, almost perfect! The front cover, which of course is the most important, has no issues what so ever really. As with my copy of The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole someone has used the book as support while writing but luckily the plastic cover has done what it’s supposed to do and the markings has not pushed through to the actual cover. And these markings don’t show unless you look at it both very closely and from a certain angle, so… who cares!? I do wonder though if these people knew they were using a Warhol artwork as support, i think not. The thin black border that runs both on the top and bottom of the dust jackets i’ve been told was put there to protect the egdes of the dust jacket from starting to tear. As with as couple of others of my books this has been in and out of a few libraries. First Seymour Public Library in Indiana and after that it’s been at the Indiana Bible College where is was finally discarded. That place sounds like a real hoot, maybe the story was deamed to provocative with all the murders and whatnot…

This is a really great looking dust jacket and i love the design with the green and white on black background. I’m also going to have a go at rare ranking my collection in a later post. Without putting to much thought into it i would say that this is definitely in the top five, maybe even in the top three… This also concludes part two of my awsome trade with Guy Minnebach. I won’t give anything away about the third item other than that it’s not a book but a record… Finally it’s quite an odd but also somewhat cool feeling that soon these will be the first and so far only images of this book on Google…Thanks again Guy!

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The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole – Baron Corvo (New Directions, 1953)

I haven’t spent much time trying to “rare rank” the dust jackets i’ve found so far but up until recently i think i’ve considered Who Cooked Mother Goose? to be the rarest one in my collection. But along came this one… And then during the summer i got a hold of two more that i think will trumph all my previous ones. But first things first…

I’ve spent a lot of time looking for this book without any luck whatsoever. Besides the annoying copy on Etsy that’s been sold since forever and the (most likely) crazy expensive signed copy on the Fulton Ryder site i was unable to find anything at all. As usual the first line of attack was Amazon and at a first glance there’s about 50 or so copies available. Even though most of these copies, or in this case probably every single one, is the wrong edition i usually don’t get demotivated about such a challenge. Usually you can find one or two listings that are worth digging into on the off chance that the seller has listed it incorrectly. But with this particular book it’s been hard to find those kinds of listings and to contact all of the sellers just seemed like a lot of unnecessary work.

Then for some reason i think i added “new directions” to the search and then i found a couple of listings i had not seen before, and some of these are still available today. Most likely all of these had been available for a long time and it was just my own stupidity and sloppiness that caused me not to find these earlier. Anyways, a couple of emails later i eventually heard back from two of the sellers. If i remember correct both somewhat surprisingly advised me NOT to buy their copy if i was only interested in the book due to the dust jacket since both were in pretty bad shape. So… kudos to honest sellers!

Even though i appreciated their honesty this of course was a little annoying and a bit of a downer at first. I’m not picky when it comes to the condition of these dust jackets and the way i see it some tears and bumps are to be expected on +50 year old books. But if the sellers themselfs say the condition is terrible then it’s probably pretty bad. Shortly after this i heard back from the last seller and she also attached some images that i posted in my sneak preview a couple of months ago. And even though the images weren’t great they were good enough for my usual paranoia to set in. As is common practice on Amazon the seller didn’t offer international shipping so instead of spending time trying to work this out i took the liberty of shipping it to Frank Edwards without asking for his “permission” first. But as always he didn’t mind acting as my personal post office kind of thing, thanks again for your help Frank, much appreciated!

I think i payed $40-50 for it, i thought about trying to haggle a little bit but the seller was the head of some kind of rare book team at Harvard University so i figured she had a pretty good idea about the value. And also annoying them about $10 or so and risking it all to fall through didn’t seem worth it. The already sold copy on Etsy that the seller wanted $68 for would probably have been a better deal. But considering i’ve never seen this anywhere else and how hard this was to find at all i still think that i made a fair enough deal.

Like Three More NovelsLove is a Pie and The Adventures of Maud Noakes this was published by New Directions and as far as i know this was Warhol’s third commissioned work for that publisher. I don’t really know anything about the author or the book except that the authors real name was Frederick Rolfe and from what i’ve read on Wikipedia some of the book’s descriptions of Venice still appear in guidebooks to this day, so i guess that means they are pretty good.

When it comes to the condition i’d say it’s at least decent. There are some minor tears and other small issues. For example someone seems to have used the book as support while writing something on a piece of paper and the pressure of the pen has “pushed through” or however you say it and this has created some marks and so on… Generally though i think it’s more than OK. In lack of other words it’s still probably one of the “worst” in my collection, but i still love this dust jacket and i’m pretty thrilled i finally found a copy. And as i usually put it – beggars can’t be choosers.

EDIT: I found an old post from december 2013 where i posted about a copy on Ebay. The pictures are gone but that one sold for $175. So it seems i might have made a better deal than i thought.

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