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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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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25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy / Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother

I forgot one thing in yesterdays little summary, maybe because i’m still shell shocked after finding something Warhol-related that’s even remotely interesting on swedish ebay-site Tradera. This thing is nothing absolutely spectacular but to see anything on that site besides overpriced prints is a very rare thing.

It’s hard enough to find some of Warhol’s dust jackets but for anyone looking for the challenge of a lifetime there are also a couple of privately published books that of course are both incredibly rare and incredibly expensive. Two of these are 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy and Hole Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother. I don’t know more about either of these than any other guy who’s able to use Google but if we start with 25 Cats… it was privately printed and published in 1954 and despite the title it consists of 16 drawings of cats namned Sam and naturally also a drawing of a blue pussy. Fairly good images of them all can be seen here, there you can also get a decent idea of this price of one of these. Ouch! Anyways, a guy namned Charles Lisanby who apparently was a good friend of Warhol’s at the time is credited as the author and from what i understand the reason for this is that he came up with the title. It appears there is also some uncertainty about how many copies were actually printed, the title page or whatever states that the total edition is 190 copies but i’ve read here and there that there might only have been about 150 copies produced. Whatever the case all copies were hand colored and numbered and most of them ended up as gifts for clients and friends. The calligraphy was done by his mother Julia Warhola and apparently Warhol was amused by little errors and imperfections so he didn’t want to correct her misspelling of “name/namned”. And besides that, who would ever think it was a good idea to correct your own mother?

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I don’t really care how many copies that were actually printed but i am a little courius as to how many survived. The wikipedia article on the book mentions that a mere three copies has been located but has no reference or source for one of them. I doubt someone is keeping track and constantly updating that page though, so who knows. Anyways, the auction i linked to above with the images is from 2014, here is another one from 2007 at Christie’s that mentions that the copy is dedicated to Paul Cadmus and here is very recent one from some german auction house called Ketterer Kunst. I can’t read german but with a little help from google translate it seems that last one was not really for the book but instead had all the pages individually framed. So yeah… who knows how many are still in one piece, but there seem to be more than three copies floating around. And needless to say i don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spare, so this thing is not going to happen anytime soon.

It’s a little more tricky to find information on Holy Cats, but the general facts are pretty much the same. This was also privately printed and published but i’m not really sure if this was also handed out to friends and family but i would guess that was the case. This article on Julia Warhola claims the book was published in 1957 as does the “official” or whatever Warhola family site thing. I’ve also seen a lot of “circa 1950’s” but i see no reason to not go with 1957. I’m also not sure about how many were printed, i’ve seen the mention of anywhere between 50 and 100 on a couple of sites but yeah, who knows… Between the covers are (if i counted correctly) 19 drawings of cats and angels and each drawings also has a short little sentence following the same pattern of “some do this or that… some don’t” Or something else that some don’t do… I quite like these texts and think they are pretty witty. Here is a pretty good site with images of all the drawings. Up until recently i actually thought this was also illustrated by Warhol, which considering the title makes me feel a bit stupid. But i’ve now learned that the work is generally attributed to Julia Warhola without any involvment from Andy. I guess that’s of the reason why this book is actually not THAT rare and won’t cost you a fortune. Naturally it’s not something you see on every shelf in every store but for example there are four copies on Amazon right now. Besides being on Amazon the book has also been sold at some “fancier” auction sites, here and here are two old listings from Christie’s and here is another auction from some Phillips site which also included the book A is an Alphapet. I’ve also seen just the cover for the book up for auction at a swedish site here, i was the only bidder at $50 and with an estimate of $400 or so of course my bid didn’t meet the reserve, but i won’t go after that with guns blazing if it comes back up. But it’s always fun and interesting to see Warhol related stuff on swedish sites, especially something as rare and obscure as this.

So… with both of these having the price tags that they do you have to settle for the next best thing. And the next best thing is usually a reissue or reproduction. Luckily there is a facsimile with both of these books included in a little box thing. I’ve seen the set on Amazon and Abebooks for a while and prices usually start at around $100 so in common fashion i’ve been waiting for something to turn up at a bargain price. I don’t keep track of Warhol items on this swedish site Tradera, the only thing i get from there are usually old NES games. Anyways, at the start of the summer i happened to see this box with a starting bid of just $10 or so, and i ended up being the only bidder so i can’t complain. Not a fantastic or thrilling find or item by any means but i do love these pre-pop drawings and i’ve wanted to get the box eventually. So all in all a great deal for a great set of books!

There seem to be two editions of this box, the first being published in 1987 by Random House and then another one published a year later in 1988 by Chatto & Windus which is an imprint of Random House. I have no idea if there are any small differences between the two editions but i would guess they are exactly allike and i got the one by Chatto & Winus, like many other books and editions i think it’s as simple as one US and one UK edition. This seller claims that his copy is numbered and that the facsimile edition, like the original, should be limited to 190 copies. I’ve not seen any mention of this anywhere else and my copy is not numbered so i don’t know if i believe his claims, and who cares anyway… Whatever the case i think both books are pretty cool and i’m happy to add them to the pile!

Ps. I just got word from Frank Edwards that the $9 ticket price for a chance in The Adventure of Maud Noakes lottery paid off and that i was the lucky winner!

Sunday, monday, happy days!

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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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Andy Warhol – Moderna Museet, 1968

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Manon Lescaut – The Abbé Prévost (Doubleday, 1960-1961)

When i started my book collection i found it a little bit tricky to find good information on which dust jackets Warhol actually had designed. So far there is no book about these that i know of and no list like Richard Forrest’s excellent list on the record covers on rateyourmusic. There are a few pretty good articles here and there but it soon became obvious that these didn’t cover all of his work in this area. This particular book i had never seen mentioned anywhere until Guy Minnebach tipped me off to it’s existence.

As with The Red and the Black this wasn’t incredibly difficult to find once i started looking for it. And the way of action was pretty much the same – find about 10 different editions on Amazon or abebooks, email a bunch of sellers and wait for some images while you keep your fingers crossed. Surprisingly this method has proven to work quite well so far. But of course you need to find some listings in order to have something to investigate. And pretty soon i’ll be stuck with just a few holes on my collection that will be hard to fill using this approach. Guess i’ll have to come up with a new strategy after the summer vacation…

Anyways, i thought i got this from Amazon but i can’t find it in my order history so i guess it must have been from abebooks. I also can’t remember when it was exactly or what i payed for it but it’s been on the shelf for quite some time, and i remember that i thought i made a great deal. Up until just now i actually thought the title was The Abbé Prévost and that the authors name was Manon Lescaut. But it seems it’s really the other way around. As it turns out Manon Lescaut appears to be a short novel by the french author Antoine François Prévost, there is also an opera with the same name by Giacomo Puccini based on the novel. I chose to blame my ignorance on the fact that i’m not particularly into opera and/or novels from the 18th century. I also don’t think i’ve ever seen an author namned with the definite article – “the”. Maybe this was common back in the day?

As with The Red and the Black this was published by Doubleday and on what i think i’ve now learned is called an imprint that was called Dolphin book, or maybe just Dolphin? It also seems to be some uncertainty as to what year this was published, there is no year stated in the actual book and my (among many other things) “book mentor” Guy Minnebach has the year put down as 1960(?) and on this listing on Biblio they claim that it was published in 1961. So who knows, i’ll go with 1960-1961 just to hedge my bet a little bit. To me it has the same “feel” as both The Red and the black and The Grand Mademoiselle which were both published in 1960 so it can’t be that far off.

In my book (pun intended) there is not much to say about the condition. For a paperback that’s over 50 years old i think it’s in excellent shape. There are some tiny, tiny smudges on the front cover and some minor foxing or other discoloration to the top. It’s also a little beaten up along the edges and so on, but i think the front drawing is still nice and clear. So all in all nothing to complain about.

Warhol is of course credited with the drawing and this other guy namned George Giusti is credited with the general cover design. I tried to find some information on him and it seems he did quite a few covers for Doubleday and others, here’s a few examples. I had never heard of him before but right away this cover caught my interest and for a moment i once again thought i had found “my” Warhol cover, but it seems i’ll have to keep looking…

Oh, and thanks again for all your help, Guy!

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Sneak preview…

Lady luck seems to have chosen to shine on me once again. At least i think so, as with quite a few of the books i’ve found so far i’ve only been able to find that one copy. And since i always jump on the opportunity i don’t really know if i’m getting a good deal or not, but most times my general feeling has always been that i am.

This is one of my favourite dust jackets and one that i’ve been trying pretty hard to find. As with many of the others i’ve not seen it anywhere since i started collecting the books, i have seen an old listing on Etsy from two years ago or so though. But that hasn’t brought me much joy, only frustration. At least up until now.

As always it took a little bit of work to get a hold of some images. The listing said “chipped dust jacket, otherwise decent shape” or something like that. Which can pretty much mean anything between a complete disaster to a really nice looking cover, and i don’t really want to buy something like this without seeing it first. Anyways, i finally got to see some images this morning and it’s looks good enough.

Terrified that someone would steal it from me i also didn’t want to waste time trying to get the seller to ship it outside the US so instead i shipped it directly to Frank Edwards without asking first, but i’m pretty sure it’s OK.

So… the images i got weren’t great but here’s a sneak peak at what’s to come. A great looking dust jacket and i can’t wait to get my hands on it, love it!

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