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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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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Three More Novels – Ronald Firbank (New Directions, 1951)

I found this pretty much by accident on ebay a few weeks ago and payed about $50 for it. Naturally i haven’t seen it before and can’t find any others for sale online so it’s hard to tell if it was a good deal or not. Also, i’m not really that into the book collectors club yet but to my understanding this is NOT the first edition of this book BUT it’s the first published edition that has this particular cover. But who knows, maybe i got “scammed”. It looks good however and it definately didn’t ruin me, so win/win.

The condition is pretty good and the jacket is protected by mylar. It has no major issues besides from a little age related discoloring here and there, but all in all i’m very happy about the condition.

There’s also the fun detail with the name “Andrew Warhol”.

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