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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The Runaway Pigeon – Leslie Edgley (Doubleday, 1953)

Exciting times ahead! There’s quite a lot to be told about this book and how i got a hold of it and i don’t really know where to start. But i’ll start with how i first became aware of it. I started my book collection sometime in the early summer of 2013 and based on what little information i could find online i thought there were maybe ten or so dust jackets to be found. I also put up a saved search thing on ebay for “Warhol book cover” or something like that which didn’t result in anything even remotely interesting for the first couple of months. But then finally in the beginning of september i woke up to find this listing for a book that i had never seen or heard of before. This was of course quite intriguing as i thought that the articles i had found on the subject pretty much covered all known dust jackets, but apparently this was not the case.

Somewhere around this time i also got an excellent list from Guy Minnebach with various books that Warhol had either designed the jacket for, published privately, done illustrations for and so on… Of course this book – The Runaway Pigeon – was on this list among with maaaaany more dust jackets that i had no idea about, making the total around twenty. Anyways, as i remember it the auction generated quite a bit of interest and it quickly became obvious that i would not be able to win it and the closing bid was eventuelly around $215. This is the first and only time i’ve ever seen this book anywhere. And trying to find anything about this cover has proved to be almost impossible, no images (except for the ones from that old auction), no mention in any articles, no nothing really… So it almost feels a little bit like i’m breaking new ground or steering through uncharted waters here. Not really though, but kind of…

Anyways, that’s that about how i found out about the books existence and on to what i know about the cover, which besides the obvious isn’t much. It was published in 1953 by Doubleday and as with The Saint in Europe and Pistols For Two this was part of the Crime Club series. I’ve been able to piece together a little bit more about the design. At the National Gallery of Scottland’s website there are a couple of drawings from a series that Warhol did specifically for this book cover, see images here, here and here. Most of these as well as the design used for the actual cover show the same kind of featureless faces and some also with various namnes of cities, note the misspelling of “Chicago” in the first image where it’s spelled “Chiggo” or something like that. The first two drawings look like, at least to me, somewhat finished designs that would be ready to put on a dust jacket. And i quite like the first one. There has also been a supposed original of one of these drawings on ebay for over $20 000 for a long, long time. And it’s still there now. The name “The Runaway Pigeon” was as far as i can tell only used in the US whereas the title “Diamonds Spell Death” was used outside America. I have no further details on the non US edition other than that there’s two listings on Amazon UK. The first one has the publisher as “Barker” and the other one has it as “Arthur Baker”, both published in 1954. I guess one of these might just be a typo and that the publisher is actually the same. I also have no idea what the cover for this other edition looks like, but it would be interesting to find out.

So… where did i find this? Well, i didn’t really. It kind of found me. Sometime last autumn after i got a hold of the booklet to On Record: 11 Artists i was offered a trade by Guy Minnebach. I’m not goind to reveal the details just yet since that will spoil what’s to come but as i remember this book was not part of the initial deal. Anyways, even though i was tempted to accept this initial offer i had just gotten my hands on the booklet and felt that i wanted to play around (read: look at it) with it a bit more. It was also the first thing that i had found that the other members of the WCCC had not seen before, with the exception of Guy of course, so for some reason i kind of liked the feeling of just having it around. Then as time went by i started to get a hold of more and more of the dust jackets. This was of course a lot of fun but at the same time it became obvious that a couple, like this one, would prove extremely difficult to find. And as with the record covers i’m trying to do this thing on as tight a budget as possible. I can’t remember when or exactly how things played out really but a couple of months ago or so i think Guy came back to me with a new and improved offer. I still really liked the booklet and i think it’s a really cool item but this time i just couldn’t turn down what i was being offered. So, this is part one of a really great and exciting trilogy of stuff to come… Well, it’s in fact more like 3½ but let’s say it’s three amazing items and ½ that’s a little less heart raising.

Thanks so much for this amazing trade Guy, and i was very glad to hear you were also more than happy with it at your end!

Finally something about the condition. There’s really not much to say since i think it’s in spectacular shape! Without a doubt one of the best ones in my collection so far. The only thing (and i’m not really sure this even is an issue) is that compared to the images in the old listing on ebay the pink typography on my copy is much brighter. I find it a bit strange that just the text should be faded since the colors on the rest of the jacket are still bright so i don’t really know what to make of it. I did play around a little in Photoshop with my images and it’s an easy thing to brighten the text so maybe that’s what the seller on ebay did to improve the look of his copy. It’s hard to tell since i haven’t seen any other images of this cover online. Whatever the case this is nothing that bothers me at all and i think it’s an amazing looking cover and when it comes to “rareness” i definitely have a new number one in my book collection. Thanks again Guy, love it!

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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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