The Summer Dancers – Clyde Miller (Macmillan, 1961)

There are many kinds of endings. There’s the good or the bad. The happy or the sad, and of course also any combination of the above. There are endings that leave you satisfied and there’s the ones that leave you frustrated and angry. The ending to Lost is a good example of the latter, i still can’t believe i wasted six years on that show and countless hours on nerdy forums and i still get mad when thinking about it today… But that’s not really relevant here. The point is that eventually everything will come to an end. And how to best write the ending for the story here? Sounds a bit over dramatic… it’s not like it’s the end of the blog, but in a way it is the end of a long and exciting journey. But maybe i should save the thoughts on that for a later post and just get to the point.

When trying to read up on these books and things i will sometimes start planning out the basics for a future post in my head even though i haven’t found the actual item yet. I’m starting to get sick of writing that i thought i would never get to make this or that post, so i can imagine that it must be equally boring to read about it… But here it comes it again. And this time it’s true. I had basically come to terms with never getting a hold of this book and that i would forever be stuck with having that one small, but still HUGE, hole in my collection. Without question this is one of the absolutely most rare dust jackets and i figured that with the ongoing exhibition and more and more people finding them interesting that even if one did show up somewhere it would either be ridiculously priced or show up on ebay where there is always that someone who has a little more money than you do. So yeah… all this considered i didn’t really start making plans for this post ahead of time.

I really, REALLY wish there was some spectacular and thrilling story behind all this as it would make for a much better post and endning. But sadly there is nothing like that to be told. There could have been though. The few but avid readers might remember this post from late last year where i wrote about an old article in something called The Flyleaf that i happened to stumble upon and that had a very familiar cover. The magazine/monthly leaflet or whatever was put together by something called Friends of the Fondren Library and through them i was actually able to contact the guy who had written the article. He was now retired and had developed other collecting-interests than Warhol and his dust jackets. If i remember correct he had found about seven or eight of them, and he had done so without any help from the internet so i must admit it’s a pretty impressing achievement. Anyways… for some reason i initially didn’t think about asking him if he would ever consider selling his copy of the book. At the time i was also looking for a number of other jackets than just this one and i thought it was great enough to actually find a guy who had it, and that if i would ever be in the situation where this was the only hole to fill i would start pestering him then. And of couse that time came. And i don’t really know how to define “pester” but i did send him more than a couple of emails. My final offer or whatever was of course money together with my spare copies of The Strange Case of Lucile Cléry and the Corgi edition of The Immortal. Oddly enough i never heard back. I don’t feel i was overly pushy in any way and he seemed genuinely interested in talking about these old books and to someone who now shared one of his old interests and who dug up his old article, so yeah… i don’t really know what happened. And it doesn’t really matter, but it would have been a somewhat better story than what actually went down.

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Another thing that would have made for a better story or ending would have been if my crazy quest to contact hundreds of book sellers would have been successful. The final number ended up being more than eight hundred. And even though a surprisingly high number of these replied none of them responded with anything but no’s, sorry’s and unfortunately’s. The only thing i learned from this is that it was highly demotivating and i don’t intend to ever embark on such an endeavour ever again.

So… let’s get to the actual ending however non exciting it may be. If nothing else it made me feel a little bit like Nostradamus. A little over two months ago i wrote this post before i started with all the emails which ended with “most likely what will happen is that i’ll send out +500 emails and shortly after that the book will just appear in my wish list”. And even though i was way off when it comes to the number of emails this is basically exactly what happened. Sometime at the end of september it was just there… not on Amazon but on ebay of all places. As i’ve also ranted about in the past i was so sick of seeing nothing but my little ponies all over the place but this time there was actually a blue little dot thing next to the saved search for “summer dancers miller”. Before this i had also noticed that copies of Pistols for Two and The Butterfly Tree were also on ebay all of a sudden so even before i checked out this new mystery listing i had a feeling it would in fact be for the book this time. And it was! It may sound dorky but i almost couldn’t believe my eyes. I don’t really have anything to compare this feeling to… never before have i tried so hard to find something and to just see it available somewhere was pretty amazing. I have an old friend who for some reason is into bird-watching and once upon a time we were set to watch a fotboll match at a pub somewhere after work and i was sitting there waiting, waiting and waiting… eventually he calls and says that he has to cancel because there had been a sighting of a rare bird of some kind way up north. Way. Up. North. Almost 800km or about 500 milers to be exact, so he decides to call in sick the next day and drive all through the night just to maybe, MAYBE be able to see this bird… This was many years ago now and although i didn’t understand what the hell he was thinking or doing at the time i think i have a better sense of understanding now. But it’s not an easy feeling to explain to someone who hasn’t been there.

Anyways, any inital excitment i felt was, as always, quickly turned into anxiety. How the hell was i going to be able to win this auction, and what would it end up costing me… Considering that this was the first and only time i had ever seen this anywhere i decided early on that i would try and get it no matter what. Well, maybe not exactly no matter what but i would at least be prepared to bid more for this single book than what i had basically payed for all the others combined. I’m still not much of a great strategic when it comes to ebay but i think i did fairly good this time. I did however place an early bid but once i got trumped i actually decided to compose myself and wait until the end of the auction and not continue to help drive the price up early on. I remember that the auction ended on a thursday night, and even though it was far from in the middle of the night i remember i still set one or two alarm clocks which was a good thing since i fell asleap early. I ended up going to war with primarily one other guy, and he does not appear to be no Sun Tzu either. He hit the button more than 30 times raising only the minimum bid each time, and for each bid i think my heart rate went up by a couple of beats per minute so needless to say it was quite high at the end… As this was going on i was of course also terrified that the late, sniping rich guy would appear and spoil the day. And he did appear, but for once he didn’t spoil the day! Even though i ended up paying waaaaay more than i have done for any of the other twenty dust jackets, well… that’s excluding The Butterfly Tree of course, i’m still very happy with what i ended up paying and i think i got a fantastic deal in the end! I know i’ve said it hundreds of times but i really have been trying to put this all together on a pretty tight budget but what can you do… i guess the holes in your pockets gets bigger the smaller the same holes gets in your collection, if that makes any sense. Perhaps i was a little bit lucky the seller (who is a great and friendly guy from France) had a couple of other rare jackets listed and ending at the same time thus forcing buyers to chose between all these great books. Or perhaps it’s just me who has to beg and chose… Whatever the case i’m absolutely thrilled about the way this all played out.

Like a selfish douchebag i’ve also tried not to mention this book in any of the previous posts thinking this would increase my chances to keep it under the radar or whatver… I doubt this was called for though, this book is mentioned and shown in at least one of the articles on the dust jackets that i always mention and it should have been obvious which one i was stuck looking for in the end for someone willing to put in a little time and effort. I still haven’t forgotten about the previous little “sabotage attempt” though so maybe it wasn’t stupid to try and keep it on the down low after all. But seeing as it all ended up going down out in the open on ebay it didn’t really matter when push comes to shove.

So… what is this thing that i have been so childishly excited about? Well, if the title of the post didn’t give it all away this is of course the absolutely spectacular dust jacket for the book titled The Summer Dancers written by Clyde Miller and published by Macmillan in 1961. I say spectacular because there is really no other word. This is without question one the best looking jackets and as said it’s also one of the absolute rarest. I love this for more reasons than one but i particularly love how is uses the entire jacket – both front and back. Well, maybe the “entire” jacket is a bit of an exaggeration but even if it’s just by a little bit over the spine and on to the back cover i think it’s such a wonderful little detail. I also love how the remainder of the back cover has been left white and not been cluttered with short little excerpts from reviews or a synopsis kind of thing. The only other dust jacket to feature this kind of a back/front design is Borderline Ballads. One might argue that The Adventures of Maud Noakes also makes good use of the back cover in similar fashion and it does, but at the same time it’s also just the same stamped faces and not really the same kind of “continued” design as these two.

On to Clyde Miller… and as usual this will be short and sweet. Record breaking short to be exact – i’ve not been able to find ANYTHING at all about him. Again, the few but dedicated readers of this blog will have learned that the “Warhol dust jacket authors” were hardly Nobel Prize winning material but it’s still a bit unusual to not be able to find anything whatsoever… The small contribution i can make comes from the inside of the back flap where there is a little bit of a biography kind of thing and some short additional information:

“Clyde Miller was born in 1926 in Louisiana. His short novel The Gentle Season attracted favorable critical attention when it appeared a few years ago. He has taught at the University of Florida, has frequently traveled the lenght of the East Coast, and now lives and writes in New York City”.

Not much of use there. Being born in 1926 i guess he could actually still be alive, but this will NOT mean the beginning of a new stalking endeavour. And at least there is a lead to Florida… And that lead made me find a guy namned Gene Baro who apparently, among many other things i’m sure, organized over 150 art exhibitions, was a consulting curator of prints and drawings at the Brooklyn Museum, senior editor of Art International magazine in Lugano (Switzerland) and a former director of the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. To top this all of he was also a member of the graduate faculty in the history of art at Williams College in Williamstown which coincidentally held the Warhol by the Book exhibition from March 7 to August 16. I’ve just copy/pasted all this from this site so who ever might be interested can find more information there. My main interest in this guy though is that apparently he was good friends with Clyde Miller, you can learn that by checking out this site which is another collection of these “Person X papers”. The same kind of thing that i found on Robert E. Bell, run a search for “Miller” and you’ll find quite a bit of correspondence between Clyde Miller and this Gene Baro. Among A TON of other things there are of couple of at least remotely interesting lines. For exampel:

Miller, Clyde. Letters to Gene Baro, 1960 – Neiswander, Rosemary. Typed transcript of a very unfavorable review [of Summer Dancers] Library Journal, December 1, 1960, with ANS “Clyde”.

TLS to Gene Baro. 1961 May 2 [New York] 2 p. Does not know what happened to Baro’s books, which were taken from Cross Creek house to the UF library. Comments about the condition of Baro, who apparently has been injured in an automobile accident. He is moving into Herschel’ apartment. Making final revisions to Summer Dancers [published 1961] He does not think it will be successful, but can do no more.

Miller, Clyde. The Summer Dancers. Uncorrected proofs. 1961.

I guess that last one is perhaps of little interest, but i find it somewhat funny and interesting that he appears to have not been fully satisfied with his work himself. To bad there is no mention of Warhol among all that stuff. Oh… one last thing. He actually did publish a couple of other things. I’m not sure these would be called “books” or whatever but for starters there is the title that is mentioned on the back flap – The Gentle Season. This is part of some kind of collection of novels and can be found cheap on Amazon or Abebooks, sadly it does not come with a previously unknown Warhol jacket. There are also some other published things here, but good luck trying to find images of these…

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OK, so that’s that about Clyde Miller and moving on to the actual cover design.To the best of my knowledge the drawing first appeared in the self published book In the Bottom of My Garden from 1956. I’m actually not sure how many drawings are in this book but if this site shows them all that would mean there are a total of 20 drawings. Now and then i think you’ll also see some of these sold individually at Christie’s and then i believe they are sometimes refered to as “plates”, i don’t really know what this means… But anyways, there was a veeeeeery cool auction for one of these just a couple of days ago that Guy Minnebach told me about featuring a very familar drawing… Sadly i couldn’t convince my better half to cut a couple of thousand dollars out of the house budget. Maybe something like this would better suit my budget, but that thing is of course a lot less cool. But after all, ’tis the season… But my of my, what i wouldn’t give to someday be able to get one of these orignal drawings related to one of the dust jackets. Someday…

I wasn’t sure where to squeeze this next thing in but i guess here is as good a place as any. I’ve also found an alternative cover at The national Galleries of Scotland website, this also features a drawing from the previously mentioned book In the Bottom of My Garden and although it looks great as well i think someone made the right call and went with the design that ended up on the actual jacket.

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Throw some kind of art history test on the desk in front of me and i would most definately hand it in with a terrible score. But i know a little bit about Andy Warhol, and from what i’ve learned these angels, fairies and/or cupids was a common theme early on in his career. When it comes to the dust jackets this is of course obvious on the cover for Three More Novels as well as on the alternative and somewhat finished cover for Borderline Ballads. I don’t know anything about two these other two guys though – Raphael and Marcantonio Raimondi. I had of couse heard the name Raphael but, perhaps embarrassing, i doubt i would be able to single out one of his paintings in a line up. And that other guy i had never heard about at all but apparently he is a key figure in the rise of the reproductive print in the early 1500’s… So why are these guys important here? Well, even though i’ve been unable to find to orignal design by Raphael i’ve found plenty of works that have words like “after” and “follower” attached to them. I don’t know how these things work but what i’m trying to get to is that it’s blatently obvious were Warhol got the inspiration for this drawing from. And that’s from a work titled (i think) “Dance of Cupids” by Marcantonio Raimondi after Raphael. So yeah, to the best of my knowledge this “after” thing means the original was done my Raphael and then reproduced by Marcantonio Raimondi… There are quite a few of these with minor differences and you can get a high resolution image of the most obvious basis for the design here. As mentioned there are also others, like this one, credited to Follower of Marcantonio Raimondi, i guess this means pretty much the same thing…

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Phew, i guess that about sums it up… And to follow standard protocol i always wait until the end to say something about the condition. And in this case i think it’s absolutely fantastic! I would have settled for a copy of this book in any condition whatsoever, torn, taped, barely in one piece… it wouldn’t have mattered. So to be able to get a hold of one in as great shape as this is nothing but fantastic. There are some small tears and tiny smudges, but what the hell. Considering how rare and old these books are i’m surprised some made it through in one piece at all. Oh, this is also one of the books that give credit to Andrew Warhol, the other being Three More Novels if i remember correct. The last couple of days have been exciting times when it comes to these books and ebay with a lot of the rare ones being sold lately. The interest in this collection of mine from my better half has been non-existent but when i showed her what they were selling for and told what i had payed for most of them she all of a sudden became a little more interested and we sat down and looked at them all. And it’s pretty cool that a lot of the most hard to find ones are in really good shape. But i don’t understand that some people (at least one particular woman) need to see dollar signs on a screen before they raise an eyebrow and become interested in even having a look at all these great looking books….

In a way this is also the end. And it’s a good, happy and in a way sad ending all rolled together into one. Even though there are still a number of books with Warhol’s on the cover, all from the 80’s i believe, that i still need to find this post concludes what has been a two and half year something long journey towards completing what i intend to title my privately published book someday – Andy Warhol: The Dust Jackets, 1951-1963. I plan on doing some kind of summary of this whole thing later on so i’ll leave it at that for now. But it’s a pretty cool feeling to lay them all on the floor and see a complete collection. I also think it’s pretty great that this blog has now become a decent source of information on all these, at least it comes with images of them all. Of course there is also the great book Reading Andy Warhol, but if i remember correct that doesn’t feature The Strange Case of Lucile Cléry, so at least there is some extra spice here… And i of course haven’t given up on finding that previously unknown jacket so i’m sure i will find plenty of things to waste my time on during the coming year. I also plan on rewriting/revisiting some of my previous book posts, many of the early ones are embarrassingly short and really need to be done right. And then there is of course also the AIGA book… And magazines… And record covers… Maybe i should see this as a way to finally get to focus more on those again. Anyways, time to wrap things up for real. Happy, thrilled, excited, exhausted and in a way also a bit sad…

The end.

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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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On Record: 11 Artists 1963 (Giant Size $1,57 Each cassette and booklet)

After trying to create a cloud of suspense and anticipation as thick as what NASA did a couple of weeks ago it’s time to get to it. Contrary to common practice i figured i might as well start off with a huge bang and not continue to take things slow. After all, there are about five people who might care anyways. So on a classic four count, 1-2-3-4… Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!

This will once again be a little bit of déjà vu, but this time around it’s heavily spiced up. I was going through some old emails and i also looked at my first post about this item and i can’t believe it’s been almost two years since this thing started to brew. I guess it’s true what they say about time flying by when you are having fun. Anyways, i had to read my old post to refresh my memory a little bit when it came to how i became aware of the cassette and it turned out that it was the images on Discogs that lead me to it. And that “discovery” then started a loooooong journey which seemed incredibly promising at first only to quickly have said promise turn into frustration together with massively lowered expectations. But since i never really got a definite answer in the form of a “no” or a “sorry, not for sale” to any of my inquiries i just kept on asking. Since i am well aware of the fact that i have at least half of a stalker gene in my body i had to try pretty hard to compose myself and not do this is an obnoxious, intruding or just plain out crazy-in-the-head-mental-patient-style. Luckily this turned out to be a winning strategy…

So, what about the details of this roller coaster ride? Well… call me paranoid or even a selfish douchebag but i have decided to not go into details and throw out names, websites or things like that. This is not because i want to keep this to myself like the people hoarding leaks from Chinese Democracy back in the day (which by the way turned out to be a big steaming pile of crap anyways), but only because i don’t want to aid in creating a ton of work in the form of emails and questions for the people who ended up giving me a great deal for these even greater items. And not only a great deal, but just to part from a copy at all was incredibly kind. I know that they are terribly busy with at least one ongoing exhibition as well as working and planning for an upcomping exhibition due to the 50th anniversary of the Experiments in Art and Technology in the coming year. And i realize that the traffic this blog gets might not justify the fear of creating “a ton of work” but whatever… anyone who cares enough about getting a hold of this could still embark on the same journey that i did and quite easily end up at the same location, and then just pray and hope for the best…

Sadly i can’t remember all the details but here is the gist of what happened. Almost exactly two years ago to the day i found a site that seemed to have a remote connection to the E.A.T. and after a couple of emails back and forth i eventually got information on who to inquire about items from Billy Klüvers collection. More emails followed and i quickly got a response from the archivist of the E.A.T. archives, and this is where it started to sound incredibly promising. I was told that they were in the process of inventoring and would soon get back to me with information on “how many booklets and cassettes we have for sale”. Naturally i was pretty blown away by this reponse, could it really be that easy to find this? And as i always do when i think i’m on to something “remarkable” i broke the news to the WCCC and considering what was said in the reply i got i was hoping and actually thinking that i would be able to score five or so copies! Well, it didn’t take long for this initial enthusiasm to go south as i didn’t hear back in weeks, months and eventually even years. In the meantime i followed every lead i found in hopes of getting a hold of it somewhere else, for example the set is cataloged on the site Librarything with one user claiming to have a copy. After contacting that user who was in fact some company/organisation or whatever called Aboutdrawing i was told it was not for sale but i was offered the chance to come visit their space in NYC and read the book and listen to the tape. The site now appears to be defunct and even though it was a nice and friendly offer i had to turn it down. It’s difficult to justify that kind of trip to stare at, and listen to a cassette tape… There are also three people on Discogs that claim to have it, and i know from experience that none of them are interested in selling their copy. Anyways, in a way i couldn’t understand why i never heard back after that first reply so there is actually another episode of all this were i in the style of a heartbroken 14-year old tried to find the archivist via two other sites where she had held exhibitions featuring her own work. They wouldn’t give out any contact information but promised to pass on any message i might have. Nothing came of this etiher, nothing besides me feeling like a true stalker. But what can you do, desperate times call for desperate measures…

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. Before going home from work i checked my stats on WordPress and noticed that i had a couple of hits on my previous post about the booklet. And that in turn made me go check when it was that i sent my last email, turns out it was late 2014 so i figured what the hell, it’s about time for another stab at it… As usual nothing came back but then about a week later there it was – a response! And what a response it was. After all of the hundreds of emails i sent out regarding The Summer Dancers negative replies have become standard procedure so i was both shocked and amazed to see an email that actually contained wording like “offer you a copy”. Nothing short of unbelievable, in a way i still can’t believe it.

As mentioned i was hoping to score more than one set of this for my friends in the WCCC but as time has moved on i’ve realized that this would most likely not be possible, and at times i thought that the fact that i did ask for so many copies was part of the reason it took them so long to reply. I thought that maybe they only had so and so many copies left and needed to figure out if, and if so how many, they might need for the current and upcoming exhibitions. However, the reader with a good memory might recall that i traded my first copy of this with fellow collector Guy Minnebach. And to be honest that was not even a trade, it was more like an incredibly generous give-away of amazingly cool and rare items. And had that “trade” not happened i would still be short two of the rarest books and an equally rare record cover. That considered i thought i would do what i could to even out the balance of power when it came to that trade, so i took a gamble and explained the circumstances and asked if it might be even the sliiiiightest of possibilities that they would sell one more cassette. I figured worst case scenario they just say no, i found it far-fetched that such an inquiry would piss them off to such a degree that they would recant their initial offer. Luckily, as it turned out they were willing to part from one more copy. Sadly i am not a wealthy man so i ended up being able to thank Guy for his generous trade by making him pay a quite healthy sum for a cassette tape out of his own pocket. What can i say… i’m the definition of a generous and giving person…

So…. what exactly is all the fuss about? I don’t know very much about it but i guess you might call it a spin off to the iconic and incredibly rare cover/record – Giant Size $1,57 Each that was produced in 1963 in connection with The Popular Image Exhibition in Washington D.C. I don’t know enough about either the exhibition or the record cover so i’ll keep it short and sweet and stick to the basics. And the name of the item gives away it’s content fairly good, it holds interviews with 11 artists – Jim Dine, George Brecht, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, John Wesley, Robert Watts, Tom Wesselmann, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Jim Rosenquist and Robert Rauschenberg. The interviews were all done by Billy Klüver and the booklet and cassette were produced as a later, alternative version to the LP and the reason was simply that Klüver wanted to to make the information available to another new audience since the record was out of production. There is a signed and dated (at least by year) introduction kind of thing by Billy Klüver in the booklet with a mention that the cassette is available from the E.A.T. in NYC so to the best of my knowledge these were produced sometime in 1981. However, i learned from the seller that the booklet and cassette were produced and sold at the opening of The Andy Warhol Museum which from what i understand took place in 1994, so i don’t know what to make of it all. And it’s really not THAT important. What i do know is just how rare they are, and what i’ve learned from the seller is that there were initially 50 sets of cassettes and booklets produced. The booklet alone was then printed in greater numbers but apparently no more than 500 copies were produced. So yeah… both of these are pretty rare. And without question the cassette will take the place of the rarest item in my collection. I have an old cassette player around somewhere but i won’t risk playing this old tape so i’ll have to make do with reading the transcriptions in the booklet.

Even though i was able to get some information straight from the source there are still a couple of intriguing things though. First, and this in minor, there is a sligt difference when it comes to the label on the cassette. My copy has “Side One” and “Side Two” printed below the title and on Guy’s copy (as with the one in the images on Discogs) these are printed on the side of the label or whatever. Not a thing that i will lose a lot of sleep over, but still pretty interesting. If nothing else it must mean that the labels were printed on at least two different occasions? And then to real mystery… on the side of the cassette the number “64” is printed so it appears we have a LOST style number mystery on our hands. I first i thought of the obvious – that they were in fact numbered. But then Guy told me his had the same number so that sent that theory out the window. The seller didn’t know for sure but made a guess that it might relate to the lenght of the tape. I’ve been forced to read up a little bit on the compact cassette format and it seems that the standard lenghts were 30 or 45 minutes per side and these were labeled C60 and C90. From what Wikipedia has to say there seems to a lot of other, less common capacities but there is no mention of C64. In fact, bascially the only stuff you’ll find on that are hits for the Commodore 64 computer and the tapes used for that. So i don’t know… i can’t say that i’m totally convinced it has something to do with the lenght after all. The number also appears to be stamped on the cassette and not printed beforehand, would Klüver really care enough to time it all and then stamp them in this way? I don’t have much of a better suggestion as to the meaning myself, one thing caught my interest though and that’s the fact that the cassette was introduced in the US in 1964, but i don’t know… Interesting and intruiging, though not important.

In conclusion, not only was it a great feeling to finally get a hold of this again it was also very good and almost necessary for the general motivation to actually see something get to the finish line. I’ve also always thought that it’s a really cool item that fits perfect right in between my book and record collection, and since i’ll of course never see the actual original record + cover this is as close as i’ll ever get. And without a doubt it’s close enough! When it comes to the condition there is not much to say. It’s absolutely fantastic in every way and basically looks and feels untouched! It’s been about two weeks since i got this now but i’m still pretty excited! And by that i mean excited enough to just hold it in my hands, staring at it… and thus it’s also the latest example of an item that makes my girlfriend think i’ve finally gone mental. I don’t waste time trying to explain anymore. But there is a certain way and a specific tone that someone can use to say “what the hell are you doing?” that makes me stop and think for a second, but then i just go into the other room and continue staring…

This was without a doubt the best find of the year, at least for a couple of days… I’m hoping the new number one will be shipped in the days to come, so as promised there are more cool things coming up!

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Forbidden Childhood – Ruth Slenczynska (Doubleday, 1957)

I might as well start off by stating that this will be a pretty boring post. And the reason for that is that i know absolutely nothing about this dust jacket. It feels like i pretty much always say that so this situation is nothing new of course, but usually it’s possible to read up a little bit and find bits and pieces of information or other stuff that i find interesting enough to include. This is not the case this time. I’ve spent quite some time during the week staring at drawings of pianos and trying to find anything at all but sadly i’ve been stomped this time… And there’s not really an interesting story about how and where i found this sooooo… i guess we’ll see what we end up with here.

Like any random serial killer or criminal i’ll stick to my standard modus operandi and start with some basic facts. The title of the book is Forbidden Childhood and was written by Ruth Slenczynska together with Louis Biancolli, the book was published in 1957 and is yet another example of the relationship between Doubleday and Andy Warhol at this time. It’s basically a book of memoirs and if you want to get technical it also comes with the tagline or whatever is called “The frank account of a girl’s struggle to free herself from the strangle hold of her tyrannical father”. Ouch! That’s a pretty straight forward review of her childhood and her thoughts about her father. And from what i’ve read it seems she has every right to be pissed off. Apparently her father Joseph Slenczynski, a musician and violinist, was hell bent from day one that his daughter would become a famous musician. From what i understand she was pretty much forced to start playing the piano at age three which is pretty remarkable. My daughter is soon to be four and though she enjoys strumming, pulling and occasionally destroying the strings on my guitars she still prefers the colorful glockenspiel thing with ten or so keys… So, it must have taken some serious dedication from the father, i’ll give him that. Anyways, forced to practice relentlessly for hours and hours everyday she apparently started more serious piano studies by the age of four and played her first concert at age six and then a year later at age seven she did her first concert with a full orchestra with critics calling her the greatest child prodigy since Mozart. Seems she was also beaten senseless for mistakes and bad reviews, over which she of course had had no control herself. Speaking of critics i’ve also read that because she played such complicated arrangements the media sometimes speculated that she was a midget. All of this is both impressive, disgusting and disturbing at the same time and you can’t really argue with the use of the words “tyrannical father”…

Anyways, i’m not sure to what extent she wrote the book herself but when it comes to Warhol and his dust jackets she is unique in the sense that i think she is the only still living author who has a book published with a dust jacket by Andy Warhol. There are a couple of other authors like David Alexander, Dick Ashbaugh and Walter Ross that i’m not really sure about and where it’s hard to find any information about them. But if you look at their “Warhol-dust-jacket-books” they all have their picture on the back and though i’m pretty bad at guessing peoples age i would still guess that by now all of them have passed on. I don’t know how much she cherishes the fact that her book has a AW designed dust jacket but yeah, she is unique in more ways than one.

As said this was published by Doubleday and if i’ve done my homework this is the fifth book for which Warhol designed the jacket for them, the previous being Pistols for Two, The Saint in Europe, Who Cooked Mother Goose? and The Runaway Pigeon. Besides this Doubleday edition the book was also published in the UK in 1958 by Peter Davies using the same jacket design. This was a fact i was unaware of before Guy Minnebach informed me about it and also pointed out the small differences. And small differences is right, as said the front cover is identical and on the back there is just a couple of very minor changes in coloring and the addition of some more text on the UK edition. The only “big” difference is one the title page or whatever where the Doubleday edition has the outline of the piano drawing and the Peter Davies edition has a photo of a very young Slenczynska playing the piano. There are some good images of the UK edition in this quite recent listing on ebay.

Anyways, i don’t know which of these editions is most sought after but as with everything else i would assume it’s this “original” one by Doubleday. So unlike what happened with my copy of The Adventures of Maud Noakes where i  didn’t know there were two editions using the same cover design i was lucky this time to score a cheap original. This is also something as rare as a Warhol dust jacket that’s pretty easy to find, ever since i started collecting them i’ve come across a lot of copies. However, considering Slenczynska’s fame and notoriety i think this book also attracts attention from people who are totally uninterested in Andy Warhol but instead want it for it’s “true intention” and it’s place in music history or whatever. So…. there are plenty available at Amazon and other places but a decent copy with the jacket intact will probably start at $150. If i remember correct i ended up paying an almost embarrassing $5 for this copy and this was also something that just appeared in my wish list one day. It’s an old library book with the usual stamps and markings and the description said: “Ex library, taped on jacket protector (with consequent tape residue), call# on jacket (not on book), stamps on top edge and title page, card pocket in rear, taped hinges, broken spine, first 98 page section has separated from spine, needs glue repair, otherwise unmarked an clean”. This of course sounds absolutely terrible but as it turned out this was a pretty conservative grading by the seller. Granted if you open the book it’s anything but good and looks like it’s about to fall apart into a million pieces. But i have no intention of flipping though the pages reading and further destroying this book, and when closed up it’s looks to be in excellent condition so i intend to keep it that way. Personally i am not a fan of these collage-style designs mixing drawings and photographs and this is probably the main reason that i haven’t gotten a copy and decided to wait until i could get one at a bargain price. And that time was now and once again slow and steady wins the race.

Whatever my thoughts about the cover i’m very happy to finally be able to put this down in my collection as number 15 out of 17 known dust jackets/book covers. I can’t really wrap my head around how fast all this has moved along. And i realize that in some cases i’ve been extremely lucky seeing as with a lot of the books the only copy i’ve ever seen is the one i got a hold of. There is one more pretty interesting thing about this cover, but i’ll leave that as some kind of a cliffhanger until i know more about it and get to hear what my compadres in the WCCC have to say. And unless something really spectacular comes along this will be my last post for a couple of weeks. We are currently in the process of moving to a new home and all of my Warhol stuff is already stored away at a safe place to keep it away from potentially messy and sloppy movers throwing boxes around without a care in the world…

So… more stuff coming up in july!

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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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V/A – MTV High Priority (Yellow version)

Hate it.
Found it.
Gave it away.
Saw it sell for almost $500.
Felt like an idiot.
Found it again.
Still hate it.

Well, that about sums it up. I have already posted about my previous copy here and also this “new” copy that i recently found here. I won’t go over the small differences in coloring and things like that again so i don’t really know what there is to add…

I’ll say this though, even though this cover is far from a personal favourite i can’t deny that i am pretty happy and also somewhat relieved that i was able to find another copy. I don’t really follow the prices of a lot of the covers on popsike anymore but at the same time it’s also hard NOT to keep track since i spend a lot of time on ebay. And though there is definitely not any kind of business aspect to my collecting there’s always the nice feeling that comes with not having to pay top dollar for each any every cover. It’s also great to get some kind of confirmation that persistence and dedication or whatever can still pay off. Gives me hope that some day i’ll find that copy of Blue Lights or Trombone by Three that no one else has noticed.

Guess i have to say something about the condition and all in all it’s pretty good, quite similar to the other one i had. There is one “new” thing i noticed though – there is no bar code on the back of the yellow version. I have no idea why this is, maybe these were giveaways or something like that? I don’t really care enough to try and speculate further, just found it a bit strange. And considering how the cover looks and what kind of record it is it pains me a little to have to admit that these yellow ones do appear to be quite rare and (now that awareness has been raised a little bit) pretty damn expensive. But give me a choice between this cover, Cool Gabriels, Nocturnes or even a beat up copy of Madrigal or VU and it would be an easy choice, for me at least.

Anywhoooo… i’m happy i found it and i’ll enjoy putting it away and never look at it again.

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The Immortal – Walter Ross (Corgi Books, 1960)

At one point i think i’ve said someting along the lines that i won’t be looking for pocket/paperback books or include anything but hardcovers in my collection. This was early on and at that time i thought there actually might be quite a few pocket editions using the same design as the hardbacks, i know now that this is not the case. I think this one is the only title with different editions and publishers that use the same basic design, so how could i not have tried to find a copy?

There are a quite a few different editions of this book which i remember was a little frustrating when i was looking for the original edition by Simon & Schuster. Well, things hasn’t changed and it was equally frustrating this time around. Fortunately i didn’t have to put THAT much time into it. Ayways, this is ONE of the paperback editions published by Corgi Books. There are in fact two different editions of this Corgi pocket book and i think both were published in 1960, i’ve also been informed by Guy Minnebach that the second edition without Warhol’s design on the cover still has the text “The drawing on the cover of this book is by Andy Warhol” on the title page. The UK hardcover edition (to the right in the image below) was published the year before by Frederick Muller and just to get all the edition talk out ot the way there is also a US paperback (left below) that was published in 1959 by Cardinal. The cover design for all editions carry the same theme with the James Dean reference in one way or the other. Peronally i think he looks least cool in the Cardinal edition, or was playing bongos considered cool or what made you popular with the ladies in the late 50’s? Maybe, but i doubt it…

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I don’t intend to go on to long of a detour here but there is one pretty cool thing about the Frederick Muller edition. This is in no way Warhol related unless you want to take a looooong journey and finally getting into the whole Bowie+Warhol connection. I used to be quite into Bowie myself a long time ago, nowadays not so much. Anyways, i guess you don’t have to be a Bowie fan to recogDavid_Bowie_The_Immortalnize the cover for the Diamond Dogs album. The cover design was done by a Belgian artist named Guy Peellaert and featured Bowie as half-man, half-dog. It was apparently quite controversial at the time since it had the morphed creatures genitalia out and about on full display. Quickly pulled and airbrushed a few copies still hit the stores and are now super rare and of course MEGA expensive. The most recently sold i could find went for a crazy $5000. Anyways, i’m getting way of course here… but to get to the point, the basis for this painting by Guy Peellaert was a photoshot with Bowie by Terry O’Neil. Basically it featured Bowie and a dog and some images from the series you can see here. But what’s funny here is what’s by Bowie’s feet. So… recognize the book? Would have been cooler if it had been one of the editions with Warhol’s cover design, but still… This particular edition as well as the others with Warhol’s cover has also been mentioned on Bowie’s official site in some old and short posts here and here. Well, that was once again a whole lot of nothing…

So, to get this back on track. I became aware of this book pretty early on. One of the first copies of the original edition by Simon & Schuster i found was the one on Etsy, and that same seller also had a copy of the paperback. Due to the outragous asking prices it’s not surprising to see that both of them are still there now. Or maybe the price tags on these are actually resonable, it’s just that i’ve become obsessed with finding these at bargain prices. But not everyone has the time or interest to hold out and wait for it i guess. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time looking for the paperback, but sometimes when i’ve been bored i’ve spontaneously contacted some sellers on Amazon and Abebooks about copies where the edition wasn’t clearly stated. Almost all of these have been for the edition published by Frederick Muller. But then somewhere around new years this appeared on ebay… I’ve mentioned this many times before but ebay is certainly not the place for book hunting. So in one way it was a good thing that it happened to show up there, but on the other hand “Andy Warhol” was in the description which naturally could make it attract unwanted attention. Even though i hadn’t spent that much time trying to find it i was pretty set on making sure i got this copy seeing as it was basically the second copy i had ever seen. And even though there were more bidders (6) and interest than i thought no one besides me seemed to be overly interested and i ended up paying about $20 or so for it which i think was a pretty great deal! Shipping however seemed to have been done by horse and wagon to the docks followed by steamboat across the North Sea. It took about a month to arrive and i was starting to question if it would ever show up or if the boat had sank, but all is well that ends well.

I don’t know a whole lot about the design, or to be precise it’s more like i don’t know anything. I The_Immortal_Drawingshave seen some similar drawings which are obvously from the same series or whatever it’s called among the hundreds of early Warhol drawings discovered in 2013. And it is the exact same drawing that is used on both of the covers, but anyone can see that. And that’s about it. I have however tried to figure out if there is any connection between Simon & Schuster and Corgi Books in order to work out and understand the how’s and why’s regarding why they got to use the same deisgn for their edition. I haven’t been able to find anything though, and i don’t know how things like this work, so… i’ll leave it at that.

When it comes to the condition there is not much to be said. I’m pretty amazed that a paperback that’s 55 years old could have survived at all not to mention remain in such great shape. It basically looks unread, it still has it’s gloss as well as bright and clear colors. Though that might be expected since the design is black and white. I also suspect that this book has not changed hands that many times, if any. And it seems that the person who bought it in the first place really wanted to read it. While i was flipping through the pages a peice of paper fell out, at first i thought it was just a loose page but when i checked it out more closely it was actually a cut out review of the book from some old newspaper. It has some scribblings on it that i can’t make out apart from the year “1960”, so i take it someone read this review and found it interesting enough to promptly get a copy and keep the review as a bookmark. To bad it wasn’t signed “Warhol” though, that would have been a nice surprise. But i like the stories things like this tell in a way and it adds some nice patina to it all. And looking at the books side by side it’s hard to determine which one i prefer, but they do look pretty good together.

Since i don’t really see the Moderna Museet catalogue as part of my collection of dust jackets this will be put down as the first book of 2015 that i got my hands on. And i think it’s a pretty cool addition. More to come soon!

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