The Adventures of Maud Noakes – Edited by Alan Neame (New Directions, 1961)

In an effort to try and avoid doing a repeat of my previous post about this book where i basically just wrote about how, where and when i found it i’ve spent the better part of the day trying to find anything about the book and/or it’s cover. Unfortunately i can’t say that i found anything of use. I’ll have to try and get a couple of lines down anyway so let’s get the obvious out of the way. I think i’ve already mentioned that i got this after having seen it in my wish list on Amazon for a very long time. The reason i didn’t get it sooner was first and foremost that in the beginning the asking price was much higher and another thing was that the seller stated that it was impossible to provide images. I can’t remember exactly how the price developed over time around but as i recall it gradually went from $150 or thereabouts down to about $10. And once it got there i figuered i might as well have a look, turns out i got lucky. Other obvious facts are that it was published in 1961 by New Directions (a year before the british edition published by Chapman & Hall that i previously had) and that it’s the last dust jacket that Warhol designed for the company and one of the last ones he did altogether. Not surprising considering that this was done at the beginning of his rise to superstardom.

The copy i got is an old library book so it has the usual issues and markings that i’ve learnt to expect when it comes to these kinds of copies, nothing too bad though and the stickers are on the protective plastic so eventually i’ll get around to removing them. It’s also a good example of the issues with printing the color red that Guy Minnebach gave me a crash course on when i got my/his copy of The Runaway Pigeon. In short, apparently red is notorious in the printing world for being difficult to work with. Not only is it darker than black in greyscales (to be honest i can’t say i understand the exact practical meaning of this, but i figured that if i mention it i might seem like i know what i’m talking about), it also does not react kindly to being exposed to sunlight. Guess it’s the vampire of the printing world… Anyways, as said this is a good example of that. The title of the book together with the name of the author and publisher that is supposed to be on the spine has faded to such an extent that any trace of it actually being in red at one point have disappeared completely. It’s still pretty crisp on the front cover though. Not being a huge bestseller and/or a hit at the library i guess that’s what happens when a book is never checked out and just left of a shelf near a window with the spine exposed for a couple of decades. However, all this is based on the assumption that the text was in fact red on this edition. There isn’t a huge number of images of the book available online but among the ones you can find there is not a single image of a New Directions edition where the text is not faded and/or greyish. So i don’t know… maybe it’s wasn’t ever red after all, in that case most of the above was a whole lot of nothing…

Personally i think this is one of the better jackets and that it’s interesting in a number of ways, so it’s really a shame that there is not much information to be found. New Directions has written a handful of words about it on their now apparently defunct blog, but apart from the obvious that it was perhaps a bit of a controversial yet humorous design i can’t say they bring up anything else of interest. The most interesting thing to me is that it’s the only dust jacket to feature the use of repeated images, a technique he apparently started using early on in his commercial work. And of course also later on in some of his paintings, where i guess the Marilyn Diptych is perhaps the most famous? Anyways, there is a great “gallery guide” to the Warhol by the Book exhibition that mentions a little bit about how the faces of the africans were created and apparently Warhol used hand carved rubber stamps which i then assume you just dip in ink and start stamping away… This is basically everything that is mentioned about this book but the guide is great and can be found here. Another thing that makes this jacket design somewhat unique is that it’s one of the few books where the design is not only focused to the front cover but also continues on to the back, the other two being The Summer Dancers and Borderline Ballads.

What else… well, when i got my first copy of the Chapman & Hall editon and noticed that Warhol was not credited on the cover i remember that i was wondering if that was also the case on this, the New Directions edition. And now i can say that it is. So that’s another thing that makes this jacket somewhat unique, the only other book where he is not given any credit for the design is Love is a Pie by Maude Hutchins, also published by New Directions. I know a little bit about how many books that were actually printed but i’m still trying to get more information about this, and on all the other books as well so i’m saving that for a later post. The little information i do have i got from a guy namned Aaron who has a shop thing on Etsy and a “normal” site as well called Projectobject. He has a lot of cool stuff and usually one, two or more Warhol books available. Once upon a time he also mentioned that he remembered reading something along the lines of Warhol not getting paid for the british version of something and that he was a little upset by this. I have looked everywhere and all over to try and find what this little quote or whatever might relate to, but sadly i have not been able to find anything. But i agree that it does sound like it might have something to do with this book, but who knows… Guess we’ll have to dub it as an unsubstantiated rumor.

Last but not least… during my mostly fruitless searching i did find two things that are at least remotely interesting. The first being a couple of reviews of the book in magazines from the year it was published. These magazines are The Harpers Monthly, The Nation and Commonweal, all of these appear to still be active and running in at least a digital format. Unfortunately they all also require you have a subscription thing to access the archives that holds these old magazines, it’s not incredibly expensive though so i might get that set up and have a look eventually. I can’t say i’m at all interested in what they had to say about the book itself but i’m very curious about if the mention the jacket design in any way. I’m not a frequent reader of book reviews but i doubt such a thing is regularly discussed though.

The second, and more interesting thing i found is definately not as easily accessible, at least not to me. Anyways, it seems there are plenty of truckloads of stuff relating to New Directions at Houghton Library/Harvard College Library at Harvard University. To be more precise there are 286 linear feet and/or 860 boxes containing the New Directions records from 1932-1997, the list with details can be found here. The entry/posting/whatever of primary interest here is 2721 or more exactly “Neame, Alan. The adventures of Maud Noakes : promotional materials, 1961 and undated. 1 folder. Includes hardcover book jacket”. I would LOOOOVE to check out what might be hidden among that promotional material… That would mean taking a bit of a trip though, and it would definitely not be as cheap as a magazine subscription. But who knows, maybe it would be worth it… I have no idea how things like this work but it says there are no restrictions on physical access to the material, so i guess that means anyone can dive head first into the boxes and check it out. I doubt the people at the library will go pull up one specific thing from all this stuff but maybe it’s worth a try, or maybe it would be time better spent to find someone at Harvard willing to go check it out. Maybe i should make this my new project…

There are two more cool thing in that list as well, first there is entry thing number 3036 where there similar things relating to The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole“Rolfe, Frederick, 1860-1913. Promotional materials, undated. 1 folder. Includes hardcover book jacket for The desire and pursuit of the whole and a press release for Nicholas Crabbe”.
Second… go to entry 2282 to find the same stuff on Three More Novels“Firbank, Ronald, 1886-1926. Production and promotional materials, 1949-1986 and undated. 1 folder.Includes materials for titles: The complete Ronald Firbank; Five novels; The new rhythm and other pieces; Two novels; Valmouth, and 3 more novels”. Of course there is nothing to indicate that there is anything by Warhol in this material but needless to say i would love to find out and make sure. There is nothing of the same when it comes to the forth title on New Directions – Love is a Pie. There are however plenty of entries for the author Maude Hutchins containing correspondence with various people. Oh… there is of course an entry for Andy Warhol as well, there is basically nothing mentioned but for anyone interested it’s entry 3214…

So… i guess that’s it. I can’t say i was terribly unsatisfied with the first copy i got even though it wasn’t the edition i thought it would be and/or wanted. If nothing else at least it made me aware of the fact that there were two editions on differents publishers using the same cover. And even though finding a copy of the New Directions edition has not been a priority i’ve still wanted a copy, and i’m of course happy i was able to do so in what turned out to be a cheap and lucky gamble. The last thing (for real this time), and this is of strictly academic interest, is that there seems to be a slight but obvious difference in the color of the cover between the two editions where the New Directions is much whiter than the one by Chapman & Hall which seems to be more tanned. I can’t say for sure this is the case, but it sure looks that way in most of the images i’ve seen and it’s definitely hard to miss when comparing my copies side by side. But yeah, whatever…

In more exciting news i just checked the tracking number for a package i’m waiting on, and it looks like it’s made to Sweden. Fingers crossed it’s there waiting when i get home!

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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 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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A year of reading Andy Warhol…

It’s about time to look back at the past year and try and make some kind of summary of my first year collecting these Warhol dust jackets. And maybe also give some tips and pointers to anyone interesting in starting collecting them. I don’t remember exactly when it got started but the first post i ever did on the subject was about Three More Novels in August last year. So i guess i’ll put that down as some kind of actual start date… So this post is a little bit overdue, but there is a reason for that – and that’s the fact that i wanted to wait until i received the books that was part of my trade with Guy Minnebach. And right after those arrived i found my lucky listing of Pistols For Two and wanted to wait so i could include that one also…

So, how did it all get started? I guess you could call it luck or just some random thing but as i remember it i stumbled upon Three More Novels on ebay. When this happened i had no idea Warhol had designed dust jackets but i thought it was a pretty cool book, and for $50 or whatever it was i figured what the hell, why not!? But after that it was a little tricky getting the ball rolling. Finding good information on this area of Warhol’s work was not an easy thing, and finding some kind of definite list of all the covers would prove impossible. A couple of guys have tried though it seems, after a bit of looking around the first article on the subject was this one in Rare Book Digest. The title mentions they are overlooked, and that is very true but more on that later… For me, finding this article was almost the same feeling as i imagine the development of DNA profiling was for the investigators of the Enderby murders – a revolutionary breakthrough!

Besides the jacket to Three More Novels this article mentions, and shows images of, six more dust jackets. There is also a seventh one mentioned in one of the comments to the post – The Grand Mademoiselle. So, it quickly danwned on me that not only were there obviously enough books to start a collection but that they also seemed to generate such low interest that it might actually be possible to find a couple even on a somewhat tight budget. I’ve often regretted that i started my record cover collection as late as i did but here was an opportunity to get an early start…

Around the same time i also found this article in an online publication called Polari Magazine. There is not much written about the actual covers but it does show images of an additional three jackets that i didn’t know about so that helped add a couple more to the list. There is no name of the author nor a date when the article was published but looking at the source code of the page i think it’s from late November 2011, so it seems that guy got off to an even earlier start… Some of the ones that were “new” to me at this time was The Saint in Europe and Who Cooked Mother Goose?

Then a couple of things happened in rapid succession, first off i found this listing on ebay of a book i had not seen before called The Runaway Pigeon, so that added yet another one to the list. Then at about the same time Guy Minnebach emailed me and thought it was great that i had also started a book collection. Of course he had been collecting these for quite some time already and had already found most of them, if not all… but he was also very kind and generous and shared his list of dust jackets with me. At the same time he also mentioned that there was an ongoing exhibition called Reading Andy Warhol at The Brandhorst Museum in Munich, Germany. I think Guy also tipped me off to this site where you could buy the exhibition catalogue. Of course i’d gone over Guy’s list and seen a couple i didn’t know about and some of these were shown in some sample images on that site like Manon Lescaut, The Madhouse in Washington Square and The Red and the Black.

In other words, after a pretty slow start during which it seemed tricky to find information on what to look for it only took a couple of months for me to get an almost complete list together, with the help of these articles and Guy of course. There was still one or two books on Guy’s list that i couldn’t really find anything about and those were According to the Evidence and The Butterfly Tree but i later got some images from Guy of both of these so that helped me know what to look for, i’m still looking for the latter though…

So, that’s that about how it all got started. And where am i now? Well, to say that i’m at the end of the line is perhaps a tad dramatic. But i’ve posted all the books that i currently have in my collection so no more surprises coming up and i’m still missing four books to make the collection complete(?). When i started i made the selfish decision of not posting all the ones i knew about but instead keep adding to my list as time went on. But i guess it’s not really a big secret which ones i’m looking for but i’ll still keep one or two a bit secret. One of these is quite obvious if you have been paying attention and the other one i’ll stay quiet about just because it was not that long ago that it was “discovered”. Even though i keep a lot of saved searches on ebay on different Warhol things i somehow managed to miss this book when it was on there but of course Guy Minnebach (who apparently has better eyes than i do) was able to get it. But anyways, the other two that i’m missing are Forbidden Childhood and The Butterfly Tree, both of these are available at various sites but the price tags on both of them makes me a bit hesitant, at least on the latter. And besides, part of the fun with this is the chase for bargains…

And while on the topic of fun, i think i’ve actually had more fun with these dust jackets than with the record covers in the last year. And this is mainly due to two reasons – first there’s the fact that interest and thus the price tags are as low as they are and secondly it’s the fact that ebay is pretty much useless and that you have to look elsewhere. Maybe i’m just bitter after loosing auctions for both Cool Gabriels and Nocturnes yesterday but when it comes to ebay it’s basically just to keep a couple of saved searches, play the waiting game and then at the end the guy with the most money wins. The possibility of making a bargain or finding something that’s flying under the radar is pretty much non-existent. But with the books it a whole other story, there are soooo many sites to keep track of and try your luck on and even though there are sites like BookFinder around you can still never be 100% sure and just trust that such a site catches everything from everywhere. Then of course there is also the fact that the prices are in a totally different league. I was going through a couple of my old post and i don’t think i’ve spent more than $50 on any of the books so far, and some i’ve even been able to find for around $10. And the way i see it that’s for an original price of Warhol’s work in what has to be a pretty limited edition these days, try finding a The Nation’s Nightmare or a Trombone by Three for $50…

So why is interest in these books so low and why are they so overlooked? I’ve been thinking a lot about this and i haven’t been able to come up with a good answer. I guess record covers and vinyl is generally considered a much cooler medium than books. And maybe also more of a conversation starter or whatever since you can turn on some music and then talk about both what you are listening to as well as what you are holding in your hands. There is also the fact that i guess vinyl in general and maybe also record collecting has seen somewhat of a renaissance in later years. And has reading ever been considered cool in any way? I doubt it. Some of the record covers are also for some very rare jazz albums so of course they generate interest from both us cover collectors as well as from those that are more into what’s actually on the wax itself. There is also the fact that there has been a lot more exhibitions featuring the record covers which of couse raises interest. The only show featuring the dust jackets and book covers that i know about is the one i previously mentioned in Munich that Guy Minnebach told me about. There is also the fact that there are quite a few sites dedicated to Warhol’s record covers, not to mention the great book by Paul Maréchal, whereas sites about the books are a rare find. So as i said i don’t really have a good explanation but that’s my basic thoughts on the matter… It’s a strange thing though, my general feeling is that there ought to be fewer of these books (with jackets that are in at least decent condition) that have survived during the years compared to the record covers. I assume that people in general took better care of their records than of their books. But if there is any truth to this assumption that would rather have had the opposite effect on both interest and prices, so i don’t know what to make of it all…

So… in conclusion i’m pretty amazed at the amount of books i’ve been able to find during this first year. Right now i think i have 15 of a total of 19 dust jackets/book covers that i know of. Even though i got a lot of help along the way through the trade with Guy Minnebach that made me get to include two of the most rare ones i’m still both thrilled and surprised at how fast this collection has come to grow during just a single year. And as i’ve said before i actually have high hopes of someday getting to call this collection complete.

Oh, i almost forgot… Some tips and tricks to anyone interested in starting a collection? Well, i’ve already shared the few links that i know of and as time has moved on this blog has now also become a source of information on the topic. Maybe not so much when it comes to the story behind each and every cover, but at least there are some pretty pictures to look at… The best piece of advice that i would give anyone interested is just to stay persistant. Sooner or later you’ll find something in your wish lists / saved searches thingys.

I’m looking forward to what the next year will bring and what i’ll be reading next…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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