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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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 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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The Adventures of Maud Noakes – Edited by Alan Neame (Chapman & Hall, 1962)

What i thought would be a slow summer when it comes to record covers and books actually turned out to be quite the opposite. I have gotten a couple of books and a record cover during the last few weeks that i’m pretty excited about. But i’ll try and go through it all chronologically and this book is first in line…This is one of the first dust jackets that i found information on once i started looking for them. At the time i got the impression that it wasn’t incredibly rare as i was able to find quite a few copies online for sale. But at the same time it became obvious that it would require a bit more digging to find one without having to pay hundreds of dollars.

The funny thing was that i had no idea that the edition published in the US by New Directions in 1961 and the one published in the UK by Chapman & Hall a year later had the same cover. Chapman & Hall seems to have been a somewhat big publisher back in the day, at times housing names such Charles Dickens and William Thackeray. Today it seems to only exist as an imprint for science and technology books published by Taylor & Francis. Anyways, some of the few frequent visitors to this blog might remember my Amazon rant about this book back in may where i was confused about publishers, Amazons various sites and ASIN numbers and so on. Eventually one of the sellers i contacted got back to me with some very familiar images. I still couldn’t put it all together so i also emailed a little bit with Guy Minnebach asking about the possibility of different editions using the same cover. As i recall he was not aware of this but apparently i had gotten blind from staring at images of this cover for to long because he noted something obvious that i had missed completely – that the published is clearly stated on the spine! So… it turns out there are in fact two editions using this cover.

As usual the seller on Amazon didn’t offer international shipping but for once this one was actually willing to make this possible. With shipping and everything i think i payed a mere $25 for this. I was quite pleased with this especially since i was almost on the verge of caving in and getting the cheapest copy i could find, and that’s the one that’s been on Etsy for a looooong time for $155. I had been haggling a little with that seller and gotten the price down a little bit, not much and nowhere near the $25 that i ended up paying for this copy, so once again i think i made a real bargain.

This is also the second book i’ve gotten so far that does not credit Warhol with the cover design, the first one was Love is a Pie by Maude Hutchins. However, as with that book Warhol is credited with the design on New Directions website as well as on other places so there is no doubt this is a Warhol. I’m uncertain weather or not he is credited in the original edition published by New Directions. I’m a little curious though so maybe Guy can shed a little light on this?

There is not that much to say about the condition really as i think it’s pretty good. There is a little smudge or something like that on the bottom right of the front cover but to me it kind of blends in with the overall design so i don’t think it’s that visible. At least it doesn’t bother me at all, the cover is also in protective plastic which is always nice. Another thing i noted is that the face of the red headed girl from the cover (of what i assume is supposed to be the books main character) is also on the spine of the actual book. I’m also curious if this is the case with the edition by New Directions, but i would guess that it’s the same.

I don’t know for sure but i would assume with at least some confidence that the original US edition is more desirable than the one i’ve got and i will probably not stop looking for that edition. But considering what i payed for it and that the covers are in fact identical (except from the publishers name on the spine of course) i’m more than pleased with this copy for now. I also wonder who did the typography, i’ve been comparing it to the one on The desire and pursuit of the whole and they are quite similar to my eyes. Whatever the case that doesn’t bring me any closer to finding out who did it…

To sum it up i think it’s a great looking dust jacket. And since i love black and white and repeated patterns this is really one of my favourites so i was very happy to finally get a hold it! I just wish my record cover collection would move along with the same pace as the books…

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