31 March 2007

Incunabula of Art Nouveau, 1883

A. H. Mackmurdo. WREN"S CITY CHURCHES. G.Allen, Orpington 1883.

Current Selling Prices
$1250-$3000 /£650-£1600

An amazing book or at least an amazing title page (above) representing the first flowering of art nouveau in Britain and posssibly Europe, the only thing preceding it is thought to be some 'free flowing' wrought iron styles. Described thus in Rheims's Flowering of Art Nouveau “This title page is generally regarded as the first manifestation of Art Nouveau. It contains all the elements which were to emerge triumphant ten years later: broadly stylized flowers, undulating stems, leaves rising like flames, integration of the type design with the decoration, and an arresting distribution of black and white, giving the background a positive decorative value.”---Without the title page the book would be an unnoticed but useful work on the great Wren.

Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo (December 12, 1851 – March 15, 1942) was a progressive English architect and designer, who influenced the Arts and Crafts Movement, notably through the Century Guild, which he set up in partnership with Selwyn Image in 1882. Mackmurdo was a pupil of John Ruskin from 1873, whom he had accompanied to Italy and had apprenticed in the architectural office of James Brooks at 28 Southampton Street in London. Brooks was known for his Gothic revival churches. As they say at the Victorian Web:
Mackmurdo's infiuence on Continental Art Nouveau has also been recognised as seminal, especially through the curvilinear ornament of his title page for Wren's City Churches (1883), which echoes his chair-back of the previous year. Mackmurdo's architectural work, taken up again after 1888, included the Savoy Hotel (1889), a house in Chelsea for the artist, Mortimer Menpes with the most remarkable Japanese-style interior, and his own houses in Essex.
He edited with Herbert Horne The Century Guild Hobby Horse (1886- 1892. 28 issues) the key journal of the Arts and Crafts movement. Contributors include Selwyn Image, Ford Madox Brown, William Strang,G F Watts, W M & C G Rossetti, John Ruskin, E Burne-Jones, Oscar Wilde, J A Symonds, Mathew Arnold, J Todhunter, K Tynan, L Johnson, A Dobson, W S Blunt, A W Pollard, L Binyon, William Morris, G. F. Watts, John Ruskin,etc.

It has been handsomely reprinted in Japan by Yushoda at 280000 yen (circa £1200) An original complete run in nice shape could be £3K+. A lacklustre incomplete (20 issues) set (The Boston edition) was bought in on a feeble minded estimate of $8000/$12000 at Sotheby's 2001. Clean individual issue can make £100 to £200, less if soiled and used which they can often be (they were large and white.)

I was told about the book by the legendary dealer/ runner Andrew Henderson a lanky figure often seen in auction rooms in the 70s and 80s. He had taught art and had impeccable taste when it came to books and would occasionaly sniff them heartily, possibly to detect mould. I was just looking through old ABPC records to see the kind of things he bought. A partial list would include - Blake, Ricketts, Beerbohm, William Nicholson, James Guthrie, Christopher Dresser, Repton, Inigo Jones, Eragny Press, James Joyce letters, Waugh, Francis Crease, Greene 'Bear Fell Free', Bomberg, Gimson, Gaudier Brzeska, William Allingham, the occasional Rackham and Henry Shaw.

Although he was said to have a billionaire end user client he often took a while before he could drum up the money to clear his lots. He once caused gasps in the room by outbidding allcomers, including the phone, on an early 12 page Joyce letter ( apparently practically a mission statement.) He paid about £12,000 + commission which in the early 1980s would have got you a flat in Battersea.

VALUE? There is a copy for sale with many unpleasant ex library traits at $1500 and it's the only one. Who was it who said that the enemies of books were fire, water, servants, children and librarians? I have had the book twice and seen it 6 or 7 times and our last copy was a large paper one - "One of an undesignated number of copies on large paper. (Taylor p. 34) A.P.C., inscribed on front blank: ‘John Frazer, from his friend the author. Arthur Mackmurdo. May, 1884.’ Sold in 1996 for £1400. Might be yesterday's book, however there hasn't been a decent copy around for about 8 years. In the late 90s ordinary copies made about £400 to £600 in terrestrial auctions. In 1987 a 'fine' copy was catalogued by Charles B Wood III at $1600. The book is, so far, unknown to ebay, although Mackmurdo's furniture is regularly traded there.

30 March 2007

The Art of Gesture. Dene Barnett, 1987.

Dene Barnett (with Jeanette Massy - Westropp.) THE ART OF GESTURE. THE PRACTICES AND PRINCIPLES OF 18TH CENTURY ACTING. Carl Winter University Press, Heidelberg, 1987.

Current Selling Prices
$300-$500? /£160-£260?

500 page study. A little known book, but with a keen following. The code of dramatic gesture. Often cited in academia as 'massive and authoritative.' The late Dene Barnett, an Australian scholar and Professsor of Philosophy (Flinders) was the founder of the modern day 'Gesture Movement.' Academic books published in Europe in English are often highly elusive and this is not on the web and would appear not to show up there. Most info on this is in those academic journals you have to pay to see. Unless you have your institution paying for you, or are absolutely desperate for the info, or have alot of time to fill in forms and fish out a working credit card, forget it. One day they will have worked this out; not all scholars are in institutions.

Our pic is of La Comedie Francaise, Paris in the 18th century, no pics of the book can be found. The book is intended for the use of theatre historians, singers, actors, Early Dance fans, directors and teachers of acting. Its preface states the purpose:
'...is to give a detailed picture of the acting techniques used in the 18th century tragedy and serious opera, based entirely on contemporaneous sources...'

VALUE? No idea of value, not obviously a rich collectors subject, but decidedly scarce and impressively authoritative so let's say the London price of 80 grande lattes. Possibly copies come and go very swiftly and no one has come up with a dastardly enough price to hold it on the web for long--there are a lot of wants for it. It could be rare as hen's teeth. There was a paperback issue too - OCLC give it 7 ISBN numbers : 3533037169 9783533037163 9783533037163 3533037169 3533037150 9783533037156 9783533037156 3533037150 What's that all about.? [ W/Q ** ]

29 March 2007

Horizon. 1940 - 1949. Cyril Connolly.

Cyril Connolly (edits.,) HORIZON: A Review of Literature and Art. London 1940 - 1949.

Current Selling Prices
$750-$1400 /£380-£750

The first periodical (apart from BLAST) that we have covered and not esp scarce although hard to find a complete clean looking set. You need 120 issues in all. Last catalogued by us thus:
Numbers 1-120/121, complete run. French issue not present. Contributors include:- John Piper, Henry Moore, Paul Nash, Paul Klee, Alun Lewis, George Orwell, Ian Fleming, Osbert Lancaster, Arthur Koestler, Vita Sackville-West, W.H. Auden, Henry Miller,T.S. Eliot, Henry Moore, Randall Jarrell, Augustus John, Christopher Isherwood, Anna Kavan, W.S. Graham, Lucien Freud, William Empson, Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, Barbara Hepworth, Patrick White, Bertrand Russell, Dylan Thomas, John Betjeman, Stephen Spender, Edouard Roditi, Diana Witherby, Andre Masson, John Craxton, Paul Bowles, Robert Colquhoun, Cecil Beaton, Wallace Stevens, Louis MacNeice, John Banting, Terence Heywood, Brian Howard, John Waller, Denton Welch, Eudora Welty, Graham Sutherland, Virginia Woolf. French issue not present. The first issue (number 1 from Jan 1940) is a presentation from the editor Cyril Connolly -- written at the top in CC's hand is 'To his friend Stuart Preston with the Editor's compliments.' Stuart Preston, an American art critic, was a legendary society figure - friend of Powell, Waugh, Lees Milne, Nicolson etc., and is the original of the character in Waugh's Sword of Honour known as 'The Loot' - in fact he was known as 'The Sergeant' being that rank in the US army.

The French isssue is particularly elusive and you need it to be complete. Individual issues sell for only a pound or 2 with the special issue given over entirely to Evelyn Waugh's 'The Loved One' (February 1948) going for about £15 if nice. It used to be more and there are some chaps still charging £60+ but it's pretty common. There is a healthy market in periodicals and they go well on ebay, some rarer literary ones going for $100+ (The Exile, Broom etc.,) There is a hardbound American magazine from the 1950s also called HORIZON (A Magazine of the Arts). It has almost no value at all and we have actually had to pay a little extra to leave it behind when buying collections of books. Quite heavy in quantity. Think Reader's Digest for lack of value. On ebay they ask $3.

I tend to make up sets from vast quantities of duplicates choosing the best example of each issue, at present we are selling the Stuart Preston set and a while back we got a whole lot of issues from Sonia Orwell's estate (No annotations by anybody sadly-- George Orwell was a frequent contributor and in fact met Sonia there.) Another load came with the Horizon name plate (in copper as I recall) that someone had unstuck from the door, possibly the last action before the doors of the office of the great periodical were shut forever. It was slightly oxidised.

Cyril Connolly, Horizon's editor, was a fine writer who never produced a great work but a few great short stories, some of biblio interest (Jonathan Edax). Katherine Knorr of the NY Times said of him:
"He was... that banal literary tragedy, a man of considerable talent who somehow never pulled off the masterpiece, something he better than anyone explained in "Enemies of Promise," the mixture of literary theory and autobiography that, along with "The Unquiet Grave," constitutes his legacy... in ''Unconditional Surrender'' Waugh created one Everard Spruce, the editor of a literary review who likes good food and parties and is surrounded by helpful young ladies... Waugh and his wonderful poison-pen pal Nancy Mitford called (Connolly) 'Smartyboots.'"

To be called 'Smartyboots' by Waugh was no disgrace, he could be pretty cruel and even said some unpleasant things about Stuart Preston (see above.) He was no lover of Americans. Probably galling for CC to see him turn out a whole handful of masterpieces. If Evelyn was Bowie then at the very least Cyril was Iggy Pop.

VALUE? There are usually complete sets for sale at between $700 and $1500. Ours is $1150 and when I last looked was still there. It has not gone up much in value over the last decade but there are always takers for it, sometimes institutional.
[ W/Q * ]

Roberto Bolano (1953-2003)

Back in England, where it is Spring. In transit, I read a great piece in the New Yorker on Roberto Bolano, Chilean poet and novelist (1953-2003). He is now considered the greatest South American writer of his generation. His novel 'The Savage Detectives' (Los Detectives Salvajes)has just come out in English in USA and I ordered a copy, although one will probably come into the shop as a review copy. Comes out in April. It won the Rómulo Gallego prize, the most prestigious in Latin America. It has detective story elements. There is a good piece also on him at the New York Times. He was, like myself, a big admirer of Borges but had no time for magic realism ("it stinks" he said - good to hear someone say it). He derided Marquez - 'a man terribly pleased to have hobnobbed with so many Presidents and Archbishops.'

He called Isabel Allende 'a scribbler' whose 'attempts at literature range from kitsch to the pathetic...' Allende interviewed in 2003 dismissed him as an 'extremely unpleasant' man, adding 'Death does not make you a nicer person.' Bolano is quoted as saying about himself: 'If I were to say what I really think I would be arrested or shut away in a lunatic asylum. Come on, I am sure that it would be the same for everyone.' He said that the Nobel Prize was typically won by 'jerks.' He was probably referring to Marquez again, definitely Octavio Paz, possibly Heaney (Bolano regarded himself primarily as a poet) maybe Cela. Again not something you hear often and refreshing. Literature, he wrote, 'is the product of a strange rain of blood, sweat, semen and tears...'

In Mexico City mid 1970s he was part of a bunch of Mexican post Dadaists known as infrarealistas publishing iconoclastic magazines and engaging in many provocative acts such as disrupting poetry readings by Paz and others and shouting out their own poems. Bit of a junkie, he cleaned up in his 37th year and spent the last decade of his life writing furiously as he knew his time was limited. He lived in a tourist town on Spain's Costa Brava (Blanes) got married to Carolina Lopez, a Catalonian, and had 2 children.

His final novel 2666 is over 1100 pages and although unfinished it was published after his death, it is currently being translated into English by Natasha Wimmer. A voracious reader of anything from minor poetry to dime store novels. He was also familiar with Anglo-American literature, and was fascinated by such genre writers as James Ellroy, Philip K. Dick and Cormac McCarthy. He admired the latter day Surrealist painter Remedios Varo (also Catalonian). He stole most of his books and for that must be designated by us as an utter bastard. However there are excuses - he had a bloody hard life behind him including nearly being disappeared by the death squads of Augusto Pinochet....Wouldn't mind finding some of the Mexican mags. Lastly he wrote something called Porta Consigli di un discepolo di (Jim )Morrison a un fanatico di Joyce.What's that all about? Check out the New Yorker piece.

28 March 2007

Art and Mystery of Tennessee Furniture

Nathan Harsh & C. Tracey Parks Williams. THE ART AND MYSTERY OF TENNESSEE FURNITURE THROUGH 1850. Tennessee Historical Society, 1988.

Current Selling Prices
$550-$800 /£280-£400 ISBN 0961596627

Collectors and dealers book for the venerable Tennessee antiquer. Probably essential if you are dealing in it. 345 pages, copiously illustrated in colour and black and white throughout. The Amazon person has it thus :-
This pioneering study has been meticulously assembled through extensive fieldwork throughout Tennessee. Lifestyles of Tennesseans prior to 1850 ranged from mountain cabins to plantation mansions and the furnishings were designed to accommodate either setting. Here is a variety of desks, bookcases, and secretaries; sideboards, presses, cupboards, dressers, wardrobes, bureaus and bedsteads; sugar chests and cellarets; candlestands and shaving stands and washstands; cradles, bed steps, chairs, benches, sofas, and tables in dozens of sizes, uses, and names. Featuring many pieces from private collections never before documented, "The Art and Mystery of Tennessee Furniture" chronicles the originality of design and decoration, the choices of woods, and the simplicity and sophistication that signifies "made in Tennessee." The authors consider sources of labor, location of shops, volume of production, and marketing techniques. Just as important, the authors have conducted exhaustive research into the identities of Tennessee artisans and the furniture industry, and the book includes a checklist of 1,400 furniture makers working in Tennessee prior to 1850. This will be the definitive study for years to come.
Could find no pics of the book or even a definitive piece of Tennessee furniture so, because I must have a pic, have got Linda Thompson (song writer, former Miss Tennessee, former "Hee Haw" gal, but best known as Elvis' LAST girlfriend) up there. Not entirley sure what a "Hee Haw" girl is or does. I guess dating Elvis is the American equivalent of dating Prince Charles... [ W/Q *** ]

VALUE? Originally sold at the Tennessee State Museum, another ed came out in the same year from University Publishing Association. Google reveals a Tennessee dealer saying it is essential in the field and worth $700 and for a while there were no copies available; at present 2 on Amazon at $600 and $1200 (money goes to a charity) ABE has an egregious relister with one at $2000 . $600 to $700 should be enough, every time a dealer dies or goes bust one will pop up.

27 March 2007

Interaction of Color. Josef Albers, 1963.

Josef Albers. INTERACTION OF COLOR. Yale University Press, 1963.

Current Selling Prices
$3500-$6000 /£1800-£3200

A copy we sold in 2003 we descibed thus:-'Small folio. 1963. 2 volume set in dark brown textured cloth original printed slip case. Two folio volumes: Volume One contains 80 pages of Albers poetic text. Volume Two contains 80 serigraph colour plates (complete) loosely inserted in a folder. They are arranged to show the effects a variety of colours have on each other, together with these is a 48 page 'Commentary' in plain black wraps. Among the 'authors' of the serigraphs is the US poet Mark Strand, a pupil of Albers who contributes 2 serigraphs. Books are also bound in dark brown textured cloth and are near fine , as is the slip case..'

I see this slip-case sometimes described as a box (a 'cloth drop-back box' on one occasion.) It can show up with less than its compliment of plates - one seller explains (he had 79 out of the 80) - 'Apparently it was common for the publisher to miscount in this particular book and not include all of the screen prints.' All copies in auction have had 80, although I have seen people selling the Mark Strand ones separately but only for a few hundred dollars. Not sure how many were printed but copies seem to show up almost every year, none on net at present, although Google reveals a dealer with one with 'price on demand' - usually means an unpalatable sum.

VALUE? Our copy sold after about 6 months at circa $3800. A copy (the one with 79) seems to have shifted in 2006 at $5500 and another copy at Swann in NY in 2005 made $7500, although in 2006 a copy made $3000, possibly in lesser condition. A slightly volatile book that can dip beneath $2500 and scale $7K, condition, as always, a factor. Most copies seem to go through Swann, possibly Albers in original state is a New York taste. The book has been much reprinted as a paperback and is used in art schools throughout the world. [ W/Q ** ]

Ilsa. Madeleine L'Engle, NY 1946.

Madeleine L'Engle. ILSA. Vanguard Press, NY 1946.

Current Selling Prices
$350-$750 / £200-£400

Scarce and much wanted novel by juvenile cult SF writer. Her works reflect her strong interest in modern science; mitochondrial DNA, for instance, is featured prominently in A Wind in the Door, tesseracts in A Wrinkle in Time, organ regeneration in Arm of the Starfish and so forth. Mitochondrial DNA also interested Patricia Cornwell, as I recall, in her hunt for the Ripper-- world class painter Sickert, apparently.

Ilsa is said to be a rather disturbing but, au fond, an unsatisfactory work and Ms L'Engle has never allowed it to be reprinted, although signed copies are not unknown.The Wikiman says '...(its) continued unavailability appears to stem from the author's own reported dissatisfaction with the book.'

VALUE? A couple of ex libs around $200, half decent $400 and 2 signed in jackets at $500 and $900. No copies sound anything approaching fine. The Vanguard Press has published some interesting writers including M.P. Sheil, Dr. Seuss, Rex Stout, Patrick Dennis, Pierre Boulle, James T. Farrell and Saul Bellow's first two books. They also seem to have done some vanity publishing including a very strange conspiracy theory book on the Beatles in the 1970s which I have only seen once. Some Vanguard books were only printed in small quantities and are hard to find.[ W/ Q ** ]

26 March 2007

Aran Knitting. Alice Starmore, 1997.

Alice Starmore, ARAN KNITTING. Interweave Press, Loveland, Colorado, U.S.A., 1997. (ISBN: 1883010330)

Current Selling Prices
£250-$600 /£130-£300

Much wanted attractively illustrated quite large jacketed knitting book with full-color photographs of the Aran islands and its people. Starmore describes local Celtic history and clarifies the origin of Aran knitting. Includes 60 meticulous pattern charts. Alice Starmore has been described as 'one of the knitting world's living treasures' - in fact, a purl amongst women (you're fired, ed.) A contemporary review reads:
"What I found fascinating, having been a history major in a previous life, was her use of "primary sources" to make her argument that the Aran patterns originated from the experiments of one gifted knitter who took the Scottish gansey one step further. The "primary sources" that Starmore examines are Aran sweaters in the collection of the National Museum of Ireland. One of the most interesting parts of this book was her analysis of these pieces. For me, this book was worth buying just for the first 45 pages...Alice Starmore also provides the reader with two chapters of patterns of her own. One consists of "classic" Aran designs. These are absolutely gorgeous. The patterns are intricate and complex without being overwhelming and busy. The next chapter consists of sweaters using Alice Starmore's invention of infinite lines and Celtic knots to echo Celtic line art, such as the Book of Kells."
This reviewer is slightly less impressed by her chapter on designing your own Aran sweater, but possibly because what goes before is so excellent.

VALUE? Regularly turns up on ebay-- 4 copies in the last month none perfect but most in pretty good shape made on average $250. Always quite a few on Amazon, sometimes as low as $225 but condition can be variable. On ABE atc., they start at $300 and go up to $800. The latter price probably from a time when the book was thought to be uncommon. No longer hard to find but never cheap. [ W/Q *** ]

25 March 2007

India in Transition. Aga Khan, 1918.

His Highness Aga Khan. INDIA IN TRANSITION. A Study of Political Evolution By His Highness Aga Khan, Putnam, NY & Warner, London 1918.

Current Selling Prices
$900-$2000 /£450-£1100

Scarce, valuable and much sought after book. The New York edition is white cloth lettered gilt at the spine so attracts soiling and is unlikely to show up in stellar condition. This Aga Khan (III) was the 48th Ima'm of the Shia Ismaili Muslims known as Sultan Muhammad Shah (1877-1957.) He was writing on the need for reforms among Muslims, communal electorates and representation. The Story of Pakistan site says of him that he:-
'...greatly contributed towards the political cause of the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. He led the Muslim delegation to Simla in 1906 where the Muslims, for the first time, put forward their demand for a separate electorate. He was elected the first president of All India Muslim League in 1906, an office that he held till 1912. Aga Khan was a man of vision and was of the opinion that the reform scheme introduced by the British would be beneficial to the Muslims. He wrote a book on the need of reforms for the Muslims, known as "India in Transition", which was published in 1918.'
He made his first trip to Europe in 1898 and was received graciously at Windsor Castle by Queen Victoria who sat him beside her in the seat reserved for the highest religious head in the country. This signal honour occasioned great surprise, as no foreigner had been shown so much respect before, and was given wide publicity. He answered many questions about the famine and plague in India and was given a respectful hearing by a distinguished company.

At Devonshire House and Landsdowne House, lavish parties were given in his honour. "He wore pince-nez and twirled a neat black moustache which gave him an appearance more academic than military, but there was a sparkle in his conversation that titillated a London influenced by Wilde and Beardsley..."remarked one of His Royal Highness's biographers. His horse Jeddah, won the Epsom Derby (100 to 1 odds) - the first win for the colours of the Aga Khan. The first of many! [ W/Q * ]

One copy listed at an ambitious price, perhaps several times its real value given condition (and tried without sale on ebay) has been there a year at a fluctuating £3000; another better copy at £2500 (the preferred London edition) is no longer for sale. Possibly a flash in the pan price although there is alot of money in some Indian items due to the many high net worth Indian collectors. It is also the only copy currently available although cheaper copies may come and go quite quickly with this price as a marker.

It is hard to believe that a book published in London and New York by major publishers is so thin on the ground. One thing you never see are the books that sell upon upload. Lastly a look at ebay shows a copy from Sep 2006 rebound in leather seliing at £200 and another mentioned as having sold at £400. Ebay, as always, throws a curve ball at the prices. It is possible there was also an Indian edition (in English.)

24 March 2007

Americana. Don DeLillo, 1971

"America is the world's living myth. There's no sense of wrong when you kill an American or blame America for some local disaster. This is our function, to be character types, to embody recurring themes that people can use to comfort themselves, justify themselves and so on. We're here to accommodate. Whatever people need, we provide. A myth is a useful thing." Don DeLillo.

Don DeLillo. AMERICANA. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1971. ISBN 3499134802

Current Selling Prices
$650-$1000 /£350-£520

Novel of an attempt to find the heart of America by privileged refugee from the 'souless sycophants' of the NY media. The first work of the modern master of American fiction, some claim the most significant debut since WW2. Might be pushing it. Certainly a literary genius, not sure where the above quote came from...if he wrote it around the time of "Americana' it's weirdly prescient.

VALUE? True firsts are usually a little north of $800 if fine in fine. Jacket tends to get worn so flawless copies are not common. Add a couple of hundred or more for a signature. 4560 copies printed of the first. Not scarce at present, but DeLillos's reputation and collectability are likely to increase. His signature is not especially elusive - you can buy a fine/fine signed copy of his great JFK assassination book of 1988 Libra for £40 at ABE as we speak. I'm tempted. [WL 26/ Highish]

23 March 2007

Mad Hatter Syndrome

I've been looking for a name for the phenomenon referred to a few days back with Lady Liza Lizard - a the book that became more expensive in web listings as the condition got worse. I wrote: 'Sometimes you get a perfect vertical gradation where there are, say, 6 copies each more expensive than the other and the most expensive is in the worse condition and as they get cheaper they improve in condition with the cheapest being the best. This is perfectly logical because the more greedy a seller is the more he will ignore the effect of condition on price - so the worst copy is often the most expensive. This phenomenom deserves a name - reversed condition paradox? '

I have been trying to find a less cumbersome name. We are talking here of a counter intuitive world, where everything is the opposite of what it should be - surely this is the upside down world of 'Alice in Wonderland' - and the Mad Hatter's tea party? I'm thinking of calling it Mad Hatter Syndrome - the tendency to price a book without regard to condition , in fact in its extreme form to 'up' the price because of the poor condition.

It is said there are some people, possibly entire nations, who are impressed by ex library books due to the idea that to have been in a library the book must be important. This is why people use words like 'retired from a library', as if the book had put in long and honourable service there, and even (though it's scarcely credible) some who regard poor condition as an indication that the book was much loved ('cherished' is the word).

Talking of expensive prices our colleague and fellow book ranter Driffield (no copies known) had a theory that if a dealer's books were too expensive you should look closely at his or her stock because the high prices were a sign of ignorance and somewhere there would be a thumping bargain. A nice idea and occasionally it works but usually the overpricing covers all mistakes.

If the dealer has got it bad, no one can afford to buy a book from them and they eventually go bust and end up selling ' 'The Big Issue' on the mean streets of London, accompanied by a dog on a rope and a can of K9. Later we turn up and buy his books from a creditor at 5% of marked price and sell them, not especially fast, at about 15% of marked price. At that point you can test Driffield's theory in detail. What actually happens is there is the occasional book (say 2% of the stock max) where you can actually get the price written in it. It's a mad world, my masters.

8000 items of Ephemera

We don't normally advertise our wares here but this collection needs an airing. 25 years of stuff that came with the books to our Charing Cross Road shop or actually fell out of books. Not for sale at present (needs sorting) five figure sum in mind -- this is just a fraction of it, mainly chosen for their graphic qualities. (Click on the image to enlarge, good sharp pics thanks to Nikon Sureshot.)

In 32 Banker's boxes (16 x 13 x 10") about 8000 items. Including Trade cards, Bill heads and letter heads, labels, admission tickets, handbills, receipts, menus, pamphlets, trade catalogues, certificates, invitations, bookplates and book labels, telegrams, carrier bags, theatre programmes, publishers fliers, autograph letters, autograph post cards and albums, Valentine and Christmas cards, scraps and diecuts, certificates, calling/ visiting cards, propaganda, postcards, government announcements, autographs, travel brochures, menus, cigarette cards, bus, train and tram tickets, maps, plans, public notices / leaflets/ proclamations, pamphlets, bookmarks, safe passes and membership cards - also early 19th Century and late 18th Century broadsheets, receipt books and political flyers.

Themes include political, theatrical, religious, erotic, shipping, military,aviation, wartime, spectacles and spectaculars, British Empire, South American travel (a significant amount) exhibitions, festivals and fairs, heraldic, food and drink, wine trade, children/ toys, domestic appliances, smoking, hotels, property, auctions, publishing and printing history, advertising, interior decoration, freemasonry, religious, occult, celebrity, cinema, advertising, music, transport, golf, tennis, sport and public entertainment.

Also photo albums, postcard albums, stamp albums, small scrapbooks, sample books, trade brochures, old photos, literary and publishing ephemera. Mainly British 20th Century but with a good proportion of rare earlier items, mostly in very decent condition.

More values tomorrow. Will probably do American genius Don DeLillo.

22 March 2007

The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4 ( J. T. Milik)

THE BOOKS OF ENOCH.ARAMAIC FRAGMENTS OF QUMRAN CAVE 4. [ Jozef T. Milik & Others] Oxford University Press, 1976. ISBN 0198261616

Current Selling Prices
$450-$800? /£220-£380?

Milik, priest and scholar (1922 - 2006) known as 'the fastest man with a fragment' was part of the team that worked on the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1947 and 1956. These 8 manuscripts (on scraps of smooth ancient leather) were found in Cave 4 by Bedouin tribesman and are practically the only known surviving Biblical documents written before 100 A.D. There is much interest in the divinely inspired Enochian material but most of it is available on the net. 500 pages, octavo and well illustrated, a nice Clarendon Press production. An example of the translation:
E[superscript]a I ii
12. ...But you have changed your works,
13. [and have not done according to his command, and tran]sgressed against him; (and have spoken) haughty and harsh words, with your impure mouths,
14. [against his majesty, for your heart is hard]. You will have no peace.

En[superscript]a I iii
13. [They (the leaders) and all ... of them took for themselves]
14. wives from all that they chose and [they began to cohabit with them and to defile themselves with them];
15. and to teach them sorcery and [spells and the cutting of roots; and to acquaint them with herbs.]
16. And they become pregnant by them and bo[re (great) giants three thousand cubits high
Transcription by J. T. Milik, amended by J. C. Greenfield; translation by J. C. Greenfield

Very hard to find. One copy on the web at present at £650 with a known relister, a slightly silly price and probably a relisting of a cheaper copy that has subsequently sold , so book is non existent. It has been there many moons. A lot of people want it but in general don't like to be taken as mugs.[Want level 25-50 Highish ]

All Quiet on the Western Front. Erich Maria Remarque, 1929

"We are like children who have been abandoned and we are as experienced as old men, we are coarse and superficial - I think we are lost."

Erich Maria Remarque. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. Little Brown (NY) or Putnams (London) 1929.

Current Selling Prices
$400-$1200 /£200-£600

The German novel of the Lost Generation - those disillusioned souls who survived the war that was supposed to end all wars. Sometimes known as the Generation of 1914 or more poetically Génération du Feu, the Generation of Fire. Madly successful novel, sold 3 million in German and the US first was 100,000 so it is never going to be scarce. Considered by some to be brutal and coarse, unhealthy German interest in latrines etc.,

Filmed and won an Oscar. The 1929 English translation by A. W. Wheen gave the title as All Quiet on the Western Front - the literal translation is in fact "Nothing New in the West" (Im Westen Nichts Neues.) The West being the term for the war front used by the German Army. Wheen's phrase has stuck and is now used in many unlikely contexts.

Probably the most famous of all WWI novels beyond even The Good Soldier Schweik, A Farewell to Arms, Her Privates We, Death of a Hero (Aldington) Parade's End, Under Fire ( Barbusse) . A memoir by his fellow countryman Ernst Junger 'Storm of Steel' is also worthy of mention. The Vietnam equivalent might be 'If I Die in a Combat Zone' by Tim O'Brien from 1973 - a memoir using some fiction techniques. A valuable book that I will cover at some point. Remarque was drafted into the German army at age 18, he was wounded several times. With Owen and many others he showed the inhumanity of war, exposers of 'The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est, Pro patria mori.'

In 1933 he had the honour of having his books burnt by the Nazis, later in Hollywood he married the beautiful Paulette Goddard. He died in 1970. He is buried in the Ronco cemetery in Ronco, Ticino, Switzerland, where Goddard is also interred. Goddard left a bequest of $20m to New York University to fund an institute for European study which is named after Remarque.

VALUE? $400 to $1400 for jacketed copies in decent state. The US is more common than the British but is a better looking book. It is possible to buy decent copies in rather used jacket s for as low as $200. A really sharp jacketed copy would leave little change from $2000. The jacket (looks like Hohlwein but seems to be signed Hensk) I feel sure is from a poster. [ W/Q ** ]

21 March 2007

Althea Joins the Chalet School. Elinor Brent Dyer, 1969.

Elinor Brent Dyer. ALTHEA JOINS THE CHALET SCHOOL. Chambers, London, 1969.

Current Selling Prices
$220-$400 /£100-£200 Want level 25-50 Highish

EBD's Chalet School novels have a very large world wide following with collectors willing to pay high 3 figure sums for difficult o/p titles. They are beautifully written multi layered stories with much period detail and a Swiss setting. There are conferences, quizzes, newsletters and websites.

Elinor Brent Dyer wrote 101 girls' stories many with school settings. A holiday spent in the Austrian Tyrol at Pertisau-am-Achensee gave her the inspiration for the first location in the Chalet School series. Her teaching career spanned 36 years with her final post as Headmistress of a school in Hereford. She also wrote plays and numerous unpublished poems and was a keen musician.

Her market has been a little dented by reprints and even this book is about to be reprinted by 'Girls Gone By' at £11. The story of Althea Glenyon a new girl who is involved in a midnight caper where a burglar is unmasked and inspires jealousy through her close friendship with some plucky girl. Exciting adventures afloat and ashore break into school routine, involving Althea in some embarrassing situations. At the end of her first term, however, Althea has proved herself and looks like settling in to become a real Chaletian. Odd stuff for 1969 with Manson on the prowl, Woodstock, Vietnam and the first flight of Monty Python.

VALUE? Hardbacks in jacket £100+ for nice copies. Jonkers of Henley ask £220 for a faultless copy. If God collected EBD (and he/she probably does) this would be the copy he would choose. Dyer titles esp from the 1920s and early 1930s in bright jackets can get over £500. Signed copies are almost unheard of. This title, although comparatively modest in value is much wanted. Also much desired is The Chalet Girl's Cook Book from 1953 worth about the same as this book in nice jacket. It can make about a £100 without it - higher than this novel sans jacket.

20 March 2007

Lazy Liza Lizard. Marie Curtis Rains, 1938.

For a while I thought this book was called Lady Liza Lizard and could find out nothing about it. It appears to be one of those books that gets traded, famous for being famous, and sold on by traders who hardly bother to open it, but are aware it has value. Many collectable books are like that - e.g who actually reads 'Brave New World'? The lizard itself is a fascinating creature ('...one of the Lords of Life' as D H Lawrence put it.) In ancient Egypt and Greek symbolism the lizard represented divine wisdom and good fortune. Early Christianity associated the lizard with the devil and with evil. While on the Pacific islands of Polynesia and Maoris lizards are revered as a "heaven god." Then you have those urban Lotharios known as lounge lizards and there is more than one bar called 'The Lazy Lizard'; Jim Morrison called himself 'The Lizard King'. Must do one of Jim's rare little L.A. books sometime, I sold our last one ('An American Prayer') for a king's ransom...

Marie Curtis Rains. LAZY LIZA LIZARD. The John Winston Company, Philadelphia, 1938.

Current Selling Prices
$300-$750 / £160-£400 Want level 50 - 75 High

Much wanted. Also noted as simultaneously first published by the Junior Literary Guild in New York and E.M. Hale and Co., Eau Claire, WI all in 1938. The Winston one is the one that shows up and no one seems to have established which came first, or possibly no one cares. There are several Lazy Lizards in the world of children's literature but Ms Rains' book is the one you want.

No idea what Lazy Liza gets up to but imagine that she gets up late and leads an idle life basking on a sunny wall. The book's reputation seems to be based on its dollar value, Google reveals not one reference to its contents. Library sale special + an ebay special.

VALUE? A not nice ex library 1953 reprint at $450 is the lowest priced one currently available and probably a poor investment. Avoid ex library wherever possible is the mantra. A decentish jacketed 1938 first looks a better bet. As often happens on the net as the price gets higher the condition gets worse at $800 you get a sad copy with one page 'torn in half ...and stained from where the page was tape repaired.' Sometimes you get a perfect gradation where there are, say, 6 copies each more expensive than the other and the most expensive is in the worse condition and as they get cheaper they improve in condition with the cheapest being the best. This is perfectly logical because the more greedy a seller is the more he will ignore the effect of condition on price - so the worst copy is often the most expensive. This phenomenom deserves a name - reversed condition paradox?

In 2005 on ebay an exlib copy sold at $328 with the buyer providing no picture. Talk about lazy.

'Lazy Liza Lizard's Tricks' from 1953 is more common but still seems to go for a couple of $100 bills if decent. STOP PRESS. A poorish but not exlib 1938 copy sold last week on ebay at $210. Apart from suggesting that the book is going flat it revealed that Lazy Liza is a pretty young girl (with no obvious lizard discernible) in a gingham bonnet and there are other anthropomorphic characters including a Mr. Snake and Old Lady Field Mouse - a sweet looking story for the very young.

19 March 2007

The Skin Ego. Didier Anzieu, 1989.

Didier Anzieu. THE SKIN EGO. Yale University Press, 1989. ISBN 0300037473

Current Selling Prices
$350-600? /£180-£300 Want level 25-50 Highish

A curiously desirable and expensive book with 30 persons waiting for it at ABEBOOKs alone. In France where it appeared in 1974 it was called 'Le moi-peau.' A man in a whitecoat explains:
' The term "skin-ego" designates a mental representation that the child forms on the basis of its experience of the surface of its body and uses to picture itself as the vessel of mental contents. The skin-ego belongs to the period in development when the psychic ego differentiates from the body ego on the practical level while remaining indistinguishable from it in the imagination. Intermediate between metaphor and concept, the notion of the skin-ego was worked out by Didier Anzieu and first presented in 1974.

According to Anzieu, the ego encloses the psychic apparatus much as the skin encloses the body. The chief functions of the skin are transposed onto the level of the skin-ego, and from there onto the level of the thinking ego. The functions of the skin-ego are to maintain thoughts, to contain ideas and affects, to provide a protective shield, to register traces of primary communication with the outside world, to manage intersensorial correspondences, to individuate, to support sexual excitation, and to recharge the libido. In brief, the skin-ego is an interface between inside and outside, and is the foundation of the container/contained relationship....An important part of psychoanalytic work with borderline patients is the reconstruction of the earliest phases of the skin-ego and their consequences for mental organization. This task calls on the techniques of transitional analysis....Didier Anzieu made use not only of clinical psychoanalysis but literature (Pascal, Julien Gracq, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Samuel Beckett) and the visual arts as well (Francis Bacon) to bring to light the traces of the body in writing, drama, and painting. Finally, through his work on individual and group psychoanalytic psychodrama, he enriched the instruments derived from psychoanalysis by proposing a new outlook on the operation of the unconscious in groups.'

The curious thing about Anzieu is that his mother was a mental patient who was interviewed by Jacque Lacan in April 1931, when she was arrested and then sectioned for attacking a famous stage actress with a knife. Lacan wrote his doctoral thesis on Marguerite Anzieu under the pseudonym of ‘Aimée’, using her case-history as a prototype of the role of personality in psychopathic development. Didier Anzieu (1923-1999), in a set of interviews conducted in 1983, when he was sixty said: 'I became a psychoanalyst to care for my mother. Not so much to care for her in reality, even though I did succeed in helping her, in the last quarter of her life, to find a relatively happy, balanced life. What I mean is, to care for my mother in myself and other people. To care, in other people, for this threatening and threatened mother... "

Anzieu was much influenced by Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion, Samuel Beckett's pschoanalyst and himself wrote several pieces on Beckett. He was also influenced by D.W.Winnicott the British pediatrician and psychoanalyst. Sometime in the 1980s we were invited by his widow (herself a distinguished writer) to buy a lot of books from their Knightsbridge flat. I recall at the time that our customers were excited by the books, although psychology is generally a slow and modish subject. The ownership signature may have helped. I remember my fellow dealer Donald asked Dr Winnicott for a quick psychological summing up of the pair of us--she replied that she had never met 2 more normal men--something I suspect pstychologists say when put on the spot outside of the consulting room. It was reassuring, however.

VALUE? Usually $300+, although there are many who want $600 and some silly billies who require $1200+, presumably relisters. Not a book to buy at Amazon where none are under $600. Our image above which seems appropriate to the subject is by Michael Druks who was born 1940 in Israel, has lived and worked in London since 1972. His work, often collage, is much concerned with cartography, nomadism and symbols. Many thanks for the image, could find no pics of Anzieu's book.

18 March 2007

The African Queen. C.S. Forester, 1935.

I have started to break up the paragraphs a bit more, rather than have indigestible blocks of prose, and I have even gone back and redone a few. E.g. Heminway and Wyndham Lewis. This is at at the suggestion of Seth from Honolulu - Aloha and thanks. In the book game there comes a point when you have to get out a pencil and start pricing books, so time for fun is limited. Some slightly shorter blogs coming up as I prepare to tackle a few hundred boxes of rather good books that just got delivered in a large van.

Today it is Forester's most valuable book, but not his most rare in jacket - e.g. you don't see Pawn Among Kings or Two and Twenty very much, let alone Love Lies Dreaming, The Shadow of the Hawk (rarissimo) or his first book The Paid Piper.

C.S. Forester. THE AFRICAN QUEEN. Heinemann, London 1935.

Current Selling Prices
$14000+ / £7000+

Forester's biggest book, Hornblower be blowed. Valuable in jacket. Cult 1951 movie with Bogart and Hepburn, Bogey winning an Oscar for his portrayal of rough diamond Charlie Allnut, Hepburn brill as English spinster missionary thrown together with him in the rickety boat 'The African Queen.'

Oddly enough the American and English editions have different endings - look away now if you don't want to know - in the English edition, the Royal Navy sinks the Konigin Luise, and Rose and Allnutt survive to marry; in the American edition, they fail to sink the ship with the African Queen's torpedo, and Allnutt disappears beneath the waves. One dealer has a US first inscribed in February 1935 and suggests the American edition may precede.

VALUE? Stonking valuable book, 2 copies on web of the UK first at well north of £10K although how many punters there are at that dizzy level is unknowable. At this price one has to be extremely keen on CSF, or possibly a cultish devotee of the movie, and possessed of a spare £10K so the customer pool is likely to be small.

A nice book to find overlooked in a tea chest, except auction houses hardly use them anymore. At $25000 the game is up. The US edition is not to be sniffed at, think $4000 for a pretty one. Sans jacket the British first is only a 3 figure book, say £600 - £700 if decent, not esp scarce. Want level 25-50 Highish

17 March 2007

Ballet. 104 Photographs. Brodovitch, 1945.

Alexey Brodovitch. BALLET: 104 PHOTOGRAPHS. Augustin, NY 1945.

Current Selling Prices
$3000+/ £1500+ Want level 50- 75 High

Legendary photobook. Text by Edwin Denby. Rare collection of Brodovitch's photographs of Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo from the 1930s. Kerry Purcell said of it --'one of the most successful attempts at suggesting motion in photography, and certainly one of the most cinematic and dynamic photobooks ever published.' Using a 35mm Contax he developed techniques of blurring and graininess that would become mainstream in the 1950s and 60s.

AB (1898-1971) Russian born photographer designer, started his career in France and in US ran the highly influential Design Laboratory, producing what is sometimes said to be the century's best design magazine Portfolio (1950 to 1951, 3 issues only.) As Art Director at Harpers Bazaar he ruled the roost amongst NY's fashionistas and snappers for about 20 years from 1934 to 1958, coldshouldering Diane Arbus and promoting Art Kane, Penn, Platt Lynes etc., When he was dismissed and later after the death of his wife Nina, he hit the bottle. There is a celebrated portrait of him (left) on crutches after a fall, by his close friend Avedon. 'Ballet' produced in 500 copies was his only book.

VALUE? Seldom shows up on the web but has appeared at auction in NY, mostly at Swann photo sales where between 1997 and 2002 it made $1200 to as high as $3500 for jacketed copies. A copy surfaced at Christies (d/w not wonderful) in London 2006 somewhat over-catalogued; it seems to have worked, the buyer having had to pay £2160 ($4000) to get it home.

Some photos by him Ballet (Boutique Fantasque) 1935-37 made between $20K and $45K each at Swann in NY but with a few bought in at $8000 or less, so a valuable but volatile market. A couple of not fine issues of his Portfolio at between $500 and $800, the latter with with the publisher's original stereoscopic glasses laid in, are listed at present but no Ballet 104. The book in nice shape would probably go higher than its recent record because it is uncommon,less common than the 500 limitation would suggest - presumably many being held by costive collectors.

16 March 2007

The Age of Innocence. Edith Wharton, 1920.

Edith Wharton. THE AGE OF INNOCENCE. Appleton, NY 1920.

Current Selling Prices
$800-$8000 /£450-£4000

A masterpiece set among New York's elite of the 1870s - 'The Gilded Age'. Well filmed in 1993 in the Visconti style by Scorsese who plays up the gilt and opulence. In 1924, a silent film version was released by Warner Brothers, directed by Wesley Ruggles, and starring Beverly Bayne and Elliott Dexter. In 1934 a talkie came out from RKO (1934) that starred Irene Dunne and John Boles. Still read, even by kids of the ringtone generation.

Her first publication was Verses (1878), a book of poems privately printed in Newport, Rhode Island when she was sixteen and known in her family as 'Pussy.' Please offer all copies to moi - it's very valuable. The clue is it doesn't say Wharton on the title page -she was then Edith Newbold Jones. Vita Sackville West produced a similarly scarce volume (Chatterton) privately printed in 1909 when she was 16, that is also rather valuable but not in the same league as Edith. Author's first books are a rich and fascinating collecting field - often negligible in themselves and sometimes anonymous or pseudonymous or written under a maiden name they can be true 'sleepers', not all of which can be awoken.

Like her close comrade 'The Master' (Henry James) Edith Wharton plays with themes of innocence and experience, old decadent Europe and innocent America, themes that launched a 1000 dissertations - 'From Countess Olenska to Humbert Humbert' etc., [Want level 25-50 Highish}

VALUE? Nice copies sans jacket can occasionally be had for circa $800, with a jacket it gets a bit more serious. 1920 is the cut off point for jackets in some guides (i.e. they are not assumed to be there before that, pretty much my assumption too.) Jackets in fact have been around since 1830, but not on every book, by the 1870s they were ubiquitous but usually unillustrated.

The copy shown at the venerable Wikipedia described as a first is in fact a reprint from Grosset and Dunlap, with very few exceptions Grosset didn't 'do' first editions. A decent citizen should change it. Like many Appleton firsts this book must have a [1] after the end of the text in the book. The jacket should have no mention of the Columbia (Pulitzer) Prize. It can often be found placed in an early jacket as it sold 66,000 copies within the first year.

In 2002 at auction a copy in a jacket made $9000 with a few repairs and slight dampstaining. Between the Covers had a copy in a fab jacket in their Catalogue 61 a while back and sold it, possibly for more than this record, I have no details but there prices are invariably serious. A copy at circa $2000 in a worn jacket listed late in 2006 appears to have sold.

The Arion Press, San Francisco, 2004 photo illustrated and limited edition is desirable and worth circa $800 - "Truly a thing of beauty" according to Forbes magazine. Look out also for a facsimile jacketed issue (in slip-case) by the First Editions Library (1990ish) almost indistinguishable from the 1920 first but unnaturally fine. An LEC 1973 edition of 2000 copies signed by the illustrator, Lawrence Beall Smith can be had for $100 and change. A slightly unpleasant leathery Easton edition about the same.

You can also get audio tapes, CDS, Videos and DVDs, there are even copies around signed by Scorsese. To my mind 'House of Mirth' was a better movie with the wonderful X files woman Gillian Anderson. Lastly - a decent copy made $25 in 1968 in a jacket. Like Janeway says '.. this isn't an exact science.'

14 March 2007

The American Wild Turkey. Henry Davis. 1949.

Henry Davis. THE AMERICAN WILD TURKEY. Small Arms Technical Publishing Company, Georgetown, S.C. 1949.

Current Selling Prices
$550-$800 Want level 25-50 Highish

Seriously wanted book on the Wild Turkey and especially Turkey hunting. North America"s largest game bird. Published in a yellow tweed cloth binding. Can show up in a jacket. A 'Samworth Book on Hunting.'

VALUE? Seldom seen at much less than $650 although a facsimile was produced in 1984 which appears to retail at circa $100, but there aren't any around There was also a fancy leather bound 'premier' edition of 3000 copies in 1989 which can cost $250. These Premier Press editions seem curiously elusive for a book with such a large print run. Premier Press also produced 'The Wild Turkey and Its Hunting' in 1986 by Edward Mcilhenny, another 3000 copy edition facsimile of a 1914 printing in fancy pigskin. That goes for $150 and the original 1914 edition $1300+.The literature on this national bird is said to be enormous (like the bird.)

A Wind is Blowing. Monica Edwards, 1969.

Monica Edwards. A WIND IS BLOWING. Collins, London 1969.

Current Selling Prices
$500+ /£250+

Probably the most difficult Monica Edwards book and, as often happens, her last book. Slightly more adult than most of her Romney Marsh (East Sussex) pony books, it features only Tamzin and Meryon as characters and not Rissa and Roger. Her children, unlike Enid Blyton, do not stay the same age but grow almost to adulthood.

She was alarmed by the erosion of her much loved East Sussex countryside that came in the 1960s with Harold Wilson and the 'white heat' of the technocratic revolution. "A Wind Is Blowing" begins with a crime and has little to do with most of its predecessors, being instead "an encapsulation of loss of innocence, the end of childhood and the end of the 1960s (unlike all her previous books, it is not illustrated). Monica Edwards, effectively, destroyed her own mythos." (Quote from Wikipedia)

The German edition 'Solange der Wind weht' (1973) shows a very cool couple of late teenagers in trendy 60s fashions and seems odd against the usual Punchbowl Farm and Romney Marsh books. I am indebted to the the definitive Monica Edwards site for this image.

VALUE? Values of popular children's books like this are something of a minefield. The true first is always going to be scarce but the book could easily be reprinted by 'Girls Gone By' or the Edwards estate and most people just want to read the books. A reprint would deflate the price by quite a bit, this has happened with other Edwards titles and notably the Elinor Brent-Dyer Chalet School books.

There are no copies of this book currently available on the web and it is much sought after - there are 57 wants for it at Abebooks.com alone. In July 2004 a reasonable jacketed copy sold on ebay at £235. I am told it has made hefty sums there a few times. Another late Romney Marsh title 'The Wild One' (1967) sometimes regarded as the second rarest of her books is listed at £250 to £300, so logically 'Wind' should be more. When in doubt extrapolate!

13 March 2007

Carnacki the Ghost Finder. William Hope Hodgson,1913.

William Hope Hodgson, CARNACKI THE GHOST FINDER, Eveleigh Nash, 1913.

Current Selling Prices
$2500-$6000 /£1200-£3000 Want level 25-50 Highish

6 short stories first printed in 'The Idler' between 1910 and 1912 and first collected together for this red cloth Nash book of 1913. Much reprinted - a recent edition (which has an afterword by the highly rated novelist and former bookdealer Iain Sinclair) has a blurb that says it all: 'Join the World's strangest Sleuth at the Outer Limits of classic Supernatural Horror... Terrifying, unearthly adventures of the world's strangest detective." Sometimes compared to Lovecraft but he is less totally alien and somewhat more accessible.

More Lovecraftian is his equally valuable 1912 book 'The Night Land.' We described our last copy thus: 'Death of the sun, other dimensional aliens, monsters, and sub-humans. .. a monumental phantasmagoric of the far future, later editions being considerably abridged; scarce.' It also has the reputation of being the hardest read of all Hodgson's oeuvre.

VALUE? At one point we bought some of Hope Hodgson's family copies of his books including his own annotated copy of the "Boats of the 'Glen-Carrig' " with Hodgson's jottings to himself regarding references to the moon in the text + a few marginal notations and corrections throughout. Sold in 1998 and now worth rather more (deep pang of regret, a sigh and a curse) at the time they didn't sell with alacrity in the £3000 range. £3000 tends to be the high asking price now for unsigned very good clean Hodgsons, the price which gives the buyer serious pause; although sales are not unknown at this level. Underneath these prices there is a good but possibly narrow trade in his works, usually in lesser condition.

Most of Hodgson's works are not fiendishly scarce but they are uncommon and valuable in bright collectable condition. They have also gone into the hands of collectors who cannot be parted from them.

Signed material is now almost unknown, Hodgson died relatively young (40). In 1917, while serving in World War I as a forward observer near Ypres, he was tragically killed by German artillery. His 1908 novel House on the Borderland (praised by Lovecraft) is probably the most difficult to get in sharp condition. Iain Sinclair cites the intriguing combination of John Buchan and Thomas de Quincy as influences on this work; his 'Radon Daughters' revolves around a quest for the missing WHH manuscript of a sequel to 'Borderland.'

Dust jackest are not completely unknown - his 1914 novel 'Men of the Deep Waters' turned up wearing a slightly shabby jacket at Bonham's in 2002 and collected £1800. Most jackets, however, tend to be on earlyish reprints--see the Pavilion / Tartarus site , from where this image below comes (with many thanks).

After the 1913 book 3 more Carnacki offerings appeared - "The Haunted Jarvee" posthumously in 1929, and two more Carnacki stories, "The Find" and "The Hog," were published in 1947 by August Derleth.

12 March 2007

A Pair of Red Clogs. Masako Matsuno, 1960.

I feel it's time I did another children's book. For some collectors there is no other kind of book, you can forget 'Wealth of Nations' 'Paradise Lost' and 'Thunderball.' There was a time when I knew very little about it and then we bought huge tranches of books from the Frederick Warne archives and I learned quite a bit. Thrown in at the deep end. They kept all the Potter stuff ,by the way, except late Potters in funny languages (quite saleable.) I learned that the more childish the better, that people like shape books and moveables and alphabet teaching and cats and elephants, Red Indians and little Japanese girls in clogs...

Masako Matsuno. A PAIR OF RED CLOGS. World Publishing, Cleveland, 1960.

Current Selling Price
$180-$300 /£100-150 Want level 50 - 75 High

Illustrated by Kazue Mizumura. Poignant children's story of a little Japanese girl whose new clogs get cracked. These clogs known as 'geta' in Japan are in fact 'high risiing red lacquer sandals.' In trying to find another pair little Mako (for that is her name) 'almost does a dishonest thing.' This appears to be evaded when her grandmother tells her a story. Much sought after. I suspect 'boomers'. Ebay special.

VALUE? Not uncommon but often ex library. Children's books are especially undesirable in ex lib mode. With a book of useful or valuable info you can put up with a few stamps, labels, perforations and white numbers on the spine. Hard to find a decent non library first in jacket for much less than $170 and super ones up to $300. I will get round to Jellybeans for Breakfast and Lazy Liza Lizard when I can, watch this space!

11 March 2007

Letters from a Mourning City. Axel Munthe, 1887.

Axel Munthe. LETTERS FROM A MOURNING CITY. John Murray, London, 1887.

Current Selling Prices
$250-$400 /£120-£200 Want level 15 - 25 Quite High

8vo size blue original publisher's cloth. Munthe's experiences during the 1884 cholera epidemic in Naples. Munthe (1857-1949), a Swedish-born doctor, psychiatrist, and writer, studied at both the Universities of Uppsala and Montpelier.

Known for using hypnosis to combat both the physical as well as the psychological symptoms of his patients, his renown was such that he was eventually appointed physician to the Swedish Royal family. More importantly he lived on Capri and in 1929 wrote a massive international best seller about it 'The Story of San Michele.'

His Naples book 'Letters from a Mourning City' was his first book and he revised the translation to his liking in the second English edition in 1899, Some words from it are worth quoting in these jittery times: 'The present generation, which has already outgrown belief in God, laughs at all this
'superstition.' But I agree with the lazzaroni, and, although I am told that one can live in prosperity and health without God Almighty, I begin to understand that it becomes much more difficult to die without Him . . . I should like to get a deputation of newly-made atheists out here, and to take them with me on my rounds in the poor quarters where sorrow and misery live. I would show them the peace which Faith brings to the closing eyes of even these poor creatures whom one really might excuse for feeling no special depth of gratitude toward their Creator; I would show them how the crucifix over the bed can better soothe the agony of death than the morphine syringe of the Doctor.'
He often treated poorer patients without fee and was known to endanger his life in order to assist the dying and war wounded. He was also a tireless advocate of animal rights, purchasing land to create a bird sanctuary near his home in Italy, advocating bans on painful traps, and keeping pets as diverse as an owl, dogs, and a baboon.

He willed Villa San Michele to the Swedish nation, and it is maintained to this day by a Swedish foundation. Some info from the Wikiman, for which many thanks.

VALUE? I saw a decent copy sell at a fair to a dealer at £130 (less discount) and another copy at £200 that used to reside on the web has gone. One only remains, a fascinating but poorish copy annotated by the great man coming out of LA at $275. (From notes written in 9/06).That too has gone and the only one remaining at $675 with, as often happens at Amazon, hardly a notion of condition. This price is troppo. A kind of mystery how someone arrives at such a price - think of a number double it and add $50 for luck? The book isn't scarce but as Munthe's first book it will always have some caché.

10 March 2007

Moby Dick. Herman Melville, 1851.

"It was the whiteness of the whale that above all things appalled me. But how can I hope to explain myself here; and yet, in some dim, random way, explain myself I must, else all these chapters might be naught."

Herman Melville. MOBY DICK; OR, THE WHALE. Harper Brothers, NY, 1851.

Current Selling Prices
$20000+/ £12000+

A masterpiece. The greatest American novel (so far) and still read by schoolchildren although they now find it hard, I'm told. Admired by Jung, Van Doren, John Bonham, Malcolm Lowry and T.E. Lawrence among others. One of the few books that bucks the 'follow the flag' rules, the UK which precedes by 1 month - a 3 volume novel entitled 'The Whale'- is worth more than the single volume 1851 New York edition. The NY edition/ first state is in blue cloth and contains circa 35 passages expurgated from the UK ed.

Many of the 3000 copies of the US first were lost in a warehouse fire making the book scarcer than the print run would suggest, however even in his lifetime not all the remaining copies sold and Melville earned less than $600 for it. The novel was received glumly bringing him neither money or acclaim. When he died 40 years later there was only one obituary notice. Sic transit gloria mundi. [Want level 50 - 75 High}

VALUE? A mate in the trade found a copy of the 3 volume 'The Whale' at a book fair in the 1970s for 20 quid. Not wishing to alarm or alert the seller he demanded his 10% discount, paid and walked away with the book, now worth say 40 grand - an ex library copy has made over £30K. An inscribed copy to a shipmate with annotation by Melville made $60K in 1977 when the dollar was strong. If offered today it would probably go mental, postal, ballistic and through the roof. Regular copies of the US first are being offered as we speak at between $20K and $75K.

There is a good LEC 1943 edition illustrated and signed by Boardman Robinson that can go for about $500 in very nice state, also an Artist's Limited Edition (1975) signed by Jacques Cousteau and Leroy Neiman goes for about $700 and the famous 1930 Rockwell Kent illustrated edition from 1930. This manifests in an aircraft aluminum tin in 3 vols signed by Kent and can sell for north of $8000. Note the tin does not fare well and can affect the book, according to one witty seller it 'has a tendency to get knocked about and scratched and ends up looking likely a badly treated biscuit tin.'

The summum bonum of signed illustrated editions is the Arion Press 1979 edition with 100 wood engravings by Barry Moser (see below.) Only 250 for sale. It can breast $10000 in its sumptuous blue leather binding - the Grolier Club named it one of the 100 most beautiful books of the twentieth century.

[Note on the illustration above: The Voyage of the Pequod - was part of a calendar of literary maps printed by the Harris-Seybold Company of Cleveland in the 1950s to advertise the capabilities of the company's lithographic printing equipment. The Illustrator Everett Henry was a well-known New York commercial artist also noted for his mural paintings...]