RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS

20 September 2007

George Locke. A Spectrum of Fantasy. 1980 - 2002

George Locke. 1. A SPECTRUM OF FANTASY: THE BIBLIOGRAPHY AND BIOGRAPHY OF A COLLECTION OF FANTASTIC LITERATURE. 2. A SPECTRUM OF FANTASY VOLUME II... ACQUISITIONS TO A COLLECTION OF FANTASTIC LITERATURE, 1980-1993 TOGETHER WITH ADDITIONAL NOTES ON TITLES COVERED IN THE FIRST VOLUME. 3. A SPECTRUM OF FANTASY VOLUME III... ACQUISITIONS TO A COLLECTION OF FANTASTIC LITERATURE, 1994-2001 TOGETHER WITH ADDITIONAL NOTES ON TITLES COVERED IN THE FIRST TWO VOLUMES AND AN INDEX TO ALL THREE VOLUMES.
Ferret Fantasy; Privately Printed, Tooting, London. 1980, 1994, 2002.


Current Selling Prices
$180 /£90 per volume.


REFERENCE/ BIBLIOGRAPHY / FANTASY
A rich treasure house of info about fantasy fiction. A catalogue in three volumes (so far) of his own mindblowing collection. No mere list, a bizarre bazaar of weirdness--Locke often summarises the plot, saving readers many hours of tedium, and has fascinating anecdotal evidence of how he ran the book to earth. Prices paid were often modest by 2007 standards and go back to the old predecimal days- 7/6 etc., Currey (who has a fine set at a not outrageous $525) describes it thus:
"...An essential source for information on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century science fiction and fantasy literature, especially British publications. In the first volume, approximately 3100 books are described with full bibliographical particulars, including identification "points" for Locke's personal copies plus other editions, printings, issues and states where relevant. Locke provides notes indicating thematic content of each title, a valuable feature for collectors of "forgotten fantasy" as his collection includes many of uncommon and/or obscure early works not recorded elsewhere in such detail. Thematic emphasis of the collection is interplanetary fiction to 1914, future war fiction, lost race fiction, utopian literature, and supernatural fiction (the latter of special interest as Locke identifies fantasy tales published in single author collections of mixed stories)."




Many of the books described are signed or have letters or additional info loosely inserted - sometimes very revealing. You find out that the David Nutt published 1898 work 'The Man with Two Souls' by E.W. B. Nicholson was, in fact, paid for by the author. These are 4 short stories with the title story one of mesmerism and a man who comes to believe that his dead sweetheart's soul is cohabiting with his. A letter from the author in the book reveals that having had the book turned down by major publishers "...I issued it through Nutt on my own hook..." George then goes on to mount an excellent defence of vanity publishing, often sneered at, saying "...the deeper one goes into the subject...one finds that even fairly well known books were at least in part financed by their authors."

It is interesting to look up great fantasy rarities - most of which George has had. Vide possibly the greatest of all rarities of 20th century fantasy Chistopher Blayre's 'The Cheetah Girl" (1923, 20 copies only.) Referring to it as 'something of a Holy Grail for me' he eventually hears of one on a catalogue that has sold, but tracks down the buyer who admits that without George he wouldn't have heard of the book and sells it to him for £25 (1972?). A copy in the mid 1990s sold for £1600 at Sothebys. Blayre = Edward Heron Allen and the story is of the manufacture of a beautiful woman 'a hybrid between the human and the cheetah' - because the work had erotic elements it was deemed unpublishable in the 1920s. George had written about in his Christmas Annual and had doubts about revealing the existence of such a massive 'sleeper' - however as he recounts it he would not have found a copy if he hadn't made the book known. Tartarus have issued a reprint.

VALUE? I have all 3 beside me as I type, sitting next to Bleiler and Hubin. 2 of them appear to be limited editions and are signed, the first stating that it is one of 26 signed copies with 'Herlock's Own Mistake.' This is presumably a Sherlockian parody by GL but seems to have vanished. One of them, a signed subscriber's copy has a slip in it showing I paid a stonking £81 for the book new in 2002. These books were never cheap and it is hard to find them for less than a £100, even used copies. Condition, I find is less important with reference works. They could, of course, show up for 50p each at a muddy boot fair (some time in the far future...)

TRIVIA. Stuart Teitler, dealer, collector and scholar of old fantasy, especially lost race fiction is mentioned throughout George's works as a source of information and of books - as well as an American friend. I am indebted to fantasy buff and uber-runner Martin Stone for pointing out that Stuart is now to be found on YouTube tap-dancing (and with considerable aplomb.) Bookdealers are generally a cerebral bunch so it is good to see one with such elegant moves. Take it away Stuart:-

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