29 August 2007

Creative Illustration. Andrew Loomis, 1947.

Andrew Loomis, CREATIVE ILLUSTRATION. Viking, NY 1947.

Current Selling Prices
$250-$450 /£120-£220

From the blurb to later editions: 'Intended for the artist who wishes to make illustration a career, rather than for the early efforts of the beginner or for those who draw for a hobby, Creative Illustration is a real professional course in the subject, worth many times its price.' 300 pages divided into seven sections: Line, Tone and Color were the three introductory parts. Then 4 sections - Telling the Story, Creating Ideas, Fields of Illustration, and Experimenting and Studies. The Color section was in colour - not common in 1947. The book is filled with instructions, tips, insider experiences, and vivid illustrations.

One seller, who claims thah he has sold more art books by Loomis than anyone else says:' Every chapter, every page, every picture is prime information for the artist and Loomis manages to convey it clearly and concisely. Creative Illustration is a dynamite book!' Art students and designers used to bring Loomis books back from America years ago, more as a period piece or as kitsch and I had thought it passé but it's still going strong. In this Post Modern age no style ever seems to go out of fashion - somewhere people are still going crazy about Art Deco or Memphis or muttering about Wiener Werkstatte, so Loomis is still as wanted as he ever was.

VALUE? A copy sits at ebay right now as a BIN at $329 sans d/w. Copies on abebooks of the first in jacket at $400+. People selling 7th eds, no copies cheaper than £100 of any edition , one dealer has this sad note: 'Loomis' family are Quakers and would not allow his books to be reprinted after his premature death in 1959 because of depictions of the naked human body.' Odd because in UK Quakers are usually models of broadmindeness. [ W/Q ** ]

27 August 2007

Robert Frost. A Boy's Will. 1913.

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

(My November Guest / 1913)

Robert Frost. A BOY"S WILL. London: David Nutt 1913.

Current Selling Prices
$1000-$7500 /£500-£3800

The author's first book published in England where the 40 year old poet was living in a Bungalow at Beaconsfield. He had published an earlier work in 1894 called 'Twilight. Five Poems' in an edition of 2 copies one for his future bride, Elinor White, and one for himself. He destroyed his own copy. The remaining copy is at the University of Virginia. R B Russell ('First Edition Pricess 2006/7') helpfully values it at £35000. It would take a strange set of events for it to be offered for sale but RBR's estimate might be a tad cautious.

Frost is closely linked with the New England region, he attempted to catch 'the abstract vitality of our speech' in his poetry. However his first two collections were published in London - A Boy's Will (1913) and North of Boston (1914). He and his wife and children had moved to England in 1912 after he had been unable to make a living in a variety of occupations (including cobbling) or to find a publisher for his poems in America. Through his friendship with the Imagist poet F. S. Flint he made important contacts in London like Ezra Pound, Edward Thomas, T. E. Hulme and Georgian poets like Lascelles Abercrombie and Wilfrid Gibson --these were essential to Frost's publishing success. Books of poetry were usually reviewed by critics who know the author (then and now.)

When Ezra Pound's favourable review of A Boy's Will appeared in 'Poetry: A Magazine of Verse' in May of 1913, Frost reacted with mixed emotions. He knew that Pound's review would be crucial in influencing other critics in England, but he disagreed with Pound's assessment of his poetry as simple and untutored. Norman Douglas wrote, in a review, of his 'simple woodland philosopy' but there was a darker side to his poems, a combative and troubled spirit--Lionel Trilling famously called him 'a poet of terror' at a speech given on Frost's 85th birthday.

A Boy's Will is not especially scarce but there are 4 distinct states of the first London, David Nutt edition, and the first state has become hard to find and quite valuable. The 4 states are A. Bronze cloth (above). B. Cream coloured vellum paper covered boards stamped in red. C. Cream coloured linen paper wraps, stamped in black and 8 petalled flowers. D. Cream coloured linen paper wraps, stamped in black and 4 petalled flowers. There is also a signed limited edition of 135 in cream wraps. As so often with 'points' it comes down to minutiae like the number of petals on a flower. After releasing fewer than 350 copies, the book's publisher, David Nutt, went into bankruptcy after the First World War and the remaining unbound sheets were acquired by Simpkin Marshall & Co. In 1923, most of the sheets and some bound copies were purchased by Dunster House Bookshop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Those copies bound in binding variant D were thought to have been sold by Dunster House and tend to show up in the United States.

VALUE? A fine first state copy inscribed to Eleanor Farjeon is currently on the market at $30K possibly the kind of price it takes to stop it selling entirely. Eleanor Farjeon was a close friend of Edward Thomas who Frost described as 'my only brother' and it is a fine association of which much can be made. Mostly Frost prices seem to have flatlined a little since the 1990s. At the Drapkin sale where many prices went radio rental (mainly on account of the finely wrought boxes) the desirable one of 135 signed in an elaborate quarter morocco folding case with onlaid cloth and leather design made $1920, the kind of price it had been making 20 years earlier. A perusal of terrestrial auction records shows an above average number of 'buy-ins'- but poetry has always been a hard sell. Signed copies are not at all scarce but attract the highest prices--in 2001 a copy in the A binding (lower cover cockled at top outer corner) inscribed to Marie A. Hodge made £8K (then $12000.) There are usually plenty at ABE to get a fix on prices but remember they are the ones that haven't sold. [ W/Q * ]

TRIVIA. Frost was keen on all the fruits of his late fame including the honour of reading at Kennedy's inauguration--of this Edmund Wilson bitchily remarked - 'He seems to have taken up residence in Washington and is all over the place, full of faking and self - satisfaction. He wanted us to know he was a shrewd old boy - though obviously eating up the the honors being paid him by the President...'

Too many awards, gongs and sashes are unsuitable for writers and poets. The classic case is the unsaleable French writer Andre Maurois who could hardly move for medals and our own tuft hunter Stephen Spender. Donald Hall weighs in- 'For him, as he liked to say, there was room for only one at the top of the steeple: he demanded to be the only one. He was jealous of all other poets.' These quotes are from the excellent 'Bedside Book of Bigheads', my new bible. To be fair however, Frost, one of the greatest American poets, was a mere novice among writers when it comes to conceit.

24 August 2007

Lingering Contrails of the Big Square

"No man can say how far it is to the top of the sky. But those who have fought the enemy in the blue upper levels where the vapor trails form, and where the mist between life and death is thin, believe that men like Castle fly on at that high altitude from which none return to earth." Harry Slater on Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle.

Harry E. Slater. LINGERING CONTRAILS OF THE BIG SQUARE A. A HISTORY OF THE 94TH BOMB GROUP (H).1942-1945. Carley Publishing, Tennessee 1980.

Current Prices

Much wanted by veteran campaigners (and their families) in USA and also in East Anglia (UK). Living in Suffolk as I do, I was asked for a copy by my postman and then again by a guy who came to fix the roof. Quite a poetic title for a military book. Mission by mission account by US pilot who was there. According to the one Amazon review (by a 94th veteran) I believe it is the best acount of a Bomb Group I've read and I've read many...' Amazon have no copies by the way. Mainly concerns the B17 bombers flown on audacious missions over Germany by the 94th a USAF group based at Rougham, Suffolk in WW2.

VALUE? I actually got a copy for one of these chaps and it cost a hefty $120 about 5 years ago. Since then the book has gone to ground and I suspect it is now worth more than twice that. No copies seen on ebay or the megabook malls. As I recall it's a large format paperback, not thin and well illustrated. Carley the publishers are probably a printer who took on the book, they appear to have published nothing else. The other wanted book in the WW2 ' Yanks in East Anglia' category was 'The Yoxford Boys' about the 357th group also based in Suffolk: the original Aero 1971 edition has been revised and reprinted in 2004 and prices have plummeted. [ W/Q *** ]

STOP PRESS. So unfindable is this work that an internet con man has stepped forward to offer non existent copies and pocket the money. I found this at a book discussion site:- 'Do not buy anyhing offered for sale by Daniel T----. He is a fraud. I negotiated the purchase of "Lingering Contrails of the Big Square " with him in December. After sending the payment and getting verification that he had picked it up, I heard nothing more from him. Let this be a warning to anyone dealing with this thief. Bil W---.' Someone else paid this lowly web grifter 'good money' for the book and never received it. Presumably this is going on with other hard to find the books, if the desire is strong enough a trickster is born to rip readers off. These people are worse than relisters, neither of them have the book but the relister will at least try to locate a copy and (if they want to keep relisting) will refund the money when they fail. Please post any other instances of this kind of scam in our comments field.

22 August 2007

Guy Berkeley Breathed. Academia Waltz.

Breathed's book is a bit of an ebay special, people see it making good money there and then dig out there old copy nestling between Stephen Hawking and the Jane Fonda Work Out book. Academia Waltz is one for Pulitzer collectors....

Berke Breathed. (Guy Berkeley Breathed.) ACADEMIA WALTZ. Sterling Swift, Boston 1979.

Cartoons. Pulitzer (pronounced Pull- it- sir) prize winning cartoonist (1987) syndicated in 1200 US papers. His first regularly published strip was The Academia Waltz, which appeared in the Daily Texan in 1978. The strip attracted the notice of the editors of the Washington Post, who recruited him to do a nationally syndicated strip. On December 8, 1980, Bloom County made its debut and featured some of the characters from Academia Waltz, including former frat-boy Steve Dallas and the paraplegic Vietnam war veteran Cutter John (see inscribed copy below.) Big animals rights man, zany name, rhymes with 'method.' He illustrated the cover of PETA's* "Compassionate Cookbook," their T-shirts, and other merchandise. This is his first book and was published while he was at University of Texas. The Bantam Hall 1980 follow up 'Academia Waltz Bowing Out' is equally valuable and harder to find.

Current Selling Prices
$300-$750 / £160-£360

VALUE? Quite hard to find, seldom encountered etc., Often shows up creased cos it's an oblong art book size paperback. Copies on ABE etc., at $300 to $900 (relister, had it since 1997---Stop Press AUG 07, now seems to have taken it down-only 2 $700 copies left and one poorish $300 one stained with coffee) A copy sold in 08/06 bit creased but inscribed on ebay at $500. Last week a worn but acceptable copy went through at $230. Possibly un peu vieux chapeau and may be falling gracefully in price. Rumours of reprints etc. Kind of book you want to find for $30 in a shop where they routinely overprice everything and think that will cover any mistakes. Trouble is those kind of shops now look everything up, price from the highest copy and if it's not there put it away in a darkened room until someone put's one up. I love those guys. [ W/Q ***]

*People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

19 August 2007

Thomas Pynchon. The Crying of Lot 49. (1966)

Having no apparatus except gut fear and female cunning to examine this formless magic, to understand how it works, how to measure its field strength, count its lines of force, she may fall back on superstition, or take up a useful hobby like embroidery, or go mad, or marry a disc jockey. If the tower is everywhere and the knight of deliverance no proof against its magic, what else?
--The Crying of Lot 49, Chapter 1

Thomas Pynchon. THE CRYING OF LOT 49. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1966.

Current Selling Prices
$650-$1000 /£320-£500

Short landmark American post modern work by cult hero Pynchon. It is his easiest work to get on with and at 180 pages if you don't like it you haven't wasted much time. He is famously reclusive and camera shy (possibly because of his buck teeth - he thinks he looks like Bug's Bunny). However he sits on a different side of the fence to the equally fugitive Salinger in the matter of plagiarism (see below.)

First editions of 'The Crying of Lot 49' looks like this -'Quarter-bound in yellow cloth over gray boards, with buff brown endpapers, black lettering to the spine, and three horns blind-stamped on the front board. Top edge dyed black. 183 p.p. plus (4) blank endpapers.' The seemingly lachrymose title refers to a late part of the book where the heroine Oedipa attends an auction, to bid on a set of a rare postage stamps, which she believes representatives of Tristero are trying to acquire. (Auction items are called "lots"; a lot is "cried" when the auctioneer is taking bids on it; the stamps in question are "Lot 49".) Tristero is a shadowy organization, their symbol a muted post horn (that's it on the cover of the book.)

Pynchon was a pupil of Nabokov at Cornell and in referencing aspects of popular culture (in particular Californiana) within the book he incorporates several allusions to Lolita. Nabokov could be seen as the 'miglior fabbro.' At Cornell Pynchon is said to have risen every day at 1PM and enjoyed the classic slacker's breakfast of Spaghetti and soda before studying, reading and researching until 3AM.

VALUE? Several booksellers call it 'increasingly scarce' but there are about 40 reasonable copies currently for sale about 10 fine in fine, possibly a year ago there were many more - certainly Pynchonmania shows no signs of abating. Fine copies are hard to find for less than $600, the 1967 UK Cape edition £200. A copy signed for a fund raiser at his son's school is currently on the web at $50K - in the dot com boom it would have gone like snow off a dike but with the markets in turmoil and the glory days over in the valley it may take a while. [ W/Q ** ]

I was prompted to do this Pynchon entry by reading of a semaphore version of the book that has been broadcast across mighty San Jose by artist Ben Rubin on the top floor of Adobe HQ. This is covered at the excellent Book Patrol - a cool book blog emanating from central Seattle. Ben Rubin's San Jose Semaphore is a "multi-sensory kinetic artwork that illuminates the San Jose skyline with the transmission of a coded message" - it was only after 3 weeks of 247 transmission that someone cracked the code and worked out they were doing 'The Crying of Lot 49.' Rubin explained:

Pynchon's setting is a fictional California city filled with high-tech industrial parks and the kind of engineering sub-culture that we now associate with the Silicon Valley. The book follows the heroine's discovery of latent symbols and codes embedded in this landscape and in the local culture. Is there a message here, she wonders, and what are these symbols trying to tell me? At its heart, San Jose Semaphore is an expression of what Pynchon calls "an intent to communicate."

It is kind of inevitable that they chose a Pynchon book-- he is a bankable and known name in the post literate computer community in the valley. They could have done Beowulf , the earliest Eng Lit or possibly something from the age of semaphore - Conan Doyle's 'The Sign of Four' would be appropriate.

Silly question-- should a bibliographer note that there was a semaphore version? Also should a bibliographer note the many Pynchon blurbs? There are several collections of them online. He must get a 100 review copies a day and occasionally gives a book the two thumbs up--ex book runner David Attoe's harrowing 1986 novel 'Lion at the Door' got this from the great man: '...In a quietly passionate voice that speaks to our hearts, David Attoe has brilliantly, honorably imagined himself into lives whose truths we recognize, lives otherwise only lost, and with his eloquent care, rescued them from the silence.' He was, reportedly, chuffed.

TRIVIA. Ian McEwan, a writer not in Pynchon's class, has been under fire for copying several details from the memoirs of a wartime nurse in London for his Booker-nominated novel, Atonement. Part of this whole debate about plagiarism. Pynchon and many other writers including the genius Martin Amis came to his rescue with letters to London's 'Daily Telegraph.' Part of TP's letter is shown below.

In 1996, Pynchon crossed genre lines and wrote the liner notes for "Nobody's Cool," an album by New York indie rockers Lotion. Two years earlier he wrote the liner notes for "Spiked," a Spike Jones compilation

Spending time in Santa Cruz, California I have picked up rumours of Pynchon. It's only 30 miles from San Jose. He is said to phone in to a local Blues radio sation with requests. At the post office there is a talk of a post man who delivers letters to him at a seaside property on the edge of town.

16 August 2007

Two biographies of the late, great Robert Shaw

John French. Robert Shaw: The Price of Success. Nick Hern Books, London 1993. ISBN 1854591266

Current Selling Prices
$250-$400 /£120-£200

Karen Carmean. Robert Shaw: More Than a Life. Madison Books, NY 1994 ISBN 1568330219

Current Selling Prices
$150-$200 /£70-£150

2 bios of Robert Shaw - both substantial, both hard to find and both expensive. It would be a good morning's work to find them side by side in an Oxfam shop, almost impossible because they look everything up on the web, so say Shelter or St Vincent de Paul. Robert Shaw (August 9, 1927 – August 28, 1978) was an English stage and film actor, playwright and novelist. He still has a worldwide following, but he is mostly remembered for his role as Quint, the shark-obsessed fisherman in 'Jaws' and as the ruthless mobster Doyle Lonnegan in The Sting (1973). He was in Bond films, Robert Bolt costume films and played the coolly efficient heist mastermind/former mercenary Bernard Ryder aka "Mr. Blue" in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974). He had a commanding, slightly sinister screen presence and was part of that hard living, rowdy crowd of Brit actors from the 1960s. (Richard Harris, Oliver Read, Richard Burton - all gone, sadly - hellraisers seldom collect their bus passes.) He also wrote novels which in the seventies had a sort of currency as 'modern first editions' but are now hard to sell and not valuable. None are worth as much as the books on him.

There are many tributes to Shaw on the net, at Amazon I found this from a 20 year old Dutch girl:
"...I have a private archief from this unique person and I dream about him and think most of the time how sweet he was for childeren.
Mr Shaw is deep in my heart because I discover his live and read this colourful biographie and I will thank Garmean and Gaston for this great great great book, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Fossicking about on net I found a Shaw site with letters from fans saying how they missed him - many remember crying when he died. One intriguing note read -'My sister, Liz and I just had a look at your web page and thought it was great. We loved all the photographs and comments. Good job. By the way, we're actually his (Robert Shaw's) daughters and don't get the John French book as it's full of lies. Hannah.' These were 2 of Shaw's 10 children, 3 of which he had with the beuatiful Mary Ure. It does seem that the Carmean bio is preferred but the French bio is much more difficult to find.

VALUE? The Carmean bio can be found for £60 to £100 in decent shape. Currently on the web there are only 2 copies of the French bio - an unpleasant ex lib copy at $90 and another at $450 from a chap who cannot give condition, a relister working out of Hialeah FLA. Presumably if you were unfortunate enough to order from the guy you would get the $90 ex lib copy. His feedback on Amazon often speaks of great delays in the provision of books.

A perfectly legal, although slightly shameful, way of making a living. Caveat Emptor. Before parting with large sums of money always check mega book malls like Addall.com , ViaLibri or Bookfinder - the seller with the inflated price is often going to buy the cheaper copy and sell it to you at four or five times the price. Some modest relisters are content merely to treble up. [ W/Q ** ]

14 August 2007

The Incredible BookMan

Today's entry is a fairly unashamed piece of self promotion. We sell BookMan through our shop website. The BookMan is a bookshelf in the shape of a man and is a highly decorative piece of furniture as well as a sculpture. Designed by East Anglian artist and craftsman Kazmierz Szmauz who also designed the CDMan, the DVDMan and VideoMan. However, as booksellers we regard BookMan as his highest achievement. The BookMan holds about 100 books and looks most splendid when they are leatherbound books. Getting the right books is an interesting exercise, the smaller books are more difficult to find-with my own model (above) I occasionally change them around. They can look good with cloth books also, and I have seen one entirely filled with Pan paperbacks - a great piece.

BookMan 1 measures 70 inches high by 45 inches wide and is made from pine, although other woods can be used. Shelves are best adapted to books beneath 8 inches in height. Sometimes seen out of the corner of the eye they seem real, something to do with them being pretty much the same size as a grown man. We had some emails once from someone who objected to BookMan standing on books--they said it was irreverent. I pointed out that he was not standing on the books but resting his feet on them.

Each BookMan is individually built on demand and signed by the artist - BookMan 1 is £1200 - shipping can be expensive but not prohibitive. BookMan has been featured in French and Italian style magazines and we were even contacted by a fashion magazine in China wanting high definition photos which they presumably published.

13 August 2007

Bobby Jones. Down the Fairway (1927) “The best book about golf ever written.”

Bobby T. Jones (& O.B. Keeler.) DOWN THE FAIRWAY. THE GOLF LIFE AND PLAY OF ROBERT T.JONES JNR. Minton & Balch, N. Y. 1927.

Current Selling Prices
$1200-$2000 /£600-£1000

Limited edition (300) $10,000.

A stirring autobiography by the greatest golfer of the 20th Century and possibly of all time. Jones wrote 'Down the Fairway' after his pair of victories (as an amateur) in the 1926 British and U.S. Open Championships. It was an accomplishment previously unachieved and at 24 he felt he was at the peak of his game and his career. He retired at 28 in 1930 after winning the Grand Slam - all four major UK and USA championships in one year. Tiger Woods is the only other golfer to do this and is shaping up to be an even bigger legend. Jones was playing with low tech clubs (and balls) but still achieved remarkably long drives (over 300 yards) - he can be seen playing a hole with Woody Allen in 'Zelig.'

It is said he never took a lesson and stored his clubs most winters, nevertheless he became the only individual ever to receive two New York City tickertape parades. At the 1925 U.S. Open in Worcester, Massachusetts, Jones's ball moved in the long grass on the steep bank by the eleventh green as he addressed it; he insisted, over official objections, on adding a penalty stroke to his score. When praised for his honesty, he retorted, "You might as well praise me for not breaking into banks. There is only one way to play this game." Because of this penalty he lost the game by one stroke.

This incident is highlighted in 'The Legend of Bagger Vance' where the fallen hero Junah does the same thing in a play off with Jones and Hagen. This book, part of a mystical trend in golf writing, is based on the Bhagavad Gita with the caddy/ guru Bagger as Bhagavan/ Lord Krishna and Junah as Arjuna and the golf course the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Not to be outdone Deepak Chopra put out a golf book 'Golf for Enlightenment: The Seven Lessons for the Game of Life'- fine jacketed firsts can be still had for $4.

Jones was a hotheaded perfectionist who once, after missing an easy shot, took a full pitcher's windup and threw his ball into the woods, and another time chucked his putter (nicknamed "Calamity Jane") over the heads of the gallery and into the trees. The influence of O.B. "Pop" Keeler, an Atlanta sportswriter some call the first sports psychologist, helped settle him down. The older man became a mentor, friend, confidant, and publicist for Jones, traveling 150,000 miles with him and witnessing all 13 of his major championships. Keeler is the guiding hand in Jones's classic book. These days they might say 'as told to O.B. Keeler' but Jones was not some thick footballer, he had trained as a lawyer and studied English at Harvard and was an admirer of Cicero. Of the great Roman orator he wrote: "I remember also envying Cicero because he evidently thought so well of himself... If only I thought as much of my golfing ability as Cicero thought of his statesmanship, I might do better in these blamed tournaments."

VALUE? The big money with this book is for the signed edition from Minton & Balch which was limited to 300 copies. It is signed by Jones and Keeler. It has made as much as $14000 in auction (2005) and there are several on ABE at above $10,000. A copy sold last month at auction at PBA for $9000 in a lacklustre sale. Apparently golf collecting (clubs, balls, memorabilia, books) is not what it used to be and may have peaked. Good books still make hefty prices but the glory days have faded for the moment. Observers of the scene are waiting for 'the finest golfiana sale in recent memory' - the sale of the collection of Jeffery B. Ellis in NY Septemer 27/ 28. If this makes good money ($4million +) things may revive. It seems that there are too many golf libraries appearing in auction as collectors die, need to raise money or lose interest. There may be too much Golfiana for the punters to absorb and it is possible that new collectors are not being created in sufficient numbers.

STOP PRESS The Jeffery B. Ellis collection, mostly rare golf clubs, made a useful but not priapic $2.1 million including premium, about half what was expected with some biggish buy-ins. There don't appear to have been many books. By no means a tragedy bu a little below par. Ellis is the autor of the authoritative ' The Clubmaker's Art' and also something of a dealer in clubs. This may explain the sale's failure to ignite--collectors (and dealers) prefer to buy at the dispersal of private collections, preferably with the owner safely departed to that great golf links in the sky.

11 August 2007

Falls the Shadow. Mark Timlin. 1995.

Mark Timlin. FALLS THE SHADOW. Headline, London, 1995.

Current Selling Prices
$200 -$320 /£100-£160

South London Noir featuring the footloose Sharman. Absolutely unfindable. A paperback--I am not sure that a hardback was issued. Mark Timlin, a prolific many -named writer has been at it for 20 years and produced over 30 books. Other names include Johnny Angelo (Groupies 1&2), Jim Ballantyne, Tony Williams, Martin Milk and Holly Delatour. He is best known for his Nick Sharman thrillers (pic below) of which the Arena critic said: ' "Full of cars, girls, guns, strung out along the high sierras of Brixton and Battersea, the Elephant and the North Peckham Estate, all those jewels in the crown they call Sarf London." Loaded called him 'Well fucking hard.' I say this book is well hard to find but of course could be reprinted. The title is possibly from well hard poet TS Eliot's 'The Hollow Men': 'Between the idea/ And the reality / Between the motion/And the act/Falls the Shadow...' Timlin used to work in the rock and roll industry as a roadie for T-Rex and The Who and occasionally uses the rock world as a background. The charismatic Clive Owen played his tec Sharman in a TV series in 1996. The plot is summed up on a Sharman website thus:
'...Sharman has decided to knock being a barman on the head... He manages to get his office back, redecorated and decides to start up the PI business again. He is first job is to find a missing dog, not to hard but this is Sharman. He is also hired by Sunset Radio to find out who is sending turds to one of their presenters. Prime suspect is Sector 88, a gang of Nazis. The presenter Peter Day is also getting calls from a bloke called John, now is he just an obsessive fan? Chas makes an appearance in this one. This is one of best of the books, and for once Sharman solves the case by detecting rather than by asking questions and waiting to see who slaps him first.

VALUE? Not really known but Timlin, so far, is more read than collected and his highest prices are only up to about 60 quid. However a book as difficult as this could double that. A reissue could mean all bets are off. [ W/Q *** ]

STOP PRESS. The entry above was written in March 2007, since then a slightly lousy paperback copy has turned up on Amazon UK at a gouging £300, described thus: '... Rare copy of this title. An ex-library copy so contains stickers on inside back cover and one of pre-story pages. Apart from this in excellent condition.' In my opinion an ex library copy of a paperback is always very nasty and can never be called 'excellent' except in the callow patter of an amateur bookseller (('pre-story' - what's that all about?.) However the price gives the book a marker and a decent copy would probably now sell against it at £150 (it's a paperback) close to my original guesstimate. Rave on.

08 August 2007

On the Road. Jack Kerouac, 1957.

'The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.' (On the Road, 1957)

Jack Kerouac. ON THE ROAD. Viking, New York, 1957.

Current Selling Prices
$4000 - $8000 /£2000-£4000

Beatnik road novel, something of a cult, now collected by highspot fanciers and regularly traded on ebay sometimes with amusing descriptions like:
" Very nice copy of this rare TRUE 1st printing from one of Americas greatest writers! Book and jacket look terrific; with brilliant ink colors... A wonderful gem for any collection! One of the nicest FIRST EDITION books in the world!"
The great hip beat bible now reduced to --'One of the nicest books in the world!' Sic transit gloria mundi.

Kerouac said that the book was written for his second wife "to tell her what I'd been through... It's directed toward a woman. It's sexy because it's addressed to a woman." Kerouac started as a handsome heroic figure, King of the Beats and the heir to Walt Whitman but became an anti - communist homophobe and ended up a rather scary alcoholic redneck and fan of the Ku Klux Klan. He wrote 'On the Road' in 3 benzedrine fuelled weeks typing uninterrupted on to 12 foot rolls of paper. 119 feet in all. These rolls turned up in Christies' in 2001 and went to Indianapolis Colts owner James Irsay for $2.4 million. Capote famously remarked of his work - 'this is typing, not writing...'

VALUE? A very desirable book signed, especially if signed to someone close or important. At the 2002 Rechler sale a copy inscribed to Joyce Johnson with an autograph letter made $160K, another copy inscribed to William Targ in 2004 made $55K (d/w was rubbed, as is common with this book.) Lesser signed copies around $20K,but they are uncommon- he never did bookshop signings and when the book was a hit was so overwhelmed by the publicity that he went into self-imposed exile with his mother.

7500 copies printed so not scarce, but pretty hard to find a sharp copy for less than $5K, a cheap price for instant hipsterdom. Sometimes seen in fancy leather bindings which seem some how inappropriate for a beat book, next they'll be binding 'Steal This Book.' The etymology of 'beat' is anyone's game but it seems to combine the idea of 'beat' as in defeated, fatigued, surrendered, and 'beatific' or 'beatitude' with the rhythmic 'beat' of music. It still sells 100,000 copies a year and must be the ultimate backpacker classic. A movie has been on the cards for a while, possibly to be shot by Coppola, maybe with Johnny Depp. As I recall at one point in the nineties Depp bought Kerouac's raincoat for $20K. [ W/Q ** ]

ADDENDUM. We first posted this in April 07, but have renewed it due to the brouhaha that is starting about the unexpurgated straight fom the roll edition coming out in September + the news that Russell Brand is doing a TV series where he tours America in JK's footsteps. As 'Hello Magazine' put it:
"Once voted Shagger of the Year by readers of The Sun, Russell Brand is looking to gain some intellectual kudos with his new programme for the BBC. The crazy-haired, make-up wearing lothario is going to take to the roads of America with his Radio 2 colleague, Matt Morgan, as homage to the great beatnik writer Jack Kerouac. Kerouac’s classic On The Road celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and so as a huge fan of the work, Brand will retrace Kerouac’s journey.

So what can viewers expect? “We're going to meet some of the surviving beat poets; we'll go to places of significance, take long car journeys and, you know, just hang out," says Brand. "I'm a fan of Kerouac – not in a thorough and academic way, more inspired by the idea of Kerouac and the style and what he represents...(we) are going to re-create Cassady and Kerouac's adventures.”

Kerouac in his later years became a serious drunk and died aged 47 from cirrhosis of the liver. It is said that he used, whilst 'off his face', to visit local bordellos and pay hookers to read from his works while he whacked off. It has the ring of truth. As mentioned Kerouac became very reactionary and patriotic - many of his collectors are in no way wiggy old beats, but include Hollywood actors, entrepreneurs, bland corporate types or even crazy completists who hunt down every offprint and salesman's dummy. Beats, beatniks and hipsters (now in their dotage) occasionally turn up at Shakespeare and Co in Paris so I have been able to observe them at first hand - they are generally a tiresome, unenlightened and self centred bunch. Gary Snyder and the Brit Alan Watts excepted.

Kerouac prices are steady but not on the rise; recent auction records have been unimpressive. Today's youth, although they like the idea of the man and the book, if actually forced to read the stuff are said to find it it old fashioned, gushing and embarrassing. The book is being turned into a Hollywood film, scripted by Roman Coppola, son of Francis Ford, and directed by Walter Salles who made The Motorcyle Diaries, the story of Che Guevara's road trip across South America. Kirsten Dunst will star as Carolyn Cassady. It is slated for 2009--movies seldom improve book prices but with this, the 50th anniversary and the Russell Brand trip, the improbable scenario is that 'On the Road' becomes a sort of 'Ulysses' for Generation X and prices go 'radio rental.'

Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense..."

J. K. Rowling. HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE. Bloomsbury, London 1997. ISBN 0747532699

Current Selling Prices
$20000+ / £10000+

SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM (Blue bit) for how to value a copy.

A publishing wonder and a book that made reading books OK again amongst kids. For that reason alone JK is a Goddess. Hallowed be her name. It also made her about ten times richer than Madonna. Madonna retaliated by writing her own forgettable children's books. The whole Potter collecting euphoria took off around one trendy Brit dealer on ebay who had sagaciously stockpiled a few boxes of Rowling and a fat packet of genuine Rowling signed Bloomsbury bookplates and started achieving startling results just post millennium. When a Philosopher's Stone hit $15K+, everybody piled in to buy, sell and bid. Issued in illustrated laminated boards and it has no d/w, states first edition and must have 10987654321 on verso of title. Publisher has stated that only 500 were printed and many of those went to libraries, so it is always going to be a difficult book to find and will be collected until Kingdom Come.

I was offered a signed copy of this a few years ago and negotiated a fattish sum for it; however the deal fell through when the sellers father bought the book - to keep it in the family. Kind of frustrating. The chap selling used the money for a deposit on a flat. He had worked in a new bookshop. It turned out many copies of this book came from bookshop workers who had kept copies seeing the incipient phenomenom at first hand. One wily dealer even started advertising for the book in 'The Bookseller' - the organ of the new book trade. Another tiresome one was a jolly chap with a host of signed copies presented to him. He wanted to buy a house with the money. Have you seen house prices recently in this benighted island?

VALUE? Once the book started to get established 5 figure sterling results up market dealers began dealing the book and it appeared at book fairs on the same shelf as firsts of Utopia and Moby Dick. A dealer in LA bought a copy for £18000 in auction 2003, possibly for some star's offspring and in 2004 a copy made nearly £19000 at Bloomsbury Auctions. It hasn't really gone on at all since then and may have flatlined, or even dropped a few percentage points. However every time a new HP appears prices tend to perk up. The US edition ('Sorcerer's Stone') can fetch about $1500 or more (correct number line on copyright page of "1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 8 9/9 0/0 01 02," followed by "Printed in the U.S.A.23" and "First American edition, October 1998", the cloth binding has purple diamond embossed boards and a red spine, "Harry Potter" appears in raised gold lettering on the front panel of jacket; jacket has price of $16.95 on upper corner of the front flap; the numbers "51695" are found above the smaller barcode to the right side.) The first UK paperback is a nice thing to find - with dealers asking £2K+. It is exactly the same as the first hardback just bound up with paper covers. I need hardly add the caveat, don't buy signed Rowlings without provenance (a badly printed certificate of authentication is no good) fakes abound. (Jan/07) [ W/Q *** ]

STOP PRESS. Bloomsbury, the great book auction house in Mayfair just had a bit of a result with a classy signed Rowling -- I quote their publicity release:-
Bloomsbury Auctions set another world record

At the sale on the 24 May 2007, Bloomsbury Auctions set another record with a signed first edition of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Intense bidding in the room and on the telephone pushed the final price to a staggering £27,370 (inc. premium).

The lucky recipient was a private overseas buyer who has obtained a unique presentation copy inscribed 'To David - with best wishes JK Rowling' with the 1 on the number line circled with an additional identification indicating 1st Edition. This was a fantastic result for Bloomsbury and shows that the popularity of the young wizard continues.

More 2007 Results. I can find 3 copies in this sad year of the last Rowling/ Potter- in chronological order at Bloomsbury in April a copy described thus- "... first edition , very light minor browning to the extreme margins, no inscriptions, original boards, very slightly cocked, slightly bumped at upper corners and spine ends, small abrasions to corners near head of spine, light abrading to the thin surface laminate at fore-edge of lower cover, otherwise a very good copy..." made £12495

At Dominic Winter a copy described thus "...a few leaves faintly creased to top outer corner, ms. ownership name to front free endpaper, orig. pictorial boards, sl. rubbed at corners and spine ends..." made £8460

At Bonham's a copy described thus -"... first edition, ownership label inside upper cover, publisher's pictorial boards, slightly rubbed at extremities..." made £9000.

Go figure, but bear in mind these are not books many people are sitting on -every major Children's sale has one. On the other hand there are a finite number out there, condition is king and hope spring's eternal. As for finding one remember the words of Cadillac Jack 'anything can be anywhere' - one turned up at a little bookshop attached to a stately home. Because it was a hardback it was a £1.


Caveat Emptor! AUSTRALIAN FIRST EDITIONS ARE OF MODEST VALUE AND QUITE COMMON. If Australia is mentioned on back of title page as place of printing do not book a holiday in the Bahamas! Canada is also bad news.American editions are worth significantly less than UK ones.CHECK ABEBOOKS.COM

Last thing--you have to have 10987654321 to get lift off with this book and the date 1997 and no later date, a dust jacket is impossible because it didn't have one and don't neglect first edition 10987654321 paperbacks from 1997 - they too are valuable.

For Current Values - CHECK ABEBOOKS.COM All questions are answered there -type Rowling in the author field, type Stone in the title field, type Bloomsbury in publisher field, then choose highest price, hit search and from the results work down from there. The prices at the very top are generally excessive, over the top and way too much.

Generally speaking anything after a fourth edition is very mediocre, fourth and third are modestly worthwhile and occasionally some punter on ebay pays too much for one but you need 10987654321 or at least 1098765432 and it must be 1997 and not Australian or Canadian. See also all the comments below which answer every edition question in the known universe.

06 August 2007

P.H. Emerson. Marsh Leaves. 1895

P.H. Emerson. MARSH LEAVES. David Nutt, London, 1895.

Current Selling Prices
$4000-$8000 /£2000-£4000

As I live in East Anglia and occasionally scout the remaining bookshops I am always on the lookout for photobooks by P.H. Emerson (1856 - 1935). He is something of a local hero and his 'bootiful' photos of the Norfolk broads in the Victorian era are still well known in the area and often exhibited. They even had a show at the Getty in Malibu recently.

I have turned up about half a dozen of his books in 20 years (not all in Norfolk and Suffolk) and only one was asleep (i.e. not priced by someone who knew what it was.) Three of them have been 'Marsh Leaves'. I described the last one that came through (2005) thus:
"Large tall 8vo. (11.25 inches x 7. 50 inches). pp vi, [2] 165.Original publisher's decorative light blue cloth. Illustrated with 'sixteen photo-etchings from plates taken by the author.' Major photobook with 60 short prose pieces and 16 photos both by Emerson, as Martin Parr says 'as a fusion of text and imagery it is entirely successful.' Covers somewhat worn and soiled with some staining at front top and corner, spine browned and a little mottled, spine ends sl frayed; sound vg- with clean text and photos in excellent state. It is said 300 copies were printed."
It sold quite quickly to the States at £1600. Our copy was a variant, the copy above with leather spine and white decorated boards is preferred. The book, and several other Emersons, is covered by the magisterial Martin Parr in 'The Photobook: A History 1.' He writes of Emerson's affinity with Whistler:
"...the mood, if anything is much bleaker than Whistler's. 'The expression of a landscape is as mutable and as fleeting as the flash in a woman's eye,' Emerson writes in the book's text, but it is a cold and distant woman indeed that he embraces in Marsh Leaves. Most of the images are minimalist to the point of nothingness - a distant tree or boat, the smudge of a distant shoreline...most were taken during winter or on damp, misty mornings. It is one of the most beautiful books about isolation and solitude, perhaps death, ever made, and Emerson's spare evocative pictures were seldom equalled by the later Pictorialists.'

VALUE? A copy in used condition sold for £1950 at Key's auctions (Norfolk) last year, a framed up set of the 16 photos made $14000 in California and at photo-mad auction house Swann Galleries in NY an impressive $19,200 was achieved this year, for a vellum copy described thus:
"...Illustrated with 16 photogravures after Emerson's atmospheric and proto-modernist photographs, with the original printed tissue guards. Tall 4to, morocco-backed pictorial cloth, rebacked; offsetting and discoloring on free endpaper, small gouge on rear pastedown; bookplate. deluxe edition, one of 50 copies on japanese vellum of a planned edition of 100."

Basically decent regular copies now command north of $5000, special copies $10K+. An inscribed 'Marsh Leaves' made $2000 in 1977 during the first boom in photo books. Condition is paramount and they are seldom limpid. I swapped a decent one with the late, much missed David Ferrow of Yarmouth for a car full of books in the mid 1990s, about two grand's worth. He had customers waiting - said to be well off Norfolk farmers.

Top price for any Emerson is this year at Swann - $84,000 for his 1886 'Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads' - 'Illustrated with Forty Beautiful Plates from Nature Executed in Platinotype.' It was helped by being one of 25 copies. Even the regular edition is a beautiful and sumptuous object and a stunning technical achievement. I have seen it in auction but, sadly, never owned one. A decent, complete copy had not been seen in the rooms since the late 1970s when it made $25K. The book, a definite break with the then current 'faux painterly' style, was reviewed at the time as "...an unanswerable refutation of those who say there is no art in photography." Ironically Emerson came to the conclusion that photography was not, and could never be, art and in 1890 published a pamphlet entitled 'The Death of Naturalistic Photography' in which he gave his reasons for this volte face. He never used the word 'art' again in relation to photography. In 2007 this may seem quaint but there are still those who support him. My own view is that it is an art, but Emerson (and possibly Thomas Frederick Goodall - his partner in some of the photos) is one of the few photographers who can be called artists. Photo below from (I think) "Wild Life on a Tidal Water' (1890) showing the river at Norwich at dawn.

03 August 2007

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. 1900

"...a century after this book’s first publication, few Americans are unfamiliar with the image of Dorothy being carried by a Kansas cyclone into the magical land of Oz, where she meets the scarecrow, the tin woodman, and the cowardly lion. Their adventures looking for the Emerald City and the wizard have become a permanent part of American popular culture... its popularity now is largely based on the 1939 film, starring Judy Garland as Dorothy. In his introduction to the book, Baum argued that ‘the old-time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as ‘historical’ the time has come for a series of newer ‘wonder tales.’ Modern education includes morality, therefore the modern child needs only entertainment in its wonder-tales.' " (The New York Public Library’s Books of the Century/ Utopias & Dystopias)

Frank L. Baum. THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ. Geo. M. Hill, Chicago and New York, 1900.

Current Selling Prices
$12500-$40,000 /£6000-£20,000

Wnen I first started to visit American used bookstores 20 years ago, if they had a glass cabinet it was usually stuffed with Baum--you don't see these books much over here and I occasionally bought them as a curiosity. About 2005 we went to a house in an unpretentious part of East London filled to the rafters with SF, fantasy and Baumiana. Sadly the Baum books had been left to a university library along with boxes of Oz ephemera CDS, figures, games, DVDs & Videos. The nearest I got was 2 boxes of Judy Garland records that took an age to sell. The SF kept our customers happy for a few months.

An inscribed copy at Christies New York in 2005 made $120K. It was described thus:
"4to (212 x 162 mm). Pictorial title-page; 24 color plates, numerous text illustrations by W.W. Denslow. Original pictorial green cloth, blocked in dark green and vermillion, pictorial endpapers (very slight wear to spine ends, some very minor discoloration, otherwise fine).
A FINE PRESENTATION COPY OF BAUM'S MASTERPIECE. FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, in Hanff & Greene's binding C, with publisher's name in serifed type in red at foot of spine. INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR on the front free endpaper: "To my 'old' friend Mrs. W.C. Foster with kindest regards. L. Frank Baum. Chicago 1901."

Comments: Lyman Frank Baum began writing 25 years before The Wizard of Oz was published, when he founded a newspaper in Bradford, Pennsylvania. After leaving the paper, "he went on to manage opera houses, act in the theater, and establish a magazine for window dressers" but the success of The Wizard of Oz "kept him writing Oz books for the rest of his life: and even beyond his life, for after he died in 1919 others were commissioned to write more books about the Wizard" (introduction, Maurice Hungiville, The Wizard of Oz and Who He Was, Gardner and Nye, eds., East Lansing, 1984).

Along with his writing, Baum dabbled in related creative enterprises, such as a never realized Oz amusement park, on Pedloe Island off the coast of California, which he had purchased for this purpose; and a film company, founded in 1914, which produced the first two Oz film versions. (The 1939 landmark film adaptation starring Judy Garland was actually the third cinematic portrayal of Oz.) PRESENTATION COPIES OF 'THE WIZARD OF OZ' ARE VERY SCARCE.

Blanck, Peter Parley to Penrod, pp. 111-113; Hanff & Greene (1988) I.1; Morgan/Early Children's Books 214."

VALUE? Signed presentations are not especially scarce but they are certainly valuable. 10,000 copies of the first edition were printed. It is a book with a multitude of points on it and to establish which edition you have you need Bibliograpia Oziana.To have the publisher's name at the foot of the spine in plain unserifed type and stamped in green is an excellent start (Variant A.) If the publishers ads are enclosed in a box on page 2 and it is a clean copy it is time to up the house insurance. Variant B with Geo Hill's name in red is still a very valuable book in decent condition. Variant A is exceedingly difficult and was mainly handed out to friends and family. Variant C which has Geo Hill serifed and stamped in red with C of Co encircling the O is also serious money. 'Serifed' means with a few fancy twirls, as opposed to plain no nonsense typography.

There is currently a decent but not fine Variant B for sale at $36,000. The book can turn up in horrendous condition and even unsightly repaired, refurbished copies from 1900 are much treasured. Mixed states of the first are often found --even Bibliograpia Oziana doesn't cover the full panoply of variations-- for that you need Blanck and his Baum entry in Peter Parley to Penrod.[ W/Q **** ]

TRIVIA. There are theories and interpretations all over the infobahn -- the Wizard of Oz is meant to symbolize the President of the U.S. When finally revealed, he is nothing but a man who, like all politicians, exists through smoke and mirrors. There is a theory that it is an an allegory for the political battle over the Gold Standard (the Yellow Brick Road) and the little people of the United States are the Munchkins. They have been held in bondage for years by the Wicked Witch of the East who in turn, is supposed to be the thieving industrialists and large corporations of the East, all of whom support the Gold Standard. Dorothy frees them from their bondage. Here's the clincher - the standard abbreviation for the measurement of an ounce, which is how Gold is most often measured, is "oz." It is known that Baum was a believer in 'Free Silver' and anti the Gold Standard - so theories that Oz was some form of political tract are rife.

Lastly, a fan of the Wizard of Oz decided to watch the film with the sound off and the CD version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon as the soundtrack. One assumes he was stoned. Apparently it is perfectly matched to the film. ("You've got to start them both together, man.") Scholars have done detailed studies of this myth. Another school asserts that if you start to play the CD when the lion roars for the third time in the credits, everything will then be perfectly matched. Details to note are A) When Elvira Gulch appears on her bike, the famous chimes on the CD kick in; B) When the Wizard tells Dorothy to go home, the Floyd start singing "Home, home again", and C) as the tornadoes starts, the Floyd begin the amazing track "The Great Gig in the Sky."

Pics above 1. Front Cover. 2. An early poster for the book. 3 (below) Early Baum poster. Nota Bene. Baum's 1904 sequel 'The Marvellous land of Oz' did not feature Dorothy and she was only re-instated after many children wrote to Baum to express their disappointment...the pattern of children writing to Baum about characters was a major impetus for the creation and continuation of the Oz series. It persists in this age with the young wizard Harry Potter. 'Munchkins' have become 'muggles.'