Rediscovered: Robert B. Parker

Morgan “The Morgman” Holmes was poking around the net, kind of interested in seeing how various writers were being ranked in the hardboiled arena. He found a summary article on Spenser creator Robert B. Parker he thought I might like —

and I looked at it and told him, “That’s by Ethan Iverson of the Bad Plus.”

If you’re interested in seeing Ethan looking back over his reading of the Spenser novels, a list of his favorites and so on, check it out.

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Rediscovered: More on Block on the Block (with a Young Belknapius Footnote)

I was e-chatting with Terry Zobeck over the copy of Lawrence Block’s rare (and unknown, until Terry reported on it) second book, currently on the block at eBay.

Terry said, “He should be noting the artist too, there is a substantial collector’s market for his work. I think it is a previously undocumented publication for him too.”

The artist, Gene Bilbrew, African-American, famous for his work in fetish circles. If you want to conjure up the bucks, who knows, maybe Bilbrew would haul in bigger buckets than Block.

Brian Leno agreed. “Guy doesn’t do himself any favors in his description. More interesting if he provided the back story on the book. Block collectors already know it, possibly, but he could catch the buyers of that type of sleaze. I notice that Block doesn’t draw as high finished-auction prices as some, but this is a tough one to find in any shape.

“The guy missed the boat with Gene Bilbrew. All sorts of names he could have put in his description. Bilbrew knew Eric Stanton, who in turn helped Steve Ditko on Spider-Man. Bilbrew worked for Irving Klaw who produced stuff with Bettie Page, etc. Ton of work getting all this in but the more niche collectors that see it the better.

“However,” Brian admits, “he has sold more than I have, so what do I know? Will be fun to watch.”

I lean more toward detailed product description, as well, but who indeed can say if ultimately they’re better than brief tags. Loot nabbed might more importantly be purely a matter of timing.

I noticed, by the way, that the copy of Frank Belknap Long’s The Rim of the Unknown inscribed to E. Hoffmann Price also is on the block right now ($500 flat, not starting at $500 like the Block). Minimal blurbage:

RIM OF THE UNKNOWN by Frank Belknap Long. Arkham House, 1972. First (and only) edition/printing. Warmly inscribed from Long to Price mentioning Weird Tales. Both authors were published in Weird Tales as well as with Arkham House. A great association. A VG book in a VG jacket. See pics.

That’s the same book I sold for the Price estate on September 27, 2011, bidding out at $150. A decade ago.

My original sales blurbage was more involved, but then I enjoy spinning those bookman wheels and wasn’t trying to move lots of product as fast as possible:

INSCRIBED ARKHAM HOUSE, Lovecraft Circle, from E. Hoffmann Price library

The pulp fictioneer E. Hoffmann Price (1898-1988) is a legend today, as the only fellow writer to have met the “Big Three” of WEIRD TALES — H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith — in person, and as co-author with Lovecraft on “Through the Gates of the Silver Key.” Frank Belknap Long (1901-1994) was an even more active participant in the Lovecraft Circle, typically addressed by The Old Gentleman in their many letters as Young Belknapius.

Here we offer one of the 3650 first edition copies published by Arkham House of Long’s THE RIM OF THE UNKNOWN from 1972, inscribed by one self-acknowledged “Fellow-contributor to Weird Tales” to another — a very nice association item for anyone interested in WEIRD TALES, the Lovecraft Circle or in Arkham House, for that matter, since it also counts as an inscription from one Arkham House author to another.

Price wasn’t a collector as such, and books from his library typically show signs of wear, casual staining, and occasional annotations. THE RIM OF THE UNKNOWN (actual item shown in image) bears an about Good plus unclipped dustjacket with edgewear, darkening, some stains and slight chipping over a Very Good book with very minor staining to outer edges of text block. Other than the inscription from Long, no other marking occurs in the book — but look forward to more offerings in the future where Price adds his pen strokes!

For fans of the pulp era or the supernatural horror tale in America, the unique copy inscribed by Young Belknapius to Malik Taus, in remembrance of old friends and many sales to The Unique Magazine.

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Rediscovered: Brooding Over John Hancocks

Just got a note in from the famed and maniacal Autograph Hound Brian Leno, who says:

Last night some guy was selling about 70 or so signed postal covers. Good stuff too, so I got my trigger finger ready and waded in, like a crocodile at a chicken farm.

Thing is, I’m the one that got plucked. I bid on five of them, and only got one.

I missed out on Robert W Chambers, he went for 51. Already have him so I didn’t go too crazy. Richard Halliburton went for the same amount, but I have him also. So I held fast to the wallet, hoping to get a deal.

Robert Hichens and Achmed Abdullah both went for less than 10 each. Hard to believe, but I have both of them also, so I missed out, only placing a very small bid. Once famous writers, now not so much.

The one I got was The Penalty and “Back There in the Grass” author Gouverneur Morris. He was only 29 bucks, and I didn’t have him. Been a big fan of Lon Chaney’s The Penalty for a long time and I’ve been looking for a cheap version of Morris’ signature and so I did bag that one.

A Hemingway was offered, last time I saw it was over a thousand and climbing. James J. Corbett and James J. Jeffries were offered but both went over 500. I have a Corbett already.

I was surprised to see Earl Derr Biggers go for over 300. Would have liked him. Didn’t think that the creator of Chuck Chan and his Number One Son was still collected. Obviously I was wrong.

It was mortifying to see authors such as James Oliver Curwood and Rex Beach go for peanuts. Got a Beach, but no Curwood.

Really something how some authors fall from favor. See it every day, doesn’t mean I have to like it.

When their books are no longer read I find it really sad. A second death.

Posted in Film, Lit | Tagged , , , |

Hammett: Pickup

Stuff Terry Zobeck covered in the halcyon days of yesteryear keeps circulating around.

Remember his post about “lost” Hammett stories, including such rogue titles as “Pickup” in Saturday Home Magazine? And follow-up posts about Hammett tales getting reprinted in god-knows-how-many newspapers?

We touched on “The Tenth Clew.”

“Dead Yellow Women.”

Today Evan Lewis displays on his blog a reprint of “Pickup” (a.k.a. “The Whosis Kid”) from the Philly Inquirer back in 1936. Check it out. Lots of illos.

Zobeck even doped out that Ellery Queen sometimes used these reprints in establishing the texts for his ten volume paperback reprints of Hammett.

A largely untouched arena of Hammett publication.

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Rediscovered: Ultra Rare Block on the Block

Remember the coverage earlier this year for Terry Zobeck’s bibliography of Lawrence Block?

The one with mention of an incredibly rare and previously unknown S&M adventure of Mme. Adista? Well, unknown that Block wrote it — perhaps not unknown to collectors of such items.

A guy just let me know that he put a copy up on eBay, starting bid of $500. If interested surf over to check out the action.

A nice test of Block’s command of the collector’s dollar, and all that.

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891 Post: The Reign of Wild Bill Arney, Remembered

Just got a note from Bill Arney, who you’ll remember as the longtime Keeper of the Sacred Shrine, i.e. Hammett’s apartment in 891 Post Street — where a little classic titled The Maltese Falcon was written.

Bill just got a write-up in California Freemason which you can surf over and check out.

I could have gotten some publicity out of it, too, but my name was left on the cutting room floor. “I did my best,” Bill reports, “but they left out your name and called it ‘Drakes’ Celebrated Criminal Cases of America. I should have made them submit it to me for editing before they went to print.”

Any Hammett fan knows the book is Duke’s Celebrated Criminal Cases of America, so they won’t be taken flat-footed. The innocent Freemason standing on the street corner, however. . . .

Posted in Dash, Frisco, Lit | Tagged , , |

Rediscovered: Jack’s Pack

Famous Autograph Hound Brian Leno returns with a few items for yet another Autograph Hound Saturday. And of course he’s got a theme going:

I’ve been on a bit of a Jack London kick lately.

First up is a signed copy of The 25th Man: The Strange Story of Ed. Morrell — the Hero of Jack London’s “The Star Rover.”

This autobiography covers the life of the prisoner London based his science fiction novel on. Morrell was, to put it lightly, very ill-treated by the authorities at San Quentin. In fact one of the photos in Morrell’s book shows him in the strait-jacket.

Morrell’s autograph is not a tough one to locate — in fact it’s probably harder to find a copy of his book not signed.

Still, he’s not cheap, and his story is an exciting one.

Also in the photo is a pamphlet advertising London’s book, which I got a few years back. I believe it’s somewhat rare, and it sports a cool head-shot of the great writer.

Another item I picked up more recently: the signature of Martin Johnson, the man who signed on as head cook on London’s The Snark for its famous voyage.

Johnson, along with his wife, Osa, had plenty more adventures later in life in the South Seas and Africa as a photographer and film-maker. His life ended in a plane crash.

The last item is a signed copy of Stanley Waterloo’s The Story of Ab: A Tale of the Time of the Cave Man. Waterloo felt that London, with his novel Before Adam, plagiarized his tale of the Dawn of Time.

I should mention I have the signature of London, but I’m thinking he deserves his own post.

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Rediscovered: Hawkwood

Autograph Hound Saturday jumps me!


Yep. Via the offices of that maniacal collector Brian Leno, who tells me he has “a Francis Lederer coming today. Remember him as the Count in Night Gallery‘s version of Manly Wade Wellman’s ‘The Devil is Not Mocked'”?

Brian also has his eye on a John Hancock of Fatty Arbuckle’s third wife, and he “picked up a signed first of Richard Tooker’s Day of the Brown Horde on ABEbooks, the other day. No dj, but I think somewhat scarce signed. A prehistoric novel along the lines of Jack London’s Before Adam. (At least I think so, haven’t read it yet, will when it gets here.) Also picked up a Barbara Remington signature. She’s the lady that did the Tolkien covers for Ballantine when I was in knee pants.”

And on top of his autograph mania, Brian does straight books, too: “Just got back from a booksale, lugged 63 pounds of them home. Buck a pound. As long as I have my collecting compulsion under control I’m doing fine.”

For today’s selection, he pulls out a siggie from yet another writer for the famous wood-pulp Adventure.

Here’s Brian with the dope:

A few years back I picked up the Black Dog Books edition of Adventure pulp writer Marion Polk Angellotti’s Sir John Hawkwood stories, and upon reading the introduction by Doug Ellis I was confronted with a challenge.

Ellis stated the Angellotti novel, titled Sir John Hawkwood: A Tale of the White Company, was first published in hardcover by R. F. Fenno in 1911 and that copies were “incredibly scarce.”

Naturally, I started looking. Didn’t have any luck until a couple weeks ago when I came upon 3 copies. They were all beat up and gave the appearance of having been in the wars with the famous White Company — and they were definitely on the losing side.

But one, the cheapest of the lot, to my astonishment was signed. It was also the most beat up.

A signature meant I couldn’t pass it up and I quickly ordered it and here are the photos.

I’m extremely happy with a full autograph inscription, and the book, while battered, isn’t all that bad. No bad odors, spine still intact, some water damage which didn’t affect the signature.

Angellotti lived into her eighties, so it might be presumed she signed quite a few items, but my research (which, admittedly, isn’t all that complete) hasn’t uncovered any, except this one.

I think copies of this book are rare and one signed by her is a bit of a pulp Holy Grail, so I hope my enthusiasm can be forgiven. 

Undoubtedly she signed more than one copy of her book, but show me another. Furthermore show me another that a collector is willing to sell for what I paid for this.

It just isn’t going to happen.

Right now I’m pretty glad I read Doug Ellis’ introduction a few years back. He spurred me into acquiring an autograph I thought I would never find.

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Hammett: Jeopardy! Struck Again!

Yesterday a Hammett clew made a reprise appearance on Jeopardy! as they mined their archives to fill in the weeks of summer with From the Vault: Million Dollar Masters.

If I heard right, this tournament rounding up previous champions was the first time the show offered a purse of one million dollars for the winner. When the episode originally aired on May 8, 2002, that was pretty serious money. Not bad today, but you can do better.

In the Jeopardy! Round, $1000 clew in the category Strain Thy Brain:

In the 16th C., it was the unusual annual rent paid by the Knights of Malta to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V

Man. Talk about easy.

Not one of the three eggheads of yesteryear buzzed in with a guess!


A look of disappointment seemed to cross Alex Trebek’s face.

He gave them the info: “And that was. . . the real Maltese Falcon.”

Of course it was.

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Rediscovered: More Ted on the Block

My blurb yesterday on Ted Schulz, noted Holmesian, inspired Brian Leno to poke around on the side on eBay, after he’d made a few early morning passes looking for John Hancocks.

He discovered a tribute to Ted, listed for only $15 or best offer. Issue 14 of Sherlock in LA, celebrating 37 years of Ted on the 221B scene.

The seller’s capsule notes that Ted was invested in the Baker Street Irregulars in 1961 by Julian Wolff, and gives an extensive list of his club affiliations.

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