Rediscovered: Poe’s Mustache

Autograph Hound Saturday, with Brian Leno back on the stick to show off another offtrail corner of his John Hancock hobby. While I’m sure Brian would have nothing against getting some major signature if he had the opportunity, a Bill Shakespeare or Jack the Ripper, I imagine he’d also salivate if the auto of Jack the Ripper’s barber was up on the block.

Here’s Brian:

In July of 1849 Poe entered John Sartain’s engraving shop in Philadelphia and had a wild story to tell.

The writer said he overheard two men talking about a plot to assassinate him. He asked Sartain for a razor, figuring that if he shaved his mustache he would be unrecognizable.

To Sartain, Poe appeared distraught, obviously not quite right in his mind, and perhaps suicidal. He told the poet that he never shaved and so didn’t have a razor — but he volunteered to cut Poe’s mustache off with a scissors.

So, apparently, Sartain removed one of the most recognizable of all literary mustaches.

However, Peter Ackroyd, in his Poe: A Life Cut Short, doesn’t seem to put too much faith in the story, stating that Poe did have a mustache still when he got to Richmond.

Either way it’s a helluva good story.

Autograph, on a check, of John Sartain, one of the owners of Sartain’s Union Magazine, which published Poe’s The Bells and Annabel Lee:

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Frisco Beat: Worley Recalled

Yet another mini-memoir of crime writer William Worley has wandered into the traffic on These Mean Streets, this one from Linda Shaw — a student from one of his classes in Lowell High:

I had not thought about Mr. William Worley for years but for some reason he popped into my head tonight.

He was my English teacher at Lowell in the the early 1970s. I was probably a sophomore.

We read a wide range of books from The Iliad to Ray Bradbury to Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

I remember him in his tweed jacket standing in front of the class trying to elicit opinions about the book we were reading. Occasionally he mentioned in passing the books he had written, but I must admit to not paying attention.

I do remember writing a lot of essays.

When he would hand me back my essay he would grab my right hand and look for calluses on my fingers and say, “You do write a lot.” I tended to meander in my essays.

Mr. Worley taught me how to get to the point in my writing, which has helped me in my professional life.

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Frisco Beat: Back to Chinatown

For those of you in the game of collecting San Francisco Mysteries, Connie di Marco is one of the current writers jumping into the fray — on April 26 her new one Serpent’s Doom, fourth entry in her series of the Zodiac Mysteries, will drop. 

Set largely in Chinatown.

Even if you’re not up to collecting all mysteries set in San Francisco, you could do an appealing subset radiating off Grant Avenue.

Trust me, there’s more than a few — and they’d make a nice row or two or three on your shelves.

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Rediscovered: At the Earth’s Core

News that a deluxe signed artist’s edition of At the Earth’s Core is coming up spurred Brian Leno to dig out some apt John Hancockery from his bulging files for Autograph Hound Saturday.

Here’s Brian from the signature vaults:

I have two Tandem paperbacks advertising the movie version of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At the Earth’s Core.

One is signed by Caroline Munro, one of the most beautiful women to ever work for Hammer.

The second is signed by Doug McClure. Twice.

His signature on the cover is pretty tough to make out. He must have realized this, so he then signed inside, much more clearly.

Nice books, but there’s something much grander than these slim paperbacks in store for the Burroughs fan.

I learned a new, deluxe edition of At the Earth’s Core soon hits the newsstand, with
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. giving it the collectible treatment they’ve provided for many other Burroughs classics. 

A while back I posted about their Burroughs Bibliography — not only a stunning example of book design, but deep research as well.

Their new book looks to be something to give a Tarzan Yell about also. William Stout and Thomas Yeates, two artists who have been featured in the Mean Streets, will be signing it, and so will others.

I have seldom met a signed book I didn’t like and so I’m looking forward to adding yet one more volume to the Leno Horde.

Get on board. Don’t be standing empty-handed at the station when Abner Perry and David Innes take off in the “steel cylinder” and travel once more to Pellucidar.


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Rediscovered: Wetjen Returns

I’d almost suspect that Brian Leno has gone all lazy on me, since he hasn’t popped in a new post in over a month — my god, does he expect me to handle all the Mean Streets action by myself?

Today he brings up a writer — and sailor — last touched upon here back on January 25, 2011.

Here’s Brian:

This is a cool book I got yesterday.

Signed by Adventure author Albert Richard Wetjen.

He’s the guy that wrote Way For a Sailor, which was made into the movie of the same name featuring Jim Tully and John Gilbert.

Also famous for his Shark Gotch series in Action Stories.

Another cool thing about the book is it’s inscribed to noted book collector Frederick W. Skiff, and includes his W. F. Hopson-designed bookplate.

Got it cheap, which makes it all the sweeter.

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Rediscovered: The Bantam Docs

Earlier today Brian Leno was claiming that he’s “no expert on Doc Savage.”

Yeah, sure, he’s not Will Murray, but he has contributed to Big Book of Bronze.

And at the end of last year he was very happy when he completed his set of the Doc Savage Bantam paperbacks.

Or so he thought.

He just let me know that he’s missing one — it went on the block on eBay a day or two ago and raked in $338.

But last year and for awhile Brian was a happy collector (you’ll notice his table lighter from Lester Dent in front of the larger print signed by artist Joe DeVito and Will “Kenneth Robeson” Murray):


Finally picked up all the Doc books, the original series anyway — the new Will Murray ones will have to wait a bit, although I do have a few.

Of course a couple of Shadow things rounds out the Dent display.

And if you strain a little more at the bottom you’ll see a small collection of Hopalong Cassidy mugs.

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Rediscovered: Lester Dent

Autograph Hound Saturday again and our resident Autograph Hound, in the person of Brian Leno, hauls out the very latest acquisition to his sprawling spread of John Hancocks.

This round he presents another Lester Dent item (you may recall his table lighter once owned by Dent from a couple of years back) — Dent, famed creator of Doc Savage and author of a couple of outstanding sales to the pulp Black Mask.

Here’s Brian:

Just picked up this signed Lester Dent postcard. Know absolutely nothing about it except he was of course an amateur radio operator.

I would guess he sent a lot of these out, but this example is the first I ever found.

I don’t look for Lester Dent items every day, and I’ve only seen one other signature up for sale which I didn’t pull the trigger on fast enough.

Guy had to have signed many items I would guess.

I’m no Doc Savage expert, but I’m glad to add another Black Mask author to my collection.

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Hammett: A Nick and Nora Sighting

While otherwise minding his own beeswax, Bill Mullins spotted a “quite dashing” cameo to bring to our attention:

I don’t know if you follow stuff like this, but in a 2013 Rocketeer comic book, Nick and Nora Charles make an uncredited guest appearance. 

The original creator of the Rocketeer, Dave Stevens, had died, so the art isn’t near as good as the original comics. 

The redhead and the guy with the monocle and bowler derby in panels 3 and 4 are Ham and Monk from the Doc Savage books — also uncredited.

If this is something anyone wants to chase down, the comic is The Rocketeer — Hollywood Horror. It also has some H. P. Lovecraft overtones.

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Hammett: Further “Creeping Siamese”

Today Evan Lewis spotlights another newspaper reprint for a Hammett story — “The Creeping Siamese.”

Evan says, “This Op adventure, originally published in the May 1926 Black Mask, was reprinted in the May 31, 1942 El Paso Times.”

Plus the paper includes a blurb on Hammett and his writing methods — he “never rewrites.”

Or so says the newspaper blurbage.

Illustrated.

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Rediscovered: The Romantic Count von Cosel

Well, maybe The Maltese Falcon isn’t the sickest love story ever. . . .

Late last year Brian Leno got to poking around in the Unusual and popped some stuff my way, which I realized might not be quite appropriate for the upcoming Christmas Season — but what the hell, maybe not too far offtrail for dropping into the Feast of St. Valentine.

Got that romance angle to it.

Brian sends along images from a pulp appearance of the story, plus a local reprint — the usual guy taking a woman home, from her tomb.

He wondered if I’d ever heard of the episode, since I like Key West. But to the best of my memory, I didn’t see any plaques for it when I relentlessly hoofed around that southernmost isle.

The pulp was edited by Raymond A. Palmer (“god knows he went with some pretty flaky theories, saucers, the Shaver Mystery, etc,” Brian says), and Brian tosses in an example of Palmer’s John Hancock from his vast collection of Hancocks. It’s a reject note from Palmer to a Les Cole in Berkeley — like Palmer, a fairly famous sf fan.

Here’s Leno:

Watched some special on Karl Tanzler von Cosel yesterday. He’s the nut case that dug up (actually stole her from her vault) some woman’s grave he loved, slept with her and prettied her up a bit as she started to stink. Kind of like “A Rose for Emily.”

You mentioned you were in Key West and that’s where Karl did his nefarious deed, so perhaps you heard of him.

In the show they kept referencing his article “The Secret of Elena’s Tomb” and I looked up where it was published and found it was in a Fantastic Adventures pulp from September 1947. Cover story.

I bought a bucketful of those years ago for next to nothing, which is still what they’re worth. So I went digging in the basement and sure enough, there was that baby, just itching to be read. Sometimes it pays to be a hoarder.

Now if I could find his signature. . . he’s certainly goofy enough to warrant inclusion in my autograph hall of curiosities.

The Fantastic Adventures cover is by Robert Gibson Jones, and the cover of the book — a paperback that reprints the Count’s story — is the illustration from the title page inside the pulp. 

Palmer on his editorial page says that Karl stopped by the office and talked about his article — he was bitter about going to prison for what he had done.

Karl was trying an experiment, Palmer yaps, trying to bring Elena back to life. He doesn’t seem too put out that the man was sleeping with a corpse.

From other opinions I’ve looked up some have tried to make it into a love story, which is so fucking wrong it’s incredible.

One bio is entitled Undying Love.

For God’s sake when her eyeballs rotted away he stuck in fake ones, it’s definitely not a story for the squeamish.

The guy had a major hitch in his giddyup. 

One of the blurbs on the back of the book calls the story “endearing,” which I find really odd. The guy had a corpse in his house and was using it for, I’m sure, sexual gratification. I’m pretty positive the girl’s parents didn’t find it “endearing” when the body was discovered and the shit hit the fan.

Just started to dig into the book, who knows what else may be unearthed?

After I ordered The Lost Diary of Count von Cosel through Amazon they sent me a recommendation, which they sometimes do.

They suggest a book titled The Necrophiliac.

Guess now I’m typecast.

Just another day around the household of Brian Leno, a.k.a. The Cryptkeeper.

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