Rediscovered: A William H. Kofoed John Hancock

Autograph Hound Super-Sunday again, and signature maven Brian Leno reports in with one of his (many) recent acquisitions (Call Them Legion).

“On ABE I saw a copy of a book titled Mirage, signed by William H. Kofoed,” Brian says, “who started the whole Brief Stories thing where Dashiell Hammett did some of his early writing.

“But Kofoed also has a Robert E. Howard link, since he likewise started Fight Stories and even, unofficially acting as Howard’s agent, placed ‘Fists of the Desert’ in Dime Sports.

“And — get this — William and his brother Jack partied with Al Capone shortly after the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. 

“Obviously I had to add Kofoed to my list of editor signatures.”

Here’s Brian:

Kofoed started The Little Story Magazine, which became Brief Stories, where he remained editor and must have handled the “Peter Collinson” manuscripts. Of course anyone no longer wearing short pants knows Collinson was Hammett.

Because he started Fight Stories, Kofoed worked with Robert E. Howard. We all know Howard submitted there. In addition, Kofoed — a busy fellow — also started Jack Dempsey’s Fight Magazine and Howard appeared in that pulp as well.

When that magazine folded Kofoed still had 3 short stories and a novelette from Howard left in the Dempsey unpublished inventory. Doing Howard a favor, Kofoed placed the novelette “Fists of the Desert” with Dime Sports Magazine — the title was changed to “Iron-Jaw.”

Howard’s main literary agent, Otis Adelbert Kline, got his panties stuck in his crack and told the Texan, apparently, that he wasn’t too keen on Kofoed helping him out. The writer would apologize for using another agent, but he still let Kline know that he had the right to employ two agents at once if he so desired.

After the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Al Capone was arrested in Philadelphia for carrying a concealed firearm. Can you imagine? Anyway, he was released, although he would have to return later in the year to serve a short prison sentence. 

Not being a Scarface expert, some of the details of this stuff are a bit murky for me, but following his release he went to Florida and threw a big party. Two of the guests were William Kofoed and his twin brother Jack.

Call me a celebrity chaser but I think it would have been pretty cool to have a glass of champagne with Alphonse shortly after the massacre. As long as Al wasn’t close to a baseball bat.

And by the way, William Kofoed would go on to co-author a book titled Meet the Mob.

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