Rediscovered: Arcane Arkham Arch-Collectors Corner No. 2

I don’t know how many obscure tidbits of Arkham House collecting lore Paul Dobish is privy to, but I’ll bet it’s more than you or me or the average joe walking down the street.

The average joe might dream of assembling a complete collection of Arkham books from 1939 to date. And this generic joe might well gather all the books, after years of searching and plenty of pazoors dropped down the rathole.

But would such an imaginary being be able to amass a complete collection of Arkham ephemera? Would he, like one guy I know, collect each Arkham House release signed by the author that could be signed by the author?

Would this would-be collector have ever heard of the Shorty Dunwichs?

I think you have to be a deep-diver to have heard of the Shorty Dunwichs, but I know John D. Haefele plans to cover them in his upcoming August Derleth of Arkham House. He was in on the quest to seek them out with the late great Arkham collector Richard Jefts — Jefts filled notebooks with data and measurements of the Shorties.

But back to Dobish. He dropped the info on this site that the Stanley McNail poetry collection Something Breathing is bound in two distinct shades of green cloth. I’d never heard about that variation. Consider that his Arkham Arch-Collectors tidbit numero uno.

Now he returns with more info I hadn’t heard about — dustjackets on two early Arkham releases printed on white, rather than colored, paper. Clark Ashton Smith’s  Lost Worlds (Arkham no. 7)  and Derleth’s Someone in the Dark (Arkham no. 2).

Dobish reports, “A previous seller of the Lost Worlds Dust Wrapper had described it as being a unique proof. Either/both DWs could be that, or something else.  (And not necessarily the same thing for both DWs).

“The reverse side of each DW is completely blank. The paper stock of each is of a similar ‘reasonable’ thickness (that is, not unduly flimsy).

“I am not certain as to their true nature. However — particularly as there is an example of two different titles rather than just a single title — I strongly suspect that they are trial/test Dust Wrappers of some sort. Perhaps less for color choice, a la the black/blue/green Outsider trial Dust Wrappers, than for higher contrast to better check the quality of the printed art/text.

“I believe that Someone in the Dark  was simply received in place of the usual DW on a copy of the book routinely ordered by an original period customer. Still, absent more information, the possibility that they are ‘counting sheet’ or some similar type of accidental (rather than intentional) pieces can not be entirely ruled out. While I am not aware of any similar examples (either of these or any other titles of the period), that does not mean that any such do (or/and at least did) not exist.”

Got that? The translation is that if you must have each and every possible permutation of every Arkham title, you now need to track down the white-paper dustjackets on Lost Worlds and Someone in the Dark, and keep an eye peeled for any other white-paper jackets on other Arkhams of that bygone era.

I’ve got the first of Lost Worlds, and can tell you that the jacket ought to be on a blue or greenish-blue paper. Age and sunning have had their way with many of these books — Don Wandrei’s The Eye and the Finger (Arkham no. 5) is in a solidly green jacket, but if sunned for years it might register to the eye as more brown than not.

A couple of detail scans included — not the best scans, but they’ll give you the idea.

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