Rediscovered: Finlay on the Flap

And what, you may ask, happened to the second Virgil Finlay autograph Brian Leno claimed came with his copy of Roads once owned by Jack Palance?

That signature — as above — was done on the bottom of the inside front flap.

Kind of interesting that the artist signed not only the book but also the jacket, indicating he knew or suspected his cover in and of itself had collectors value — that perhaps someday the dustjacket could be moving from collection to collection without the book. Early in the history of dustjackets, they were regarded much like wrapping paper or other disposable packaging, which is why older examples of djs are scarce. Many people bought a new book and immediately threw the jacket away.

By the time Finlay was in the biz, jackets had become attractive enough most people kept them on the book — and today jackets usually are worth far more than the books. Ephemeral, easily torn or soiled, a great condition jacket pops up the value of a rare book. Search around for copies of The Maltese Falcon — or anything, really — with jacket and without. Compare those prices.

At any rate, that gave me and Leno something to talk about, and Brian mentioned that he had the idea that Finlay often signed dustjackets. 

“But,” Brian added, “I hunted around online and only found two others for sure — The Outsider where he signed the back flap, and the Roads owned by the guy who wants almost $2000 for it. That copy Finlay signed on the front flap near the price.

“Mine, as you can see, is signed on the bottom.

“I’m almost positive I’ve seen other examples, but I can’t prove it. Three does not make a trend, although I do find it rather interesting that he would sign the dustjacket flaps at all.

“Who else does that?”

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