Rediscovered: Kevin Cook on Full Auto

And Kevin Cook — noted pulp and book collector — couldn’t resist sending in some remarks on the subject of autographs. I’m fairly sure Brian Leno has a bigger auto collection, but when it comes to pulp era signers, Kevin may have the edge. 

Here’s Kevin:      

The stuff that you have been running on the blog in regard to autographs reminds me how unusual it can be to locate “full” name signatures rather than ones shortened like you pointed out with Frank Belknap Long to F.B. Long.

Of the gang in the Weird Tales office, from what I have seen Otis Adelbert Kline always signed his name out full, as did Edwin Baird. The tough WT editor full signature is of course Farnsworth Wright.

Only a handful of authors today sign their full names. Michael Connolly signs “MC” and George Pelecanos signs something that I suppose is “GP” although that might be a generous description.

However, you still get perfect full signatures from James Lee Burke and Loren Estleman.

In older books I have noticed that Edgar Rice Burroughs always signed his name completely. On the other hand I have one E. Charles Vivian book signed just “Viv.”

Edgar Rice Burroughs literally signed hundreds of books during his lifetime, but apparently only signed three pulp magazines that are known. For Forrest Ackerman he signed a copy of the October 1912 issue of All-Story with “Tarzan of the Apes.” That magazine was auctioned off for something in the 40-50K range. For Vernell Coriell he also signed the October 1912 issue of All-Story, but also signed the February 1916 issue of All Around Magazine which contained his “Beyond Thirty.” That All Around issue is easily the rarest pulp to ever include a Burroughs story. Coriell’s widow sold the magazines, and Burroughs fans have a suspicion as to who owns that second signed copy of All-Story, but it is not a certainty. The ownership of the All Around is known.        

Back in the days of the pulps I find that most authors just signed their names rather than inscribing anything; perhaps adding a “Cordially” prior to the signature. There are a few exceptions. George Allan England liked to write inscriptions in different languages, but that may just have been a Harvard guy putting on airs. By the 1930s A. Merritt generally wrote at least a one line inscription instead of just signing his name — such as the one above from Seven Footprints to Satan commenting on his book v. the movie version. 

Some of the more unique ones come from pseudonyms, such as where “John Taine” books will be signed with both the names John Taine and Eric Temple Bell.

Of course, it is impossible to know how many of the authors would have signed back then, since so few actually got books into print. Ever speculated on how REH might have signed? When Robert Barlow asked him for an autograph it was the full Robert E. Howard that he received.

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