Rediscovered: Modern Arkham Ephemera

Autograph Hound Saturday rolls around once again, and What the Hell!

Brian Leno is off for the weekend on an expedition into the darkest corners of lowlife gambling dens, and he’s incommunicado.

Kevin Cook apparently is digging through all his books and pulps and cheques, determined to determine exactly which autograph in his holdings features the absolute worst handwriting. Caveman and sub-caveman stuff.

Fortunately — it saves me the trouble of digging any John Hancocks out of my own holdings — John D. Haefele pops in a couple of items, kind of in celebration of his article “Arkham House Ephemera: The Modern Years” appearing in the current issue of Firsts: The Book Collectors Magazine.

Haefele chipped in as a research assistant when I covered “Arkham House Ephemera: The Classic Years” back in 2002.

He reports, “Firsts arrived today, & overall I am very pleased with what I see. Apparently these days there are fewer pages, the 2002 issue had 72, but this one only 40.

“The layout & featured text blurbs look professional & very handsome. They only used three images — not numbered — but they are large & clear & good choices. I’m thinking — hoping — they will use many others to illustrate the actual checklist next time.

“They included the entire article — everything — except for three lines — only three, they carefully chose to drop, I think, so that the article fit the 9-page spread perfectly.

“All in all, I am thrilled with this appearance. A much more meaty & comprehensive piece than it seemed on my computer screen.”

Haefele’s article was excellent in Word doc, but there is something magical about seeing the thing in print. The minor deletions were just the usual editing one would expect in a pro magazine. The longest, and most interesting one, refers to the Phil Mays List, which really launched ephemera collecting as a hobby: 

“Following Mays, the early pieces traded for as much as $30 or $40 apiece. Though the Ruber-era pieces trade at $10 or $20, they do trade — and without any reference tool. As for Vanderburgh-Weinberg pieces — other than a few insiders, who before now even knew they existed?”

Get the point? The appearance of the Modern Era checklist in the next issue of Firsts ought to start a stampede, and prices, hey, the prices may go up a few notches.

In case you’re not savvy in this corner of the collecting world, the image at top features an inscription by author Lin Carter to Roderic Meng — Meng managed Arkham House after the death of August Derleth in 1971, a key figure in the Modern Era.

Carter wrote many, many books, including a poetry collection released by Arkham. Before he left the firm, Don Wandrei told me he had rejected the Carter volume, but apparently the poet noodled around and got Meng to put it back in the lineup.

Ah, the history of good old Arkham House.

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