Rediscovered: Seabury Quinn, Virgil Finlay and Jack Palance, Oh My!

Autograph Hound Saturday again, time for that old Autograph Hound Dog Brian Leno to pull something out of his collection and amuse the audience with a John Hancock or two. Today he’s selected to trot out a 1948 Arkham House release, and says, “I hope I don’t sound too boastful in this post, god knows getting a good collection is mostly being there at the right place and time, and having the money.”

Modesty accounted for, here’s Brian on one of the most elusive signatures in weird fiction: 

Enlisting the services of a Jules de Grandin may be necessary when it comes to obtaining a Seabury Quinn signature. Almost eighty when he died, Quinn is nevertheless quite a rarity and not cheap when found.

Still I have had a couple of opportunities to purchase examples of Quinn’s auto in his two Arkham House books — The Phantom Fighter (1966) and Roads (1948).

The Phantom Fighter went much higher than I was able to afford at the time, but luck finally found me and I was able to catch a Quinn in his delightful Christmas story, Roads. But it wasn’t easy.

I stumbled upon a signed copy of Roads on eBay some time back, and not only was it signed once by Quinn, but it was also autographed by artist Virgil Finlay, twice. So, realizing this book had my name stamped on it, I engaged in a bidding war with another buyer who foolishly thought he could outbid me.

Imagine my mortification when I ended up in second place.

After swearing steadily for about ten minutes I just walked away from the computer, thinking that perhaps if I had just ventured a little higher bid. . . .  

About an hour later I checked my email and saw that the seller of the book had written and notified me that he had a second copy of Roads, signed once by Quinn, twice by Finlay, and since I had come in with the second highest bid he’d give it to me for that.

I started to drool when he mentioned that this copy of Roads had been purchased at the auctioning off of the Jack Palance estate in 2006.

So, I was not only going to get my Quinn signature, but it was in a book owned by the man who portrayed one of the greatest western villains of all-time, Jack Wilson, in Shane (1953).

Of course I did my due diligence and checked out the bookseller and found I needn’t have had any worries about his veracity. I wrote back, confirmed the order, and asked for more details. “In October of 2006,” the seller wrote, “we spent 5 days at the Jack Palance estate. . . where we purchased over 2000 rare books, art, and Jack Palance’s player piano.” He added, when I asked for yet more information, “It was books, art, Antiques, ephemera, antique toys, stamps, marbles, glass items galore, and movie memorabilia, saddles, tools, and then they sold the farm and farmhouse.”

After he shipped the book he wrote and told me he’d forgot to add that the book had been signed twice by Quinn also, once on the title page, plus on the very last page, right beneath the Finlay drawing. He stated that I was getting a really good deal.

He was right, it was a dream purchase. An Arkham House edition once owned by Jack Palance and signed twice by both Seabury Quinn and Virgil Finlay. It really doesn’t get any better.

While this treasure will never leave my collection, I was interested to see if I could find any copy comparable to mine — and the asking price.  The closest I came was priced at a little less than 2000 dollars, signed twice by Finlay and once by Quinn. The seller stated the book suffered from some minor smoke damage, but that the dust jacket was in beautiful shape.

The dj on my Arkham appears to have been involved in an altercation with some rabid gophers. Despite the dust jacket being less than perfect, the two Quinn signatures and the Jack Palance ownership pushes this purchase of mine well over the top.

It’s possible there’s a better copy out there for the collector, but I doubt it.

You’re going to have to show it to me.

You’re going to have to — as Palance says to Alan Ladd in Shane, just before the classic showdown — “prove it.”

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