Rediscovered: Some John Hancockery from Brackett and Hamilton


To give him a different sort of wrap for his multi-part series on the Centennial of Leigh Brackett, I sent Morgan “The Morgman” Holmes some images from a copy of the program book for the 1964 World Science Fiction Convention — the personal copy of E. Hoffmann Price.

Awhile back I was selling various books from Price’s library for the estate. If you don’t know of Ed Price, I blurbed him this way:

The prolific pulp fictioneer E. Hoffmann Price (1898-1988) remains a legend today as the only fellow writer to have met the “Big Three” of WEIRD TALES — H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith — and as co-author with Lovecraft on “Through the Gates of the Silver Key.” Price’s BOOK OF THE DEAD, “Memories of the Pulp Fiction Era,” published posthumously by Arkham House in 2001, covers these and many other figures, including Edmond Hamilton, Seabury Quinn, Robert Spencer Carr, Otis Adelbert Kline and more.

I blurbed this item from his collection this way:

In his day Price attended many small fan gatherings and quite a few conventions, and if memory serves he began his conventioneering career in 1964 with Pacificon II in Oakland, California — the 22nd annual World Science Fiction Convention — because his longtime friends Edmond Hamilton (creator of Captain Future) and Leigh Brackett (screenwriter for Rio Bravo, Hatari, The Empire Strikes Back) were Guests of Honor. A short hop up from his home in Redwood City, hobnob with his pals, sit in on the panel about “An ‘If’ World of Sword and Sorcery,” hobnob some more — you know the drill.

As we’ve noted almost countless times, Price wasn’t one to keep the books in his library in pristine condition, and they typically show signs of wear, casual staining, and occasional annotations. Since Price housed his library in the darkened living room of The Lamasery, his Oriental-carpeted eyrie in the hills above Redwood City, California, you can detect the very weak ghost of a musty smell if you bury your nose in the pages — always worth a warning for the super-sensitive.

Price’s copy of the Pacificon II program book is in much finer condition than is usual for the general run of Price library items, having been kept in a file instead of on the open (and dangerous) shelves. No spills. Some light age toning and a couple of tiny indents to the wraps (probably made in the course of lugging the program around during the con). Price has underlined a few names, such as Anthony Boucher (who contributes the Rules of the Business Meeting as the convention Parliamentarian), Forry Ackerman, and a few more. Made a couple of notes on the front panel.

I gave Pacificon a mini-history:

As a piece of history, this item is pretty cool — with a memorial notice for Hannes Bok, who had just died, an amazing Who’s Who in the list of 551 attendees — Fritz Leiber, Harlan Ellison, etc. — plus a reference to the infamous Breendoggle with Walter Breen’s membership having been pulled, and nine other attendees resigning their memberships in protest. (And if you specifically like fan history, ads show Terry Carr battling it out for TAFF, though the Breendoggle is probably the Big Fannish Deal.)

And of course I mentioned another major reason someone might want this booklet for a collection — “with the overall interest greatly enhanced by the only two autographs Price bothered to acquire, personal inscriptions from Brackett and Hamilton.”

Unfortunately, the images shot at the time aren’t the sharpest, but you get the idea. And I’m putting them here since Morgan’s use of them doesn’t allow you to click and pop up a larger image. The failure of technology.

You should be able to read the messages from Brackett (consider this a centennial year bonus) and her husband Edmond Hamilton. Get a sense of their calligraphy circa 1964, and their regard for E. Hoffmann Price.





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