Rediscovered: The Arkham Collector

The maelstrom of Arkham House ephemera collecting swept me up again, with John D. Haefele clinging onto the plunging raft by my side.

Some weeks that’s been all I could think about, bidding on items I didn’t have in the stash, figuring out this or that arcane permutation of the hobby. The other day Haefele and I (with strong input from Paul Dobish) determined that there exist — at least — some six variants of Item 92 from the list of Classic Era ephemera I surveyed for Firsts: The Book Collectors Magazine. Until we batted the info out, previously unknown variants, of course.

Now we know about them, but you don’t.

I’m sure the current burst of activity was inspired by Haefele stepping up with his recent survey of the Modern Era ephemera for Firsts — an essay in one issue (one of only a handful of historical presentations on modern Arkham yet done) and a list of the post-Classic Era ephemera items in the next. That sparked the dive back in.

Back into what?

Not just the hobby itself, but into a book-length expansion of the Classic List which Haefele and I have been talking about for years — I just noticed a reference to the project in a 2007 note. The plan at the moment is to show an image of every single item, in addition to the description.

Once we get that one done, then you’ll know what we know.

I think we have roughly 50 more Classic Era items as of now to add to the 100 tallied in Firsts. And the list will expand in other ways. Haefele has persuaded me that pure August Derleth brochures — Stanton & Lee — need to be inserted where they would appear. Ditto Hawk & Whippoorwill. Sure, I get it: August Derleth was Arkham House.

And Haefele talked me into adding issues of the in-house magazine The Arkham Collector to the list.

Don’t think I’m some pushover. The magazine was sold — it is not by definition ephemera. But what Haefele pointed out was that it took over many of the functions of the various brochures, listing projects underway. If you don’t have The Arkham Collector in the record, then you don’t have the full “history” usually recorded by the ephemera.

I recall that some collectors griped that certain books — Stan McNail’s Something Breathing or Donald Sidney-Fryer’s Songs and Sonnets Atlantean — seemed to leap into print from nowhere, without significant advance notice in the flyers. But they were mentioned as upcoming in The Collector. And the envelopes with new issues of the magazine also were loaded up with contemporaneous brochures and inserts.

The Arkham Collector won’t just be dropped directly into the numbering system for the ephemera. I’ll allow it in, but each of the ten issues total will be done via Roman numerals — I, II, III through X. Hey, it’ll look cool on the page.

And we ought to be upfront about other reasons why Haefele is pushing for The Arkham Collector to assume its proper place in history.

Secrets of the past, unveiled!

“Despite years of researching the ‘Derleth Papers,'” Haefele notes, “I’ve never uncovered any official explanation why Derleth started up the magazine — beyond the time and money considerations offered when he announced it.”  

Haefele reports: “I’ve always thought (rather, hoped) that I was the young fan who brought Derleth to the tipping point when he decided to publish The Arkham Collector, which he announced in Spring 1967.

“That’s because on October 20, 1966 I had written to him: ‘I think you could publish a monthly fan-zine in which news of new books printed or going out-of-print could be presented, along with reviews and amateur writings a minimum length. The fans could pay the fee of publication and postage.’

“Derleth’s reply was dutifully sent on October 24”:

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