Rediscovered: The Earliest Signed Inhabitants

In re: the question of possible signed copies of most classic era Arkham House titles, I believe we need to call in John D. Haefele, author of A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos. He’s the expert on all things Arkham.

Now, let’s not expect too much from him. While I’m sure he knows where many signed Arkhams lurk today, he couldn’t possibly know where every copy ever autographed ended up.

Hidden in a collection somewhere?


Here’s Haefele on the subject:

August Derleth was a consummate bookman who early in his publishing career prescribed a signing mandate for his authors — a set of requirements that probably changed very little over the years. Thus a 1964 letter he wrote to author Ramsey Campbell, published in Letters to Arkham (2014), accurately suggests what might exist in the specialized collecting niche. The presentation copies to his publishing associates and a handful of local enthusiasts are undoubtedly the rarest of all:

20 March 1964

Dear JRC,

I enclose herewith a bank draft in the amount of $150.00, representing the second half of the advance due you on THE INHABITANT OF THE LAKE AND LESS WELCOME TENANTS, which is being published officially April 17th. Review copies have gone out here, and if you want copies sent to any Liverpool or other British paper by all means let me know. Meanwhile, sea mail will carry the books due you to you. You have already had one copy by air parcel post. Nine more will follow today. If I can manage, books will be shipped in packages of ten, for I want to send you others to autograph. You will get in all 30 or 40 copies of your book, in packages of 5 or 10 per. Of these books, retain 9, and return the others. I have added $2 to the check to defray postage in returning the books to us signed. The majority of the books are simply to be autographed on the flyleaf — “Sincerely, J. Ramsey Campbell” or however you customarily sign your name. But certain books are to be personally inscribed — one book to each of the following people

Donald Wandrei

Alice Conger

Maurine Nason

John Pocsik

August Derleth

Ruth Strelow

Frank Utpatel

In every case, please pack the books as carefully as possible. There are weight limitations over here, in the case of books, hence the numerous packages. There may be similar limitations over there. I send along a specimen label — I don’t know that these labels will do for the BPostal Service, but this is the form they should take, and the label should be set forth as “returned books”, or some such thing. If you can use more of these labels, let me know airmail and I’ll send more.

I hope you like the look of your book.

Best always, August

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