Rediscovered: Windy Reportage

Tom Krabacher sent along a few notes on the recent Windy City pulp convention, held on the outskirts of Chicago. He had a posse lined up to roam the aisles, but for various reasons several bailed on him close to the last minute — Kurt Shoemaker from Texas and his long-time pulp collector pal from Iowa Bill Thinnes, and also the noted book and pulp collector Kevin Cook, who chose not to fly in due to the mask requirements. Luckily he got to spend some time with John D. Haefele, who did his usual first day assault on the dealers on Friday, searching for the diminishing items left on his Want List. Haefele, in like a flash and gone, back to his lair in Wisconsin.

Here’s Tom:

Got back from Windy City late last Sunday night — enjoyable, even if you toss in the usual hassles of air travel, which this time included Southwest sending my clothes to Raleigh, NC rather than O’Hare.   

The event was significantly larger than the usual Pulpfest and offered the opportunity to connect with people I don’t see very often. Lots more dealers with a wider range of wares of somewhat higher grade — and higher prices — were there, including Gunnison’s former partner, Andy Zimmerly, who came in with dozens of long boxes full of good condition pulps. The result was a Thursday night pre-show feeding frenzy, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since the 1998 Pulpcon. 

As they say: Pulpfest is for socializing, Windy City is for collectors.

Haefele and I connected a little before noon on Friday; I was talking to David Rachjel at his dealer’s table when John walked through the door. After he made a brief pass through the dealer’s room we headed out to a nearby tavern — a nice place with plenty of wood appointments, subdued lighting, and a friendly bartender— for pizza, alcohol, and a couple hours conversation, before he headed home. At Haefele’s suggestion we had wine — but he spoke too soon and would have preferred something harder after he saw they stocked Buffalo Trace whiskey. I’m not much of a bourbon/whiskey drinker, but the brand apparently must be all the rage in the upper Midwest.

It was the most enjoyable part of the weekend. Covid-cautious Cook was missed.

The Friday night auction was devoted to items from Bob Weinberg’s estate, which was dominated by lots of high-end Weird Tales issues. Bidding was fast and furious with lots of money being thrown around. Over the past few years, comic book collectors have started to look to the pulps as the new frontier for speculation and investment, to the dismay of a lot of pulp regulars, and at this show the presence of outside money was very apparent.    

The prime example was  the October 1933 Batgirl issue of WT (which has always struck me as one of the most overrated covers in all of pulpdom). It went for $11K — not to mention a 10% buyer’s premium. 

There were three HPL items that Weinberg apparently got from Derleth (who, in turn, likely got them from the Barlow estate):

— an Errata sheet for the 1936 Visionary edition of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” with handwritten notations by HPL

— Postcard from HPL to Galpin from 1922 (HPL signed as “grandpa”) — $750

— Envelope addressed from the UK to HPL, with HPL handwritten note saying “Please return to HP Lovecraft” and giving his address — $360

As prices go at this point in time, I have no idea whether those are reasonable or not. I was tempted to try for the postcard, really a pretty minor item, but it was clear that the person who eventually won it was bidding aggressively and would probably have outbid me in the end, so I blew the money on other things. (I’m not sure whether I should be second-guessing that decision or not.)

Saturday night was mainly items from Glenn Lord’s estate — REH correspondence, lots of Arkhams — though the condition was not always great; insect damage marred a number of them. Top items were a copy of Ebony and Crystal inscribed by CAS to REH ($1300) and an ex-library copy with facsimile DJ of the Jenkins A Gent from Bear Creek ($2600).

The copy of E&C was in good shape given its age — covers and spine in good shape, pages tight — and I would have thought it would have gone for more than it did. One can speculate as to why it didn’t, the big money players were there for the Friday night auction with all the high grade pulps (especially WT). They weren’t there Saturday; winning bids on a lot of items were lower than I expected.  

A more likely reason may be that people aren’t as enthusiastic about or as familiar with CAS, especially a collection of his verse. Still, an inscribed copy to Howard, linking two of the WT triumvirate, should have attracted more interest than that.

As for me, I came home with nothing spectacular: Biggest item was a nice condition Arkham 1944 edition of Jumbee, which I acquired at the auction, a copy of Will Murray’s new Shadow history (support one’s friends), some Unknown upgrades, and a number of early Adventure issues. Among the latter was a beat-up copy of the first issue (Nov. 1911) lacking both front and back covers; I’m not sure that I really needed it since I already have a complete scan of the issue but, like Jack Burton, I figured “What the hell.”

Plus a Quick Footnote from Haefele:

I did attend Windy City day 1, and found one Arkham House upgrade, but nothing else I couldn’t pass up. The highlight of the day was spending the afternoon with Tom.   

One nice thing happened, however, when I was seen dragging Rajchel’s copy of Lovecraft: The Great Tales across the room. Some person unknown to me stopped to say I was going to enjoy reading the book, that he was 2/3rds through it and thought it was excellent.

As far as I know, he had no idea I was the author.

We were interrupted before we could explore the coincidence, and I didn’t see him later.  

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