Monday, January 12, 2015

You Win Some...

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." So goes the old adage. It pays to be cautious, but then how can one be sure one isn't passing up a great bargain? To use an example from real life, what do you do when you find a listing on AbeBooks like this?

AbeBooks Listing by Wonderland Books of Cleveland Heights, OH

These days it has become very easy to overpay for Edward Gorey's signature.  Opportunities to get a bargain are quite rare and $35 is a very good price. Gorey's signature is pretty distinctive and, in its way, elegant. In a book he generally crosses out his printed name and signs it instead. This is especially quirky in that his printed name, like all the text in his books, is generally derived from Gorey's own hand-lettering. Here's an example of his signature in a book:

Edward Gorey's signature
So that's what we're hoping to find here. In addition, the 1991 calendar is rather uncommon, making this seem like a good deal all around. But is it too good?

In making the decision of whether to purchase, it might help to have a decent photograph. The bookseller has not provided one. The only way to buy this calendar is sight unseen unless you happen to be in Cleveland Heights. One could ask the bookseller a question or request a scan, but that might only serve to alert the seller that the item is of interest. So what's the best strategy here?

Well, without a reliable image, I decided to gamble. I figured there was at least a fair chance the calendar was described accurately, and if it weren't I might possibly be able to return it. I thought it was worth the risk and I went ahead and ordered it. Here's what I received:
Edward Gorey, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats T. S. Eliot Calendar for 1991
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats T. S. Eliot Calendar for 1991
Signed by Edward Gorey
Well, I got lucky. The calendar is in good condition, it's what the seller says it is, and it appears to be authentically signed. Furthermore, it really was a good deal. There is only one other copy of this calendar on AbeBooks right now and it is not signed. Myrna R. Bishop, Bookseller of Linwood, KS is offering it for $120:
AbeBooks Listing by Myrna R. Bishop, Bookseller of Linwood, KS

Note:  Wouldn't you know it? This blog offers further reading on Edward Gorey and on signed books (and calendars).


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