Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sight Unseen: An Otto Soglow Erotic Drawing

When I gamble, I don't need to go to a casino; I go to an online bookseller and buy something I can't examine. The gamble is that a bookseller who won't go to the trouble of providing a photo will nevertheless accurately describe a book. My gambles in book buying have overall been fairly successful so far, with one or two odd caveats. Win or lose, I report on the results of my blind purchases right here on the blog. Today I report on my most expensive experiment to date, a sight unseen copy of Fortieth Anniversary of the Dutch Treat Club (New York, 1945). As noted in the Strand Book Store listing, the publication is limited to 1000 copies and this volume is inscribed by Otto Soglow with an erotic drawing. The price is $125. Okay, I decided to go for it.

Abe Books Listing
August 7, 2016

The book has voyeuristic cover art by John Falter, a regular Saturday Evening Post cover artist.
John Falter, Fortieth Anniversary of the Dutch Treat Club
New York, 1945, cover

The endpapers are by Dean Cornwell, another outstanding contributor.
Dean Cornwell, endpaper

The Soglow drawing appears in the front of the book on a blank page opposite a printed erotic drawing of a woman wearing only panties, a skirt, and heels, immodestly bending over. Soglow has drawn his Little King staring very specifically at her crotch and experiencing a visible bulge in his royal robe. Humorist Corey Ford has also signed the page and directed a comment at the same area of the woman's anatomy. What a coincidence!
Inscribed "With love to Harry [Staton?]/O. Soglow" with a drawing of the Little King aroused
Inscribed "The usual place/Corey Ford—"

The drawing is inscribed to one Harry. It seems likely this is Harry Staton, who managed the Herald Tribune Syndicate and served as Treasurer of the Dutch Treat Club.
Among the listed officers of the Dutch Treat Club is Treasurer Harry Staton (c. 1880- 1959), possibly the original owner of this volume. Harry Staton was the manager of the Herald Tribune Syndicate from 1924-1947. Note the classy medicine cabinet.

Many of the artists in the Dutch Treat Club contributed a drawing with the theme of the number forty. Here is Otto Soglow's anatomical capriccio to end the volume:

So here's my take on this purchase: I got my money's worth, but to what end? This book is an absolutely unique item in a number of ways. It is perhaps Soglow's only drawing of the Little King in a sexually-aroused state—heaven forfend if there are more—and it is an unexpected bonus to see it paired with Corey Ford's signature. The likely provenance of Harry Staton makes it even more interesting. I have no doubt it's worth $125.

On the down side, it is a dated relic of an old boys' club of cartoonists and humorists. Soglow and Ford are looking for crude laughs in the objectification of women. I love the Little King, but this isn't the Little King drawing I would choose for myself. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would have passed on the book if I'd actually seen it. But then, what was I expecting?

Note:  It's not so hard for a determined collector to find an absolutely unique drawing. In fact, it's quite easy, because cartoonists and other creative people conjure up absolutely unique images every day. Readers who have accumulated unique artifacts of the Dutch Treat Club are encouraged to share them here.

It seems almost every day I ask for scans or photographs of original cartoon art by Otto Soglow. I usually ask for examples of extremely rare and obscure published work. Today I offered a little of each myself. See, it isn't so hard.

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Otto Soglow

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The Dutch Treat Club

Sight Unseen

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