Sunday, September 30, 2018

E. B. White Needs No Introduction

When you're a famous writer, everyone wants you to write a little something for them. When everyone wants you to write a little something for them, you need to be able to politely decline at least some of their offers. An uncollected 1967 letter from famous writer E. B. White politely declines such an offer with some eloquence, but also with an abiding sadness. 
E. B. White
TLS, November 2, 1967
A page from the New Yorker

E. B. White
eBay Listing Ended July 12,2015

E. B. White
eBay Item Description

E. B. White
eBay Bid History
Six bids from three bidders, each of whom was active in the final minute of the auction.

Note:  I would like to hear from anyone who can identify this letter's recipient Mr. Lowe or the book he asked E. B. White to introduce. The historical record presented in this eBay listing is far from complete.

Also incomplete, evidently, are the collected letters of E. B. White. Readers who would like to help me remedy this situation, at least in part, are invited to share correspondence from the great stylist. Scans and photographs of his letters, especially of uncollected letters such as this one, are welcome here. My blog is at your disposal.

I don't have as much here as I'd like, but feel free to check out the archives for a few choice blog posts about E. B. White and even about Charlotte's Web illustrator Garth Williams.

TLS stands for typed letter, signed. If you're British, it also stands for the Times Literary Supplement. I am not British.

More Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

The Letters of E. B. White

The New Yorker

Attempted Bloggery's Flipping Index


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Harold Ross: Defending a Reporter

The good news is that the New Yorker's founding editor, Harold Ross, took the time in 1948 to write a letter defending reporter Lillian Ross. The bad news is that recipient Mervin Houser archived the letter by punching holes in it. But at least he kept it.

Harold Ross
TLS, March 19, 1948

Harold W. Ross
eBay Listing Ended January 22, 2018

Harold Ross
eBay Item Description

Harold Ross
eBay Bid History
Two bids. The final one gets it.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Harold Ross

The New Yorker

Attempted Bloggery's Defensive Index


Friday, September 28, 2018

Howard Baer: Helping to Understand

Is the stereotype of the would-be philandering husband who complains that his wife doesn't understand him still a valid one? A 1951 Esquire cartoon by Howard Baer relies on the reader being familiar with the old cliché. It remains amusing, but will it continue to resonate with a younger generation that expects husbands to be more faithful and men and women to be peers in the workplace?

"I'm your husband's secretary. I think I can help you to understand him[.]"
Howard Baer
Esquire, February 1951, page 33

The above scan is from an eBay sale of a single magazine page. I am happy to report that about six days ago Esquire posted its entire print archive online. This allowed me to find the issue and page number for the cartoon, information eBay sellers often withhold. I managed to grab a couple of images of this page, but to view the archive with a proper reader there is a $45 annual subscription cost. A discount is available for print subscribers, which apparently means the archive is not included with the print subscription, as the New Yorker's is.

My gut impression is that the online archive is truer to the original color than the eBay scan.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Howard Baer


Attempted Bloggery's Understanding Index


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Of Spam and Spelling

Even spammers should proofread. Here's a peek at what I found in my spam box on September 9, 2018. As you can see, I'm always on the trail of better performance:

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:



Attempted Bloggery's Greatly Enhanced Index


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Robert Frank's Les Américains with Cover Art by Saul Steinberg

Les Américains is a 1958 book featuring reproductions of Robert Frank's iconic photographic portraits of Americans. A critical design element of the original French edition was illustrating the front and back book covers not with photos but with drawings on graph paper by Saul Steinberg. The pen and ink drawings depict city streetscapes with the graph paper grid representing modern, oversized buildings. A first edition is coming up for auction at Swann Galleries on October 18 with an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

Robert Frank
Swann Auction Galleries
Artists & Amateurs:  Photographs & Photobooks
October 18, 2018

Some other images of another copy of the book are provided by D&D Galleries of Somerville on AbeBooks. They include Steinberg's back and front covers and some of Frank's photographs. This copy is priced at $2495, which is right in the middle range of the Swann Galleries high and low estimates.

AbeBooks Listing Retrieved September 24, 2018

October 18, 2018 Update:  Sold!
Hammer Price $1,100

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Robert Frank

Saul Steinberg


Attempted Bloggery's Graphic Index


Monday, September 24, 2018

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #632

Here is my arresting entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #632 for September 24, 2018. The drawing is by Lars Kenseth.

"What makes you think Russia is behind this?"

These captions didn't follow police procedure:
"I'd swear I brought in only one suspect."
"All the witnesses are useless."
"We may never solve the K Through 5 Mystery."
"Every day we find more layers to this puzzle."
"If it were up to me I'd cuff them all."
"Don't you think I'd run their fingerprints if I could?"

October 1, 2018 Update:  The Finalists

October 8, 2018 Update: I voted for the second caption. As if you couldn't guess.

October 15, 2018 Update: Winning Caption

Note:  Last week cartoonist Ellis Rosen sat a pizza chef on a jet plane. My caption didn't rise to the occasion. Grab a slice and dig into Contest #631.

This is Lars Kenseth's first Caption Contest and his first appearance on this blog. Coincidence? I think not.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Saul Steinberg: Three New Yorkers

The great Saul Steinberg never learned to paint clouds. 

--David Apatoff
"Steinberg's Clouds"
Illustration Art blog post for May 3, 2010

There are a couple of late pictures of California churches in which the structures seem so monumental and eternal that the rambunctious life around them is like a puff of air, and even the sky (his skies are very important and most of them seem to embody something special: maybe truth and beauty?) and the rest of nature seem trivialized.
--Red Grooms

"The World According to Steinberg," Review of Saul Steinberg's The Discovery of America
The New York Times Book Review, December 6, 1992

Sometimes Saul Steinberg's unusual treatment of the sky can be overwhelmed by the flashier elements of his compositions. Three New Yorkers is an offbeat 1976 drawing of his that I see as a grotesque elaboration on his paper masks. It allows us to see not only the three said New Yorkers as they apparently wish to present themselves, but also the Chrysler Building and the Guggenheim Museum, all through the uniquely transformative eyes of Steinberg. It is always a privilege to be invited into his fantastical—and, in this case, eccentric—world. And, yes, there are amazing clouds too, but here you would be forgiven for overlooking them at first glance.

This piece is coming up for auction on September 28 at The estimate is $15,000-$20,000. Bidding starts at $10,000, although the reserve is apparently higher.
Saul Steinberg
Three New Yorkers, 1976

Saul Steinberg
Three New Yorkers, 1976

Saul Steinberg Listing Retrieved September 20, 2018

Saul Steinberg Description Retrieved September 20, 2018

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Saul Steinberg

Attempted Bloggery's Landmark Index


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Saul Steinberg: The Chrysler Building

The title of Saul Steinberg's 1965 composition "The Chrysler Building" doesn't begin to hint at the imaginative transformation that art deco landmark has undergone. Even more remarkable is the appearance of the Statue of Liberty, here draped in the French Tricolor and wearing an American Indian headdress. A rainbow and the pyramid from the back of the dollar bill balance out this image. The art has appeared in publications of the Galerie Maeght, Paris. It will be sold by on September 28 with an estimate of $20,000-$30,000. Bidding starts at $14,000, but the reserve is apparently higher.

Saul Steinberg
The Chrysler Building, 1965

Saul Steinberg
The Chrysler Building, 1965

Saul Steinberg Listing Accessed September 20, 2018

Saul Steinberg Description Accessed September 20, 2018

February 16, 2020 Update:  This artwork was used on a 1988 poster for Galerie Adrien Maeght.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Saul Steinberg

Attempted Bloggery's Iconic Index