Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Bedside Tales: Armed Services Edition

Armed Services Edition No. 933 published in November of 1945 was a selection of short stories from The Bedside Tales (1945). It was issued six months after VE Day, a time when soldiers waiting to be demobilized might have had a fair amount of time for free reading.
The Bedside Tales:  Armed Services Edition (1945)

The book purports to be "an anthology of the finest modern writing" with a cover illustration and introduction by New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno. The cover also bears the names of the collection's ostensibly most marketable writers in a vertical banner along the left side of Arno's art. Any author unfortunate enough to own a name longer than that of William Saroyan is listed by surname only—i.e., Bemelmans, Hemingway, and Woollcott—the minor indignity thus resolving a typesetter's major dilemma.

Yet it is Arno's name that is the most prominent on the cover, which gives an idea how essential both his cover art and his public persona were thought to be in selling at least the regular edition of the book (the Armed Services Edition wasn't actually offered for sale). The hybrid typography of the title could lead one to conjecture that Arno may have thought the collection was going to be titled simply Bedside Tales, the article The placed alongside his hand-drawn title as an afterthought. Perhaps, perhaps not, but to most buyers Arno's cover art alone must have seemed well worth the price of admission...with no disrespect meant to Ludwig, Ernest, or Alexander.

The Bedside Tales (1945)

The Bedside Tales:  Armed Services Edition
AbeBooks Listing Accessed May 30, 2020

The Bedside Tales
AbeBooks Listing Accessed May 30, 2020

Note:  At the time of this posting, both editions of The Bedside Tales seen here remain available for sale on AbeBooks.

This is my 135th post about Peter Arno. I could use some new material on him. Please send scans or photos of original art or other Arno rarities.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

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Ernest Hemingway

Alexander Woollcott

Attempted Bloggery's Bedside Index


Saturday, May 30, 2020

George Gershwin's Copy of The Low-Down by Charles G. Shaw

In 1928, Charles G. Shaw published a series of profiles of American luminaries. Each subject was illustrated by the New Yorker's popular cartoonist Peter Arno. Arno's portrait of author Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1925) also appears on the cover.
Anita Loos illustrated by Peter Arno
Shaw, Charles Green. The Low-Down. Holt and Co., 1928.

Composer George Gershwin is another personality Shaw included in the book. Shaw inscribed this copy to him, and may well have presented other personalized copies to his other subjects. 
Inscribed " To George Gershwin
With all best wishes
from Charles G. Shaw
March 15, 1928."

Title page

First edition, first printing

Attorney Clarence Darrow, we are informed, "cannot behold an evergreen or weeping willow without thinking of a grave-yard." Peter Arno's portrait introduces the section.
Clarence Darrow
Peter Arno

The book's price corresponds to 1750 GBP.
George Gershwin's Copy of The Low-Down by Charles G. Shaw
AbeBooks Listing Accessed May 29, 2020

Note:  At the time of this posting George Gershwin's copy of The Low-Down remains available for sale. That's one nice copy.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Peter Arno

George Gershwin

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Attempted Bloggery's Sweet and Low-Down Index


Friday, May 29, 2020

Peter Arno's Parade: The American and British Covers

Peter Arno's first cartoon collection was Parade published in New York by Horace Liveright in 1929. The dust jacket illustration does show a parade of sorts: recognizable Arno types dressed to the nines—or not dressed at all—in a not entirely coherent procession moving approximately left to right. Arno was already wildly popular in the States through his groundbreaking work in the New Yorker and the cover only needed to remind potential book buyers of his distinctive style and of the sort of familiar characters they could expect to find within.
Peter Arno's Parade. New York:  Horace Liveright, 1929.

Two years later, when it was time to introduce Arno's work to the British public, a different approach was considered. This time the dust jacket was divided into four quadrants and an Arno cartoon complete with minuscule caption was placed in each corner. These four gags may have been the first Arno cartoons many English readers saw:
Peter Arno's Parade. London:  John Lane, 1931.

The four captions, clockwise from top left, are "See, darling, I told you we couldn't have a Platonic friendship," "Not a very homey boat, is it?," "I was discussing the Mexican situation with Bottomley today. It seems fraught with interest," and "He fought a beautiful war, sir." Half of these are saucy bedroom gags and all four of them feature luxurious, upscale settings. That may not be a bad way to sell books...

Those familiar with Arno's American editions may notice that the Platonic friendship cartoon is out of place in Parade. Instead it is the leadoff cartoon to Peter Arno's Hullabaloo (New York: Horace Liveright, 1930). So the British edition of Parade collects at least some material that is not in the American edition.

The particular copy of the American edition of Parade shown here is from the library of writer Carl Van Vechten:
Peter Arno's Parade
Locus Solus Rare Books Listing Accessed May 28, 2020

The British edition of Parade listed on AbeBooks has a dust jacket that even the book dealer acknowledges is in poor condition. The price of $8.26 corresponds to 6.50 GBP. American fans of Arno might find the $37 transatlantic shipping cost prohibitive.

Peter Arno's Parade
AbeBooks Listing Accessed May 28, 2020

Note:  Both copies of Parade are available for sale at the time of posting.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Peter Arno

Attempted Bloggery's Anglo-American Index


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Peter Arno: Bonanza

Bonanza is a Michigan Rummy board game played on a large cloth or board with chips and a deck of cards. Parker Brothers issued the game in 1936 featuring a prominent box illustration by New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno. A mustachioed gambler in top hat and bow tie is shown with six stacks of chips—his winnings—and the requisite deck of cards. The game was also published in several editions or variants in 1941, 1942, and 1946. These editions may explain the different colored boxes and cloths that can be found in the secondhand market today.

The first we'll look at has Arno's box cover printed in red:

The box and illustration in blue:

And finally the box published in green:
Peter Arno

In 1964, Parker Brothers reissued the game with a cover photograph of characters from the popular television series "Bonanza" which first aired in 1959 and which coincidentally had the same name. The box read "as played by the Cartwrights at their Ponderosa ranch." How's that for a product tie-in?
Bonanza (1964)

A few more details are provided below from various recent eBay sales. Then it's game on!

Peter Arno
eBay Listing Ended March 22, 2020

Peter Arno
eBay Item Description

The edition with the box printed in blue has a dark cloth board:
Peter Arno

And finally there is one more example printed in green:
Peter Arno

Note:  I'm not at all certain whether the different box colors correspond to the editions issued in different years. It's also possible there might be other colors out there that I have missed. Readers with further information on the board game Bonanza are welcome to chime in. I would also like to hear from anyone with the original Arno art or with other examples of published games he may have contributed to.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Peter Arno

Attempted Bloggery's High Stakes Index


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #76

We're now up to the Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #76. The filename for the image is Bird Hygge. I had to look it up, but it works. My entries are shown here. The drawing is by Ellis Rosen.

"It's time you learned there's more to life than nuts."
"I never considered worms to be comfort food."

"Deal: you scratch my wing—I fan your tail."
"Once treed, I vowed to make the best of it."

June 3, 2020:  The Winner

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Peter Arno's Copy of Horses and Heroes by Frazier and Robert Hunt

Frazier Hunt (1885-1967) and his son Robert Hunt published their book Horses and Heroes: The Story of the Horse in America for 450 Years early in 1949. New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno (1904-1968) received a personalized copy that is currently listed on eBay, offering a rare chance to purchase a volume from his library. It bears a prepublication inscription from Frazier Hunt, whose nickname was Spike. Hunt was an author and radio commentator who prepared Arno's presentation copy in his home borough of Newtown in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Inscribed "For Peter Arno—
   Who knows how closely
most of the human race
 are associated with       
the horse.                   
               Frazier Hunt

                                                                  Nov 16 —'48
                                                                  Bucks Co. Pa  "

Title page

Copyright notice

Horses and Heroes
eBay Listing Accessed May 22, 2020
Horses and Heroes
eBay Item Description

Devotees of Peter Arno's work might be curious as to what manner of illustration appears in this book. Fortunately there's another listing of Horses and Heroes on eBay, this copy unsigned, which gives an idea of the sort of pictures within. They consist of historical paintings and engravings as well as modern photographs. To be sure, they are informative while not very Arno-like:

Note:  Surely there's more to the story of this book. Was Frazier Hunt indeed Peter Arno's friend, as the eBay seller states with seeming confidence? Readers with knowledge or evidence of their acquaintance are urged to come forward. Were they racetrack buddies, perhaps?

Could be. Cartoon aficionado Christopher Wheeler provides a photograph of Peter Arno at the races here.

My thanks to Arno biographer Michael Maslin, for confirming that Hunt did not come up in his research.

At the time of my posting, this book is still available for purchase on eBay.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Peter Arno


Signed Books

Attempted Bloggery's Neighsaying Index