Friday, December 30, 2022

Roger Angell's Copy of Getting Even by Woody Allen

New York bookseller B & B Rare Books, Ltd., has listed New Yorker baseball writer and fiction editor Roger Angell's copy of Woody Allen's collection Getting Even (1971). Previously, we've seen book's from Angell's library listed with a bookseller in Salisbury, Maryland. According to the seller's notes, Allen's early humorous pieces were written in a style similar to that of S. J. Perelman. Allen, to judge from the warm inscription, credits Angell with helping him to find his own comedic voice.  

Woody Allen
AbeBooks listing accessed December 13, 2022


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Jerome's Copy of Clyde Fans Book 1 by Seth

With all five books of Clyde Fans now complete and published as an omnibus edition, it seems that only Seth completists would be interested in a lone copy of Clyde Fans Book 1 from 2004. The market for such a book might be broader, though, if potential buyers realized the author had handled the volume himself, dedicating it to a fan, Jerome, and leaving a sketchy self-portrait in the year of publication. The book's original recipient Jerome, it seems pretty certain, is the same Jerome who last fall offered to sell the book from the UK on eBay.

Still, the decision to purchase this book on the other side of the ocean wasn't exactly a slam-dunk. The sketch is very small; Seth's best drawings are radiant on the full page. Also, the condition isn't perfect; it's a little smudgy. The price, $10.19 (or 9 GBP), was pretty reasonable, but the cost of expedited shipping to the US from London was fully three times the purchase price. Getting the book for a best offer of 7.50 GBP was a small victory, but cutting a sweet deal on the shipping would have been even better.

It turns out that the book that initially arrived was an unsigned copy of Clyde Fans Part One, a booklet from 2000 containing about half the contents of the later Book 1. No matter that the shipping cost to the seller thus had doubled; he graciously sent the correct volume, signed and doodled in.

eBay listing accessed October 19, 2022

eBay item description


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Hiding from the Dog Walker: James Thurber Preliminary New Yorker Cover Art

A nervous man dressed handsomely in jacket and bow tie hides behind a tree. Evidently, he means to conceal himself from a woman walking a large dog. He might be able to avoid her completely—but only if the dog doesn't give him away.

When Abell Auction of Los Angeles sold an original drawing by James Thurber on October 27, the auction listing had nothing to say about whether the drawing had been published and to what end it had been created. 
We can only guess at the history of this woman and this man.

Thurber's woman has to work to keep up with the dog.

Is this a potential match made in heaven, or somewhere else?

James Thurber
Abell Auction of October 27, 2022

The presale estimate was $1,000 to $2,000, quite respectable, but the hammer price was a robust $7,500. That evidence of bidder enthusiasm easily could be explained by Thurber's towering reputation or by the strength of the drawing. It is equally possible, though, that those who bid aggressively on this piece understood its place in New Yorker history, regardless of whether the auction house had any inkling. As I have already hinted in the post's title, this drawing is a rough version of The New Yorker's fine cover of February 29, 1936.

James Thurber
Preliminary cover art
The New Yorker, February 29, 1936

And, if you ask me, this guy standing behind the tree doesn't stand a chance.


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Tina Marie's Copy of The New Yorker Book of New York Cartoons

The New Yorker Book of New York Cartoons is a 2004 collection published by Bloomberg Press. Its subject matter, cartoons about the City of New York from a magazine that celebrates that city and is named for its prototypical denizen, should qualify it as one of the least improbable books to be put together by the Cartoon Bank. The cover illustration by Michael Witte shows the magazine's mascot Eustace Tilley doing his perennial butterfly-gazing into a snow globe of Manhattan.

Tina Marie's copy, sold earlier this month on eBay, is something of a rarity. It is signed by cartoonist Leo Cullum (1942–2010), not an easy find, and embellished with a drawing of a cat in a collar, no doubt an apartment dweller in a certain vibrant metropolis.

The New Yorker Book of New York Cartoons
eBay listing accessed December 13, 2022

Leo Cullum
eBay item description:  "Photos are of actual item."


Monday, December 26, 2022

Robert Leighton: Two Roughs

Two drawings by New Yorker cartoonist Robert Leighton were sold at auction on December 12. The auction house calls them "two original illustrated New Yorker Magazine comic strips with captions, signed by the cartoonist Robert Leighton (lower right)." Let's start by noting that these are single-panel cartoons, not comic strips from your newspaper's comics page.

I was unable to find the captions in the magazine's database, so I asked the cartoonist whether these roughs were published and, if so, where. Mr. Leighton replied, "No—neither one (though the doorman drawing later became a different cartoon I did sell). My guess is these are photocopies that I shaded with marker by hand, and were taken from the 'return' file at The New Yorker." Taken? He elaborated, "With so many piece of paper to sort each week, the occasional misfile wasn't too surprising. I remember getting the work of others too. (Though I never offered it for sale!)"


"Just taking an informal poll of the building, Mr. B. Which doorman do you like best?"
Robert Leighton
Unpublished rough

"Of course I have an inferiority complex!"
Robert Leighton
Unpublished rough

Robert Leighton's signatures


Robert Leighton
Kensington Estate Auctions listing accessed November 26, 2022

Presale estimate

The two roughs found a buyer at auction. Bidding started at $100 and the final hammer price was $175, just under the low estimate.
Hammer price

The doorman rough evolved into a finished cartoon published online in Air Mail, approximately a mirror image:
"Shall I let your wife know you're home, or do you both like surprises?"
Robert Leighton
Air Mail


Sunday, December 25, 2022

NFT: The First SMS

On December 3, 1992, Richard Jarvis sent the world's first Short Message Service (SMS) or text message at a Christmas party. Last year a unique digital copy of this landmark message—reading "Merry Christmas"—was minted as a non-fungible token or NFT. It was sold as a charity lot for $107,000 Euros, about $114,000 today. But this NFT had to be paid for in ethereum which today would be worth only about $37,000. So buyer beware, as always, but also seller beware.


The First SMS NFT