Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Edward Gorey's first compilation book titled Amphigorey, was published in 1972 by G. Putnam's Sons, New York. The book was originally published in a hard cover binding with a matching illustrated dust wrapper. The original price of $12.95 is printed on the inside front flap of the dust jacket. Amphigorey remains in print today and is usually the first step (along with the other three anthologies) in starting a Gorey collection.

On all bibliographies of Mr. Gorey's works, it is stated that there is no physical difference in the first three printings of this book. P. Matthew Monaghan (the person in charge of all things Gorey at Gotham Book Mart when I started collecting) told me that this was actually not the case. On the earliest printings of Amphigorey, the color of the tan is lighter and slightly greenish in tone. This ink color was rejected and corrected, the tan becoming slightly darker and more brown in tone on subsequent printings. I have three first edition copies of Amphigorey (all signed by EG and one copy inscribed to me). One copy (pictured on the left side of the photo) is this lighter, slightly greenish tan color, which is presumably the earliest printing of this title. The other two copies (a first edition, and my signed, limited edition) are the standard tan color. If you click on the photo and view it larger, you can see the color difference. This is not due to any fading or external forces, but is a different color of printed ink. The color difference is more pronounced in person than on the scan.

A special signed/numbered limited edition of 50 slipcased copies was created to celebrate the publication of Amphigorey. There is a colophon page tipped into each copy of the limited edition that is signed and numbered. The black cardboard slipcase also features an illustrated paste-on label. The copies of this book which I have seen all have glue coming through the label. Obviously, an acidic glue was used to paste these labels down. I have had my copy professionally neutralized so the the acids will not continue to deteriorate the label.

Each of the 50 slipcased copies was accompanied by an original ink and water colour drawing of a cat. Each drawing was numbered within the piece of art and the numbers correspond to the number of the book. These drawings were published as Categor y in 1974. I own copy #39 of this special limited edition. The featured cat is wearing a striped sweater with number 39 boldly emblazoned on the chest. The ballet-like pose of the cat is enhanced by the way he nimbly balances on the unsupported green ladder. The drawing is signed in the lower right corner with Mr. Gorey's initials.


Goreyphile said...

Wow, thanks I never thought I would ever get to see that particular edition.

jpcs said...

DEEPLY envious of your limited edition copy!! How strange - and unfortunate - that the glue seems to be seeping through the label on these (especially given that the label is rather charming!). Two questions, if I may... First, was the limitation page originally loosely tipped in or glued in? Second, was the original art piece placed in a special folder or again, just tipped into the book?

ampootozote said...

The limitation page is tipped into the front of the book and functions like a page. The drawing was laid in, and my copy did not have any special envelope or folder protecting the artwork. I do not know if there was a protector originally, but there was none in the copy I have.

Goreyphile said...

I am envious also. Since you have been collecting Gorey for many years--It seems you were able to aquire some amazing editions. I bet the Gotham was like a candy store. Do you have the artwork framed? Some of my fellow book collectors say it should stay inside the book, but I think it should be enjoyed on the wall!!

ampootozote said...

I have the cat framed and in a place where I see it every morning and evening. I put a notation on the back of the frame saying it goes with the book (in case I get hit by a bus). I prefer to enjoy the pieces I collect rather than hiding them away. I am very careful about sunlight and have the drapes drawn during the day. Framing is all archival and has UV glass. Sunlight can really destroy books and artwork rather quickly. I have also had all of my books professionally neutralized to stop any acids in the inks, papers or bindings from destroying the books.

Gotham was a wonderful place to visit, and was always a highlight of my annual trips to NYC.