Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Headless Bust

The Headless Bust, a Melancholy Meditation on the False Millennium by Edward Gorey was published in 1999 by Hardcourt Brace, New York. This title was published as a hardcover with illustrated boards and a matching dust wrapper. The Headless Bust was Mr. Gorey's final "A" collection book published during his lifetime.

The Headless Bust is a sequel to Mr. Gorey's 1997 publication, The Haunted Tea Cozy. The main characters once again are the Bahhumbug and Edmund Gravel. In this outing, the Whatsit - a flying bug-like creature - takes them on journeys near and far to witness "shame and disgrace".

In addition to the standard printing, The Headless Bust was published as a slipcased, limited edition volume with 750 numbered and 26 lettered (A to Z) copies. Each of the limited edition books is hand signed by Edward Gorey. I am showing copies #95/750 and #M/26. I also have an Uncorrected Proof of this title, which was issued by Hardcourt in grey wrappers (see photo at the top of the post). The printing quality on the proof is significantly less well executed than in the final books.

Each limited edition copy of The Headless Bust was issued with a custom made beanbag Bahhumbug doll. These delightful dolls are stuffed with poly beads (no worries about bugs or critters eating a rice filling), have six arms/legs, are printed front and back, and can be posed in many positions. The photo to the left shows one of my dolls sitting on a high book shelf.

While each of the 776 limited edition books was issued with a doll, there was a small number of extras created - I believe there were about 25 or so single dolls produced, which would make sense if the total order for dolls was 800. The extra dolls were sold individually by Gotham Book Mart. It is also interesting to note that some Bahhumbug dolls were printed looking right, while others were reversed and look to the left. Whether this was intentional, or a mistake on the part of the manufacturer, I do not know.


Susan said...

I love this Bahhumbug doll. I never realized some looked to the left and others to the right, since I only have one. Good to know - thanks!

John Miller said...

I just came across a copy of this book with a publisher's sticker on the front page signed "Edward Gorey," but it's not numbered. A suspect that it might be a stamp, or did the publisher issue these as bookplates that Gorey actually signed. Thanks.

ampootozote said...

Without seeing the sticker it is difficult to answer properly...Edward Gorey did hand sign bookplates/stickers at different times for different publishers. He also signed a number of bookplates/stickers for "signed" books sold through Signals. Generally, a book signed with a sticker/bookplate will be less valuable than a book signed on the pages of the book itself.

Craig Gilbert said...

Do you know if one specific doll was issued with the special edition, slip case books? if the left-facing doll was only issued with that edition or the right or it was totally random.

Thank you!

ampootozote said...

I am not sure how many dolls were facing in each direction. Until I received one in each direction with copies of books and I pointed it out to GBM back in the day, I don't believe that anyone noticed this.