Friday, April 30, 2010

1988 - 1989

1988 was something of a bleak year for Gorey collectors. The Raging Tide had been published in 1987, and there would not be another "A" Collection book published until 1989. There were several publications with Gorey illustrations, but this is the first year since the 1956 when there hadn't been at least one new Gorey book to delight his fans.

It could be said that 1974 was also a drought year for Gorey publications since the only new title that year was Categor y, which was not exactly a new work for Mr. Gorey. The drawings for this title were completed in 1972 to accompany the limited edition of Amphigorey (see my posting from June 1, 2009). It was however, a new work to his fans who had not seen these drawings.

Why were there no new works in 1988? If memory serves me, I believe that it was around this time period when Mr. Gorey had some health issues which slowed him down temporarily. Mr. Gorey would delight his fans in 1989 with an explosion of new works publishing five new books.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Interesting List

At the back of many books by Edward Gorey, there was often a checklist of published books and works "in preparation". One of the upcoming titles was a book called, An Interesting List. On my blog posting from April 19, 2009, there was a comment asking if I knew what became of this particular title, since it had never been published.

This week, an Anonymous follower of this blog pointed out that one drawing from An Interesting List appears in the 2007 Gorey Rare day planner. I enjoyed the comment and thought others would like seeing the drawing, so here it is!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


The second miniature book created by Edward Gorey and published by Bromer Booksellers of Boston is titled Q.R.V. This miniature is slightly larger than The Eclectic Abecedarium (see my posting from January 28, 2010).

The book consists of illustrated verses extolling an elusive mixture named Q.R.V. What is Q.R.V.? It is a substance with amazing (and often harrowing) properties. Apart from that, it is any one's guess as to what it actually is. From this time forward, Edward Gorey will use Q.R.V. again and again. It appears in multiple books, drawings and in his stage plays.

One of my favorite verses in the book is the final rhyme:

O I would do strange things to you, if you'd do them to me; I have on hand, you understand, just scads of Q.R.V.

Q.R.V. was published in several editions. The miniature signed, numbered limited edition consists of 290 copies (#111 through #400). It measures 1-1/2" x 1-1/4" and has decorated boards and a pasted on label on the cover. I am showing copy #280 to the left in the photo above.

The deluxe signed, numbered limited edition was published in 110 copies (#1 through #110). These copies have different illustrated boards and are slipcased (shown below). The paste up label on the book is different than the limited edition, while the original cover paste up label appears on the slipcase. Each of the deluxe copies have been hand colored in silver and gold metallic casein paint by Edward Gorey. I am showing copy #53. I will note that the slipcase design on this book has been improved from the slipcase used on The Eclectic Abecedarium. On the earlier book, a ribbon was attached to the slipcase to facilitate extracting the book.

There are a few extra copies of both the limited and deluxe editions. Because of the difficulty in binding the miniatures, Mr. Gorey signed several extra sheets and hand colored a few extra sheets in case of mistakes. The sheets were hand signed by Edward Gorey, but not numbered. The additional copies are labeled AP (artist's proof) in pencil. The copy on the right in the photo at the top of the listing is a black & white AP copy. I am not sure how many of these additional copies exist, but I have heard there were less than 20 total.

Q.R.V. was printed in a larger format (the drawings and text remained original size) as a trade edition in 1990 by The Fantod Press. For the trade edition, the book was titled Q.R.V. The Universal Solvent. My copy is signed by Mr. Gorey on the title page. A significantly shortened version of Q.R.V. was included in Amphigorey Again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New York Review Quiz Book

Published in 1986 as a paperback by Crown Publishers, The New York Review Quiz Book had only one printing but kept Edward Gorey busy creating a large number of wonderful drawings for the cover, and chapter titles. Each drawing features an elegantly dressed man or woman performing extraordinary feats of daring amid an atmosphere that is best described as a "High Tea Circus".

I was able to purchase three drawings from this title from Gotham Book Mart when Mr. Gorey sold some of his original art holdings. I acquired a forth piece from this book some years later from another collector. Each piece of art is signed in pencil by Mr. Gorey. These four pieces are individually framed and form an amusing grouping in my home.

In the book, each drawing is printed inside a box. This box does not exist on the original artwork.

Chapter 8 - This is a great image of a woman dressed for a night on the town, but instead ends up hanging by her teeth. Lets hope she has had lots of practice gripping a cigarette holder tightly between her jaws so she won't let go now.

Chapter 18 - This is the piece that I acquired from another collector. Pictured is a woman playing a vigorous game of toss with an infant. This piece was shown in several museum shows before it entered my collection.

Chapter 20 - An elegant free fall, or has she perhaps been shot out of a cannon? Whatever the cause of her trajectory, she does not seem bothered by it in the least.

Chapter 22 - Just because she is in heels and a long skirt doesn't hinder this limber woman from contorting on the parallel bars.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010 Edward Gorey House Exhibition

The 2010 exhibition opens this week at the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port, MA. The theme of the exhibition is Gorey-illustrated works by other authors. Included are books, ephemera, and original artwork by Edward Gorey. As usual, this year's exhibition promises to showcase many unusual and unique items.

This year I have lent eight pieces of original artwork by Mr. Gorey for display. If you have been enjoying this blog and wish to see some of the art in person, plan a visit the museum this year!

Included in my loan is all of the art from The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost by John Bellairs (see my posting from March 6, 2010). At the request of Rick Jones, director of the Edward Gorey House, Bill Campbell and I have donated a stained glass window hanging which is inspired by the design from the back cover of this book. As readers of my blog may know, Bill and I own a stained glass studio ( in St. Paul, Minnesota. The window hanging will be on display throughout the exhibition and will be auctioned to benefit the Edward Gorey House. For more information on how to bid on this piece, please contact the Edward Gorey House at 508-362-3909.

To create this one of a kind stained glass item, we began by hand drawing a full sized pattern or "cartoon" as our guide. Using hand rolled art glass, we cut and fit the glass pieces to match the cartoon.

Details for the window were then hand painted by Bill on the surface of each piece of glass using a powdered mineral oxide. Bill referenced an image of the artwork while hand painting details onto each piece of glass. The glass was then fired in a kiln to 1275 degrees to fuse the painting to the surface of the glass (this is where stained glass gets its name from...Silver Oxide will turn yellow when fired, staining the surface of the glass).

After much painting and firing, the edges of each piece of glass were hand wrapped in a copper foil tape. The use of the copper foil allows us to solder the pieces together - metal solder sticks to metal tape - and transform the individual glass pieces into a single window panel. Finally, the piece was cleaned and the lead lines were chemically darkened.

The completed piece of Edward Gorey-inspired stained glass is shown to the left.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New York

Last week, Bill and I went to New York City for a short vacation. While there, we visited several book stores and also attended the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. There were lots of books by Edward Gorey to see, and even a few pieces of original artwork for sale. I came back to Minnesota with four Gorey-illustrated volumes that I did not have in my collection.

The first two books are More of Brer Rabbit's Tricks (1968 Young Scott Books, New York) and Lions and Lobsters and Foxes and Frogs (1971 Young Scott Books, New York), both authored by Ennis Rees and illustrated by EG. I picked these two volumes up because they are both in mint condition. In fact, they were still shrink wrapped!

I also purchased a copy of The Monster Den (1966 J. B. Lippincott, Philadelphia/New York) by John Ciardi with illustrations throughout by EG. This volume is signed by Mr. Ciardi.

Rounding out my finds is a copy of Light Meters (1982 Everest House Publishers, New York) by Felicia Lamport. This book of verse has many Gorey illustrations and is signed by Edward Gorey on the title page. One of my favorite illustrations shows a rabbit looking at a maximum security compound for a verse entitled, YOUR GARDEN PLOT WON'T THICKEN IF YOU'RE STINGY WITH THE CHICKEN WIRE.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Figbash Original Art

Edward Gorey often used Figbash as a recurring character after his debut in The Raging Tide. Figbash would be extensively employed by Mr. Gorey to decorate theater sets, announcement cards, posters, fine art prints and even appear in his own alphabet book. Even with these frequent sightings, Figbash rarely appears in original art outside of the Gorey Archives.
I own a delightful pen & ink and watercolor portrait of Figbash dancing on the tip of steeple. This is the only finished piece of original Figbash art that I have run across in a private collection, and the only color Figbash art I have ever seen. A rough sketch featuring Figbash (for one of Mr. Gorey's mug designs) was sold at auction recently, but it was not a finished piece of art. There may be other Figbash drawings in private hands, but as yet I haven't heard of them. I acquired this painting from Gotham Book Mart and was told that it was made for Linda Moody of Moody Books Inc., and that it was unpublished.

A couple years after I acquired the artwork, I was able to find out more information on the piece. Edward Gorey made the art in 1993 as an apology for losing/mislaying some books which Ms. Moody had sent to Mr. Gorey for signing - the books were eventually found, signed and returned with a short letter of apology and the accompanying painting of Figbash. The note (pictured to the left) was sold in an online auction by Ms. Moody. After the auction, I contacted Ms. Moody and confirmed that the note was indeed sent with the art she had sold to GBM. Unfortunately, I did not win the auction, and do not have the note in my collection.