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.


Deb said...

Thanks for your informative blog post. I was having difficulty figuring out the meaning of "Q.R.V."

Kasey said...

Stumbled across this post seeking an explanation for the Tiger Lillies song “QRV” from “The Gorey End.” I wonder if the acronym “QRV” is related to the several household chemical products (usually hideously poisonous) sold under their initials in that era – i.e. the bedbug/flea/tick killer “PDQ” (“Pesky Devils Quietus”) or “ROR” (“Rough on Rats”), which was a fairly popular method of suicide in turn-of-the-century America.

ampootozote said...

It stands for anything and everything, including the items you mention. It is a fictitious "miracle product" that is both very helpful and extremely harmful, depending on the application.

Anonymous said...

In the Q code, a radiotelegraph code, QRV means Are you ready? or as an answer, I am ready.

Cad said...

To Kasey: QRV is one of the many "Q-codes" used by ham radio (amateur radio) enthusiasts worldwide. It means "Are you ready?" which may or may not be applicable to the song you mentioned: I don't know the band.

Burlap Hand said...

Is the imagery used in The Universal Solvent the same as Q.R.V. Unwmkd. Imperf., Q.R.V. Hikuptah, Dogear Wryde Postcards?

ampootozote said...

No, the post cards are completely different from the images in the book. The postcards use clip-art images and are not hand drawn.