Saturday, May 1, 2021

QRV Button Magnets


Ashcroft and Moore's The Great Gotham Gorey Collection auction was held on April 1, 2021 and offered many interesting items. Books, posters, t-shirts, and detritus from the long closed bookstore were embraced with spirited bidding. One of the most interesting lots was a collection of 45 Q.R.V. themed pinback style button magnets (one extra non-matching piece included in the lot was a Boston City Opera magnet). Researching these buttons, it became obvious that Edward Gorey created these himself and that the background color for each was hand painted by Mr. Gorey.

The lot consisted of multiple copies of 12 different Q.R.V. designs mounted to metal pinbacks. Three of the designs are represented with examples in gold, bronze, or silver. Five designs appear with gold and silver while the remaining four designs had only one background color present. Were these tests for a promotional item or perhaps a hand made object like the Figbash dolls that Mr. Gorey intended to include with the deluxe edition of the book? The answer can be found by going back 20 years to the 2001 catalog of rare and unusual Edward Gorey items sold by Bromer Booksellers.

Anne Bromer is a Boston based bookseller who was also a long time purveyor, promoter, publisher and friend of Edward Gorey. Bromer published two miniature books by Edward Gorey - The Eclectic Abecedarium in 1983 and Q.R.V. in 1989. While visiting Mr. Gorey at his home, Ms. Bromer acquired a set of ten handmade refrigerator magnets, each bearing the initials Q.R.V., a small child, and often a banner. Mr. Gorey informed Ms. Bromer that he made them so he could visualize different designs and colors for the cover of the miniature book. Mr. Gorey told her at the time that he had created two sets of the button magnets - presumably one with gold backgrounds and the other in silver (the examples with bronze colored backgrounds are the least successfully painted examples). Mr. Gorey did not indicate at the time that there were in fact twelve different images or that he had made many more examples. The set of ten button magnets were taken off the front of Mr. Gorey's refrigerator and went home with Ms. Bromer.

After his passing in April 2000, Ms. Bromer decided it was time to part with her extensive Gorey collection and her set of refrigerator button magnets were sold through the catalog. Until the recent auction, only Andreas Brown was aware that Edward Gorey had created a total of 55 buttons - the original 10 that Anne Bromer acquired and the remaining 45 that Mr. Brown had in his store hold of rare and unusual items by Mr. Gorey. 

The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust has been diligently organizing the thousands of items in the Gorey Archive. By coincidence, a sheet with original artwork for four of the button magnets was just recently located. One drawing is shown here (artwork 1.8" x 2"). To see the other three designs on the sheet, follow The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust on Instagram and Facebook.

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