Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2015 Issue

Signed Documents and Images from Schulson Autographs

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A selection of autographs.

Schulson Autographs has issued Catalog 163 of signed material. The signers come from all walks of life – politics, theater, film, art, science, literature, music, and more. America and Europe are both well represented. These autographs are found on letters, documents, photographs and drawings. Here are just a few samples of the material to be found in this selection.

 

Where better to start than with our youngest entrant. The words, however, are very adult. On a page titled “Book Slogan,” writer Truman Capote has written the wise words, “The foundation of a nation is built on Books.” However, this is not a reflection of wisdom based on age or experience, as it is written on a sheet of lined notebook paper. While undated, it is clearly something from his youth, as it is also headed “English, Capote,” evidently part of a school assignment. His teacher could not have imagined where this would lead. Priced at $675.

 

If you are wondering what skills it takes to be a great writer, one of the most basic is the ability to turn out words. Ernest Hemingway obviously had that skill, based on this long, chatty letter he wrote to George Brown in 1943. George Brown was a close personal friend and boxing coach of Hemingway. If you are wondering why Hemingway needed a boxing coach, well, he was Hemingway. Macho kind of guy. Hemingway provides information on what all of his children are up to. One of them no longer believes in God. He relays regards from a couple of friends. He describes a fishing trip, naturally enough (this letter was written from Cuba). There were six-foot long iguana, “thousands” of flamingos, and an ocean “full of the biggest kind of fish.” Hemingway then goes into a lengthy description of boxing John Kelly, another personal friend (this was John “Shipwreck” Kelly, a one-time professional football player who married wealth and became an investment banker). He hadn't boxed in many months, so he ended up with a cut lip, but Hemingway was plotting out a better rematch. He sends his love to Georgette, Brown's companion and lover Georgette Cohan, daughter of composer/actor/showman George M. Cohan. He also asks Brown what he thinks of the film version of his novel For Whom The Bell Tolls, which was released that year. “Papa” then signs the letter both “Ernesto” and “Ernest Hemingway.” The letter isn't great literature, but it certainly provides insight into the writer's personality. $11,500.

 

Upton Sinclair will forever be remembered as the muckraking, social crusader. He ran (unsuccessfully) for political office as a socialist. His best known book, The Jungle, was really meant to expose the poor working conditions in the meatpacking industry, but it ended up more as an exposé of its horrific sanitary conditions. Half a century later, Sinclair, now 78 years old, was taking on another cause – alcohol. The temperance movement had long since faded from prominence, with social drinking the norm, but many were way more social than they needed to be. In particular, Sinclair was concerned about the alcoholic, the one for whom alcohol was addictive and whose lives were readily destroyed by drink. He wrote a book about it, The Cup of Fury, where he pointed out the growing consumption of alcohol (this was 1956) and condemned those who pushed social drinks on those suffering from alcoholism as taking part in a murder. In this 1957 letter to a Mr. Greenfield, Sinclair refers to the writer Jack London, who shared Sinclair's political views, but also suffered severely from alcoholism, which contributed greatly to his death. Writes Sinclair of London, “To the public he is a romantic figure & has to be that to sell the book. But to me he is an alcoholic tragedy. I have made him a leading figure in The Cup of Fury...” He lists many others who suffered the same problem, including O. Henry, Sinclair Lewis, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Dylan Thomas. Sinclair says he can't get a regular publisher to sell his book, but that he brought it to a church group which sold 65,000 copies. $525.

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