The First From Dragon Books
H.L. Mencken was one of the most notable of journalists of the first half of the 20th century, offending just about everyone at some time or other with his biting wit. Item 62 is a letter he wrote (typed and signed) to a "Mr. Stearns" concerning a case where a high school teacher in Detroit found himself in hot water for placing Mencken's "Book of Burlesques" and another on a reading list. Mencken describes the books as "two undoubtedly lewd tomes," and goes on to say, "This he offered to virgins of 17 and 18. No wonder the High-School Mothers' Club complained to the Polizei." $2,500.
Item 22 is a rather gruesome work, The Punishments of China, Illustrated with Twenty-Two Engravings... These illustrations were created by George Mason (the artist, not to be confused with the Revolutionary War era American patriot), who traveled to China near the end of the 18th century. His engravings make clear that two centuries ago, we knew what torture was, even if we have trouble defining it today. Beatings, deep cuts with a sword, the rack, and tying to a cross are among the unpleasantries depicted. $5,500.
Item 29 is a remarkably realistic charcoal and pastel portrait of writer George Bernard Shaw. The portrait is signed by both artist J.J. Wolf and Shaw himself, who has dated it "4th July 1927." It comes with a humorous letter dated February 7 of that year: "I now have considerable experience as an artist's model; but my terms -- about $3,750 an hour -- are prohibitive." $5,000.
The website for Dragon Books (under design at this writing) is www.dragonbooks.com. Their telephone number is 310-441-8545, their email firstname.lastname@example.org.