The remarkable Gary Munson collection of Horror & Fantasy books, offered on October 14 in Dallas, was headed by a first edition of Frankenstein...
It was one that had in more recent times seen the three volumes of 1818 acquire smart morocco gilt bindings, and though it doubled expectations to sell at $130,000 (£94,890), it was only very recently that a copy in the rarely seen original bindings was bid to $950,000 at Christie’s New York as part of the Theodore B Baum library – as reported in ATG No 2512.
But this more recent Heritage (25% buyer’s premium) sale contained a great many other rarities and produced a number of quite exceptional results – every one of the lots noted below, though arranged here more or less in order of publication, set an auction record.
One of Jane Austen’s seven “horrid novels”, as recommended by Isabella Thorpe to Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey, was The Necromancer: or, The Tale of the Black Forest, one of those works that became so scarce as to be considered for a time to be Austen’s own fictional creations before being “re-discovered” in the early 20th century by Michael Sadleir and Montague Summers.
Though supposedly translated from the original German of Kahlert’s Der Geisterbanner (1792), Sadleir described it as more a piracy and as, “a conglomerate of violent tales thrown loosely together”. The two-volume English edition of 1794 offered by Heritage was one published by the Minerva Press and it sold at $18,000 (£13,140).
Fantasmagoria, a collection of stories compiled and translated by J-B Benoit Eyriès and first published in Paris 1812, is noted as one of books read by Byron and the soon-to-bewed Shelleys at the Villa Diodati gettogether at which the seed was sewn for Mary’s Frankenstein.
The two volumes offered in Dallas, which had been bound as one at a later date, sold at $16,000 (£11,680) rather than the suggested $400-600.
A copy of Jane (Webb) Loudon’s The Mummy! of 1827 and an 1860, first UK edition of Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, the three volumes in the original bindings of purple cloth gilt, both bore $4000-6000 estimates, but realised $36,000 (£26,275) and $30,000 (£21,900) respectively.
Uniformly bound in half tan calf over marbled boards, the three volumes of the earlier work had been rebacked, with the original spines laid down, but one leaf from the final volume had been replaced in facsimile.
Published anonymously in 1847, a bound set of the 109 issues that over some 876pp made up Varney the Vampyre, or, The Feast of Blood brought a bid of $20,000 (£14,600).
This famous Victorian ‘Penny Dreadful’ and prototype vampire tale is nowadays thought likely to have been the work of JM Rymer, who was described by Heritage as a frequent contributor to Reynold’s Miscellany and author of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf, which is stylistically similar to this title.
Eric Stanislaus, Count Steinbock, the author of an 1894 collection called Studies of Death, was once famously described by Yeats in The Oxford Book of Modern Verse as “a scholar, connoisseur, drunkard, poet, pervert, most charming of men”.
The last work to be published before his rather tragic death in 1895, it is one that has also been described as “earnestly decadent and morbidly melancholy”.
Presumed to be a family association copy, one given to the author’s stepbrother, Godfrey F Mowatt, and in what appears to be a custom-made binding bearing the author’s embossed bookplate, it sold at $18,000 (£13,140).
Yet another lot that made far more than expected – $20,000 (£14,600) rather than the suggested $800- 1200 – was a 1912 first in dust jacket of The Night Land. A Love Tale by WH Hodgson.
Sold at a much higher than predicted $44,000 (£32,115) was the signed, autograph manuscript of ‘Pickman’s Model’, a short story by HP Lovecraft first published in an October 1927 issue of Weird Tales. The manuscript was accompanied by correspondence with what the cataloguer called notable Lovecraft colleagues, among them James F Morton, August Derleth, W Paul Cook and Victor E Bacon.
Finally, a note on two Tarzan lots. A copy of the October 1912 issue of All-Story magazine in which Edgar Rice Burroughs’ famous creation made his first appearance sold for $55,000 (£40,145), while what Heritage dubbed a “stunning” copy of the story in its first hardback appearance of 1914 was bid to $48,000 (£35,035).
Fights of fantasy
An illustration art sale held by Heritage on October 4 attracted very strong prices for the two SF artworks featured here – both of which came from the Munson collections and were formerly in that of Glynn and Suzanne Crain.
Both are the work of American artist and illustrator James Allen St John (1872-1957) and the oil on board illustration showing a figure aiming his rather small bow at a huge winged beast as his companion looks on in terror was sold for $125,000 (£91,910). It was produced to serve as the dust jacket illustration for a 1922, first US edition of At The Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Dating from the same year and sold at exactly the same price, the artwork seen above was used for the jacket on the first edition of his The Chessmen of Mars.