A Maurice Sendak Collection from J & J Hanrahan
A Maurice Sendak collection from J & J Hanrahan.
By Michael Stillman
The latest catalogue from J and J Hanrahan features items from Joyce Hanrahan's Maurice Sendak collection. The official title is Maurice Sendak. The First Twenty-Five Years. Sendak is still going strong today, though his first 25 years ended 37 years ago. However, it was during those first 25 years that he emerged from an artistically gifted but unknown high school student to the internationally recognized illustrator and writer of children's books.
A great many of these books are first editions, others are first editions in different languages, some are signed or include original Sendak drawings. Joyce Hanrahan has put together an extensive collection of Sendak's work, and now others who appreciate his creations have an opportunity to pick up some of his items that can be difficult to find.
The catalogue begins all the way back at high school, when Sendak was called on to provide illustrations for his high school yearbook. That yearbook is The Legend. June 1946. It was issued by Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, and Sendak was a senior that year. Along with providing artwork, Sendak was the Art Editor for the yearbook. Under his photograph, there is a prophetic verse: "You're delightful drawings make us all gay. A famous artist you'll be someday." As a caution, this is an imperfect copy with a couple of pages of the faculty section missing, but most of Sendak's artwork has survived. Item 1. Priced at $800.
It was during high school that Sendak landed his first true book-illustrating job. This was the dawn of the atomic age, and Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff and Sendak's high school physics teacher, Hyman Ruchlis, were preparing a book to explain this wondrous/terrifying new technology to the people. This is not a "children's book" in the typical Sendak sense of the words, though the book and his illustrations were designed to explain these scientific developments to the young. Offered is this first Sendak illustrated book, Atomics for the Millions, published in 1947. Item 2 is a first edition, first issue. Priced at $700. Evidently this book was of interest well beyond America's shores, as Hanrahan also offers editions in Japanese, Danish, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, and British. Okay, that last one is not a different language, but is a first British edition.
The Wonderful Farm, by Marcel Ayme, was the first true children's book Sendak illustrated. Sendak has noted that it was the book that "officially" made him someone in the children's book field. Item 14 is a first edition from 1951. $550.
You undoubtedly think of Sendak as an illustrator of books, but here is an unusual adaptation of his artistic talents: Cynthia Gooding Sings Turkish and Spanish Folk Songs. No, Sendak didn't join her for harmonies, but he did provide artwork for the album cover. It depicts Spaniards and Turks singing together, which was nice to see after centuries of fighting each other. The album was released in 1953. Gooding made several folk albums and did a radio show in New York in the 1960s where she once interviewed a 20-year-old unknown singer named Bob Dylan. Sendak was just thankful to get a paid illustrating job at the time. Item 28 includes both Sendak's cover and Gooding's vinyl music. $200.
A Maurice Sendak Collection from J & J Hanrahan
The first edition, first issue of Where the Wild Things Are.
By 1954, Sendak was beginning to find his talents more recognized, and illustration assignments began to come his way. Item 33 is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm, by Betty MacDonald, illustrated by Sendak. What an unfortunate name that poor lady had. Presumably her produce made its way to the shelves of her local Piggly Wiggly supermarket. $275.
Item 50 represents another milestone for Sendak. The book is Kenny's Window, and it was the first book written as well as illustrated by him. This is a first edition, published in 1956.
Of course no Sendak bibliography is complete without his most famous work of all, Where the Wild Things Are. There probably isn't anyone who can't picture the front cover illustration of this book in their mind. I'm not sure what that creature is, but I have no desire to meet one. Item 136 is a 1963 first edition in a first issue jacket. $6,500.
Item 167 is a first edition of his 1967 book: Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More to Life. $175. Like many of these books, Hanrahan offers many foreign language editions, which gives us a chance to see how one translates "Higglety Pigglety Pop." Here we go. In Dutch, it is Iggletje Piggeltje Pop. The Dutch are big on silent "j's." In Spanish, it's Didola Pidola Pon. In Norwegian, it is Rikketi Dikketi Plopp.
J & J Hanrahan may be reached at 207-646-1811.