Some Unusual New Arrivals at Between The Covers Rare Books
New Arrivals at Between The Covers.
By Michael Stillman
Between The Covers Rare Books has issued a catalogue of New Arrivals, number 121 for the Merchantville, New Jersey, bookseller. Most of the books they offer fall under the category of literature, and this catalogue is no exception. However, a few others items managed to sneak into this one. Here are a few of the 99 "new arrivals" at Between The Covers.
What would you expect to be the most valuable item in a catalogue offering first editions of such titles as The Grapes of Wrath and Catch 22? The answer is Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan may not be recognized as one of the greatest ever of literary achievements, but then again, did Disney ever make a cartoon out of Grapes of Wrath? Published in 1914, item 3 in this catalogue is a first edition, first state of the first hardback Tarzan book. It is available to whoever brings the first $40,000.
Now for a real literary masterpiece. What can compare to Dr. Seuss' tongue twister, Fox in Socks? The good doctor was in a class by himself. Item 5 is a first edition in first issue dust jacket of this Seuss classic. $1,250.
He was both one of the most loved and most despised of sports figures in American history. Jack Johnson won the heavyweight boxing championship, when this was the most coveted of sports titles, in 1908. Johnson was a black man in an era when much of the white population could not accept a black being equal, let alone superior in anything so important. He only managed to get a title shot by following the champion around, taunting him until he gave in. Following his victory, Johnson defended his championship against a series of "white hopes" before finally succumbing to a challenge at the age of 37. What made Johnson even more despised by the white public, who would accept the accommodating Joe Louis a couple decades later, was that Johnson refused to play a subservient role. He did what he wanted, went where he pleased, and worst of all, consorted with white women, marrying three along the way. He was jailed for a year in 1920 for a violation of the Mann Act, supposedly transporting women over state lines for immoral purposes (he sent his white girlfriend a train ticket). Despite the hostility and threats that surrounded him, Johnson never backed down, and never stopped smiling at his opponents. Item 73 is Jack Johnson -- In The Ring -- And Out. It is Johnson's autobiography, with introductions by Damon Runyan and Mrs. Jack Johnson. This copy is signed by Mr. Johnson. $2,850.
Item 18 is a most unusual association copy. It is a first edition, first issue (with dust jacket) of The Good Earth, inscribed by author Pearl Buck. The 1931 book was inscribed to Richard Walsh, who published her first works. Four years later, Buck would marry Walsh, her second husband. $30,000.
Some Unusual New Arrivals at Between The Covers Rare Books
Esme Johns was a collector in I Am A Groupie.
Item 38 pertains to a contentious period in early U.S. history. The title is Message from the President of the United States, Accompanying Sundry Papers Relative to the Affairs of the United States with the French Republic. That president was John Adams, but the letters were from Elbridge Gerry, the U.S. minister in Paris. This report deals with the notorious XYZ Affair. The French, angered by a U.S. treaty with Britain, attempted to secure a bribe for peace, with three unnamed agents ("X," "Y" and "Z") being the intermediaries. Adams refused, with this event being the source of the expression, "millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute." Ultimately, war was avoided, and the U.S. went on with its internal debate of who it liked less, France or Britain. Meanwhile, letter writer Gerry would go on to serve as vice-president under James Madison, though he is better remembered for favorably realigning electoral districts in his home state of Massachusetts, a process now known as "gerrymandering." $1,250.
Item 25 brought together a collection of great writers for a personal cause mostly forgotten today. The item is Debs and the Poets, Debs being crusading labor leader, socialist, and perennial presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs. In 1919, Debs was convicted under the Espionage Act for obstructing the war effort as a result of his anti-war speeches. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. The result was this 1920 publication, with contributions from Upton Sinclair, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Helen Keller, Carl Sandburg, Louis Untermeyer, and others. Debs would run for president from prison in 1920, garnering 3.4% of the vote, and his sentence was commuted to time served by President Harding in 1921. $850.
Item 8 is a poster for the sixties movie I am a Groupie. As the poster explains, it is about, "A teen chick who digs rock musicians...But what she collects isn't autographs." Hm...I wonder what she does collect. Books? This apparently forgettable film did not make it to the theaters until 1971, when it was renamed "Groupie Girl." It was directed by Derek Ford and starred such notables as Esme Johns, Billy Boyle, Richard Shaw, and Eliza Terry, household names all. Esme Johns played the title role, but as best I can tell, it destroyed her career, as I can find no other films in which she appeared. $250.
How do you transition from that to something extremely serious? Here goes. Item 42 is one of 360 copies of the first edition, first issue of As We Remember Joe. This is a 1945 memorial of Joseph Kennedy, Jr., son of a wealthy, influential American businessman. Young Kennedy was a naval pilot shot down during the Second World War. The tribute was written by his younger brother, John F. Kennedy, future President of the United States. $3,500.
Between The Cover Rare Books may be found online at www.betweenthecovers.com, phone number 856-665-2284.