Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Charles D. Hornig ... January 20, 1934

Text of recent auction

RARE Holographic Postcard H.P. LOVECRAFT to Charles D. Hornig (Editor The Fantasy Fan), January 20(?), 1934, "JOHN HAY MEMORIAL LIBRARY, Brown University, Providence R.I." Signed "HPL" UNPUBLISHED, Includes ARROW & NOTATION By Lovecraft Pointing To Court Behind Library Where HPL Lived (Samuel B. Mumford House, 65 Prospect St.), His Last Place of Residence

H.P. LOVECRAFT LETTERS & POSTCARDS: Truly a magnificent H.P. Lovecraft item. For those that know the Old Gent, they understand what a great epistolarian he was. In fact, one would find it difficult to find someone of any note that wrote as many letters as Lovecraft. Experts believe that he wrote over 100,000 letters during his lifetime, many of great length (a 50,000 word, one-hundred page letter was not unheard of). It is also surmised that fewer than 10,000 of the letters still survive. Of those, a vast majority are held in Brown University's H.P. Lovecraft collection at the John Hay Library (the Subject of this Postcard!). In fact, their aggressive acquisitions program for Lovecraft's manuscripts, letters, and postcards was (and is) so intense, that few remain in the hands of private collectors. Some believe that less than two hundred letters and postcards are still left in private hands, of these, few rarely show up for sale. Considering that writing (postcards and letters) was Lovecraft's favorite form of communication, and that each communication is a thoughtful tome in and of itself, an actual letter or postcard can be considered the cornerstone of a Lovecraft collection. We here at Arkham Books now offer that very cornerstone. Since letters typically run into the thousands ($4000.00 and up is quite common for a one or two pager), a postcard is a more affordable way to own a piece of Lovecraftian history. In the last six years on Ebay and at various Rare Books Shows we have sold two letters and a number of postcards, and they go quick (moreover, because of Brown University's voracious acquisition program, they are getting much harder to find -- a worn out cliche, but oh so true!) The postcards typically go between $900 and $1500, depending on the number of words (the highest price we have received for an HPL holographic postcard, was $1750.00 at World Horror Con 2008, and it had been written to weird tale author E. Hoffman Price). This will be the highest we have ever offered a postcard for, due to the association value. It is one that I had intended on keeping in my collection (buried with? Lovecraftian, no?), but medical bills seem to be a bit more pressing at the moment. As of this writing, we also have a less expensive card up in our Ebay store.

ADDRESSED TO: This postcard was written to Fantasy Fan Editor Charles D. Hornig. Hornig started The Fantasy Fan when he was just 17 years of age, in September of 1933, so this postcard is dated the same month and year. Two of Lovecraft's stoires were first published in the fanzine: "The Other Gods" (the third issue, November 1933) and "From Beyond" (in the tenth issue, June 1934). Moreover, and most significant, is the fanzine/magazine began a serialization of Lovecraft's essay on "Supernatural Horror in Literature," incorporating corrections and slight revisions to the text that appeared in The Recluse. Lovecraft maintained a fairly regular correspondence with Hornig, offering support, ideas, and corrections. Lovecraft's suggestions are frequently taken up with mechanical details concerning literary business, showing Lovecraft as conscientious and sometimes obsessive. Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi, in his book "H.P. Lovecraft A Life", wrote this about The Fantasy Fan: "This is, canonically, the first 'fan' magazine in the domain of weird/fantastic fiction, and it inaugurated a very rich, complex, and somewhat unruly tradition--still flourishing today--of fan activity in this realm."

THIS POSTCARD: This postcard is postmarked January 20 (?), 1934 at 7:30pm (most likely dropped off late at night by Lovecraft on one of his famous nighttime walks through the streets of Providence, where he was an oft seen shadow in the dark). I put a question mark next to the 20th, as the postmark is a bit light, and over Lovecraft's writing, so that is what it appears to me (could possibly be the 29th). Also, I am only about 95% sure on the 1934, as it has the same issue (since Lovecraft moved into this home in 1933, after January, I am pretty sure 1934 is the correct date). Has the one cent Ben Franklin stamp of the day, complete with HP Lovecraft DNA on the reverse side (yes, you too can clone Mr. Lovecraft -- a concept right out of Re-Animator ... or sort of). Oddly, the postmark is from Providence, Rhode Island (odd, because typically the postcards we have seen are postmarked from the Brown University Station -- perhaps there is some pattern to Lovecraft's mailing madness). One LOONNNGGG paragraph and approximately 198 words (I counted them, as with all of Lovecraft's writing, it is so diminutive and he uses every space possible, this is a give or take of 10 words -- the address is not counted in that 198 -- ALSO, there are 15 words, plus one arrow, on the front of the card). The content is unpublished.

POSTCARD LOCATION: Easily, the coolest HPL postcard we have seen or sold! Image on the front of the postcard is the John Hay Memorial Library in Lovecraft's beloved Brown University. Ironic, as this library would become the number one repository of Lovecraft's work, and easily has the premiere collection in the entire cosmos on the Ol' Gent from Providence. Lovecraft lived in relative obscurity, save for a few close friends, would be rolling in disbeliefe in his current Swan Point residence if he were to to know that the very Library that he worshipped and looked out his window to see each day, now rests much of its fame on the Starry Wisdom and Knowledge of HPL! What makes this card truly Cyclopean, is that Lovecraft's final residence, 65 Prospect Street (also known as the Mumford House), was right behind the John Hay Library--so close that Lovecraft claimed that from the kitchen of the Mumford house he could look into the stacks of the library!

65 PROSPECT STREET, LOVECRAFT'S FINAL RESIDENCE, THE SAMUEL B. MUMFORD HOME: On the front of this postcard, in the left margin, HP Lovecraft has drawn an error pointing to a location right behind the Hay Library. He has added the note "Entrance to the quaint court where I live." This was the entrance to 65 Prospect St., the final residence of Lovecraft, from 1933 until his death in 1937. The house still exists, but in 1959 was moved (the pictures included are from its current location). The John Hay Library was named after the Brown University graduate who was Assistant Secretary of State to Abraham Lincoln, and Secretary of State under President McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. It's address was, and still is, 10 Prospect Street where it has been since 1910. Among many things, it is most noted for housing the world's largest collection on H.P. Lovecraft and his work.

LOVECRAFT'S HOME IN "THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK": As HP was oft to do, he made use of his surroundings for his stories. In "The Haunter of the Dark" he described this home as the home of Robert Blake. The following quote from the story describes this home: "Young Blake returned to Providence in the winter of 1934-5, taking the upper floor of a venerable dwelling in a grassy court off College Street—on the crest of the great eastward hill near the Brown University campus and behind the marble John Hay Library. It was a cozy and fascinating place, in a little garden oasis of village-like antiquity where huge, friendly cats sunned themselves atop a convenient shed. The square Georgian house had a monitor roof, classic doorway with fan carving, small-planed windows, and all the other earmarks of early Nineteenth Century workmanship. Inside were six-paneled doors, wide floor-boards, a curving colonial staircase, with Aram-period mantels, and a rear set of rooms three steps below the general level. Blake’s study, a large southwest chamber, overlooked the front garden on one side, while its west windows—before one of which he had his desk—faced off from the brow of the hill and commanded a splendid view of the lower town’s outspread roofs and of the mystical sunsets that flamed behind them..."

CONTENTS INCLUDE: The most notable comment, is obviously the aforementioned comment and arrow from the front. In the other margin of the front (right) he has written: "I live next door to this building." Easy to see how fond HPL was of this library. HP also maentions that he couldn't get in touch with "you" (Hornig) while in New York (Hornig lived in New Jersey, and HPL had hope to get out to see him). HPL continues, "...but I was utterly swamped by engagements (it happens that a large majority of my friends live in the N.Y. area..." (which of course, were many of the Weird Tales authors he had cultivated friends with while living in New York City--Frank B. Long, et al.). HPL also mentions the Library, mention that he lives " the university section ... the college library (see over) a quiet old town like Elizabethtown--I thing you'd find it quite at home here!" (Hornig lived in Elizabethtown, New Jersey.) HPL also makes mention of where he lives, almost in tones from a weird tale: "I live almost on the crest of the preciptous hill which separated the residences from the ???? district--in the university section, next the college library" Does invite Hornig to visit him in Providence. (Quotes are as exact as I can make them, but sometimes Lovecraft's writing style is difficult to decipher ... at least for me, I am sure S.T. Joshi could have it done in seconds!). Signed "Best wishes, HP" (Not HPL as normal, rare for just HP).

CONDITION: Overall, nice condition. Each of the corners have a minimal bump, but none actually go into the writing/text. Back side (the one written on) has a touch of dust soiling, but most of the writing is clear and free from rubbing. The postmark is a bit smudged (see the scan), and more than half of the postmark is included in with Lovecraft's writing. Protected in a hard plastic sleeve.

$2100 ask

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