Wednesday, May 27, 2009

12 days without a post... hmmm... and SIGNED Ansel Adams

First off -- I did go to the Gold Rush Book Fair and had a great time (well, partly, but more on that in another post).

I was hoping to get back and have some nice blog entries right after the fair.... obviously, that didn't work out.

Kids being out on summer vacation definitely change the picture of getting work done (two + months to go...) and then we've had a bit of travel to visit relatives over Memorial Day Weekend, which pushed my time further out of whack (and on top of that, my trusty laptop has finally, after six years, decided that it really doesn't want to shoulder on and it's not worth taking anywhere, so I was basically computer-less during the book fair, and during the travel weekend.) I'm not whining, mind you, I can live without the computer attached to me all the time, but the blog did get behind in the meanwhile.

Ok --

The book pictured here is a real puzzler (what in my life recently, hasn't been a puzzler?)

I found this while traveling up to the book fair (and NO I won't tell people where I found it) and at first glance, though Yeah... a nice, SIGNED Ansel Adams title. Now Adams didn't really sign a great deal of his books for people, so signed editions are at a real premium and that was a GOOD thing.

So, being the capitalist that I am (realist actually, I want to pay the bills and feed the ever hungry kids) I put a decent, but not exorbitant price on the book and set it up in my book fair booth for people to buy. I got LOTS of looking. Lots of picking up and handling. But lots, again, of people putting it back down again.

Hmmm.. Signed Ansel Adams, nice condition.... what's going on?

Well, I get it home and think to myself that I'll do a bit more research on the book just because (one gets an inking on things like this).

Turns out, the first edition of this book was published 1983, which is the year before Adams died. This particular copy is a third printing -- copyright 1984. Hmm...

I check Wikipedia (and a bibliography page for Adams as well, etc.) and find out that he died in 1984 (April to be exact).

Still possible that everything is hunky-dory, I just have to verify that the 3rd printing was available before April 1984.

Hmmm.... not as easily done. I tried to check Books in Print for that year, nothing. I emailed the New York Graphic Society (no response so far). Checked with other dealers... not much to go on.

So I put the book aside for a few days to wait for inspiration to hit.

Try to check with dealer associates again - this time, give more detailed information about what I'm trying to do. I get an answer that helps out immensely.

BUT --

finally, I take a look at the dust jacket and most particularly the rear dust jacket blurb....

which mentions Adam's death in 1984. Drat!

But... again,

all is not lost.

Dealer friend comes back with information that makes it VERY possible that this item is in fact signed by Adams (now, a small bit of additional info for you... so far, as far as most experts can tell, there has been little to no forging of Adams signature (except on forged photographs -- which is a slightly different animal). Dealer has a copy of this same book, also signed -- but his copy comes with a leaflet from the publisher stating that a number of copies were signed by Adams just before his death to give to family and friends.

So, through my research, I believe that this IS an actual Ansel Adams signature -- and that it was done before (obviously) his death in April of 1984 with the help of his publisher -- that copies of the bound book, produced sometime late 1983 or early 1984 were given to him to sign, and then, at a later date, a revised dust jacket was added (dust jacket production and book binding are two separate issues and many times are done at completely different times) before the books were given away.

If that scenario is correct (and at this point, I'd need proof that it ISN'T to make me feel that it's a forgery), then this book contains a signature which is indeed rare.


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