Once or maybe twice each twelve months a special event happens. I have no control over the timing, but I remain vigilant in anticipation, and have for about forty years in a row.
This year two events happened simultaneously, in February. (Does this mean that there’ll be a drought over the next ten months? I hope not. No one knows, but I must always remain prepared for that eventuality.)
Year 2015’s first was the new internet listing of a old copy of the book The Girl With The Golden Eyes, illustrated by F. T. Buttera. This 1930 edition was apparently part of a more-or-less simultaneous release of several titles (based on their matching bindings and dust jackets) from the little New York publisher Williams Belasco and Meyer.
I was long familiar with their three 1930 titles which had interior illustrations by Mahlon Blaine (The Temptation of St. Anthony, Candide, and A Sentimental Journey). And noted his illustrations on the front of their textured gilt dust jackets. All in my Blaine book collection.
Two years ago I had first become aware of that 1930 Girl edition, but the “new” jacket drawing (although uncredited) was not by Buttera, but Blaine – a big surprise. That particular bookseller’s sale price of $150.00 was also a surprise, and beyond my budget.
Ever since then I had been searching for a cheaper copy, and in February found one – in Canada. I phoned the gentleman up north, verified the rare jacket, and purchased same. His price (plus shipping) still sounded expensive, but it turned out that he had been talking Loons, so the Dollar translation was a pleasant surprise on my Visa bill.
He packed the item most excellently, attached all the export documents, and it arrived while I was out of town. As soon as I returned, it went on the shelf next to the other three titles. Hooray, and cross that off my list.
But year 2015’s second event was even more exciting: the NEW earliest Blaine appearance in print. It pushed back by five months the previous holder of the title, a February 1917 copy of the San Francisco magazine BOHEMIA.
This 1916, September 15th BOHEMIA had six little Blaine drawings, and one full-page Blaine cartoon, all credited. Amazing.
Yes, I continue to comb through old newspaper microfilm and internet listings for both old and new discoveries. But after four decades of this, it’s a double-edged dilemma. How much more could be out there? And how far back might we go to find it?
This June 16th marked 121 years since MB’s arrival on this earth. Carry on.