Monday 27 February 2012

Are Any of Harlequin Books 41 - 50 Worth Reading?

41 Canning, Victor              Panther's Moon
42 Michel, M. Scott             House In Harlem [Sweet Murder]
43 Barry, Joe                     The Clean-Up
44 Hughes, Dorothy B.        The So Blue Marble
45 Kersh, Gerald                Night and the City
46 Gilmore, Cecile              Fair Stranger
47 Sturdy, Carl                   Registered Nurse
48 Weston, Garnett             Poldrate Street
49 Evans, John                   Weep Not Fair Lady [If You Have Tears]
50 McCord, Joseph              One Way Street

For the first time no westerns in a group. Three romances (46, 47, 50) and the rest crime/mystery/thriller. Here's the Kirkus review of Poldrate Street:

"With passions spinning the plot, the inhabitants of Poldrate Street become involved in murder, blackmail, and other grim events. A young heiress is focus of the death plot and is saved by a prize fighter and his tramp friend from the evil plans of a discredited doctor and an ambitious undertaker. A grisly piece with a rather unpleasant aftertaste." Not worthy.

For the first time in this series books with a reputation - The So Blue Marble and Night and the City. Both have earned a Worthy®.

Running total is five Worthies®.

Harlequin 44 - April 1950

Harlequin 45 - May 1950

Sunday 26 February 2012

Are Any of Harlequin Books 31 - 40 Worth Reading?

On this Oscar® day another effort to hand out a Worthy® or two is appropriate. The nominees are:

31 Kenyon, Theda                The Golden Feather
32 Hecht, Ben                      Hollywood Mystery
33 Miller, Helen Topping        Candle In The Morning
34 Rabl, S.S.                        Mobtown Clipper
35 Campbell, Patricia             Lush Valley
36 Malina, Fred                     Murder Over Broadway
37 Frisbie, R.D.                     Amaru
38 Snow, Charles H.               Sheriff Of Yavisa
39 Truesdell, June                 Be Still My Love
40 Reed, Blair                       Pass Key to Murder

Three historical, two romance, one western, three crime and one adventure.

"LUSH VALLEY is the story of an appealing, lovable, and essentially simple woman."

"[In Hollywood Mystery] mystery, violence and murder intermingle with wacky situations, involving the most outrageous characters you ever met."

"Full of adventure and tropic atmosphere [Amaru] has a delightful balance of the romantic and the ridiculous, the real and the remarkable."

Ben Hecht is the only author I recognize outside of the paperback world of the 1940s and 50s. He won two Academy Awards for Original Screenplay, including the first (1927). Hollywood Mystery was first published as I Hate Actors!.

The co-writer of The Front Page is worthy of a read. So Hollywood Mystery earns a Worthy®.

Running total is three Worthies®.

Harlequin 32 - February 1950

Crown - 1944

Collins White Circle Artists Part XXXIII - Murray Smith (2)

In the last post I introduced Murray Smith who signed 10 covers for the White Circle paperback line from Toronto's Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada. Here are his last six covers, including his best known for Hugh Garner's Cabbagetown.

I also show the signature on There Will I Follow which has nearly been covered by the imprint name. But there is just enough visible to identify it, and, of course, the art supports the identification.

White Circle CD 461

White Circle CD 482

White Circle 447 - 1950

White Circle 448 - 1950

White Circle CD 460 - 1950

White Circle CD 461 - 1950

White Circle CD 482 - 1950

White Circle C.D. 493 - 1951

Saturday 25 February 2012

Collins White Circle Artists Part XXXII - Murray Smith (1)

Murray Smith ranks third behind Margaret Paull (67) and John Fernie (22) with 10 signed covers for the 1940s Canadian paperback line White Circle. They are all from 1949 to early 1951, towards the end of the series. I don't know anything about Smith. The Toronto City Directories for 1948 to 1951 have him listed as a commercial artist, one year (1948) at Brigden's Ltd., printers at 160 Richmond Street W. in downtown Toronto.

His first four covers are below. The third book highlights a problem with identifying artists. The signature is barely visible at bottom left. I imagine many covers don't show a signature because it has been cropped from the art.

White Circle C.D. 435

White Circle C.D. 389 - 1949

White Circle CD 405 - 1949

White Circle CD 412 - 1949

White Circle C.D. 435 - 1950 

Thursday 23 February 2012

Are Any of Harlequin Books 21 - 30 Worth Reading?

Moving on to the third group of early Harlequins - any that deserve a Worthy®?

There are three Westerns, including Painted Post Outlaws with Sheriff Blue Steel and his stalwart deputy, Shorty Watts; Magpie Stevens, the gossipy stage driver; Thimble Jack, the sad bartender; Old Man McCall, misunderstood philanthropist; Doc Crabtree, caustic medico, and Chow Now. There are also three mysteries and three romances. None of them prove worthy. The remaining book is City for Conquest. I was tempted but some research told me the Harlequin edition is bowdlerized and that I should wait to see the James Cagney 1940 film.

Running total remains at two Worthies®.

21 Snow, Charles H.       Renegade Ranger
22 Cardwell, Ann           Crazy to Kill
23 Kandel, Aben            City For Conquest
24 Gunn, Tom               Painted Post Outlaws
25 Mace, Merlda            Blondes Don't Cry
26 Jordan, Gale             Gambling On Love
27 Handley, Alan           Kiss Your Elbow
28 Mooney, Martin         One Year With Grace
29 Nye, Nelson C.          Gunfighter Breed
30 Nichols, Margaret      Portrait of Love

Harlequin 23 - November 1949

Harlequin 23 back

Crow Part I - Al and Morris (1)

A recent post (thanks for the compliment) at Vintage Sleaze has inspired me to start a series about the 24 books published by Alval Publishing of Toronto in 1949 and 1950 as Crow Editions.

I'll start with 2 of the 20 Crow books which connect two classic publishers from the 1940s and 1950s - Canada's Al Valentine and American Morris S. Latzen. Valentine was Alval's owner and Latzen was the owner of a number of companies which published digests in New York from 1948 to 1957. One of them was Astro Distributing Corporation, the name seen on issues 11 through 18 of an 18 book series. Three other companies are the named publisher on the first 10 issues (thanks to Kenneth Johnson and his invaluable Publishers Index of digests for this information).

Book 24 (May 1949), Overnight Girl, by Joan Sherman was first published as Overnight Cabin (New York: Godwin, 1935). It is first seen under the new title in 1948 as book 31 (an incorrectly numbered 13) in the Astro series. Sherman is a pseudonym of Peggy Gaddis. I haven't seen the Astro edition but the Crow edition is likely cut as are two other Crow editions that I discussed here and here. As with every Crow the book has 160 pages.

Like many of the Crow editions the artwork is cribbed from the Astro edition.

Crow 24 -May 1949

Crow 24 back

Astro 31 (13) - 1948

Book 25 (July 1949), Reckless Maiden, by Peggy Gaddis was first published as One More Woman (New York: Godwin, 1935) as by Joan Sherman. It is next seen as Shameless Virgin and a new author in 1948 as book 14 in the Astro series. I haven't seen the Astro edition but the Crow edition is also likely cut.

Crow 25 - July 1959

Crow 25 back

Astro 14 - 1948

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Collins White Circle Reprints Part IX

In the last post I listed the earliest reprints in the White Circle imprint from Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada. They are distinguished by a change in the colours on the covers. I should have qualified by noting that these are the one of which I aware. Just a few weeks ago I learned of a reprint of Policeman's Holiday.

White Circle 57 - 1943

White Circle 57 - 1943 back

White Circle 57 - 1945

White Circle 57 - 1945 back

Monday 20 February 2012

Canadian Best-Seller Library Part VI

In an earlier post in this series I listed all 46 titles published by McClelland & Stewart in their 1960s Canadian Best-Seller Library series and here I listed the 15 fiction titles. That leaves 31 non-fiction titles. Here's the book with the best title.

Lady Chatterley, Latterly was first published in 1963 (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart). O'Hearn (1910 - 1969) was a well known Montreal journalist. The book has the advantage of being designed by Frank Newfeld with illustrations, including the cover, by Ed McNally.

CBL 31 - 1967

CBL 31 back

Are Any of Harlequin Books 11 - 20 Worth Reading?

In the first post I introduced the new series where I select the Harlequin books from 1949 to 1959 worth reading.

What is worthy? At this point easier to say what isn't. I can be fairly certain that Harlequin westerns and historicals will not be worthies but I'll keep an open mind. So that eliminates three from this list. Also any medical romances. That eliminates His Wife the Doctor, the story of Dr. Serenity Dale and her unsuccessful novelist husband. Harlequin wasn't publishing the classic Mills & Boon romances yet but any early Harlequin titles that come close will not likely be worthies either. That leaves one book - A Killer is Loose Among Us. The blurb works - this deserves to be a Worthy®.

Running total is 2 Worthies®

11 Hall, Magdalen King                The Wicked Lady Skelton
12 Terrall, Robert                        A Killer Is Loose Among Us
13 McCord, Joseph                      His Wife the Doctor
14 Snow, Charles H.                    Six-Guns of Sandoval
15 Powers, Tom                          Virgin With Butterflies
16 Lindsay, Perry                        No Nice Girl
17 Petersen, Herman                   The D.A.'s Daughter
18 Snow, Charles H.                     Rebel Of Ronde Valley
19 Glay, George Albert                 Gina
20 Miller, Helen Topping               Flame Vine

Harlequin 12 - September 1949

Harlequin 12 back

Sunday 19 February 2012

Collins White Circle Artists Part XXXI - Franklin Arbuckle

Franklin Arbuckle is the last of the artists to be discussed in this blog who did one cover in the White Circle paperback imprint published by Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada between 1942 and 1952.

It's not a coincidence that the title is Maclean's Reader as Arbuckle did many illustrations for the magazine. I'm curious to know if this illustration was done for the book or had been already used on the magazine.

White Circle CD 453

White Circle CD 453 - 1950

Condition Part II

Collectors typically want the best condition of whatever is being collected. Books in top condition are usually described as fine, then near fine, very good, good and poor.

I have the following categories for my paperback collection: F, NF+, NF, NF-, VG+, VG, VG-, G, POOR. VG- is the lowest collectible grade. I upgrade whenever I have a chance. I keep track by assigning numbers to each book based on condition, then averaging. For example my Harlequin collection today is 567 books, including reprints, variants and a few extra copies. Each book has a condition grade and a number based on the following:

F (3.0)
NF+ (2.8)
NF (2.5)
NF- (2.2)
VG+ (1.8)
VG (1.5)
VG- (1.2)
G (0.5)
POOR (0.2)

The average condition for the collection of 567 books is 1.217, essentially VG-. The median is 1.2. My ambition is a collection of at least 1.8.

Here is one of my fine books and one of my poor books.

Harlequin 353 - February 1956

Harlequin 356 back

Harlequin 81 - October 1950

Harlequin 81 back

Collins White Circle Artists Part XXX - Harold Bennett

Harold Bennett is one of five artists who signed only one cover for Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada's White Circle imprint. We met Harold Bennett here where his cover for the very obscure paperback publisher Randall Publishing was discussed.

White Circle CD 354

White Circle CD 354 - 1948

Artists Who Worked For The Three Large Paperback Publishers Part I

Two artists did covers for the three large Canadian paperback publishers in the 1940s and 50s.

George Shane did the fewest covers, just five, one for Export Publishing Enterprises (News Stand Library), one for Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada (White Circle) and three for Harlequin Books. Four were signed "Shane" and one "George Shane".

News Stand Library 42

News Stand Library 42 - May 1949

White Circle CD 465 - 1950

Harlequin 116 - May 1951

Saturday 18 February 2012

Collins White Circle Artists Part XXIX - Greville

In my last post in this series I said that 31.6% of the White Circle covers were signed. Here is the list.

Margaret Paull       67
John Fernie           22
Murray Smith        10
Harold Rayner        5
Isobel McQuire       5
Derrett                  3
G.M. Rae               2
Harold Bennett       1
D. Rickard             1
Franklin Arbuckle    1
Greville                 1
George Shane        1


Here's another of the five artists who signed only one cover. I can find nothing about Greville.

White Circle 492

White Circle 492 - 1951

Are Any of the First Ten Harlequin Books Worth Reading?

Start of a new series of posts about Harlequin. I'll answer the question -which books Harlequin published in its first ten years are worth reading? Or which Harlequins will bump Moby Dick or, The Whale down my reading to-do list? We'll start with the first ten Harlequins:

1 Bruff, Nancy                    Manatee
2 Wees, Frances Shelley     Lost House
3 Hunt, Howard                  Maelstrom
4 Bryant, Arthur Herbert      Double Image
5 Nichols, Margaret             Close to My Heart
6 Snow, Charles H.             Wolf of the Mesas
7 Cooke, Ronald J.             The House on Craig Street
8 Wees, Frances Shelley      Honeymoon Mountain
9 Fuller, Samuel Michael      The Dark Page
10 Long, Manning               Here's Blood In Your Eye

There is one book here I have read - The House on Craig Street, a Canadian author's PBO that is not worthy. What about the other books? Does a book need to be in print (not a POD object which is a collection of reproduced pages and not a published book)? No, but it helps.

There is one book here that qualifies - The Dark Page which happens to be the only book on the list in print. That edition has an introduction by Wim Wenders who explains why Sam Fuller's novel is a worthy.

Harlequin 9 - August 1949

Harlequin 9 back

Kingly Reprieve - 2007