Saturday, June 11, 2011

JACKET REQUIRED: Crispin Cornucopia

In response to Patrick's furor over a paperback blurb spoiler on a new Edmund Crispin reprint (At the Scene of the Crime blog) and his mention of the old Avon paperbacks with nifty retro covers I'm posting a gallery of the Edmund Crispin first edition DJs. The first three come from Lippincott. The last is a Dodd Mead book. Some of them are not in the best of shape, but "you takes what you gets" these days. I'm happy to have so many Crispin books in DJ - the US editions with dust jackets are very hard to come by at affordable prices.

Special bibliophile's anecdote: The DJ for Dead and Dumb (UK title is Swan Song, by the way) came from a on-line sale of pristine dust jackets that had been stored in a warehouse for an old lending library. I think it was in Oklahoma somewhere. In the old days publishers used to send sample DJs as advertisements for the books that were about to be published. On the inside front flap there is a date stamp, AUG 1947, to tell when the book would be available for publication. So that DJ had never been on a book for over 60 years.

I managed to find a VG copy of Dead and Dumb without a DJ and married the two. It was a quiet ceremony and I toasted them with a can of Dr. Pepper. They're very happy now in the Norris Library. Other good news is they have not been tempted to separate even though a few books away on the same shelf are their foreboding relatives Love Lies Bleeding and The Long Divorce.

As always, a reminder to click on each image to enlarge and get the full benefit for your viewing pleasure.

And here's a portrait of the author at a young age seated at his piano no doubt at work on one of the many musical scores for films he wrote when he wasn't emulating John Dickson Carr. The photo appears on the rear of the DJ for The Moving Toyshop.


  1. John, I can't even begin to tell you how much I love THE MOVING TOYSHOP - so I won't. I did blog about it, but even then had to mute my enthusiasm in case people would think I'd gone off my rocker....yet again. HA!

    One of my all time favorite books and I only just read it for the first time this year. Go figure.

    Thanks so much for featuring this as well as the
    other Crispin titles. I am going to try and find them. My library has no Crispin books on its shelves. None. Kaput. Zero.

    So it's up to me to find Crispin where and when I can.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the dust jacket art!!!

    And from his pix, I can tell that Crispin was a little cutey pie once upon a time and long ago. :)

  2. These book covers are amazing, especially the one for The Moving Toyshop, and I have never seen them before – anywhere! That picture also makes it understandable why Gladys Mitchell always referred to him as "that delightful young boy." I had only seen that picture of him with a cigerette.

    Thanks for uploading these cover scans!

  3. De nada, gang.

    Bruce (his real name) was quite a looker when he was a lad, wasn't he? Wish there weren't all those distracting scuff marks on the photo - especially the one on his cheek. I only noticed his reflection on the inside of the piano lid when I uploaded the photo today. That's a nice arty touch.

  4. Brilliant, brilliant stuff John! I loved your little "Swan Song" anecdote.

    Crispin's books are always delightful- I've read the first four novels and one short story collection, but I already own the entire series. :)

  5. I well remember reading THE MOVING TOYSHOP, but wonder if I read any of his other books.

  6. Though I have a copy of MOVING TOYSHOP (trade paper) I have yet to read it, or any Crispin.

  7. I love Crispin! I've been collecting every one of his I can get my hands on. Unfortunately none of them have such cool dust jackets. I love, love, love these, John! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. If I owned these, I'd never let them out of my hands. I've read a bio of Crispin (of course I can't remember the author). Apparently our Bruce had a taste for booze and squandered a good deal of talent. What a shame.

  9. I looked, my copy is a hardcover, but much newer than yours.

  10. Right, Rick. Walker published his last book THE GLIMPSES OF THE MOON and then reissued nearly all of his books with the correct UK titles over a period of a few years. Yours is probably a Walker reissue. They have uninteresting typographic DJs. SWAN SONG, I recall, at least had a fanciful font used and maybe some musical notes, but the rest of them are bland. I have FEN COUNTRY, BEWARE THE TRAINS and BURIED FOR PLEASURE in the Walker editions.