Larry McMurtry’s Wells Collection To Auction

On April 8, Larry McMurtry’s collection of H.G. Wells items will be auctioned. According to Rare Book Week

Highlights include a true first edition of The Time Machine and a first edition of The Invisible Man, signed by the author. [Also] a first edition of Tales of Space and Time (London and New York: Harper & Brothers, 1900), inscribed by Wells to Henry James with an original drawing of Ugh-lomi, protagonist of “A Story of the Stone Age.”

McMurtry, winner of a Pulitzer for Lonesome Dove and an Oscar for his co-adaptation of Brokeback Mountain, is also a legend among booksellers as the owner of Booked Up in Archer City, TX. Edd Vick wrote about his visit there in 2012 when the business still occupied four buildings around the town square. That year McMurtry auctioned off 300,000 books, however, Booked Up No. 1 is still open today with a vast inventory of more than 150,000 volumes.

Separate from his bookstore business he has assembled many collections, including the Larry McMurtry Collection of H. G. Wells, part of Heritage Auction’s Rare Book Auction #6117 in New York on April 8-9. As Zachary Stacy explained in a recent article —

The collection was developed by Nina Matheson with help from Serendipity Books and added to by McMurtry. It contains items to highlight any Wells collection, including the true first edition of The Time Machine (New York: Henry Holt, 1895) with H. G. Wells’s name misprinted on the title page, The Island of Doctor Moreau (London: William Heinemann, 1896) in trial binding, and a signed first edition of The Invisible Man (London: C. Arthur Pearson, 1897).

Also going under the hammer are numerous association copies once owned by Wells, such as a first edition copy of the 1937 novel Star Maker presented to him by Olaf Stapledon.

Several other sf collectibles will be sold at the April 8 auction, such as a first edition, first printing of Dune, inscribed to John Pierce by Frank Herbert. And a presentation copy of Slaughterhouse-Five inscribed to the owner of Lord John press, Herb Yellin by Kurt Vonnegut, with a little improvised decoration: “Around this inscription, Vonnegut has drawn ten stars.” (Yellin, who passed away in 2014, published limited editions, some of them by Ursula K. Le Guin, Stephen King, Dan Simmons and Ray Bradbury.)

Bid on Harry Warner’s Hugo

Harry Warner Jr.’s Best Fan Writer Hugo from 1972 is part of a fanhistoric lot on the auction block through June 28. The high bid at this writing is $700.

Part of Warner’s collection acquired by the late Jerry Weist, the Hugo is in an archive lot with a —

printed bound working draft proof and dust jacket mock-up (folded over a reprint copy of All Our Yesterdays hardcover) for A Wealth of Fable: An Informal History of Science-Fiction Fandom in the 1950, [and] the second edition of All Our Yesterdays in VG condition….

The Heritage Auction website misidentifies it as a 1971 Hugo. Harry only won the Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1969 and 1972, and it’s clear from the nameplate this award was given at L.A.Con (1972).

The website’s large image of the Hugo also shows one fin of the rocket and the nameplate are spattered with brown discoloration. That might clean up. On the other hand, the pits on the chrome rocket are quite possibly original – complaints from winners in the old days suggest that was a chronic manufacturing problem before Peter Weston took over making them.

Edd Vick comments, “I feel so conflicted. On one hand I’d hate to see it consigned to the dustbin, but on the other I’d certainly rather it wound up where it will be appreciated. I hope it winds up in the collection of a trufan.”

I expect he speaks for most fans on this subject.

[Thanks to Michael Walsh, Edd Vick and Andrew Porter for the story.]

Vick: At Larry McMurtry’s Bookstore

By Edd Vick: I just got back to Seattle from a three-day visit to Larry McMurtry’s bookstore, Booked Up, in Archer City, Texas, with Tom Whitmore and (the other) Karen Anderson. We had a really fine time and I found a lot of books, including volumes by John Kendrick Bangs, August Derleth, and Walter Machen. Luckily, they ship. Tom found a folio of prints signed by its curator, his grandmother!

Booked Up fills four storefronts scattered around the central square of Archer City, which Google tells me has a population of 1,791. One store is entirely filled with foreign books and their translations, and pre-1925 books. Every night we would drive to Wichita Falls, a half-hour away, to eat.

I felt like it would be vital to visit the store soon, since there had been rumblings about it closing up for years. McMurtry is getting up there in years, and the bookstore biz isn’t what it used to be. When I saw on their minimalist website that they were having a 25% off sale, I figured the sooner the better. Our trip could not have been more timely. The word is just now getting out, and I think the signs went up the day we got there: they will be auctioning off three-fourths of their books in early August. They’ll give up three of the store locations and concentrate what remains of their stock in the largest building.

We also shopped at the second-best used bookstore in Texas, Recycled Books in Denton. Soon, they’ll be in first place.