Mostly All-American Erotic Chap Books

At Least One Tijuana Bible & More

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134. [EROTICA]. Ten mostly ephemeral imprints with subjects ranging from the erotic to the pornographic, chiefly the latter. Unless otherwise noted, most are believed to be printed in the U.S. For the most part, these are chapbooks in delicate formats and extremely rare or otherwise unknown. Several of these are early examples of U.S. pornographic comic books. Only one, however, appears to be an example of the famous Tijuana Bibles (see 5 below); others are native productions of a much cruder sort and much rarer and less known. Disclaimer: Auctioneer did not compose this description.

     Erotica and pornography had a long, troubled history in the United States, which from its founding was much less open to such material than was Europe. The Ur document of much of this material was Aristotle’s Masterpiece, a supposed medical treatise on sexual matters often illustrated with graphic woodcuts. Long published repeatedly in England, it did not appear in the U.S. until 1793, although the first publication in England recorded by the ESTC is 1690. After a sputtering, difficult path in the U.S., between the world wars, with the rise of cartoons, such publications as the present ones became possible and popular—crudely drawn, crudely printed, but obviously widely distributed by clandestine means. Small and easily concealed, they were good vehicles for the distribution of salacious materials. Especially items 1-4 below are significant, being outside the mainstream of Tijuana Bibles and clear examples of extremely cheaply produced pornography. Other examples below seem to have been less clandestine, especially because they have no illustrations of any type.

     For general background on these types of comics, see Art Spiegelman, “Those Dirty Little Comics,” in Bob Adelman, Tijuana Bibles: Art and Wit in America’s Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997).

[1]  French Ball [wrapper title]. [N.p., ca. 1930]. 13 leaves printed on one side, showing silhouettes. Oblong 32mo (7 x 10.5 cm), original gray printed wrappers, stapled. Wrappers are separated at spine and lightly chipped, most leaves lightly waterstained at upper right, several leaves are loose and chipped, but text appears to be complete. A voyeuristic tale of a man watching through a keyhole as a couple engages in sexual activities while he autoeroticizes. This is a fairly sophisticated piece of pornography for its type.

[2]  The Farmer’s Daughter [wrapper title]. [N.p., ca. 1930]. 8 cartoon leaves printed on one side. Oblong 32mo (11 x 7.5 cm), original yellow printed wrappers, stapled. Wraps are lightly stained and wrinkled, interior very good. Typical story of a man whose car breaks down and asks the farmer if he can spend the night, assuring him that he is not a typical travelling salesman. The man bunks with the farmer, and, of course, the daughter sneaks in and the two have sex in the bed, with the daughter occasionally plucking a hair from her father’s derrière to make sure he is still asleep. In the final panel, the farmer awakes and exclaims, “I wish to hell you two would xxxx and stop keeping score with my xxx, or I’m going to raise hell.”

[3]  “Moral: Don’t die and let the worm eat it” (from final panel). [N.p., ca. 1930]. 12 cartoon leaves printed on one side. Square 32mo (8.5 x 9.5 cm), original plain light orange wrappers, stapled. Wraps are separated, and most of the leaves are loose but otherwise in good condition. Story of Mr. Google, his unnamed lady, and their horse, Sparky. She finally can find satisfaction only by having sex with Sparky: “O-Oh Sparky You old darling. Your [sic] the first one to ever touch bottom” (final panel). An African-American character figures prominently in this story. An unusual example of bestiality.

[4]  Untitled. [N.p., ca. 1930]. 12 cartoon leaves printed on one side. Square 32mo (8.5 x 9.5 cm), original plain tan wrappers, stapled. Wraps are separated, and most of the leaves are loose but otherwise in good condition. Story of a man whose wife is away, so he gratifies his desires with another woman until Min returns home to satisfy him. The narrative is a take-off on explorations: “Tilda your [sic] a bird! And Like Commander Byrd about to explore a pole. Now hold everything.”

[5]  J. Sourballs Presents Jiggs, Assisted by Tilly the Toiler, in “Close Harmony,” Directed by Elmer Zilch [wrapper title]. [N.p., ca. 1930]. 8 cartoon leaves printed on one side. Oblong 32mo (8 x 11 cm), original tan printed wrappers, stapled. Wraps are wrinkled, somewhat soiled and faded, and vertically creased where formerly folded; last leaf chipped and repaired with tape (minor losses). Maggie walks in on Tillie and Jiggs in flagrante delicto, who flee naked in the final panel with Jiggs exclaiming, “Gangway—You’ll have to run faster than that Tillie or your xxxxing days are over.” Jiggs was introduced in January, 1913, in the George McManus comic “Bringing up Father.” This is an expertly drawn take-off of the comic strip and a classic example of a Tijuana Bible. Adelman includes two other examples of Jiggs cartoons on pp. 15-16.

[6]  Bedtime Hostesses. One Dollar (wrapper title). [N.p., ca. 1930]. 1-12 pp. 12mo (13.7 x 8.5 cm), original tan printed wrappers, stapled. Except for minor chipping at bottom of a few leaves, in excellent condition. The retrospective story of Rose and another woman, now both married and best friends, who have a series of graphic heterosexual and lesbian encounters during “My Trip to the Country.” “At the end of the month I was well broken in and it was the greatest wonder in the world that we were not both in the family way. I had six different fellows and had tried them all out” (p. 12).

[7]  A Night of Sport Published by a Connoisseur. [N.p., ca. 1930]. [1-2] 3-<19> [1, blank], photographic frontispiece on p. [2]. 12mo (15 x 11 cm), original plain rose wrappers, stapled. Spine partly perished and chipped, first text leaf torn in half horizontally with minor loss, other leaves, including title page, with marginal tears. Sexually explicit frontispiece slightly censored. The story of successive encounters in an upscale bordello populated by men instead of women and who service female clients; related by a third party in three chapters. One chapter includes the story of a famous actress, Rosa, who arrives incognito and has sex with her man in a bathtub.

[8]  George Herbert (pseudonym). A Night in a Moorish Harem. Price: Five Dollars. Printed in London, Eng. [ca. 1930]. [4], [1] 2-48 pp. 12mo (15.5 x 8.5 cm). Original blue printed wrappers, stapled. Wrappers moderately damaged with loss; interior is fine. The captain of HMS Antler becomes becalmed off Morocco and is accidentally set adrift in the ship’s boat, where he comes upon a harem, to which he is admitted by being helped to climb through an upper window. After a night of intense sexual activity with nine women from different nations who recount their pasts, he is lowered again to the boat and recovered by his ship. The story of a British sailor who needed to keep something besides his upper lip stiff. In fourteen chapters during which various characters tell their stories, in the vein of Arabian Nights. No copies of this edition on OCLC, but the records there make it obvious that this book has been a popular bestseller for decades and translated into many languages. Two New-York booksellers were convicted of selling this book in the 1920s. Early editions of this title are rare. An example of Eastern exoticism.

[9]  John Cleland. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Fanny Hill).... A New Genuine Edition (from the New and Original text, 1749). London: Published for the Bibliophiles, 1894. One of 50 copies. [iii-v] vi-vii, [8] 9-<140> [1, blank] pp. 12mo (17.3 x 12.5 cm). Original green wrappers, stapled. Wrappers partly separated from text block, slightly wrinkled and chipped, upper wrap and first few leaves lightly abraded, lower wrapper lightly waterstained; a few pages dog-eared or lightly waterstained. A limited edition reprinting of this classic text. Rare; no copies on OCLC.

[10] Luigi Conforti. Bacchantes Maison de Cicéron. Naples: J. Chiurazzi et Fils, Anacreonte Chiurazzi Editeurs. Leipzig: G. Hedeler [Imp. E. M. Muca, S. Sebastiano, 51—Naples (title page verso)], [1899?]. [4] pp., 12 chromolithographs on heavy card stock, with original tissue guards. Oblong 12mo (13.7 x 19 cm). Original red cloth covers printed in black and gilt. Spine torn, covers separated from text block, covers heavily abraded with loss of printed lettering and cloth. Tissue guards foxed, but otherwise interior and plates fine. Expert reproductions of painted figures discovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum, all of whom are either nude or in revealing costume. Despite its condition, a very rare book; OCLC locates only the Yale copy, also in poor condition. Although the images are titillating, this is a serious archeological work. Conforti (1854-1907) was an Italian author and historian.


Sold. Hammer: $200.00; Price Realized: $245.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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