14 October 2010

Limited Time, Limited Editions (3/6)

Venus in Furs [Venus im Pelz]
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch [John Glassco, trans.]
Burnaby, BC: Blackfish, 1977

"This book was printed in an edition of 1,500 copies on Byronic Text India paper. There is a special series of 26 hardbound copies printed on Byronic Text Grey paper, signed and lettered from A to Z by the translator."

Booksellers invariably mention the low print run of this, the finest English language translation of Sacher-Masoch's masterpiece. And why not? A full thirty-three years have passed and still it has never been reprinted.

Blackfish co-publisher Brian Brett once told me that the he wasn't so sure that all 26 copies of the signed and lettered edition were ever produced. Seems they were pretty much made to order... no order, no book.

This copy, which once belonged to Glassco, was bought for C$150 twenty years ago. The dab of liquid paper remains something of a mystery, though I do have my theories (most involving drink).

The remaining 1474 or so copies were published in both paper and hardcover. As might be expected, the former is less dear – Very Good copies go for US$30 to US$60 (ignore the copy currently listed online at C$125). The hardcover is more uncommon – expect to pay nothing less than US$150 (a bargain).

I've not seen another copy of the signed and lettered edition offered for sale.

Caveat emptor: A European collector emails asking my opinion on the inscribed paper copy of Venus in Furs that is currently listed on Abebooks at US$325. A fair price? Well, let's just say that amongst the thousands of handwritten documents studied in my eight years researching Glassco I never once saw anything that even remotely resembles the handwriting and signature found in this copy.

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