Everett, PA: Visionary Publishing Co., 1936. Frank A. Utpatel (1905-1980). First Edition. Hardcover. Fine / Near Fine. Item #2
First edition with laid in errata slip. Small octavo. 174 total pages of which 13-158 are numbered with [1-14] and [159-174] being printer’s blanks. One of the most sought after Lovecraftian collectables. A near fine copy of the infamous printing and publication by William L. Crawford with four illustrations by Frank A. Utapatel. Shadow was the first and only novella Lovecraft would see of his published and issued in book form during his lifetime. Coming near the end of his short life, the books publication would be “an error-riddled debacle” (Joshi I Am Providence page 997). The book was typeset by the Saxton Herald. Crawford printed 400 copies of sheets. Of the 400 he could only afford to bind up 200 of them for sale at $1.00. The book sold slowly and at first was issued without a standard dust jacket (or possibly Crawford only produced a small number of jackets and quickly ran out). Crawford would eventually produce several variant jackets. Bibliographers have been unable to establish priority to the known three jacket variants. Of these three variants the white and silver jacket appears most often in good condition leading me to believe this to be the later issued jacket with the rarer green printed Utpatel artwork jacket appearing more often well-worn. Over the years Crawford would, to the horror of future collectors, destroy the remaining unbound sheets. It is rumored that Crawford bound the volumes at the dining room table of his mother’s house. If true this would partly explain the inherent binding defects of each volume. The particular peculiarities of this volume by the binder[s] are few. On page 41 there is discoloration in the gutter of page 41. On page 76 the binder generously autographed the text with their fingerprint in printers’ ink. Presumably not the fault of the binder is a faint water stain, less than 1” in circumference at the top of the half title page as well as a whisper of a stain at the top edge of the dust jacket’s back flap. The 2020 market for Lovecraft could not be better. A near fine copy of this 1936 Visionary Publishing edition of Shadow Over Innsmouth was selling for more than $7,000 in 2011. No Lovecraft collection can be complete without this rare and historic edition.