More on “original condition” . . .

Soon I hope to return to the subject of Frederic Jessel and the Cogan book that he took apart.  For the moment, I want to make clear that the works (the titles) in the “collected volume” had indeed been issued separately — but Jessel did not realize that the book he was dismantling had very likely been bound up by Cogan, making the collected book an “issue” of its own — under David Levy’s method of analyis.

In this post, I am stepping outside of the book-collecting world into the world of art.  Interestingly, the art world is another sphere in which some collectors and dealers think they can “improve” on an item, not realizing that they are really making it worse.

I’ll just mention a few examples from my experience, all dealing with Frank Godwin (1889-1959) an illustrator in whom I have been interested for over 40 years.  He illustrated in many areas, including books and magazines, and he was also a leading comic-strip artist, his two main comic strips being Connie and Rusty Riley.

I’m going to confine this discussion to original art — and not the actual published versions.

Much — perhaps most — Sunday comic strip art from Godwin’s era included a “stat” (a photostat) in the upper-left corner showing the title of the strip.  Rusty Riley was no exception.  In the case of original art, the stats were glued on, and the glue normally has turned brown.

In some cases, a replacement stat has been glued in, in place of the original.  I have at least one such example.  I’m not saying whether or not that is a good idea, but once it is done, it can’t really be un-done.

Probably the first item of Godwin original art that I ever purchased was a beautiful oil painting that I bought back in the 1970s, and it is still the nicest and most desirable item in my Godwin collection.  I was provided with a photo of the painting, showing in a plain, but obviously old frame.  When I received the actual painting — no frame!  Huh?

Not so long ago, I purchase a Godwin illustration that was published in Liberty magazine.  I was (and still am) very happy with the illustration, which was matted quite close to the image.  It’s a gorgeous gouache painting (basically opaque watercolors).

Later I ran across an auction listing — whereby the painting had been sold in 2002.  Here is a link to that auction:  auction.  There were registration marks on the image, as well as a rubber-stamp impression, and the whole was affixed, with tape, to another item.  The item I purchased shows few, if any, such attributes.  (The rubber-stamp impression has been whited-over, and the larger background appears to be gone entirely.)  Again:  huh?

—Tom Sawyer

August 3, 2013

About 457 words.

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