Sorry to have been absent for so long, an unfortunate combination of serious illness and having to do other stuff, I hope to start blogging again in the very near future, and still have other items to post. Best wishes Steve
With thanks to Camillemm, who brought this matter to my attention when I accidentally, misspelled the name several times in my first post on the the mysterious Montorg??il. Now whilst accepting that apparently no one knows who he/she?is, and at risk of stating the obvious, somebody does , if the signed editions produced by Editions Bel-Rose in 1970 are genuine then somebody presumably presented the books to the author/illustrator, so that they could sign them, and also negotiate matters around copyright and earnings from the books.
This also places a certain credibility with the Bel-Rose editions, in that if they were really in contact with the person using the pseudonym, they were also aware of how to spell the name, and he/she was happy to sign the books with the same spelling.
I have checked all of my Editions Bel-Rose, titles in both the French and German editions, and they all use the spelling above, and although the legibility of the signature differs they are generally clear enough to confirm that the e precedes the u in the spelling of the name and confirms the printed version as correct.
Is this a mistake, or a scam of some kind, surely if the author, chooses to hide their identity, then they choose both the name and its spelling. This leaves me with a serious question, why does the spelling on auction records and later editions change?
AUCTION DESCRIPTION CHRISTIE’S 2014.
[MONTORGUEIL, Bernard (dates unknown), pseudonym.] Four manuscript books with original drawings: Dressage, Une Brune piquante, Une Après-midi de Barbara, and Les Quat’ jeudis. France, 1920s-1930s.
Four works in four volumes, quarto (278 x 244 mm), comprising a total of 115 pages of manuscript text in black ink with initials and titles in red, and 59 full-page pencil drawings with touches of colour; or, vol. 1: 41pp of text and 29pp of drawings; vol. 2: 8pp text and 7pp of drawings; vol. 3: 27pp text and 12pp of drawings; vol. 4: 39pp of text and 11pp of drawings. (Occasional light soiling.) 20th-century cloth, respectively blue, green, maroon, and white, the spines titled in gilt (corners rubbed, light soiling).
ORIGINAL ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS OF HIS MOST IMPORTANT WORKS BY ONE OF THE MASTERS OF SM EROTICA. Montorgueil’s work celebrates the dominant woman, his drawings showing tender young men as willing playthings in a dizzying variety of scenarios. The present manuscripts are the source for the Belrose edition of 1970, and the many subsequent reprints by Leroy which introduced Montorgueil to a much wider audience. Little is known of the author, whose work was produced between the wars, but began to circulate clandestinely in the 1950s. The Nordmann collection held a smaller group by this leading 20th century erotic illustrator (sold, Christie’s Paris, 14-15 December 2006, lot 382).
AUCTION DESCRIPTION :Christie’s Paris, 14-15 December 2006, lot 382
[MONTORGUEIL, Bernard (nom réel et dates inconnus)]. Manuscrits et dessins libres originaux de 5 récits. [Vers 1930]
In-4 (266 x 212 mm). 60 pages de texte calligraphié à l’encre noire avec initiales en rouge, 48 dessins dont 2 à double page et 46 à pleine page, à la mine de plomb, certains avec rehauts aux crayons de couleurs, sur vélin d’Arches cartonné. Détail des 5 récits: 1) Dans la Maison des Amazones, Seize images d’étranges plaisirs: titre calligraphié à l’encre rouge et noire, 16pp. de texte avec initiale rouge et 16 dessins ; 2) L’Accusation: titre au crayon rehaussé de couleur, 13pp. de texte et 5 dessins ; 3) Équivalences: titre à la mine de plomb, 7 dessins dont un à double page ; 4) De la pénétration psychologique en matière d’éducation: titre au crayon rehaussé de couleur, 16pp. de texte et 9 dessins ; 5) L’Invertie convertie: titre au crayon rehaussé de couleur, 15pp. de texte et 11 dessins dont un à double page.
Reliure signée Honegger en maroquin mauve, premier plat et dos ornés de mosaïques géométriques de maroquin rouge, noir, brun et bleu marine ainsi que de trois disques de box chair ; dos lisse, titre à la chinoise, décor à l’identique, doublures et gardes de crêpe noir à résille, tête dorée, non rogné (dos un peu passé).
EXCEPTIONNEL ENSEMBLE MANUSCRIT avec 48 superbes dessins érotiques au fini parfait de ce maître de l’illustration sado-masochiste, Bernard Montorgueil, dont toute l’oeuvre célèbre la femme dominatrice dressant les hommes. Dans les présents dessins, l’auteur de Dressage et d’Une Brune piquante, transforme de jeunes hommes tendres et graciles en objets de luxure pour des femmes vêtues d’ahurissantes combinaisons fétichistes.
La plus grande discrétion entoure Bernard Montorgueil. Son oeuvre commença à circuler sous le manteau dans les années cinquante, mais elle semble plutôt dater de l’entre deux guerres. On connaît au moins quatre séries de dessins accompagnés de textes calligraphiés. Bernard Montorgueil se situe au tout premier rang des illustrateurs érotiques du XXe siècle.
The worrying theme of giving provenance of works from the 1930’s apparently without supporting evidence continues, and I will try to pursue at a later date. The matter of the name and its spelling is my main concern at the moment. As despite the fact that the Bel-Rose editions have a variant spelling and are signed, and that at least in the latter (date wise) of the two auctions these editions are referenced, then how come they missed the spelling of the name?
Certainly it is unsurprising that the manuscript and illustrations purchased at the 2006 auction which ultimately provide the material for the 3 éditions Astarté volumes carry the same spelling as the auction listing, the spelling that continues throughout the books despite surprisingly, reproducing an image, as I have done of a signed Editions Bel-Rose limitations page, without referring to the different spelling.
éditions Astraté 2007
I will continue to pursue this interesting puzzle and anyone who would like to contribute would be most welcome. It could be, that I am missing something, but I cannot see any reference to anything “signed” in either of the auction descriptions. So are the Bel-Rose editions the real thing, are the two lots by the same hand, and why did no one pick up on the anomaly?
What started as a query on an Englishman’s spelling of an unusual , French name, now makes me wonder why so many French speakers are having the same problems with what to them should be second nature.
I am currently listing pretty much all the Clandestine Erotica titles in both French and English, and sending them to auction, they have served their purpose and I have catalogued them in detail and posted them on this site, and now I need to refresh my collection with other material.
Before anyone gets too excited I am not selling the openly published titles such as Couvre-Feu and Orties Blanches etc as I intend to continue collecting them.
And in case anyone is interested I am still looking for a small number of titles for my Paris Olympia Press collection. I am also selling off all my Olympia Press duplicates, look out for links to eBay and Catawiki auctions.
I will post the details of the books and link to the auction site when I have a fixed date.
From around 1983, I started to look further afield to seek out , both books for my collection and other mainly clandestine titles in French, but also sometimes English, the French titles tended to be better sellers as often they were illustrated and the English versions rarely so. By this time my bookcase contained a small selection of Olympia titles, mostly obtained from a book runner, named John who made regular trips to Paris in his white van and carried back a selection of late Olympia Traveller’s and Ophir books, most of which I would later find copies of myself in Paris bookshops as remainders, so there must have been a lot of them lying around, but more of that in my Paris chapter. Along with copies of Traveller’s I had obtained by way of trade with Michael Goss, I had about 20 titles in my collection.
The decision to go to Amsterdam might seem odd, because of the Olympia Press Paris connection, but I was not in the position just to buy for the collection and needed to find other books that I could use to trade. Having done my homework I knew of Amsterdam’s historical link with clandestine publishing, and more commonly printing, often English and French erotica was actually printed in the Netherlands as the home countries were high risk for both publisher and printers, hence the development of clandestine imprints, which became something of a specialism for me. And as a bottom line, books in France were and still are very expensive, foreign language books in the Netherlands were much cheaper. The currency in the Netherlands was then the Guilder, with an exchange rate of around 3 Guilder to the UK Pound.
Both travel, by coach and accommodation, Hostel, were cheap and basic, and until I got to the point where I had to put a price on my time, the norm and in the early 80’s these trips were as much leisure as business, although I did little else than look for books, eat, and get stoned. My favourite place to stay for a long time was the Euphemia and its sister establishment the International Budget hotel, both really hostels, and often in multi bedded shared rooms, which was quite an interesting experience, especially when one retires at night in a room with 7 other empty beds, and awakes in the morning sharing with 4 young women running around semi-clad, not an erotic fantasy, but an actual event and in reality quite unnerving.
I love Amsterdam, it is by far my favourite city , both for its liberal attitude to cannabis and for its wealth of bookshops, there is something in the character of the Dutch that makes them less likely to use the internet to trade, absolutely no idea why but it certainly appears to be the case, and as a result, the closure of bookshops although happening has been much slower than much of the rest of Europe.
Once you have unravelled the mystery of navigating around Amsterdam, it is a delight just to roam without any destination in mind, navigating is likely the best term to describe how to get around with ease, as the city was built with canals as its main arteries and roads as the veins. There are lists of second hand bookshops available on line and there are enough to warrant more than a few days visiting them. And then there are the markets and the junk shops to visit many of which have English books.
I cant promise that you would have an easy time finding Olympia Press titles, and it never has been easy, often a case of being in the right place at the right time, and ultimately building a network of contacts, I went from my first (books focussed) visit to Amsterdam, making the mistake of imbibing too much herbal tobacco, notoriously stronger over there, and as a result suffering horrifying paranoia, which cost me an entire day, to some years later going to Amsterdam and other places in the Netherlands taking bags of books with me to trade with my contacts over there, thereby covering the cost of my trip and accommodation.
My best Olympia find in Amsterdam was at a Bookfair in Dam Square , this would have been in the mid 90’s, I spotted a stall with a few Olympia Traveller’s Companion Series, which I quickly claimed, and then asked the stall holder if he had any more, only to be presented with a box of Paris Olympia titles, and another box of US Olympia titles along with some 20 Brandon House books. A bout of haggling followed and , after emptying my rucksack of all my clothes, I left the scene victorious and absolutely broke, spending my last night in Amsterdam, hungry but elated, and practice lifting the rucksack which, weighed nearly 30 Kilos, for a planned late arrival at check in for my flight, as I had no money to pay excess baggage so I advanced to the desk the bag held high in the air, saying ,“only this bag”, to be waived through with the comment, “its either very light or you are very strong”.
Best of all however were the contacts I made over the years and I will mention two here by Trading name only, as I do not have permission to share their actual names. The first small shop that became the focus of my attention is located at Planciusstraat 26 and is listed as Boekwinkel Fukkink, and extraordinary, phonetic pun for the puerile English imagination, and a very special little shop, It took me a very long time to get to know the owner, but eventually he and I and another friend spent many hours after closing time in his bookshop drinking whisky and talking. Here I was able to find a nice selection of early clandestine titles by the likes of Brancart , Liseux and Gay , and it was also here that I purchased, although it was more of a gift, the first edition of Lolita, (rebound without the original covers), the owner though somewhat shy and reclusive, is extremely knowledgeable, and multi linguistic and an absolute gentleman.
As slight aside, but continuing the theme of phonetic accidents and puerile English humour, I got my first ever copy of the first edition of “The Story of O” at a shop in Amsterdam named Antikvariat Kok, brilliant name, and the book cost me 38 guilders in 1988, I was panicked about my possible misunderstanding of the exchange rate, then about 3 Guilder to the UK£, or even the possibility of a missing 0 in the price of the book, but no , it was 38 Guilder, or just over £12. Read and weep.
Another favourite shop is the oddly named Boek & Glas at Agatha Dekenstraat 47, not so odd really as the owners had two shops opposite each other one trading in glass items and the other a bookbindery come second hand bookshop. I became good friends with the owners and took many titles from the UK to trade with them, and they found some great books for me including Olympia Press titles, they were warm and welcoming hosts and I was fortunate enough over the years to share meals with them along with various members of my social circle who occasionally, accompanied me on my trips.
I cannot easily describe the difference between visiting the Netherlands as a tourist and that of a trader, it is however a world apart, and in part I suspect that the Netherlands, because of its total dependence on trade , has encouraged its citizens to develop amazing linguistic skills, but whether that alone can explain the warmth and generosity of its people I somehow doubt. More than anywhere else, I miss my book hunting trips to Amsterdam, but also other locations in the Netherlands. At the risk of boring you I will continue my Dutch adventures at a later date, including reference to one of the most amazing collections of erotica I have ever seen.
Well a significant amount of progress has been made but still some way to go, I am continuing to list both Olympia press and other erotica for trade and a decreasing number of wants, but enjoying it very much, despite my shy and rather silent readership. See below for the collection as it stands today, and with a few more items on the way, its getting better every day.
These days the book town of Hay on Wye is famous for its annual literary festival, as well as the large number of second hand book shops which are its raison d’etre, in the 80’s it was not quite such a commercial venue. Located literally miles away from anywhere an absolute sod of a place to get to, with no public transport link, a location for car owners only, or the privately arranged coach trip.
Back then , it was still a wild place to visit, safest to stay within the boundaries of the town, as vampires and werewolves lurked at night, and a small but particularly aggressive tribe of cannibals lived on an eyot in the Wye valley and many an unwary traveller ended their days as “Man Sausage”as they so quaintly referred to their prey.
Back then my sidekick T and I made many trips to Hay, which if memory serves consisted then of about 10 shops, dominated by the Hay Cinema Bookshop and the Castle. There were locations where books were left out on uncovered racks open to the elements, legend has it that once books were sold there by weight, but that is before my time.
Hunting for titles could be difficult as numbers were huge and sorting was primitive, for a time hunting was good, much of the stock was imported by container load from various locations but mainly the States, it was possible to find some quite obscure American piracies of pseudo erotic titles and their rip offs of Paris Olympia titles, but rarely the real thing. Particularly interesting items including illustrated editions, published by The Pierre Louÿs Society, and The Rarity Press and other privately printed items, often the poorly reproduced offset copies but occasionally books in small limitations with full colour illustrations by the like of Clara Tice and Alistair, at that time not in vogue, but rather beautiful and very cheap.
Because of the United States refusal to honour anyone else’s copyright up until the mid 60’s a lot of material was just lifted from European editions and in those days in Hay it was relatively easy to find both copies and original material produced by the Obelisk Press and other Paris imprints from the 1930’s. The real treasure for me however were the foreign language books where I was able to pick up clandestine erotica published in French with relative ease and also very cheaply, simply because no one knew what they were.
To do a visit justice you needed several days, and as rooms were too expensive for me back then, in summer I sometimes took a tent but otherwise slept in the back of my Vauxhall Carlton estate, which i used to park in the large public car park on the edge of the town, which had the advantage of an on site toilet block. My favourite memory is of the time T and I arrived in Hay quite late in the evening, with only enough book hunting time to visit the Cinema Bookshop and stash a few titles for collection the next day, before retiring to our double sleeping compartment in the back of the car to “Spliff Up” and while away the evening. Next morning bright and early, having ignored the tapping’s and pleadings of the persistent vampires ( whoever thought of designing a monster that could fly , lift ten times its own weight but is totally incapable of breaking a glass window?).
After after the obligatory good morning “doobie”, I left T in charge of the kettle on our gas fired cooker, housed in the former bedroom now converted to kitchen in the back of the car, and wandered off to the toilet block, returning some several minutes later, from across the car park I heard the plaintive cry of “FIRE, FIRE” and espied T pathetically waving a tea towel at a rather aggressive jet of blue flame emitting from the open tailgate of the car, this image is forever etched on my mind and totally inexplicable, T was and is one of the brightest and capable human beings i have ever known, by the time I had stopped laughing and reached inside the car to turn off the valve on the gas bottle, T had regained his composure but not overcome his embarrassment at his bizarre reaction to the crisis, it is still possible to reduce him to a sulky silence by uttering the words”Fire Fire”.
Having become very pissed off at how difficult it was to find Olympia Press books and deal with the people who might or might not have them, struck by the similarity between the smut peddlers, who were still frightened of being nicked in the 1980’s
And the prudish dodgy Victorian morality of your typical book shop owner.
I took it upon myself to undertake some detective work and gradually came to the conclusion, that to find these books produced outside of the UK one had to leave the UK to find them. Being a man of limited means and a working class stiff I had to find a way to raise the cash to fund such an expedition and it took the best part of two years to do this.
In the mean time along with my trusty sidekick “T”, and when he was otherwise engaged accompanied by my ever faithful Border Collie “Kai”,(apparently that means Cat in Welsh,funny name for a dog), who used to love to sit in the front passenger seat, head hung out through the window, tongue and ears flapping in the breeze, occasionally letting go a silent but deadly fart, oh the memories, , much more of a civilised experience when the dog came along instead. We embarked upon the Magical Mystery Tour of the bookshops of England.
The Dirty Bookshop experiment never really produced anything of use except rather battered books which oftentimes, bore a striking almost advertising quality resemblance to their title.
And of course the already referenced Delectus Books Catalogue, which included a wants list of surprising variety, thus equipped I commenced to search for a range of titles much broader than just Olympia Press, A whole range of Sexology and Foreign Language editions of exotic erotica and pornography. After a few false starts, I eventually established contact with the proprietor of Delectus Books, and he slowly drip fed me my first genuine Paris Olympia titles, he also educated me about clandestine publishing, and the ways that publishers codified their books in Victorian times and earlier. So alongside my personal search for Paris Olympia titles I was now looking for books published by Carrington, Gay and Douce, Brancart and Kistemaeckers , few of which could be found in the UK.
After several exchanges of large bags of books I was ready to go to Europe to hunt out the elusive titles of my dreams.
My story continues, by location not by timeline although where possible I will link the two, memory permitting. Before venturing abroad I will relate some of my adventures in the UK and in particular Hay on Wye.
Watch this space.
As I seem to have difficulty in finding enough time to list everything individually, even though I am committed to doing so, I am posting images of the volume of books that I have to trade or sell. As stated elsewhere a small number of titles are listed on AbeBooks.Com, under EGOBOOKS. Of the rest a small number are listed here, without price, primarily because I want to generate contact with collectors and would prefer to trade titles than sell them. My prices on AbeBooks are not fixed and are primarily there to provide a shopfront for me.
The image above shows all of my TC duplicates, as you can see there are rather a lot of them, if there are any titles that you are looking for leave a message on this blog and I will get back to you to with both trade or buying options.
As you can see above I have far fewer titles to trade in other series, but there are some very rare Atlantic Library editions in this shot, as well as a few listed on this site in detail.
As the caption indicates the image above is the non Olympia stuff, which includes all the Clandestine Losfelds, listed in detail on this site, and many many more which I will list individually as time goes on, anyone who cannot wait let me know what you are looking for and I will tell you whether or not I have it. And if you are super serious and have a rare Paris Olympia to trade, I can provide a list of titles and you can take your pick.
Although it is difficult for me to recall the exact year, I do remember the day, as it was my birthday, and from my closest friend I received a copy of the Olympia Reader, this was either 1983 or 1984, this book fascinated me, not so much the excerpts from the Olympia titles but the story behind the press and the range of outrageous, weird and wonderful stuff it had put out.
Fairly quickly, I started to look for titles in local bookshops and charities, it did not take long to discover that these books were hard to find, and in the mid eighties no one in the book world was much interested in them, with a little research, of the old fashioned kind, (not a huge amount of WWW activity in those days), I found a copy of Pat Kearney’s Olympia Hand-list which at least informed me just how many of these books I could look for.
It also introduced me to the fact that there was at least one person as crazy as me already on the job, although with a very significant head start. As it became clear very quickly finding any of these books in your standard second hand bookshop was pretty much a non starter, as a consequences in the early days at least, I used to hunt, often with my good friend, the one who gave me the Olympia Reader, and as he pops up quite a lot in future adventures in book hunting I shall call him “T”. Commencing with local charities and gradually spreading our net further afield, we explored towns and villages looking for any shop, market or other location that might have second hand books, also going to Jumble sails and Flea Markets, lots of time spent wandering around with no specific address to aim for. Around this time I found and purchased a copy of Driffs Guide, this was an amazing, personalised directory to the second hand bookshops of England Published by Driff Field, an eccentric book runner of some notoriety, I recall bumping into him on many occasions, often in Any Amount of Books in the Charing Cross Road, where he appeared to have some kind of residency, if my memory serves me well, I cannot remember Driff wearing anything other than a white colonial suit and fedora in summer, with his sole means of transport a bicycle, for more on this character search Driffs Guide on Google.
Eventually my hunting took me back to Herne Bay, where effectively this journey began, when as a boy , as previously told in these pages, I went on bicycle to hunt for Marvel Comics, so in the 80’s I found myself back in the same shop where I used to buy my comics, admittedly in a slightly different location but run by the same owner, who was happy to talk about second hand comics , but became very elusive about Olympia Press books, or Readers as he called them. It soon became obvious that there was some sort of coded way of gaining access to these books and that it would take time, although there was no justification for such caution in the 80’s, the DB shop owner was firmly embedded in the past and would not easily open up based on a single visit, but more of this later. It was on my first return visit, to this shop that I espied a copy of a book dealers catalogue which I was allowed to purchase, something of a minor miracle, This I believe was Delectus Catalogue Number 5, put out by Michael Goss, The good fortune of locating this slim volume and my subsequent contact with the author, would ultimately lead to my going from a handful of titles gathered in provincial England, to becoming an international book runner with a much broader remit to hunt out clandestine publications in many languages across over a hundred years of history, and also to be where I am today with my collection.
In-between are the book hunting expeditions, all over the UK, and Europe, which will, I hope entertain you in my future blogs.