New into the collection: Paris Olympia Press (Pamphlet) News: Good and Bad: September 1966

Well  an amazing find and not listed in Kearney. Nor to the best of my knowledge in any of the other collections auctioned in recent years. Something of a landmark, and almost definitely the last advertising pamphlet issued by the press from its Paris base.

Internal evidence suggests that this leaflet was prepared specially
for distribution at the 1966 Frankfurt Book Fair, which is held
annually in mid-October.

Scarce, late piece of Paris Olympia Press ephemera, from Sept. 1966,
comprising a single leaf of silver-coloured paper measuring 42 x 27 cm,
folded length-wise to create four pages. Page one carries the masthead
‘Olympia Press News’ superimposed over a photograph of what
appears to be Maurice Girodias walking down a Paris street with a
nun in the foreground.

Paris Olympia Pamphlet Good News and Bad 1966_0001

Pages 2-3 comprise a note by Girodias, dated Sept. 22 1966, headed
‘Olympia Press News, Good and Bad,’ in which is discussed, among
other things, the success of American and English editions of many
of his books, a publishing deal with New English Library in London,
the proposed revival of Olympia magazine and plans for Japanese
and Swedish publications.

Paris Olympia Pamphlet Good News and Bad 1966_0002

The balance of page 3
comprise a catalogue of the New English Library editions already
in print. 
Paris Olympia Pamphlet Good News and Bad 1966_0003

Paris Olympia Pamphlet Good News and Bad 1966_0004

Page 4
A Paris Olympia Press stock-list.

PDF Link below:

Paris Olympia Pamphlet Good News and Bad 1966

The Good, the Bad, and the Obscene. By: Angus Carroll.

Reproduced here courtesy of the author. Originally published in Fine Books Magazine July 2010.

When my father died in 1995, I found a half-dozen green paperbacks in his office, his own book included—Bottoms Up—all volumes in the now infamous Traveller’s Companion Series. Not realizing what I was getting into, I thought it would be fun to collect the set. Thus began my ten-year odyssey with the Olympia Press.

From a handful of “greenies” to editing the definitive bibliography by Patrick Kearney, it has been a fascinating adventure—one day poring over obscure French laws, one day tracking down an unknown variant of Lolita. And one day opening a newly arrived package at the kitchen table. It was White Thighs by Frances Lengel (one of Alexander Trocchi’s pseudonyms). Of course, my wife Susan came into the room at that very moment. She looked at the book and then at me. I said, “It’s part of the series.” She turned and walked out of the room. “It’s part of the series,” I called after her, but she was gone.

The Olympia Press was founded by Maurice Girodias in Paris in 1953. Continuing his father’s legacy as a fearless, avant-garde publisher (his father, Jack Kahane, had published James Joyce, Anaïs Nin, and Henry Miller), Girodias (who took his mother’s maiden name during the war) was the first to publish The Ginger Man, The Naked Lunch, and—most famously—Lolita.

Girodias attracted the attention of the French authorities long before he founded the Olympia Press. Although he started his publishing career innocently enough in 1940 with a weekly directory of Paris theatres, Paris-Programme, and followed that with a number of high-quality art books published under the Editions du Chêne imprint, in 1946 he published a French edition of Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn that was immediately banned, the first time the French government had moved against a book since Flaubert’sMadame Bovary a century before. He won that battle, but then published (in English) Miller’s Sexus in 1949 under his father’s resurrected imprint, the Obelisk Press. That book was banned outright in all languages. Thus, by 1950, he had established a reputation as a publisher of the risqué if not the pornographic.

In 1951, Girodias lost control of Editions du Chêne (and thus also Obelisk Press) to Hachette, the largest publisher in France. Over the next few years he did very little (his own words) before launching the Olympia Press, named after Manet’s scandalous painting.

It was not long before he was once again in hot water. Indeed, the first book off the press was Miller’s Plexus, which more or less set the tone for the new enterprise. From the pornographic to the experimental, from first English translations to modern classics, Girodias published a bizarre mix of the good, the bad, and the obscene.

Ironically, Girodias was, to some degree, a victim of his own success. Once censorship laws in the U.S. and U.K. were repealed, the market for “dirty books” was never the same. Girodias moved to New York in the late 1960s to capitalize on new publishing freedoms in the U.S., but the company went bankrupt in the early 1970s. He published his last book in 1974 and died in Paris in 1990 at the age of 71

The Good, the Bad, and the Obscene

In 1998, having collected about half of the titles in the Traveller’s Companion Series, I arranged to meet Patrick Kearney, widely recognized as the bibliographic expert on the Olympia Press. I called him when I was planning to be in San Francisco—he lives in Santa Rosa. When I arrived at his house he immediately gave me a tour of his collection. That’s when I realized I knew next to nothing about the Olympia Press. I had not even heard of some of the books he showed me. And beyond books, there were catalogues, booklets, and magazines, to say nothing of cancelled dust jackets, freaks, and piracies.

It is safe to say, from a bibliographic standpoint, that no one knows more about the Olympia Press than Kearney. He has been collecting Olympia since the early sixties when he was a “runner,” smuggling copies of the Traveller’s Companion Series into England from France. He would sell them to “Sammy,” his London connection. Kearney recalled their meetings were like a scene from a bad spy movie. They would meet in an underground coffee shop and Kearney would hand over the goods in a brown paper bag. Sammy—who actually wore dark glasses for the exchanges—would slip the money across the table in a used window envelope for the North Thames Gas Board.

His most anxious moment as a runner came when he was travelling from Paris to London with his parents and he couldn’t fit all his contraband into his jacket. He had nowhere to put the seven-volume set of Juliette by the Marquis de Sade. “My father stuffed them in his pockets,” Kearney told me. “He was fine with it, but my mother nearly had a nervous breakdown. She was sure we would get caught.”

But they crossed the border without incident. In fact the only time Kearney was ever stopped by customs was on his way into France in 1960. “I was reading a book called La Gangrene,” Kearney recalled, “which was very critical of the French government and the role it played in Algerian affairs, up to and including torturing suspected terrorists. I had the book under my arm when I came to customs, the man there literally snatched it away from me. He said, ‘That’s not allowed here.’” If only he had known what books Kearney usually carried across the border between France and England.

Kearney met Girodias several times in Paris in the early eighties. Once, when Kearney mentioned he was having a hard time finding a copy of L’Affaire Lolita, Girodias gave him a signed copy the next time he saw him. “He was a real gentleman,” Kearney said. “Sadly, by then he was down on his luck and living in an awful, run-down government apartment. I remember he had scotch-tape on the cuffs of his jacket to keep them from fraying any further.”

Fortune would smile on Girodias one more time, though not for long. In 1990, after publishing the second volume of his autobiography—Une journée sur la terre: Les jardins d’Eros, which covered the period of the Olympia Press—Girodias was once again in the spotlight. Sadly, he died shortly thereafter during a radio interview.

Kearney published a checklist in 1975 and a short bibliography in 1987, but he had learned much since then. He showed me the updated version on his computer when I visited him in California. It was much more detailed than the 1987 edition and included a significant number of new titles, printings, and variants. I told him, “We have to get this published.”

Sex sells, but books about books that sell sex, don’t. Few bibliographies hit the bestseller list. We figured we would have to publish it ourselves. Print-on-demand services are rarely the way to fame and fortune for works of fiction (marketing and distribution being critical success factors), but they are well suited to reference works, where sales potential is limited, and—a bonus—the work never goes out of print.

Thus, we set up the work as a document to be published with a print-on-demand (POD) provider, formatted the materials, and discussed cover designs. The main shortcoming with a POD solution was that we could not have a color section illustrating the books. Nevertheless, we thought it our only option.

Over the next few years, literally thousands of emails went out to collectors, libraries, and booksellers. No fact was too small to be run down (“Does the tail of the ‘R’ in BEDROOM extend below the text on the title page of your copy of The Bedroom Philosophers?”). At the same time, we continued to make new discoveries: an issue of Merlin published by the Olympia Press; two large, coffee-table books on architecture published by Girodias in 1955 (Sicile Grecque andSaint-Philbert de Tournus). FedEx packages went back and forth between Kearney and Steve Mullins, a leading collector in London, and details were checked with John de St. Jorre, the author of Venus Bound: The Erotic Voyage of the Olympia Press and its Writers.

We were just wrapping up when our luck changed. Through the grapevine we heard Liverpool University Press was planning to publish a book on the Obelisk Press. A quick email to Liverpool resulted in a contract. They thought the Olympia Press bibliography the perfect companion to the Obelisk bibliography.

Our publishing problem solved, we focused on finalizing the manuscript. The bibliography covers hundreds of titles, printings, issues, and variants and every entry had to be double-checked. When the galleys came, we went over every word again. As any author or editor knows, it is impossible to catch every error. Because everyone was focused on the text, no one read the blurb on the back cover, which states Kearney is the author of A History of Gothic Literature, which, of course, should be Erotic Literature.

The Paris Olympia Press finally came out in early 2008, ten years after my visit to Kearney’s house in 1998. For Kearney, it was the culmination of a lifetime of collecting and study, a capstone to his career as an Olympia runner, collector, and ultimately, bibliographer.

Still, there was one last chapter to be written. Having completed his labor of love, Kearney put his collection up for sale at Christie’s. On Thursday, June 12, 2008, Lot No. 206—Kearney’s entire Olympia Press Collection, comprising over 400 volumes (it took eight full pages to describe)—went under the hammer.

The collection was bought by Princeton University Library. It is now part of Princeton’s rare book collection, not to be broken up and sold piece by piece, but kept together as a collection, a focal point for the study of censorship in the twentieth century.

In point of fact, it is only because it was a bibliographer’s collection that it caught the attention of Stephen Ferguson, curator of rare books at Princeton. “When a collection formed by a bibliographer, rather than by a collector, comes on the market, I take special notice,” Ferguson said. “The chief reason is that bibliographers tend to be more aware of what research libraries are interested in supplying to the scholar: variant issues, special issues, items in original condition, publishers’ catalogs and ads, etc., all of which are vital aspects of publishing history.”

No. 86 in the Traveller’s Companion Series was Bottoms Up, by Jock Carroll (the author’s father). The heroine of the book, Gloria Heaven, was based on Marilyn Monroe. Carroll, a photojournalist, had met Monroe on the set of the movie Niagara in 1952 while on assignment for Weekend Magazine.

Unable to get Bottoms Uppublished in Canada or the United States, Carroll turned to Girodias as a last resort. Unlike North American publishers who thought the book had too much sex in it, Girodias didn’t think it had enough. He asked Carroll to spice it up, which he did.

Princeton is no newcomer to the history of publishing. The University’s special collections include the archives of G.P. Putnam and Sons, Henry Holt, Charles Scribner’s Sons, D. Van Nostrand, Harper & Brothers, and many others. But the Olympia Press collection represented a special opportunity. “Civil authority versus individual liberty is an on-going conversation,” Ferguson said. “This collection helps document a fascinating chapter in that dialog, and as such can help support important future research.”

As the (self-proclaimed) Publisher Who Defeated Censorship, I think Girodias would have been happy to know that future scholars will use the Olympia Press collection to understand the history of censorship—and the role he played in it.

Books Wanted: All Ephemera related to The Paris Olympia Press

Of all of the Olympia items I have traded over the years, the greatest regret I have is parting with the ephemera, such stuff is difficult to find and seldom listed by book-dealers, usually tucked away in a box somewhere, usually found when browsing , rather than presented for sale.

Pat Kearney, Paris Olympia Press, Liverpool University Press. 2007, lists a range of items at page 356.

olympia press Cats

Rather than reproduce that detail here (though I may do later), suffice to say I am interested in any ephemera, related to the press, including (but not exclusive) sales catalogues, advertising fliers, book lists, order forms, letters, business cards, and anything else with a printed or pictorial link to the press.

Olympia Press Cats2

Any of the above or similar items, please leave a comment on this blog and I will get back to you.

Books To Trade: Paris Olympia Press

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.

Paris Travellers Companion Series Duplicates for Trade

Paris Travellers Companion Series Duplicates

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.

Other Paris Olympia for Trade

Other Paris Olympia for Trade

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.

Other Erotica Cabinet

Erotica Cabinet

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.

The Story of a Bookcase: The Obsession Begins

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.

Books to Trade: Travellers Companion Series



Malcolm Nesbit

(Alfred Chester)

Chariot of Flesh

The Traveller’s Companion Series

No 12


In original green card covers 202 pp, a list of the  first 14  titles at the back of the book, printed by Impr S.I.P  Montreuil France in May 1955, Original price of  Francs 900 on back cover(see images) an extremely rare title in the series and in about good condition. Very seldom seen in original covers a rare and desirable item in any condition for the serious collector. Priced for entry level for a collector, this was my only copy for several years. Feel free to ask any questions



Akbar Del Piombo

(Norman Rubington)


The Traveller’s Companion Series

No 27



In original green card covers, p.p. 200, printed by Impr.S.I.P. Montreuil in March 1956, original price of Francs 900 on back cover. A rare title though this one does turn up, but not in this condition, the images do not do it justice, clearly a tight unread copy and of collection quality. Priced on quality over rarity.I decided to list this one rather than another on the flip of a coin, the other one stays in my personal collection.



Robert Desmond

(Robert Desmond Thompson)

Heaven Hell and the Whore

The Traveller’s Companion Series

No 24



In original green card covers, p.p. 251, printed by Impr.S.I.P. Montreuil in June 1956, small scratch mark through Francs 900 on the back cover, original price still visible. An extremely rare title in the series and in very good condition. See images and description. One of 9 titles from this  Olympia writer. Very seldom seen in any condition, even rarer in original covers an elusive title. The last time I listed this title on eBay someone complained and it was pulled, just goes to show the battle against censorship still goes on 60 years later. If you don’t have it you should buy it. Cant be many more out there.



Marcus Van Heller

(John Stevenson)

The Loins of Amon

The Traveller’s Companion Series

No 11

IMG_1251 (2)


In original green card covers, p.p. 182, printed in the second quarter of 1955 by Impr. Richard, Paris France, old price Francs 900 price on back cover scratched out. General wear and usage An extremely rare title in the series and in good condition. One of 12 titles from this the most prolific of Olympia writers.Early TC from 1955. Very seldom seen in original covers a rare and desirable item for the serious collector



Marcus Van Heller

(John Stevenson)

Cruel Lips

The Traveller’s Companion Series

No 30



In original green card covers, p.p. 190, printed by Impr.S.I.P. Montreuil in July 1956, small pen mark on Francs 900 price on back cover appears to be an attempt to change the “9” to a “6” original price still visible. An extremely rare title in the series and in good condition. One of 12 titles from this the most prolific of Olympia writers. Very seldom seen in original covers a rare and desirable item for the serious collector. Lovely looking copy, but has suffered the indignity of having been read, not that surprising really, this little paperback is 60 years old next year.



Mickey Dikes

Sarabande For A Bitch

The Traveller’s Companion Series

No 28



In original green card covers 208 pp, printed by Impr.S.I.P Montreuil  in April 1956, Original price of Francs 900 on back cover, becoming more elusive and a good collection entry quality copy .Very seldom seen in original covers a rare and desirable item for the serious collector. Mickey Dikes is one of Olympia mystery writers. Great title, a sarabande is a slow, stately dance and a bitch is well…….. a female dog, so , doesn’t bear thinking about!



Harriet Daimler

(Iris Owens)


The Traveller’s Companion Series

No 19



In original green card covers 173 pp, a list of the  first 29  titles at the back of the book, printed by Impr. Montreuil Seine in March 1956, Original price of  900 Fr neatly inked out on this copy an extremely rare title in the series and in very good condition, the first of 5 novels in this series by Iris Owens a rare and brave venture for a woman writing erotica in the period. Very seldom seen in original covers a rare and desirable item for the serious collector.



Carmencita de las Lunas

(Alexander Trocchi)


The Traveller’s Companion Series

No 25

photo 2 (3)


In original green card covers 189 pp, including three pages of the presses other titles printed by Imprimiere Speciale des editions The Olympia Press in the 1st Trimestre of 1956 Paris, an extremely rare title in the series and in very good condition. Suppressed in December 1956 and prosecuted in July 1958.

The Story of a Bookcase: The Lost Years [a transitional, transcendent phase.]

This is where things become blurred, very blurred, from the age of 18 and pretty much solidly for the next 10 years, I was only half in the driving seat, but never completely out of control, well OK I was shit faced most of the time, and the question of control is academic as I survived it, and in any case the totally out of control periods are completely blank.

Before I take you into my twilight zone, I need to fill in a bit of background, by 13 years was smoking roll ups and had partaken in the “Herb” on a fairly regular basis, by 15 years of age I was already into amphetamines and had taken my first of many “Trips”. not boasting , just telling you.

The bookcase has only a peripheral role in this part, and I will finish this particular blog  with the details of what sort of state it was in by the end. The bulk of this story is I think worth telling , but possibly elsewhere, or I will lose the direction of the whole thing. Whew! narrowly avoided another,  Karl Ove Knausgård, moment, not that is a bad thing, I have read the first 4 of his 5 autobiographical tomes, and I am a fan. I have to fight the temptation to go into minute detail of my life, the urge to confess I suppose, the mark of a Roman Catholic upbringing.

For the ten-year period in question in the context mentioned in the first paragraph above, my life gravitated to extreme social activity, the basis of which was built around music, the listening to , watching and making of. Going to the movies was also an important and frequent activity, just in case anyone is curious I was almost continually employed during this period primarily in various branches of the electronics industry, laughably at one stage I worked on prototype weapons systems at Marconi, whilst being a card-carrying member of the CND and active member of the Anti-Nazi League.

I was a child in the 60's

I was a child in the 60’s

       My interest in Music was eclectic and very time-consuming.

Remarkable Times

Remarkable Times


And all this time

Self Explanatory

Self Explanatory

By the end the bit that matters for this blog, the bookcase was occupied with a mixture of underground comics, Zap, Furry Freaks and the like, and primarily paperbacks by a variety of authors, including:- Moorcock, Flann O’brien, Kerouac, Brautigan, Poe, and on and on, I had also developed an interest in Burroughs and at one time claimed to have read and understood everything he had written, not sure that I could say that now, the interest continued with translations of French titles, so Bataille, Genet and Beckett, and for those of you in the know, you can already spot the drift towards the Olympia Press, although at this stage I don’t recall any of the copies in the bookcase being Olympia Press editions at that time, another missed opportunity.

Next: The Obsession begins

The Story of a Bookcase [The Teenage Years]

I am conscious that I must not dwell on this too long, otherwise I risk becoming the English version of Karl Ove Knausgård, chance would be a fine thing.

As i aged as we are all doomed to do, I reached the age of 12 and was suddenly old enough to do a paper round and earn my own money, until this time much of the control of the contents of the bookcase remained with my parents and my 4 older siblings, and the Works of Dickens and World of Adventure, titles had been expanded by gifts of Dandy and Beano albums along with the children’s classics, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe and ad infinitum. (Do I detect a nautical theme?)

However by the age of 12 having developed a firm friendship with a lad of the same age at primary school, we had started to develop our own interests in all sorts of things. I recall one such collecting fad was a series of bubble gum cards based on a pictorial history of the American Civil War, they were very gory and when discovered by the Nuns (Catholic School) they were promptly confiscated.


Having then had my first brush with obsessive collecting and censorship at one fell swoop, and suddenly the possessor of funds provided by the paper round, I commenced to collect Marvel Comics and my best pal, who also had a paper round commenced to collect DC comics, this provided endless ammunition for discussion, debates, heated arguments and the odd bout of violence, over who had the best Heroes and the best collection. It also led to hunting around local second hand book and comic shops. There were a fair few of these around in those days, and indeed the newsagent we both worked for also functioned as an outlet for second hand stuff.

At the tender age of 12, I then commenced to wander further afield in search of elusive titles and even went so far as Herne Bay, some 6 miles distant and a fairly strenuous bike ride in search of those rare titles that I just had to have.

Not me by the way

Not me by the way

As a result of this I discovered, although I did not know it at the time, my very first dirty book shop.Where unbeknownst to me behind all the comics, over the counter, even “Under The Counter” sat piles of “Readers” as they were called, Including no doubt many Paris Olympia Press titles, copies of which could be hired out on a lease return basis by lonely onanists. Clearly a missed opportunity in more than one sense. More of this later.

By a combination of a permanent order of all US Marvel titles released each month, the cost of which was deducted from my salary by the newsagent, my employer, and skillful hunting down of titles elsewhere, I had by the time I was 16 established a collection that filled the bookcase, and this collection stayed in the bookcase and moved with me until I was around 18 years old, by which time I had moved on to different things, like Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and Cannabis, Acid and anything else I could throw down my neck. So around 1973 the comic collection was sold, probably for far too little, to a Shop as I recall in Wardour Street in London romantically called “Dark They Were and Golden Eyed”


Anyway no complaints here the funds from this sale were used to pursue the nefarious activities listed above, and allowed my collecting to move to the next phase. Watch this space.

Books Wanted:- MELTING [Dissolving] Travellers Companion Series No 59

Rather provide an exhaustive list of wants, I want to be specific about the titles I am looking for, many of them are readily available, just very expensive, and will likely have to wait until I can afford to buy them, in the mean time they will remain highly priced and unsold on all the major book sites, that is unless of course a trade is possible.

However before I get to the not rare just expensive stuff, lets explore the really rare stuff.

The first item on my list is one of the variant titles that Girodias produced to avoid detection by the Brigade Mondaine , the French Thought Police, who in cooperation with the British Government sought to eliminate the import of “filth” from the continent, this form of censorship has a long history, but more of that later.

My first target title is therefore “Melting” by Tim Harrack, a disguised variant of the title “Dissolving” the bibliographic description of which reads thus:-

5.59.2 MELTING [DISSOLVING] Tim Harrack, 1958 [Within a green border of type ornament:] TIM HARRACK |MELTING | THE TRAVELLER’S COMPANION | SERIES | published by | THE OLYMPIA PRESS | [breaking the border:] 7, rue Saint-Severin, Paris Collation: 192 pp. 59.1 – 59.128. 17.6 x 11.1 cm., all edges trimmed. Printed on white wove paper. Contents: pp. [1,2] blank. p. [3] MELTING. p. [4] [rule] | All right reserved by The Olympia Press Paris France. p. [5] title, as above, reverse blank. pp. 7-[187] text. p. [188] blank. p. [189] PRINTED IN FRANCE | [rule] | Printed March 1958 by S.I.P., Montreuil, France | Dépôt légal : 1er trimestre 1958. pp. [190-192] blank. Binding: Olive-green wrappers, printed in black, and trimmed flush with body of the book. [Front cover; within a frame of two borders, the outer consisting of fine linked chain of type device in black, and the inner a thin band of white edged in black:] TIM HARRACK | MELTING | no 59 | THE | TRAVELLERS COMPANION | SERIES. [Spine; within a white, black-edged panel, the series no. in horizontal digits at bottom and title lettered vertically up spine:] 59 [-] MELTING [Back cover, at bottom right-hand corner:] Francs : 1.200. Notes: Although presumably re-issued with a title change to confuse the authorities, the running head still reads DISSOLVING throughout. The text of page 7 and the first half of page 8 has been re-written, after which it remains identical to the edition published as Dissolving.(1)

I thank my long term pen-pal and friend (though we have never met face to face) Patrick Kearney for permission to use excerpts from his book:- (1) The Paris Olympia Press published by The Liverpool University Press, 2007, where the above description can be located on Page: 187.


Despite Pat’s description, this was and in reality still is the only Olympia Press title I have never seen, so imagine my delight, when just a week ago, following some very skilled detective work I discovered a copy in Berlin. I quickly made all of the necessary arrangements to buy the book, and even sent the following to him:-

Well Pat

Sometimes I amaze myself, no sooner do I admit to never having seen a copy of the Melting variant of Dissolving, than I track one down on a really obscure German antiques web site, admittedly I do not have it in hand yet, but it is paid for and order confirmed. Amazing so happy I just had to share the moment.
A few days later I received the following message from Berlin:-

Hallo Stephen,

I just tried to take your book from my storage room. I was shocked, it was the victim of a mouse attack!

I’m sorry, they destroyed it. And not only this…

By the way, I don’t use paypal.

I apologize for the circumstances.

Best regards from Berlin………………Stephan

Melting (melted)
I updated Pat and he responded:-

Steve, Hi:

I’m glad I wasn’t able to reply to your email and congratulate you on
finally digging up a copy of “Melting” — in light of your subsequent
email. How tragic. Really. I picked up a Bibliotheque des curieux title
once that had clearly been nibbled on by rodents, but at least it was
readable. “Melting” was demolished. But at least there’s evidence
(from the spine which is still intact) that it exists!

Happy to take any copy in pretty much any condition as long as it is complete.

The Story of a Bookcase: [In The Beginning]

Every activity has to start somewhere and for me, my craze for collecting is very closely associated with the bookcase in which my Olympia’s are currently housed, this is the largest of the two cases for which there are images on the site.

Olympia Collection cabinet 1

Olympia Collection cabinet 1

Before I get to the role of the bookcase, I am inclined to make you suffer a brief history of me. I begin at age 4, in 1959, as I have no reliable memory prior to that, I do recall being lost, unsupervised and terrified prior to that presumably somewhere in Bournemouth, where we lived until I was 4, then moving to Whitstable, where life for me began. Until that point I had believed that my father was a handsome sailor, complete with Royal Navy uniform, very young with blonde wavy hair, he used to come home on leave, bringing exotic gifts from far flung locations, I particularly remember a tin Military Police Jeep battery operated that could do all sorts of amazing things. This handsome young chap turned out to be my eldest brother (actually step-brother) But that’s another story……….

My real Father, who according to all was mysteriously absent for the first years of my life, was also in the navy, but the Merchant variety, where he was as he chose to call himself a chef, the reality of this was somewhat less glamorous, as he functioned as a galley cook on small coasters, plying between Whitstable and Esjberg in Denmark. So at the age of 4 I discovered myself to be the son of a sea cook, which in some places, I understand is a form of insult.

Having lived in a small flat in a terraced house in Whitstable for a number of years, we moved up market to the nearby village of Tankerton where we had a much bigger ground floor flat, the rest of the house occupied by a large family, Italian in origin and temperament, with a Grandfather, the patriarch, who spoke much Italian and not much English, and his 3 rather crazy teenage grandsons who took great delight in frightening me, but that too is another story…..

So in around 1963, we moved again, only about 500 yards up the road from the Italian contingent, this time to our own house, which my parents had somehow  got a mortgage for. The previous occupants had thoughtfully left behind some items of furniture, a desk, a large oak dining table which turned out to be a half sized slate bedded snooker table, and yes you guessed a bookcase. My initial interest for a year or so focused on the desk , because, my father, a man with a very sweet tooth, used to hide his sweet stash in it, when I eventually found a way to fiddle the lock to gain access to the nut crunch and chocolate, i found a much more interesting item in the shape of a small automatic pistol, never did find the ammo but not for the want of trying, but that as they say is another story….

Aged 8 I became the proud owner of the bookcase, which my father proceeded to fill with books bought by the yard from a local junk shop, various boys adventure albums, “50 Events that Amazed The World” and the like along with the Complete works of Charles Dickens, all great stuff and I suspect not terribly expensive.

From this period of my life, and now aged 60, I have only 2 photographs, one of me as a baby and another aged about 4, inexplicably standing in front of a tapestry of the Sphinx, holding a lamp shaped from a Dutch clog in the form of a sail boat. The only other things I have are the desk (minus sweets and pistol), and the bookcase.