A first glance at Derleth’s covers

07 Mar

I emptied the contents of two boxes onto the table in the bookhouse yesterday, and started to wade through it. There certainly was no order, and there is a plethora of Arham and Derleth material to wade through to tell the story of Derleth and his publishing house and his interest in philately simultaneously. This will have to wait for another post, and I plan to assemble the material into a couple of volumes and donate it back to The August Derleth Society for their archives. But I would like to tell you 10 items here now which tell significant parts of the story. The correspondence that these envelopes contained is undoubtedly part of the archives at The State Historical Society in Madison.

1. A 1914 postcard addressed to Zona Gale from Ada recommending a John Evans of Waupaca because he was a “strong, reliable suffragist.” Derleth published Still Small Voice, a Biography of Zona Gale after her death. This card was likely in the Zona Gale archive that Deerleth used to write the biography after her death.

2. A registered envelope dated April 12, 1940 bearing a nicely cancelled set of Famous Americans addressed to August Derleth in pen, with a return address in pen from “Donald Wandrei, 1152 Portland Avenue, St. Paul, Minn.” This letter undoubtedly contained money, perhaps Wandrei share of the pot for founding Arkham House or at least a significant portion of it.

3. A printed return envelope dated October 28, 1941, to Derleth with a stamped return address “Wings/A Quarterly of Verse/Mill Valley, Calif.” this is likely a payment for a poem or two that appeared in this quarterly either before or after the date on the envelope.

4. A plain no. 8 envelope dated October 10, 1941 typed to August Derleth with the letterhead “Herman Herst, Jr./ 116 Nassau Street, New York, N.Y.” this early letter undoubtedly contained correspondence and or stamps. Herst later wrote for Stamp Collector Magazine. And this can be the basis for an article that Ken Grant plans to write for The American Philatelist. There are at least two of these envelopes and one of them will end up in Ken’s collection.

5. A printed return envelope dated October 27, 1941, to Derleth with a type written return address “Poetry Caravan & Silhouettes, Route 1, Box 55, Lakeland, Florida” this is likely a payment for a poem or two that appeared in this journal either before or after the date on the envelope.

6. A no. 8 envelope type written to Derleth and dated “US Army Postal Service Jan 3, 1945” from “T/4 Malcolm M. Ferguson / ASN 31135599 / 828th Convalescent Center/ APO 511 / c/o Postmaster, New York, NY.” There is also “passed by Army Examiner 04705 marking” This is undoubtedly a personal leeter from a wounded acquaintance who is still alive, and I think I saw his name on the ADS membership list.

7. A First Day Cover for the Pony Express Stamp dated Jul 19, 1960, with an additional circular marking “Founders, Sacramento, Calif. St. Joseph, Mo.” It is a no. 8 with a letterhead along the long side “August Derleth/—/Literary Editor: The Capital Times, Sauk City, Wisconsin.” Now I know Derleth served as editor from 1948 until the 1960’s sometime, and I know that he had an unpleasant disagreement with the paper’s owner because of editorial censorship, but perhaps he was dismissed for using Capital Times stationary for Philatelic purposes?

8. A First Day Cover for the Garibaldi stamp in the Champion of Liberty series dated Nov 2, 1960. It is a no. 8 envelope with the logo of “Arkham House, Arkham House: Publishers, Sauk City Wisconsin.” Perhaps he started to use his own envelopes for FDCs when his Editorship of the Capital Times was completed? It contains a cut card for TEAM RECORD CARD for The Woman’s International Bowling Congress. I suspect this was merely waste filler, as I know of no relationship with a Lady Bowling Team, but I would like somebody to prove me wrong!

9. A folded oversize manilla envelope with some nice blocks and singles of the US Flags series, namely France, Belgium and Greece dated Nov 17, 1943. It has a printed slanted return address in the upper left “from/A. Derleth/Sauk City/Wisconsin” and an additional address label from Arkham House, with a type written address to “Miss Marcia Masters/c/o August Derelth, Sauk City, Wisconsin” It undoubtedly contained a manuscript or a book. Perhaps it was a proof of a book from the printer that the two of them were working on at the time?

10. A registered over-sized manilla envelope from the US Philatelic Agency and back dated “May 15th, 1944.” It has a lightly cancelled plate block of the “Completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad.” It undoubtedly contained postage stamps. The fact that it has a perforated address to label typewritten to August Derelth and a number 78757 would indicate to me that Derleth was on their mailing list, and perhaps had a standing order for such postage to use on his regular correspondence. It also indicates that he did not solely rely on the local post Master for supplies. He visited the local Postmaster every business day with his morel basket and sandals in the summer, and always stopped to talk with Hugo at the Harness shop.

Now perhaps that’s too much information, for the interested philatelist they will simply have to wait to read about it in Ken’s article in The American Philatelist — if they accept it for publication. Or alternatively the stamp collector can visit Sauk City and view the collection in the basement of the Sauk City Library in The August Derleth Room where the archives reside — after they get there.

I originally planned to scan and include illustrations of these covers, but I now reckon the verbal description will suffice, and perhaps titillate the philatelist’s passion for more, and I can assure there is more in that mound of paper on my desk which will be boxed up now to make room for applying dustjackets.

Now what would be my wish list of things that I might hope to find. Covers from correspondence with Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Robert Howard, Seabury Quinn and perhaps Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Perhaps the first generation of Sherlockians such as Edgar Smith, Vincent Starrett,  and Christopher Morley as well as second generation  for example Julian Wolf, Michael Harrison, Luther Norris and Peter Ruber.

Best not to speculate, but rather to take pleasure in and document the finds. This could develop into a slide show, in fact the more I think about it, it will!


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