Salty Air Sand Dollars

How Collectible is Gorey? Very

Written by Laura M. Reckford

YARMOUTHPORT – A recent re-tweet from Falmouth Public Library about an upcoming auction of books and ephemera related to the late author and illustrator Edward Gorey was emphasized with a “WOW!”

The Great Gotham Gorey Collection auction, billed as “a single owner estate auction of Books, Art, Photography and Ephemera once housed at Gotham Book Mart, is accessible HERE.

The live auction, called “a real time online only sale,” starts at 10am on April 1, a date so appropriate for anything having to do with Gorey who was known for his macabre sense of humor. “Gashlycrumb Tinies,” anyone? That’s the alphabet tale of the misfortunate end of 24 children that starts, “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.”

The original tweet about the auction was from author Elizabeth McCracken, winner of the PEN New England Award, so the whole thing has literary bonafides up the wazoo.

Scrolling through the intriguing auction items, including many Gorey books, I can’t help but want in on it. The whole thing brings me back to when I first became interested in the author.

It sneaks up on you, this obsession with collecting all things Gorey. I can’t remember when I first bought one of his peculiar little books. It was probably after seeing one of his strange theatrical puppet “entertainments” at Theater on the Bay at Trading Post Corners in Bourne back in the 1990s.

The author’s Gorey poster collection from Gorey “entertainments” in the 1990s in Bourne.

It was always fun to see Gorey himself, sitting in the center rear of the audience, maybe wearing a big fur coat, as I recall, and paying close attention to the production and laughing at appropriate spots. The humor was sometimes a bit hard to follow, to say the least, so it was good to have a cue from Gorey as to when to laugh. It was an authentic “happening” and I was there–I have the posters to prove it.

For sale at the concession stand, besides posters, I recall, were Gorey’s hand sewn figbash “dolls,” a figure that appears in some of his drawings. I remember wanting a figbash, for no particular reason. I mean, what is the purpose of such a thing? With nagging regret, I didn’t buy a figbash. But I bought books. That first one and then others, many others, mostly at Parnassus Books, a favorite haunt of Gorey’s, just down the road from his home on the Yarmouthport Village Green. His house is now the Edward Gorey House, a museum that includes a gift shop stocked with oodles of Gorey stuff.

A truly original Cape Cod character–we can claim him because he lived here for quite a while–Gorey died at age 75 in 2000 at Cape Cod Hospital. Fans can oogle all things Gorey at the upcoming auction.

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About the author

Laura M. Reckford

Laura M. Reckford is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. She has been a reporter and editor on Cape Cod for more than 20 years in magazines, newspapers and radio. She has also authored numerous Frommer's Travel Guide editions on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

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