Blue Friday | Page 13 | Newberry

Blue Friday

            So we have this NATO Summit coming up, and paranoia is masquerading as common sense, and I get four estates in in a two-day period, so that I can break up the life work of an assortment of book collectors.  Between the notes of death and doom, it’s enough to make me cry “Bring back the Smurfs!”

            Mind you, the estates are not without their moments of Smurfosity.  One collection was assembled by someone who had a fascination for royals.  We do get a lot of royal collectors dropping things off: back issues of Majesty and three boxes of books on the private lives of Liz, Phil, Chuck, Di, Harry, Margaret, Anne, etc.  It’s one of the longest-running soaps in print, and people do seem to enjoy rehashing each installment.

            What made this collection exciting was partly its depth (I expect the souvenir magazines of the Charles/Diana wedding, but the Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon?  That’s George VI and the Queen Mum to you: the folks from The King’s Speech).  But there was also its breadth: I had biographies of a dozen queens and princesses I’d never heard of (he wasn’t nearly as interested in the kings and princes), some of them from countries I was unaware still had monarchies

            Meanwhile, there was the estate which included two tubes of (I hope) unused Greyhound Lip Balm (picked up free at the bus station, not designed for use on your racing dog).  Another estate provided me with over a dozen large stickers stating that the attached vehicle had been towed by the Chicago police, and you touched it at your peril.  These were issued when O.W. Wilson was Commissioner of Police in Chicago, at roughly the time I was entering Kindergarten.  These must be collectible.  (Why?  Because I said so.)

            The estate of a highly inspirational college professor was dropped off early on Thursday.  How do I know he was inspirational?  Roughly a fourth of the books in his collection were inscribed to him by former students.  I couldn’t find a thing inscribed to him by his old colleagues Martin Luther King, Jr., or Jesse Jackson.  But that other estate, the one from the man fascinated by royals, made up for it by including an inscribed copy of the autobiography of Levi Johnston, all about how he just missed becoming part of a royal family.  The book includes not only the inscription, but photographs of the line of fans waiting to get signatures at the signing.  (Well, there were three, one of whom, to judge by the captions, was not related to the other two.)  This business of taking a picture to show you actually were there and saw the book signed is growing in popularity, though I’m not sure how you prove you didn’t take one picture and paste it into seventeen copies with forged signatures.

            That’s important, because I find no other signed copies of that rare item for sale online.  There are actually more copies of books signed by Thomas Jefferson available right now than there are by Levi Johnston.  This provides a necessary note of Smurfiness as we move toward the summit.  (By the way, I have a scoop which has not yet been released to the media.  Papa Smurf is in town for the Summit and plans to make a stop at the Art Institute to see paintings from Picasso’s Blue Period.  Pass it on.)

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