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Amazing Things at AbeBooks

The thing about AbeBooks is, it’s amazing. And for more than just books.

You might think you know it, have a good sense of what it is all about, but there is always something new, something rare, something beautiful and amazing and even unique, just below the surface, if you type the right, magical combination of search terms. Here are some of the recent wonderful items I have found.

Graffiti jacket

Amazing Graffiti jacket signed by Jean Michel Basquiat, The King Ad-Rock and more.

An extraordinary artwork serving as a who’s who of the downtown New York City art and music scene in the 1980s. Each artist has hand-drawn on or signed parts of the jacket. Basquiat draws a crown and “s” in gold and signs Jean Michel with a crown above and further “s” in silver; Futura 2000 signs in pink along the bottom edge at the rear and draws his spraycan character to the front; Shadi (David Scilken), artist and vocalist with The Young And The Useless, contributes a large drawing to the rear titled “Death Rain” signed and dated 1984; Haring contributes a neon green Three Eyed Smiling Face sticker; Revolt draws a large character to the left shoulder and sleeve; Cey Adams draws a spraycan and signs in various places. Further contributions from Ad-Rock (Adam Horowitz of the Beastie Boys); Fab 5 Freddy; Kano (Dante Ross) who went on to be one of the most influential A&R representatives in hip hop working for Tommy Boy, Elektra and Warner; Crazy Legs (founding member and later president of The Rock Steady Crew); Zephyr; James TOP (Jee II); Stash (Josh Franklin); Delta II; RB163; Energy (NRG); Ezo; Africa 131 / Cmor; Jigs City (Julie Ashcroft) and many more.

Rice Rat

Watercolour painting of a Rice Rat

The West Indies were once home to five species of giant rice-rats, all of which are now extinct. Three kinds survived into historical times, but only two of these are known from museum skins. About the size of a cat, the Martinique giant rice-rat was the largest of all. It was also the most abundant of the trio and the last to succumb. It was recorded as being common on Martinique until towards the end of the nineteenth century, and was found in large numbers in coconut plantations, where it was considered to be a pest. It was also avidly hunted for food, although its preparation was rather laborious, for in order to subdue its musky odour its hair was first singed off, then its body was exposed overnight and then boiled in two batches of water. Here is a beautiful watercolour painting of one of them, with gouache, on paper, circa 2000.

J.K. Potter Original Photographs and Autograph Letter

Fifteen original pieces of horror art (including one print and one set of contact sheets, in addition to photographs) by Potter, one of the most renowned contemporary fantasy artists. Potter uses traditional darkroom techniques to generate startling, often erotic, mind-bending, sensual images with both dramatic shock value and a dark sense of foreboding. His art has illustrated works by J.G. Ballard, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Poppy Z. Brite, Lucius Shepard, Ramsey Campbell, Clive Barker, William Gibson, William Burroughs and others.

Antique Japanese Porcelain Whistle

Early Japanese porcelain bird-whistle in the shape of a reclining boy, dating from ca. 1700. Painted and decorated in vibrant colors of enamel and a transparent glaze. The treatment of the porcelain body is still in a rather experimental phase and shows some body shrinking under the glaze. Possibly to be ascribed to the early Arita (Kakiemon type) kilns in Edo period Japan.

Hawaiian Hospitality (A 1943 book shaped like a pineapple).

Edited by Helen Berkey. Octavo. 48pp., illustrated from photographs; vignettes. Stapled die-cut wrappers in the shape of a pineapple. Slight creases on the wrappers, small ink note on the title page, else near fine. Exclusively limited to tropical cocktails, the irregular shape makes it difficult to find in nice condition.

Painting of a Spaniel by Henry Bernard Chalon

Henry Bernard Chalon (1771-1849) 1801 Oil on canvas Signed and dated “H.B. Chalon 1801″ lower right 19″ x 23 ½”; 24″ x 27 ½” framed Henry Bernard Chalon, the son of a Dutch etcher and musician, was born in London in 1771. He studied painting at the Royal Academy, and by the age of 22 was a regular exhibitor at the Academy. A prolific painter at a young age, Chalon was made Animal Painter to the Duchess of York in 1795. Later Chalon was named as the official Animal Painter to the Prince Regent and William IV. In 1827 he collaborated with his brother-in-law, William Ward, on a series of horse racing illustrations for Sporting Magazine. Chalon is best known for his portraits of horses, dogs and cattle and was well patronized throughout his career. Many of Chalon’s paintings are of animals that belonged to various members of the royal family. This portrait of a spaniel was likely painted for the Duchess of York, Princess Frederica Charlotte Ulrica (1764-1820), a dedicated dog lover, while Chalon was under her patronage. Chalon was known for his attention to detail and the anatomical correctness of his animals, which can clearly be seen in this charming work.

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