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Oil baron’s ‘on demand’ erotica collection sells for $9,500


An Oklahoma oil baron’s personal collection of literary erotica has sold for $9,500 on AbeBooks.com. The remarkable collection features almost 1,200 typescript pages of literature, containing a combination of 82 original and already published pieces of writing including stories, poems, songs, and jokes assembled by Roy Melisander Johnson (1881-1960).

Johnson’s binder of erotica

Johnson, who became wealthy after founding the Healdton Petroleum Company, was a lifelong collector of erotic writing and part the collection was assembled via an ‘erotica on demand’ system. He hired agents to enlist writers to provide stories for him. The pages are not signed so exact attribution is often difficult. However, the list of writers are believed to have included Henry Miller, author of Tropic of Cancer, Anais Nin, Miller’s lover and author of Delta of Venus, Lawrence Durrell, author of the Alexandria Quartet of novels, English poet George Barker, and painter Robert DeNiro, Sr, father of the actor.

Nin apparently tired of Johnson’s relentless requests for romanceless erotica and recruited friends and colleagues to assist. Novelist and TV writer Bernard Wolfe detailed his work for Johnson in his 1972 autobiography, Memoirs of a Not Altogether Shy Pornographer.

The collection, consisting of loose pages bound in a large binder, was sourced from author and bookseller Larry McMurtry, who detailed the oil man’s private passion in a letter included with the binder. McMurty, whose Booked Up bookstore was located in Archer City, Texas, just 100 miles from Johnson’s home of Ardmore, Oklahoma, describes the oil man as having an “insatiable need for literary erotica.”

As well as stories, the collection includes bawdy songs and poems, and two pages of dirty jokes. Johnson was a pillar of the community in Ardmore. He began life as a linotype operator and established the Ardmore Statesman newspaper before switching to oil.  His company tapped into the Healdton oil field, Oklahoma’s largest oil reserve. He also served deacon of the First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore while quietly building his enormous collection of erotica.

This binding full of erotica was AbeBooks’ most expensive sale in August.

Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks in August 2017

1 A binder containing 82 typescript pages of erotica – $9,500

Oil baron Roy Melisander Johnson’s personal collection of erotic stories, poems, songs and jokes.

2 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by Salvador Dali – $8,800

The 1968 edition of 2,500 copies featuring 12 surreal woodcut illustrations from Dali.

3 Down the Fairway: The Golf Life and Play of Robert T. Jones Jr by Robert T. Jones & O.B. Keeler – $7,800

Golf’s most collectible book published in the 20th century. A signed copy. Jones won the U.S. Open four times, the U.S. Amateur Open five times, the British Open three times, and the British Amateur once.

4 The Complete Work of Rembrandt by Wilhelm Bode – $7,680

Eight volumes. Published in Paris, 1897-1906. One of 75 numbered copies printed on Japan paper.

5 Peripateticarum Quaestionem Libri Quinque by Andrea Cesalpino (1519-1603)

Published in 1571 in Italy, this early medical book about the heart and blood coined the phrase “circulation of the blood.” A key text in understanding human biology.

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