No, I am still not a collector, just as I wrote in my very first blog post. But once in a while, I touch a book that has a magic connection for me. So it was earlier this month at Black Dog Books in Zionsville, Ind.
The volume in question was a copy of In the Queens' Parlor, a delightful collection of essays by Ellery Queen. As almost every mystery reader knows, Queen was the joint pseudonym of cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee. Dannay was the editor/critic of the duo, and a member of the Baker Street Irregulars. One of the essays in the book, often reprinted in many forms, tells the story of his first encounter with Holmes as a boy.
I’ve owned copy of the book’s first printing, with a dust jacket in good shape, for probably more than thirty years. I bought it at a library sale for 75 cents. But the copy I picked off a shelf at Black Dog Books was different: It included an inscription from Ellery Queen to Rex Stout.
That’s amazing for a couple of reasons:
- · This is a book about books, so an author giving it to another author is perfect.
- · The book contains an anecdote about Queen and Stout, connecting Nero Wolfe to Sherlock Holmes, as I have written about before.
So one of my favorite Golden Age mystery writers inscribed a book to another and I actually got to hold it. It couldn’t get much better than that.
But it did.
My wonderful wife and children bought the book for me as an early birthday present. Now when I hold it in my hands, I know that this unique volume is mine. This must be how collectors feel all the time!