The Glory of Gorey: Swann to Offer the Sam Speigel Collection

On May 7, Swann will auction one of the top private collections of Edward Gorey books, illustrations and ephemera as part of our Art, Press & Illustrated Books sale. Below, Christine von der Linn, Swann’s Art & Illustrated Books specialist, offers some insight into the Sam Speigel collection–the best and largest Gorey collection ever to come to the auction block. 

Speigel set out decades ago to procure every available (and elusive) item by the beloved author/illustrator, not just recorded, but also those that were purportedly recorded, but unseen, by bibliographers. Our May 7 sale features the Holy Grails of any Gory collection, including: 


Amphigorey, New York, 1972. Gorey’s most famous and highly sought-after book, this is one of only 50 copies containing an original drawing.
The Sopping Thursday, New York, 1970. The second most desirable and rare work by Gorey, this is one of 26 lettered copies also containing an original drawing.
A fun poke at the joys and excesses of cocktail culture is Son of the Martini Cookbook, with five rare publisher’s promotional cards, New York, 1967–two pages shown here.
An obscure and beguiling work of fine art is Elephantômas, a suite of nine dark and shadowy monoprints of an elephant/man figure, plus one separate signed and numbered color print in sanguine, from an edition of only 10 numbered sets, Brewster, MA., 1986.
More elephants (among other creatures) appear in stuffed animal form, along with amusing pieces of ephemera including postcards, buttons, lithographs and serigraphs, some original pen-and-ink drawings and printed material for the stage productions of Dracula–above.

A large selection of posters, many signed, feature his illustrations for the wildly popular PBS series Mystery!, which introduced many people to Gorey’s work, and others showcasing his stunning graphic designs for stage performances like The Mikado.