I learned yesterday that a Hyundai Genesis Coupe signed by Justin Bieber sold on e-bay for $40,000. The sale was in aid of charity; the car retails for $35,000. So someone values this signature – or the charity – at $5000.
Yesterday I acquired two books – first editions – designed by iconic Canadian book designer Frank Newfeld. I paid under $50 for Earle Birney’s Ice Cod Bell or Stone,
and under 20 for Alligator Pie, by Dennis Lee.
into an arresting, elegant form. The latter is probably Canada’s best known and loved children’s book – the one which both Lee and Newfeld
are most often lauded for, and connected with.
Dennis Lee will be participating in Ottawa’s upcoming, second annual VerseFest. I hope to get him to sign my copy of Alligator Pie.
Several months ago I contended here that Canadian-designed books are disgracefully undervalued. An equivalent American title – Where the Wild Things Are, for example – goes, signed, for as much as $20,000.
There is no reason – other than of course, gargantuan lack of demand and interest – why Alligator Pie shouldn’t fetch at least half this. Perhaps Canadians will never value books produced in this country; perhaps such books, despite being intrinsically important…and acclaimed internationally, will always be available for next to nothing.
This would be a shame, because they’re worth much, much more than what they currently go for; they are beautiful, transformative cultural artifacts that shaped the way Canadians told stories to themselves, and saw the world. As such they deserve to be cherished by all who appreciate creative genius, and artistic expression.
Canadian Books. To laugh or cry, carp or crow.