COLLECTING PULPS: A Memoir, Part 16:
A Field Trip
by Walker Martin

   Recently, Steve Lewis reviewed the issue of Argosy for June 9, 1934. My copy of this issue is now over 80 years old and still in great shape with the pages very supple and no browning or brittleness. Nice cover and full spine. It has a nice smell and no pulp shreds to clean up. I like the cover by Paul Stahr with the macabre scene of two skeletons showing that two poker players were struck dead while playing cards.

   Which reminds me of a field trip I once made to buy a couple original pulp cover paintings by Paul Stahr. It was in the mid-1970’s, and I was consumed by the desire to track down as many pulp paintings as I could find. This was 40 years ago (hard to believe that so much time has passed!), and I was busy doing the usual things that men in their thirties were always doing, like marriage, raising a family, job career, buying a house, and thinking about my next car.

   But my real interests, now that I think back on my life, was reading, collecting books, vintage paperbacks, pulps, and trying to find the cover paintings used on the paperbacks and pulps. The video revolution was still several years off, so I had not yet started to buy hundreds of video tapes of old movies and serials. Not to speak of the thousands of dvds that I now have cluttering up my house.

   Sure, all that other stuff is important in a life, but does anything really match the enjoyment and thrill of collecting books and art? This is the main subject of my two series: Collecting Pulps and Adventures in Collecting. Collectors are always paying lip service to their jobs and families, but I have often found them to be addicted to that greatest vice of all: book collecting. Otherwise known as bibliomania.

   And of course collecting pulps, paperbacks, and original art are all offshoots of book collecting. I remember many of my friends in college, the army, at work, were often involved in wasting time boozing, taking drugs, gambling, or that most dangerous sport of all, chasing women. I like to pretend that I was not addicted to these mundane vices. No sir, I was back then a Collector with a capital C and I still think there is no higher calling for a life’s work.

   I still wake up each day thinking about what I’m going to read or what books or pulps I can add to my collection. Not to mention what old movies I want to watch. And of course the collecting of original art, which is one of the most unique things to collect. A book or pulp for instance may have many copies in existence, but a piece of art is unique, a one of a kind thing connected to the collecting of books.

   I’ve always wondered why more book and pulp collectors are not interested in at least having a few examples of cover art to hang on their walls, in their libraries, between the bookcases or if the art is small enough, on the book shelves with the books. I can understand not being able to spend thousands of dollars on artwork, but I have many times picked up amazing art bargains for very little money. Even today, some artwork can be bought for a few hundred or less. I’ve had more than one friend that liked to buy new cars every couple years for many thousands of dollars but would turn pale in horror at the thought of spending a few hundred on a pulp cover painting.

   Which brings me around to the details of my field trip. In the 1970’s and even in the 1980’s, it was possible to buy non SF cover paintings for very little money. Very few collectors were interested in such genres as detective, western and adventure paintings. As a result of this lack of interest I routinely bought pulp and paperbacks paintings for prices as low as $50 and for many years I was paying only an average price of $200 to $400 each for artwork. Now prices are higher but you still can find bargains, especially at the two pulp conventions: Windy City and Pulpfest.

   In fact, it was at one of the early Pulpcons that a friend told me about an art store in Brooklyn NY that had pulp art for sale. I had no idea about how to navigate to and through Brooklyn but he agreed to meet me a the Penn Station train station and take me out to the store. It was the typical small store but it was crammed with paintings.

   I still remember the very large painting by Walter Baumhofer that the dealer showed me. It was enormous and showed a shootout in a bar between gangsters. It was used as an interior in a slick magazine, perhaps The Saturday Evening Post or Colliers. But he wanted a few hundred for it and I couldn’t buy everything, so I reluctantly passed on it. One of my collecting mistakes from 40 years ago that still haunts me. I still dream about these mistakes and often wake up in the middle of the night cursing myself. My wife wonders what the hell, but most collectors probably know what I’m talking about.

   The dealer showed me several other pieces, and I was shocked to see how he had the paintings stored. Most were unframed, and he was just pulling them out and scraping the paint off as he yanked them out. Finally he got to the paintings that I could afford at the $200 level. There were several Paul Stahr paintings, and I recognized them as Argosy covers. Stahr was very prolific and did many covers for the magazine in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

I decided I could spend $400, after quickly calculating how much I owed my wife, mortgage, car payment, and a couple pulp collectors who sold me sets of pulps on the installment plan. The paintings I bought were used for the covers on Argosy for December 3, 1932 and December 24, 1932. So we packed them up for the long trip back home and casting a final look of regret at the big Baumhofer masterpiece, I left the store. I never returned, and I’m sure it is long out of business.

   I had the paintings nicely framed, and both were hanging together for around 20 years. I still have the December 3, 1932 painting but the December 24 artwork suffered a tragic end. Steve Kennedy, a NYC art dealer who just died a few weeks ago specialized in pulp art. He thought he could get me a good deal in a trade but I would have to give up the December 24, 1932 piece. So he took the painting and mailed it off on approval to another collector. Later on, he told me the sad news that the Fed Ex or UPS truck had caught on fire and the painting was destroyed.

   All collectors have the time travel dream. You know the one where you go back in time and buy a stack of Hammett or Chandler first editions. Or maybe you buy several issues of the first Tarzan All-Story or the first Superman comic. One trip I would make would be back to the Brooklyn store of 40 years ago. Only this time I’d say to hell with the bills and mortgage payment and by god, I’d buy that beautiful Baumhofer gangster painting!

A 76-Year Old Pseudonym Revealed
by Victor A. Berch

   In a recent exchange of e-mails with my colleague, Allen J. Hubin, he queried me about the death date of the author known simply as Arthur Mallory.

   Mallory’s entry in Allen’s Crime Fiction IV appears as follows:

MALLORY, ARTHUR.   1881- ?

      The House of Carson (n.) Chelsea 1927
      Doctor Krook (n.) Chelsea 1929
      The Fiery Serpent (n.) Chelsea 1929
      Apperson’s Folly (n.) Chelsea 1930 [Dr. Kirke Montgomery; New York]
      The Black Valley Murders (n.) Chelsea 1930 [Dr. Kirke Montgomery; New York]
      Mysteries of Black Valley (n.) Chelsea 1930 [Dr. Kirke Montgomery; New York]

   The FictionMags Index adds a little more biographical information about Mallory, specifically that he was born on a ship in the Indian Ocean, along with a list of stories he wrote for Breezy Stories and Detective Story Magazine. No more than a dozen of these are listed, but the connection of Chelsea House and Detective Story is not surprising, since the former was the hardcover imprint of Street & Smith, which also published many pulp magazines, including DSM.

   However, I had no idea how much truth there was in that piece of biographical information from FictionMags, so I set out to discover what might be in the genealogical database.

   There were some Arthur Mallorys, but none that fit the date of birth nor the description of the author. Searching further however, the name Arthur Mallory popped up in an obituary in the New York Times as the pseudonym of Ernest M. Poate, a mystery writer of some note.

   The obituary, which was dated Feb. 3, 1935, also provided the following information: Dr. Poate was born in Yokohama Japan and died in Southern Pines, North Carolina, Feb. 1, 1935, at the relatively young age of 50. He was a physician and an attorney as well as an author.

   Checking out entry for Poate in CFIV, I found the following:

POATE, ERNEST M.   1884-1935.

      The Trouble at Pinelands (n.) Chelsea 1922 [North Carolina]


      Behind Locked Doors (n.) Chelsea 1923 [Dr. Thaddeus Bentiron; New York City, NY]
      Pledged to the Dead (n.) Chelsea 1925
      Doctor Bentiron: Detective (co) Chelsea 1930 [New York City, NY]


      Murder on the Brain (n.) Chelsea 1930 [New York City, NY]

   The first thing one notices is that Mallory and Poate had the same publisher, and digging a little further it can be discovered that the stories in the Dr. Bentiron collection were reprinted from Detective Story Magazine.

   The other major match between Mallory and Poate is that both used doctors as main characters in many of their books. This had to be more than coincidence. Just as the Times obituary had stated, and in spite of the discrepancy between the two dates of birth (and the location), the two men were one and the same.

   Poking around a bit more, I learned that his parents were Thomas Pratt Poate and Belle (Marsh) Poate, missionaries in Japan until the family immigrated to the US in 1892. His birth mother had died in 1896 and by 1900, his father had remarried. His World War I draft registration revealed that he was born October 10, 1884 and his full name was Ernest Marsh Poate.

   Anyone wishing to dig further into the family can examine the Poate family papers housed at Cornell University Library. The basic information on Dr. Poate will appear in the next Addendum to Crime Fiction IV.

— Copyright 2011 Victor A. Berch

TOM ADAMS Art of Agatha Christie

TOM ADAMS [Artist] – Agatha Christie: The Art of Her Crimes. The Paintings of Tom Adams, with a Commentary by Julian Symons. Everest House, hardcover, 1981.

    Paperback cover art reaches a new high with this deluxe hardcover edition of over ninety Tom Adams paintings, all done for various editions of Agatha Christie’s mysteries, both in this country and in Britain.

    Those expecting numerous repeated portrayals of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, two of Christie’s most well-known detective characters, will come away disappointed, however.

TOM ADAMS Art of Agatha Christie

   Adams leans more to the symbolic and to surrealism in his work, and the commentary provided by both himself and by noted mystery critic Julian Symons reveals just how many clues he managed to work into the overall design of each of the covers here.

    Tastes in art being what they are, it is amusing to note that one of the paintings Adams considers one of his best, Symons slides over as nothing out of the ordinary.

    The subject matter of Christie’s works being what it is, it is not surprising that the overall effect is rather a dour one — lots of skulls, bloody instruments, and other paraphernalia of murder.

    Nevertheless, given the double-barreled insights into the works of perhaps the most famous mystery writer of all time, Agatha Christie’s many fans will find this more than a must for browsing.

– From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 6, No. 2, March/April 1982

TOM ADAMS Art of Agatha Christie

by Marvin Lachman

– This essay/review first appeared in The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 9, No. 2, March/April 1987.  It is quite remarkable that Harper has kept Sayers’ detective fiction in print ever since, although different cover art is now used, and the prices are generally double those mentioned below (!).   No changes have been made to update these comments since they were first published.

DOROTHY SAYERS Lord Peter Wimsey

   Harper’s Perennial Library keeps reprinting Dorothy L. Sayers, proving that there will always be an audience for class. In her lifetime Sayers published eleven Lord Peter Wimsey novels and three short story collections which included Wimsey stories. Perennial has now republished nine of the novels and all of the short story collections in uniform paperback editions at $3.95 each. (I suspect that the two remaining novels, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club and The Nine Tailors, will also be reprinted shortly.)

   In addition, there is a trade paperback of almost five hundred pages, Lord Peter ($8.95), which contains all of the Wimsey short stories, including three that were never previously published in book collections. That book is enhanced by a James Sandoe introduction, an essay by Carolyn Heilbrun (who writes mysteries as Amanda Cross), and a delicious Wimsey parody, “Greedy Night,” by E.C. Bentley.

DOROTHY SAYERS Lord Peter Wimsey

   Speaking of bonuses, I must again praise the illustration by Marie Michal which appears on all of the covers. They’re some of the best done paperback art I’ve seen in years.

   I’m not sure if there’s anything else about Sayers that hasn’t already been said. I could suggest that her non-series short stories not be overlooked since they are uncommonly good, especially “The Man Who Knew How,” in Hangman’s Holiday, as well as “Suspicion” and “The Leopard Lady,” in In the Teeth of the Evidence.

DOROTHY SAYERS Lord Peter Wimsey

   Those volumes also contain stories about Sayer’s other series detective, wine salesman Montague Egg. Very down to earth with his advice on how salesmen should succeed, his stories are “no-nonsense,” yet imaginative in plotting. I especially enjoyed his information about wine.

   I would also suggest that one not be put off by the foppish quality of Lord Peter. I’m not sure why some detectives between the wars, like Wimsey, Reginald Fortune, and the early Albert Campion, were created as silly asses. The fact is that, if given half a chance, they will prove that they are far from effete.

   Also, their authors, especially Sayers, are people of intelligence, and they write as if they assume the same about their readers. These days, one feels that many writers are appealing mainly to our emotions or our libidos.

Editorial Comment.   I regret that two of the covers shown aren’t nearly as sharp as I’d like them to be. I’ll see if I can’t obtain better images to replace them. To see Marie Michal’s work the way it’s meant to be seen, follow the link in the essay above.

    BRETT HALLIDAY – Tickets for Death.

HALLIDAY Tickets for Murder

Dell 8885; paperback reprint. 1st printing, new Dell edition, July 1965; cover art by Robert McGinnis. Hardcover first edition: Henry Holt & Co., 1941. Several other paperback editions, including Dell 387 (mapback); cover art by Robert Stanley.

   It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Mike Shayne private eye novel, and I think I’d forgotten how hard-boiled a guy he was. Back in 1941, Shayne was a two-fisted detective in the Dashiell Hammett-Black Mask mode, a bit derivative, maybe, but by no means a fellow to mess around with.

   Take pages 24 and 25, for example — a very early event in this case centered around a sudden influx of counterfeit racetrack tickets. Shayne and his wife have just registered in a hotel, when he’s called down to another room. Something triggers his suspicions, and he goes in ready for action. Within four paragraphs the two hoodlums in the room are slumped on the floor dead. Shayne himself is injured, but “It was only a flesh wound.” Naturally.

   Nor does the wound hamper his range of action for the remainder of the night. And there is a lot of action, and during the midst of it, Shayne runs into a lot of characters that both he and the reader have to keep constant track of:

   There is a pint-sized newspaper editor who seems to delight on rousing up stories. There is the owner of a disreputable night club just outside the city limits. There is a cop who, while not perhaps crooked, is heavily beholden to the criminal elements in town. There is the manager of the race track, and there is a girl who tries to frame Shayne up in the old badger game. There is another girl who knows something and tries to entice Shayne into paying her for what she knows. There is a shyster of a lawyer who is trying (among other activities) is trying to get the inventor of a new camera gimmick to sign the rights over to him.

HALLIDAY Tickets for Murder

   And there is Phyllis, who (at the time of this story) is married to Mike Shayne. Having a wife on hand is an interesting twist added to a tale of a hard-drinking private investigator, but (apparently) there are only so many twists that an author can manufacture from the concept — and marriage vows really have to tie a guy down a lot — and Phyllis soon disappeared from Shayne’s long life in fiction.

   What’s remarkable is not so much any of the above, but that out of the tangled morass of a plot (as indicated above) the author Brett Halliday makes a coherent mystery novel out of it. Most (if not all) of the confusion that the tangled non-stop motion and literary sleight-of-hand is eventually unraveled, and neatly so. Good work all around.

— August 2000 [slightly revised]

[UPDATE.] 02-24-08. I’ve read a few other Mike Shayne novels since Tickets for Death. In fact, the very next book I read (back in the year 2000) was one. Look for my comments about it here sometime within the next couple of days.

   As for Phyllis, I’ve done some investigating on my own, and I have the answer. In Brett Halliday’s own words (well in the words of Davis Dresser, who ought to know), taken from The Great Detectives, by Otto Penzler (Little, Brown, 1978):

    “20th Century Fox bought The Private Practice of Michael Shayne as a movie to star Lloyd Nolan and gave me a contract for a series of movies starring Nolan as Shayne. For this they paid me a certain fee for each picture starring Shayne, promising me an additional sum for each book of mine used in the series.

    “But they didn’t use any of my stories in the movies. Instead, they went out and bought books from my competitors, changing the name of the lead character to Michael Shayne. I was surprised and chagrined by this because I thought my books were as good or better than the ones they bought from others, and I was losing a substantial sum of money each time they made a picture.

HALLIDAY Tickets for Murder

    “I finally inquired as to the reason from Hollywood and was told it was because Shayne and Phyllis were married and it was against their policy to use a married detective.

    “Faced with this fact of life, I decided to kill off Phyllis to leave Shayne a free man for succeeding movies. This I did between Murder Wears a Mummer’s Mask and Blood on the Black Market (later reprinted in soft cover as Heads You Lose).

    �I had her die in childbirth between the two books, but alas! Fox decided to drop the series of movies before Blood on the Black Market was published, and the death of Phyllis had been in vain. I have hundreds of fan letters asking what became of Phyllis, and now the unsavory truth is told.

    “With the movies no longer a factor, in my next book, Michael Shayne’s Long Chance, I took Shayne on a case to New Orleans where he met Lucile Hamilton and she took the place of Phyllis as a female companion. I brought her back to Miami with Shayne as his secretary, and in that position she has remained since.”

    “I don’t know exactly what the situation is between Shayne and Lucy Hamilton. They are good comrades and she works with him on most of his cases, but I don’t think Shayne will ever marry again. He often takes Lucy out to dinner, and stops by her apartment for a drink and to talk, and she always keeps a bottle of his special cognac on tap.”

[BONUS.] From a website called I have found an image of the back cover I will add here at the end. Why have a map of the mystery available, and not use it?

HALLIDAY Tickets for Murder

   Rightly or wrongly, this cover reminds me of the jackets of British adventure novels of the 1920s and 30s. The artwork was done by Winslow Pinney Pels, while the overall cover design was by Louise Fili. I’ve found no website for Mr. Pels, but his primary work seems to have been for children’s books. The cover at hand, while almost suitable for a boys’ aviation novel, appears to me to be just a little more “adult” than that.

   Perhaps I’m wrong.

   As for James McClure, I included a bibliography for him on the main Mystery*File website along with a short obituary I did for him when he died. I’ve obtained a sizable number of his books since then, but sad to say, I’ve not yet read any of them. This one, perhaps, after reading the back cover blurb below, may be the first.

McCLURE Blood of an Englishman

Pantheon. Paperback reprint, April 1982. British First Edition: Macmillan, 1980. US hardcover: Harper & Row, 1981.

      From the back cover:

Six days into their search for the man who put a .32-caliber bullet into a South African antique dealer, neither Kramer of the Murder Squad nor his Bantu assistant, Zondi, has a single lead in the case. On the seventh day, Mrs. Digby-Smith opens the trunk of her car and discovers the hideous, tied-up corpse of her younger brother. Two violent crimes — seemingly unconnected. But as Kramer and Zondi pursue their investigation, startling connections turn up in the sordid underworld of Trekkersburg and in the secret, unresolved enmities of World War II.

“An altogether superior piece of work … McClure’s ability to create convincing characters, a wry sense of humor, and the rather exotic locale [puts this series] at the top of its class.”     Newgate Callander, The New York Times

“The concluding scene is one rarely matched for slashing irony and sheer impact.”     Publishers Weekly

“This well-plotted, well-written murder mystery is exceptional … sometimes grim, sometimes sourly comic, always shocking.”     Atlantic Monthly

   As I promised a couple of days ago, here’s a small collection of some other paperbacks that Victor Kalin did the artwork for. I’ve admired his paintings for quite a while, but I really don’t know very much about him, other than he was born in 1919.

   There are a couple of websites you could look into, both dealing with the sale of original art, a hobby I regret I never got into. The first is

      and the second is

   Other than the covers he did, that’s about all I know about him. If you know more, please drop me a line.

   And of course, here below are only a small fraction of the covers he did.

Victor Kalin - Kelly Roos

Victor Kalin - Peter Saxon

Victor Kalin - Hal Masur

Victor Kalin - Frank Kane

   It was Dan Roberts who identified the cover artist for the Philip Race book a couple of posts ago, thanks to the timely assistance of Graham Holroyd’s Paperback Prices and Checklist.

   Darcy is the name, and at the moment it’s the only part of his (or her) name that I know. Here are a few other covers in the artist’s portfolio:

Darcy: McKimmey

Darcy: Williams

Darcy: Rabe

Darcy: Beacon