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The Buk Shop

Crucifix In A Deathhand -- Signed by Charles Bukowski with Full-Page Drawing

Crucifix In A Deathhand -- Signed by Charles Bukowski with Full-Page Drawing

Regular price $1,500.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $1,500.00 USD
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It Catches My Heart in Its Hands was produced by Jon and Louise Webb, founders of LouJon Press. It was printed on an old sheet-fed press and bound in their tiny apartment in New Orleans in 1965.

This was the second of two Bukowski books they published, the first being It Catches My Heart In Its Hands in 1963.

As with the first book, they went all out, putting all their money and energy into its production. The result is every bit a piece of art as the poetry inside it. It was hand-printed on thick paper stock of various colors, dispersed with tissues and hand-bound. The detail, the printing methods, the craftsmanship, and the pure insanity it took to create the book was as unparalleled then and as it is today.

The etchings in the book were done by Noel Rockmore, a New Orleans artist who was friends with the Webbs. Rockmore was your typical New Orleans character and oddball who spent years capturing the essence of New Orleans in a number of different mediums.

At a reported 3,100 copies, this book had a much larger edition than the first. As a result, you can find copies in good condition on eBay for as low as $300-$350. That’s a great price for this elaborate book when you consider Bukowski signed and dated every copy. A Black Sparrow New Years Greeting, by comparison, will generally go for $225 and up for a small-size book with (usually) a single poem. So if you’re looking for a gift. spend a few bucks more on Crucifix instead.

The copies of Crucifix that I sell all have something special about them, in most cases a full-page drawing. Bukowski spent a week in New Orleans in March 1965 writing last-minute poems for the book and signing and dating the signature pages, which were later inserted into the book. Signing the 3,100 pages was tedious, so once in a while he’d do a drawing to go along with it and perhaps add a quotation, mention New Orleans, or add a time of day to the date – sometimes all three.

This copy features an earlier rendition of Charkes Bukowski’s famous Little Man with a Bottle drawing in thick silver ink at the bottom of the page.

Above, in the same silver ink, Bukowski has written:

Charles Bukowski
Orleans, LA.

This copy has a neat owners signature on the first blank page:

Hans W. Mattick

Mattick was the nation’s leading criminologists in the 1970s, but had begun accumulating experience and knowledge during the post-war years. In Illinois, he worked as a sociologist at Statesville prison and assistant warden at the Cook County Jail. His empathetic and deeply influential premise was that there was a distinct difference between the truly evil and wicked men who populated the nation’s prisons and the majority who were “victims of adversity, the socially incompetent, the physically and mentally ill, the retarded, [and] the luckless waifs and strays of a harsh society.”

Jon Webb spent 30 months in the Ohio State Reformatory for robbing a jewelry store earlier in life. Since then he had written a highly successful novel about prison life and had started LouJon Press. It’s possible that Mattick had heard of Webb and purchased this copy as a show of support for an ex-con. But more than likely, Webb had heard of Mattick and sent him one of his down-on-his-luck letters and framed himself as a former-prisoner-made-good letter in order to sell another copy of the book.

This book is in Near Fine condition with a small tear and minute creases on the top of the back flap where it folds onto the guts of the book. There is a similar tear on the bottom of the back flap where it folds onto the guts of the book. These are both very common and they are smaller on this copy than most.

In addition to publishing two Bukowski books, Jon and Louise “Gypsy Lou” Webb published four issues of The Outsider magazine, which became the standard for poetry journals at the time. No other publication attracted nearly the talent that appeared in its pages and the production value of the magazine itself was unrivaled. Bukowski appeared in all four issues, with a large collection of poems in Outsider 1 (1961) and as the named “Outside of the Year” in Outsider 3 (1963), featuring Bukowski on the cover and a large center section.

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