A Supernatural Drama About Book Dealers?

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My problem pile haunts me. Like most book dealers, there are always stacks of things that need to be catalogued, but within that pile there is a special core of material that tends to resist departure. There are things in this stack that have remained there for years, following me from city to city and remaining stubbornly uncatalogued, usually because there is a feeling that they have another story that has to be teased out.

The following poster has been in my problem stack for a few years. It is intriguing enough for the  great typography, or fact of advertising a supernatural drama set in Transylvania more than 60 years before the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but the real reason it has remained in my problem pile for so long is because it came from Serendipity Books via the trade, and in black marker on the plastic sleeve that holds it is written the injunction “Keep This One,” a phrase that incurs a certain excitement. 

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The reason may have to do with the relationship of the play to the rare book trade. A prominent character named Balthazar Elzevir, played by W. Bennett, is described as an “aged bookseller.”

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Another unnamed character is described as a book-dealer, played by J. Cooper.

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Finally, the opening scene takes place at the “Leipsic Fair”, which I’m tempted to think might be a reference to the longrunning Leipzig book fair.

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I can find no visual record or description of the set, but if the first scene did take place at the Leipzig Fair, it would be fascinating to know how the fair was staged.

The Adelphi Theater Calendar project at UMass notes a contemporary review that condemned Skeleton Lover for “nastiness” and as a “piece of vulgarity.” No word if this was because of the supernatural content or because of the inclusion of booksellers.

This version of the poster was made to advertise the second night’s performance. The Museum of London holds an example advertising the fourth night of the performance.