Boy London and Peter Christopherson


The first advertisement made for the infamous London fashion store, a large format poster designed by Peter Christopherson. Boy was formed in 1977 on King’s Road by John Krivine and Steph Raynor. Christopherson at that time was both a member of Throbbing Gristle, and of the design company Hipgnosis, who had been responsible for some of the most recognizable album covers of the era, including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. Krivine invited Christopherson to create the initial design for the store after seeing COUM’s poster designs for the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow.

Christopherson was responsible for the initial concept and design of the store, including the typography, and also the window displays, which showed an unconscious or dead young man. Genesis P-Orridge described them to Jon Savage as follows: “The idea was that a boy had climbed in to steal stuff, accidentally knocked over an electric fire and set the place on fire and burned to death. And these were the leftovers of the boy. So there was a Doc Marten boot with bits of flesh and there was a bit of his jeans and buttock and a finger with a ring and some mouldy hand. And they were in little forensic dishes in these glass boxes like you would find at the Black Museum. So this was just a parody of a mixture of forensic evidence and vandalism.” – [P-Orridge, quoted in Ford 7.4-7.5]

The window display was provocative enough that the windows were soon vandalized, a problem that would dog the early days of the shop. Boy London would go on to become on the most influential and controversial fashion lines of the 80’s. Christopherson would go on to form Coil with John Balance. A rare example of the early work of the most innovative and provocative designer of the period, or of any period.

Christopherson, Peter. Boy London. The Strength of a Country Lies in Its Youth. London: Boy London, [1977]. 16 1/2 x 23 3/4″, offset litho.

A strong, very good example, never folded, with creasing along the left margin.

The San Francisco Zookeeper Who Let Michael McClure and Bruce Conner in to see the Lions



The San Francisco Keeper’s Voice, edited by zookeeper Alexander Weiss, was one of the most unusual little magazines of the 60′s. The magazine was actually a zine devoted to the art of being a zookeeper, with contributions from zookeepers, though some issues included poetry, including a contribution from Richard Brautigan in a different issue.

One of the most interesting poetry happenings of the 60′s was when Michael McClure read to the lions in the San Francisco zoo, which was filmed by Bruce Conner – clips can be seen on Youtube. I’ve always wondered how McClure and Conner got into the zoo, and on the back of this copy, which McClure had mailed to Marshall Clements, he lets the cat out of the bag (or the lion out of the cage) –

“Marshall, Alex Weiss the ed. of this paper is the lion keeper who opened up the lion house for Bruce Conner & I… ”

McClure has a poem in this issue, and in the editor’s note to the poem Weiss seems to also obliquely hint at the event – “Michael McClure is a poet of inter-organic importance. His “Beast-Language” Poems have created quite a stir among mammals of all kinds.“




Weiss, Alexander, ed. San Francisco Keeper’s Voice, Vol. 1 No. 2. San Francisco: Alexander Weiss, 1965. First edition. 4to, 8 pp, offset printed and stab-stapled. Addressed to Marshall Clements in McClure’s hand, with six line holograph note.  [23978]


Good Old Solomon









I’ve been fascinated lately by publications from the German underground in the 60’s and 70’s, specifically those that came from communes. There are a surprising number, and for some reason they are largely unknown on these shores. This book, Guter Alter Salomon, was published by Klepperkommune Mainz in 1970.

It was printed by Geburtstagpresse, one of the key underground presses of the time, and like many of their books it utilizes a great, narrow 4to format – narrow enough to fit into a pocket, but the height gives a larger printing field for images. The choice of format may have also been economical, as a book in this format would likely use a standard sized sheet of paper with little trim loss.

The book is a collection of old testament and religious quotes about sex, interspersed with provocative, political pop art illustrations by one Wolfgang Blacha. I’ve been able to find out little about the artist, but would be glad to hear from anyone who knows of other work by him, or have more information about Klepperkommune Mainz.

Klepperkommune Mainz. Guter Alter Salomon. Mainz: Geburtstagpresse, 1970.

The 1968 Columbia Strike at the Speed of Mimeograph


Up Against the Wall / Mother Fucker, 1968

By the 1960’s, the Mimeograph was not a new technology, having been in widespread use for decades. Towards the end of the decade, however, something novel happens – various social movements began to use the cheap and easily available technology of the Mimeograph to respond to events with increasing speed, sometimes even during the event itself. In San Francisco, Com/Co and the Diggers begin use their Gestetner’s to respond to current events. At the Invisible Circus event at Glide Church, Brautigan and Com/Co set up the John Dillinger Computer Complex to print “news” leaflets covering the celebration. In New York, the Motherfuckers lug a mimeograph machine to community meetings with Bill Graham about the Fillmore East and issue leaflets denouncing his speaking points while he is still addressing the crowd. But no event embodies this tendency more than the occupation of Columbia University in 1968, when a network of groups issued an avalanche of mimeographed leaflets from occupied classrooms and off campus apartments in order to comment on the events and urge the participation of others.

It was a watershed moment in print culture that has interesting parallels to the use of social media during protests in recent years. Cataloguing a recently acquired collection of flyers from the strike has given us opportunity to examine this relationship between print technology and activism.














Division Leap offers a collection of more than 150 pamphlets, leaflets, circulars, minutes, manifestos and communiques related to the 1968 Strike and Occupation of Columbia. Please inquire for more details.

Marianne Fritz and the Weight of Things


Photograph of Marianne Fritz, from the dust jacket flap of her second novel.

Last month I heard that Dorothy, A Publishing Project was publishing the first English translation, by Adrian Nathan West, of the Austrian writer Marianne Fritz’s debut novel, The Weight of Things – originally published in 1978 as Die Schwerkraft der Verhaltnisse. The publisher and the translator should be commended for bringing the work of such a criminally neglected writer to English readers. I have only a neophyte grasp of German, and had previously only been able to stumble through pieces of Fritz’s work sentence by sentence with dictionary in hand. This translation seems to ably capture the irony and horror of Fritz’s novel. I think it would be of interest to anybody with an interest in experimental literature, and hopefully it will gain Fritz the readership which has largely eluded her work, even in her original language, and lead to the translation of her later works. It has been perfect late November reading on bus rides home through the rain and the dark.


The first edition in German, with the band announcing the Robert Walser prize.

I first heard of the work of Marianne Fritz chasing footnote to Sebald’s haunting poem In Alfermee, in his selected poems, Across the Land and the Water. The poem begins, in English translation by Iain Galbraith –

“Threading sleep

letter by letter

comes a language

you don’t understand

The exhausted eyes

of the writer the fingers

of one hand on the

keys of her machine”

The translator’s footnote suggests that the reference is to Fritz, and probably came out of discussions between Sebald and the German critic Heinz Schafroth in 1997, whom Sebald visited around the time that he was delivering the lectures which became On the Natural History of Destruction. Schafroth was one of the few critics to pay attention to Fritz’s work with anything other than derision, and he wrote the foreward to her Was Soll Man da Machen.

The brevity of The Weight of Things does little to prepare the reader for what follows. Fritz would subsequently embark on an extended literary project she called “The Fortress”, replete with numerous diagrams, which ran to more than 10,000 pages, and which withstood all attempts at proofreading, typesetting, casual reading or tidy critical summaries. Her third novel, entitled Dessen Sprache du nicht verstehst (Whose Language You Don’t Understand) is 3387 pages long in my 12 volume Suhrkamp edition. Naturgemass I and II would follow, each of which was published in 5 volume sets.

I don’t know if Sebald read Fritz. The aforementioned Was Soll Man de Machen, which was sort of an advance installment and cast listing of Dessen Sprache. . . was at one point in his library, but is listed in the short list of books he had once possessed but had disposed of. This didn’t necessarily indicate displeasure on Sebald’s part – according to Jo Catling, in chapter 11 of Saturn’s Rings, Sebald often sold or otherwise disposed of books in his library.  The title of Dessen Sprache. . . is certainly evocative of the sense of  dislocation which Sebald’s narrators sometimes seem to feel when listening language and not being able to comprehend it, especially while traveling.

The Weight of Things can be purchased at better bookstores, or from the publisher. We have a number of first editions and signed books by Fritz here, and in the shop.

For further reading – there is a German language website devoted to Fritz, which includes some unpublished pages from the third installment of Naturgemäß. Adrian Nathan West has written a blog post on Fritz and translating Die Schwerkraft. . on the Paris Review website, and another piece here.  There is also the text of a discussion between West and Kate Zambreno over at the Believer.

The Archive of Camofleur



16. Ellison, J. Milford [1909-1993]. Archive of Photographs Relating to a Camoufleur

Np: c. 1930’2-1940’s. Approximately 143 photographs, most mounted onto black paper- a few with captions – along with 15 other items of ephemera, including announcements for exhibitions, news articles, three items of correspondence and restricted army orders, all housed in four manila folders. A number of the photographs have fallen from their mounts, and the black paper the remainder are mounted onto is chipped and creased at extremities, but condition is otherwise generally very good.





In a 1980 interview by Paul and Rita Kress which is hosted on the San Diego State University website, Ellison detailed his career as an artist. Ellison was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1909. He studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the Chouinard Art School, and afterwards moved to California where he taught and exhibited in the seceding decades.

During WWII Ellison was drafted, but was excused as he was overweight. He saw an ad for a meeting about becoming a Camofleur in Los Angeles. In 1944 Ellison went over to England to do camouflage work in the field, including camouflaging eight fields in southern England prior to D Day. Subsequently Ellison was sent back to London where he was an an instructor in the mines and booby traps school. After four weeks Ellison was sent to France and Belgium, where he worked to camouflage fields and worked on paintings in his spare time, which culminated in a 1945 exhibition at the La Jolla Fine Arts Gallery and the La Jolla Museum of Art.

This collection consists of four folders, the bulk of which are taken up with photographs tipped onto blank album paper.  along with assorted ephemera from Ellison’s career, including orders. Approximately half the photographs pertain to the camouflage work, including photographs of camouflage in the field and the designing and manufacturing of camouflage, aerial views, photographs of restricted camouflage test areas.

The nature of camouflage is to elude recognition, making photography of them a paradoxical act. The photographs derive an odd and lasting power from the degree to which they deceive the viewer or not, or in the manner in which the facade of invisibility is constructed. The most confusing of the photographs are of a camouflage testing area, in which no camouflage seems apparent, even on close gaze, and the power resides in knowing the context –  that there is a camouflaged object within view.  To confuse the gaze further, some of the photographs are obviously model constructions, perhaps test dioramas which are eerily similar to doll houses.

An interesting chapter of the longer story of fine artists working in the field of Camouflage beginning with WWI – a distinguished lineage which included the surrealist Roland Penrose and numerous Australian artists. $2500
















B. Traven and the Flight of the Buchergilde Gutenberg from Germany



20. Traven, B. Der Marsch ins Reich der Caoba. Zurich, Vienna, Prague: Buchergilde Gutenberg, 1933. First edition. 8vo, 254 pp, bound in full slate blue cloth with red blind-stamped titles. Printed dust jacket.

The first edition of the third book in the Mahogany series, and the first book published by the Buchergilde Gutenberg in exile following the seizure of the Berlin Press by the Nazis earlier in that year. This was the first Traven title from the press to bear a dust jacket, and it was a striking one, reproducing a chalk drawing attributed to “FUCK.”

This wasn’t necessarily a middle finger extended to the Nazi’s, but rather the name of the artist, Bruno Fuck – a pseudonym of Boris Angelushev, a Bulgarian artist whose work is featured on a number of socialist publications of the 30’s.

The book didn’t appear in English until the 1961 British edition, under the title March to Coabaland, reprinted in 1964 by Dell as March to Monteria. Treverton 705.

A fine copy in a striking, near fine example of the dust jacket, with several short marginal tears which have been neatly repaired at verso. Sold.


The Book is the Weapon

[On the occasion of the launching of our new blog, we’re going to be reposting some essays from our old Spineless & Stapled blog. The following was originally published in March of 2012.]

  The Book is the Weapon

I’ve often been told that the pen (and by extension, the book) is mightier than the sword. But what if the book is the sword?




Uwe Wandrey’s Kampfreime is a collection of rhymed chants meant for use during the German Student Movement. As far as my research can tell, it is also the first book to be designed as a weapon, and as such is a landmark in book design.

The book is small. It can be easily slipped into a protestor’s pocket. The chants are arranged thematically. The red card section dividers make it easy, presumably, to flip to the right chant even under the duress of a violent protest. The book takes full advantage of secrecy and random access – perhaps the two most historically useful aspects of the codex form.

The sharp fore edge of both of the the aluminum boards extend about a quarter of an inch past the fore edge of the text. The book elegantly solves the structural problems inherent in a metal binding in that the upper board is curved at a 90 degree angle at the spine, while the lower board lies flat and is buttressed against the inward curve of the upper. Thus the book lies flat, yet is easily opened.

What is less obvious, but perhaps even more brilliant about this design is that the curve of the upper board rests sturdily on the palm, and the lower board – which juts further out – is buttressed against the metal base. My theory is that this was done so that the metal boards can’t recoil backwards and cut into one’s palm if the book is used to strike an attacker.

Kampfreime had another use as well.




The business end of a book was also intended to tear away posters, flyers, advertisements – to clear an open space in an encroaching universe of bourgeoisie paper. After all, one of the main targets of the student protest was the Axel Springer publishing house. It belongs in the same lineage as another brilliantly designed book which in many ways laid a framework for the ’68 protests – Guy Debord, Asger Jorn, and V.O. Permild’s psychogeographical masterpiece Memoires, which featured a sandpaper dust jacket to destroy any book it was shelved against.

The protests of ’68 escalated because of attacks upon, and killings of protesting students, beginning with the killing of Benno Ohnesorg by a policeman in ’67. Students held that Ohnesorg had been murdered. His name was recently in the news when a study by the German government discovered that the killing was probably premeditated. The cover-up extended as far as the hospital, where a doctor, acting on instructions from a superior, sewed Ohnesorg’s skin shut over the bullet hole in his head and ruled that the death was caused by blunt force.

As elegant as the design of Kampfreime is, it is difficult to imagine that it was ever of much practical use against a baton, or a gun. The lasting power of Kampfreime is as a metaphor. A talisman to protect the bearer and a text designed to destroy other texts. As such it is one of the most provocative and overlooked artist’s books of protest in the 20th century.

Wandrey, Uwe. Kampfreime. Handliche, Mit Scharfen Kanten Ausgestattete Kampfausgaube Fuer Die Phase Des Revolutionaueren Widerstands. Hamburg: Quer-Verlag, 1968. First edition. Oblong 16mo. Mimeographed in black on white paper, with red card section dividers. Stapled into red wraps, which are tipped into aluminum boards with red tape. Illustrated title pastedown to front panel. Binding slightly shaky, with some minor discoloration to the title pastedown and metal, but still near fine. No bloodstains to boards or text of this copy. Rare.