Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thank You Audrey By Denetia Arellanes

Audrey Arellanes

Denetia Arellanes
                                               Thank You Audrey by Denetia Arellanes

In looking back, I now know there were hundreds of questions I should have asked my mother Audrey Arellanes while she was alive. As always, hindsight is 20/20.
I knew Audrey was active in the American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers and that she edited and published the Yearbook along with  her own quarterly newsletter, Bookplates In The News. She was also active in The Miniature Book Society, The Manuscript Society, Westerners (off and on) and the Zamarano Club. Early on I remember her spending nearly ten years of Tuesdays and Saturdays between 1960 and 1970 in the stacks at the Huntington Library researching her book,
Bookplates: A Selected Annotated Bibliography of the Periodical Literature, 
published by Gale Research in 1971.
She attended ex libris and miniature book conferences in Europe and Japan, frequently had telephone conversations with well known authorities in the bookplate and printing fields including Brian North Lee in England, Richard Schimmelpfeng in Connecticut, Lew Jaffe in Philadelphia to name just a few.
The truth, however, is that I did not share Audrey’s literary passions. I had my own interest which was collecting movie and television memorabilia. Please don’t think, however, that we shared nothing in common. We both liked to go ‘hunting’ for antiques and drove cross country twice—each time a different route to ferret out the treasures the mid-West had to offer. There were several different antique swap meets in the Southern California area each month and we always managed to get to at least one or two. Every year we took a three or four day vacation to Catalina Island and managed to get to Las Vegas or Laughlin a couple of times a year for a little gambling. 
Audrey passed away in October 2005 while I was attending a media convention in Chicago. It was probably the worst weekend of my life only helped by the fact I was traveling with friends . Everyone at the convention  knew Audrey so I had a lot of emotional support. After returning and taking care of immediate matters I was just unprepared for the seeming tons of accumulated paper I had to learn about and dispose of.
Throughout the house and garage were boxes and boxes (maybe 200 or more) of books, bookplates and newsletters plus three decades of correspondence. The first thing I learned was that Audrey was a paper hoarder—she never threw away a bank or credit card statement or a paycheck stub. If she saw a striking image in a magazine she’d clip it out in case she could use it to decorate a box or pencil tin. She had a large box of theater ticket stubs, some going back to the 1940s and two shoe boxes full of old, expired credit cards. There were also several boxes of family history which her sister, Beverly, and Beverly’s son, Clark have lovingly taken over and continued.
The first two years I played ostrich—if I didn’t go into her bedroom or the garage the boxes didn’t exist.  Eventually I began going through boxes and files and drawers trying to figure out what was gold and what was lead. I was lucky in the fact that I was in contact with many of Audrey’s acquaintances who were knowledgeable about these things and were very helpful putting me in touch with other collectors and reputable dealers.

There were many terrific finds—signed plates and proofs by E. D. French, Adrian Feint, Mark Severin and Paul Landacre and original ex libris by Rockwell Kent. There were bookplates for John Barrymore, L. Frank Baum, Louis Rhead , Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge, plus too many to mention or remember. There was also a notebook of letters to her from such noted people as Aldous Huxley (all hand written), Dorothy Parker, Somerset Maugham, James Thurber, Charles Schulz, Sinclair Lewis and Rockwell Kent.

Along the way I’ve gotten quite a crash course on the subject of bookplates and their artists, different styles of printing, themes and collectors. I suspect I will be dealing with her collection for years to come—something to do in my retirement!
Note From Lew Jaffe- Audrey was indeed a remarkable woman.Well into her eighties she had the energy and enthusiasm of a twenty year old along with  wisdom and grace very few possess.
Thank you Denetia for sharing this with us.

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