Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dennis Wheatley Occult Bookplate by Frank C. Papé

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William Smith of Hang Fire Books came across this bookplate for British horror/occult author Dennis Wheatley. It was illustrated by Frank C. Papé.

Papé did illustrations for a series of Bodley Head editions of allegorical fantasy writers; James Branch Cabell and Anatole France. The plates are vivid, bizarre and frequently use a pseudo-3D technique placing parallel action on different focal planes. To me he looks like a precursor of underground cartoonists Robert Williams and S. Clay Wilson.

I tracked the plate down and I'm very pleased with it. A jazz-age satyr smoking a cigarette with an iced bottle of Champers nearby, nudity, suggestive pagan imagery, a sacrilegious coda, all of my favorite things! Definitely one of the gems of my collection.
The text at the bottom of the bookplate reads as follows:
One admires EVE for having tasted of the FORBIDDEN TREE OF KNOWLEDGE. -- But what a WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE she missed when she overlooked the TREE OF LIFE.

I should have eaten of not ONE, but ALL the trees in the garden -- and THAT, dear boy -- is what I hope for YOU.