Kenneth Roberts’ Memorabilia: Roberts’ Inscription in Antiquamania

A running theme throughout this website is the joy of finding a steal – a Kenneth Roberts’ work in great condition, a hard-to-find work, and even a signed copy of his work. One particular work that is difficult find is his Antiquamania, published in 1928 by Doublday, Doran, & Company. Much harder to find is a signed copy of Antiquamania. According to Roberts in his autobiography – I Wanted to Write – he published the book on antiques while in Italy (the period during which he was building the “American Wing” of his house in Italy). He says of Antiquamania:

even though delightfully illustrated with drawings by Mr. Tarkington, [it] was as unproductive as the other volumes had been. Its circulation was 1,165 (181).

Recently, some new Kenneth Roberts fans – Melissa and Drew – emailed me a picture of their recently acquired copy of Antiquamania that was signed and inscribed by Kenneth Roberts. See the image below (posted with permission):

The inscription reads:

Rare old Currier & Ives print, Flying Ants in September, discovered by Professor Kilgallen is an Arundel lumber pile and presented to Paul Allen by Kenneth Roberts.

Hanover, N.H./October 11, 1937

It appears that the picture at the top of the page is the Currier & Ives print discussed in the inscription. If I had to guess, Roberts’ humor shines forth here, matching the humor of the book itself.

Now, I’m no expert on handwriting, much less Roberts’ signature, but the signature and inscription above appear legit.

In a recent post, I’d posted pictures of signatures that I have (and know to be real), and another signature that I have that appeared to be forged (see the post here). The image on the top is the signature I’m confident is real, and the one on the bottom is the questionable one:

This is a Roberts signature located in a presentation copy of Boon Island.

This is the imprint and signature found in the book I received recently.

After that post, I had someone email me questioning my assertion, and now I am not so confident that the signature is a forgery. I’m not 100% confident it’s Roberts’ signature and inscription, though. I do know that Roberts’ wife Anna helped him considerably in his work, so it’s perhaps Anna’s writing on behalf of Kenneth Roberts (note the “of” in the inscription, as if the writer is writing in the third person. This is not something that someone would do if writing in the first person.). However, I do not have a way of knowing for sure right now. Hopefully more on this later, though!

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Kenneth Roberts: A Blast From the Past – St. Petersburg Times

Google News Archive is a treasure trove of old newspaper articles on Kenneth Roberts.  I found an interesting article from the St. Petersburg (FL) Times dated October 21, 1925.  At this time of Roberts’ career, he was a known writer for the Saturday Evening Post at this time, but had not as of yet made his name known for his historical fiction (Arundel was first published in 1929).

In an article titled “Kenneth Roberts Gathers Facts and Figures While Touring State for Post,” the Times presents a short blurb on Roberts’ stay in St. Petersburg.  Apparently, the town was excited that a Post writer would visit their town on a fact-gathering trip.  Unfortunately, Roberts provided little in terms of quotes or information for the paper.  The Times opens the article with:

A strong desire not to talk and an equally strong desire to find out as much about St. Petersburg and Florida in general as possible characterized the attitude of Kenneth L. Roberts, staff writer for the Saturday Evening Post, who left St. Petersburg Monday afternoon after a brief visit to the Sunshine City.

Roberts had little to say to the Times about his visit:

Mr. Roberts had little to say with regard to his impressions of the state and the Sunshine City.  Instead he seemed pointedly intent upon gathering as much information as possible from every source, with regard to living expenses in the state, hotel rates and prices of everything.

Apparently, Roberts had little to say to the Times.  I think these two paragraphs illustrate well the temperament of Kenneth Roberts – he was a man who, when working, did not want to be distracted with frivolities and other distractions.

One must admire the tenacity of the reporter, for the article goes on to mention the type of information Roberts was after while in St. Petersburg.  The reporter’s source? Mr. Dennis, the manager of the Princess Martha hotel.  Mr. Dennis divulges the vital information Roberts was after (information that “Mr. Roberts appeared eager to grasp”): the price of milk, eggs, beef and sugar.

Either the Times hit a slow news day, or they were eager to get anything on the visit of a well-known Post writer.  The article ends with a note of excitement:

Mr. and Mrs. Roberts left the hotel for Sarasota Monday afternoon with the expressed intention of returning to St. Petersburg within a short time during their travels through the state, and Mr. Robert’s investigation of the “Florida situation.”

Anna M. Roberts in the Blogosphere: “A Kennebunkport Haunting”

Sharon Cummins from Old News from Southern Maine has provided us with more interesting tidbits about the life of Kenneth Roberts.  In the article “A Kennebunkport Haunting” (dated March 22, 2009), Ms. Cummins details an account of the appearances of ghosts at the Gideon Merrill house.  One eyewitness of these ghosts is Anna M. Roberts, Kenneth Roberts’ wife.  Here is what Ms. Cummins reports in her article:

Robert Currier, a gifted publicity instigator, recalled in a later interview that Mrs. Kenneth Roberts had been the first to bring the ghosts to his attention. She had seen the costumed apparitions in an attic window when nobody was home. Amused, he invited a psychic to the house who saw the same spirits the author’s wife had described.

Take a look at this article; definitely an interesting read for a small piece of Americana.

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