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 the Man: “Curmudgeonly Kenneth Roberts helped generations know their past”

Here’s a great article – “Curmudgeonly Kenneth Roberts helped generations know their past” – on The Working Waterfront on Kenneth Roberts the man (written by Harry Gratwick in the Dec. 07 – Jan. 08).  While most of the info mentioned in the article is familiar to me, he provides to quotes that shed further light on Kenneth Roberts the man.

Kenneth Roberts and American Education:

He had no use for American education: “A mind loaded with little scraps of information on Egyptian history, zoology, oriental art, the poets of the Renaissance and similar intellectual detritus is not trained,” he wrote. “It might be called a human New England attic: A repository of useless and forgotten things.”

Kenneth Roberts on his wife, Anna, whom he apparently loved dearly.  He speaks so fondly of her, I wish I could have met her; she seems to have been a significant key to his success.

In 1911 Roberts married Anna Mosser from Boston, and she must have been a saint. She typed and re-typed his manuscripts, often in unheated apartments during the winter. Until the success of Northwest Passage in 1936, they had very little money. He called her “patient and long suffering'” and he completely depended on her. “Anna says we can’t spend a penny until we get a check from the Post. All writers should learn to live on spaghetti for months on end. It’s delicious”.

At least Kenneth Roberts had a sense of humor.

“Anna says I ought to have a theme song, so I wrote one for her:
I wonder what’s eating him now:
At what he is raging-and how!
I wonder what’s making him squawk and yell,
Beef and howl and roar like hell.
I wonder what next he’ll rewrite?
All day and through most of the night
I wonder what tripe I will next have

Take some time to read this nice article.

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