The Smoking Gun

This letter from Bob Wilson of The Phoenix Bookshop to Dan Saxon, publisher of Poets of Deux Megots and Le Metro, urgently asking Saxon to print more copies of 1, 2, 3, 6, and 20, probably comes from the who gives a fuck department for most people, but for me it is a smoking gun.  It is a no brainer that independent bookshops asked mimeographers to print on demand whenever a bookseller scared up a new sucker.  No shit Sherlock you might say.  Stating the obvious aside, it is cool that this letter proves what we all long suspected. 

The postmark is from late December 1966, almost a full year after the last issue of Deux Megots/Le Metro was published.  I would suspect Wilson needed the named issues in order to complete a run for an institution or private collector.  Saxon ultimately declined Wilson's offer, deciding it was too much of a hassle to fulfill such a specific request.  For all the talk about the speed of mimeo, it was really a big pain in the ass, especially if the demand was for a single issue.  If Saxon refused in this case, no doubt others did not.  Ted Berrigan immediately comes to mind as one who would print on demand, which would explain all the unnumbered copies of The Sonnets that turn up out of series.  At one point Berrigan printed issues of C using The Phoenix Bookshop mimeograph, so it makes sense he would return Wilson's favor by zipping out some made to order copies for Phoenix Bookshop clients.  Plus Berrigan always liked to turn a buck.

All in all a cool little letter of some slight bibliographic import.  In any case, I love The Phoenix Bookshop letterhead and envelope, which makes me wonder just how much of the business correspondence of the Mimeo Revolution was actually preserved or if business in the mimeo world was conducted in such a formal manner.  One of the many questions that will be answered as scholars turn from the Modernist magazine and stake a claim in the unexplored territory of the next generation of little mags.



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