“WOULD YOU CARE TO SIGN OUR GUEST BOOK?” (Liberty Music Shop, 1956-57)

As of July 10, 2015, this was the eBay link for those who like an incredible collection of autographs — and who have $4500.

Here’s the description.

[Autographs] [Guest Book] Hemingway, Ernest. (1899 – 1961) & Barber, Samuel. (1910 – 1981) & Givenchy, Hubert de. (b. 1927) & Graham, Martha. (1894 – 1991) & Ferber, Edna. (1885 – 1968) etc.

Incredible 1950s Guest Book for the Liberty Music Shop

Guest book for the famed Liberty Music Shop of New York, containing approximately 200 autographs and inscriptions, signed by distinguished visitors, a virtual who’s who of the cultural life of 1950s New York. Written approximately 15 to a page on the first 14 pages, some with date or place or comments, concluding with a large bold signature by Marian Anderson, written diagonally across the blank page. Oblong 8vo, leatherette. New York, [1956-57]. The signers include Ernest Hemingway, Samuel Barber, Martha Graham, Anna Magnani, Hubert de Givenchy, Anthony Perkins, Fred Astaire, Hoagy Carmichael, Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Hayes (with an AMQS), Alan Jay Lerner (2x), Yul Brynner, Ogden Nash, Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontaine, Andres Segovia, Margaret Hamilton, Tony Bennett, Myrna Loy, Edna Ferber, Zino Francescatti, Byron Janis, Farley Grainger, Rex Harrison, Broderick Crawford, Edward G. Robinson, George Szell, Jessica Tandy, Basil Rathbone, Claudette Colbert, Hazel Scott, Raymond Massey, Michel Auclair, Alexander Smallens, Kate Smith, James Mason, Ray Bolger, Benny Goodman, Noël Coward, Joan Blondell, Arnold Stang, Constance Talmadge, Garson Kanin, Mischa Elman, Erica Morini, Connee Boswell, Mario del Monaco, Robert Helptmann, Andor Foldes, Marta Eggerth, Vincent Price, Lillian Gish, Paulette Goddard, J. William Fulbright and dozens more.

The Liberty Music Shop was a fixture in the New York music scene from the 1930s through the 1950s, catering to cognoscenti and celebrities.

Why should this be on JAZZ LIVES?  One, it’s a spectacular rarity.  Some of the names above should excite people who apparently only listen to jazz, night and day.  But for the most seriously narrow readers, there’s also a genuine Benny Goodman signature and — happiness! — a Jo Jones inscription, which is how he signed two record jackets for me in 1981-2.  The seller offered photographs of sample pages — not all fifteen — which means that some of the signatures noted above aren’t visible.  But enough are to make it fascinating.

Here’s the first page, beautifully signed by Marian Anderson:

AUTOGRAPH BOOK NINE Marian Andersonand here I see Mischa Elman, Peter Lind Hayes, Alan Jay Lerner, Farley Grainger, Edward G. Robinson, and Joyce Van Patten, among others.

AUTOGRPAH BOOK TWOHere’s Jack Carter (who just left us), Bill Hayes, Garson Kanin, Herman Shumlin, and Earle Hyman . . .

AUTOGRAPH BOOK THREEAnd where else would you find Ray Bolger and Francoise Sagan in such proximity?

AUTOGRAPH BOOK FOURI love the strange combinations: Gene Tunney, Herb Shriner, Jo Jones, Margaret Hamilton, Tony Bennett, and Herb Shriner, the last asking for a discount.

AUTOGRAPH BOOK FIVE Jo Tony 1957Still more: David Rose and Chris Connor.

AUTOGRAPH BOOK SIX Chris Connor David RoseAnd Charles Boyer, an authentic Benny Goodman (unless he brought one of his staff to sign for him), Kevin McCarthy, Givenchy, and Anthony Perkins.AUTOGRAPH BOOK SEVEN BGFinally, Dorothy Gish, Hoagy Carmichael, Fred Astaire.

AUTOGRAPH BOOK EIGHT Gish Hoagy AstaireKeener eyes than mine will no doubt discern other famous names.  It’s an awful cliche to say that giants walked the earth, but I know for certain that they went to the Liberty Music Shop.

May your happiness increase!

8 responses to ““WOULD YOU CARE TO SIGN OUR GUEST BOOK?” (Liberty Music Shop, 1956-57)

  1. I would like to buy this book. Who do I contact? ΠIrv Kratka, ikratka@mmogroup.com

  2. Stompy Jones

    Wow, what a find! In addition to those you’ve identified, I can make out Bob Feller, baseball Hall of Famer and strikeout king; Erik Rhodes, who played comic characters with a thick Italian accent in early Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movies; Robert Lewis, who might well be early TV emcee/comedian Robert Q. Lewis; and Alexander Smallens, conductor of Porgy and Bess, both in its debut and the early-50s revival we saw on Broadway with Leontyne Price and William Warfield in the title roles and Cab Calloway as Sportin’ Life. The rest are so illegible I assume they’re prescription-writing physicians.

  3. First of my erudite commenters! Much appreciated, Mister Jones.

  4. Of the addt’l names I’ve identified, not previously mentioned here or on eBay, I’m proudest of:
    Eve Curie Labouisse, Marie Curie’s daughter, who died at 102. Eve was the only Curie who didn’t collect a Nobel prize although her husband Henry Richardson Labouisse, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 on behalf of UNICEF.

    Then there’s:
    Dorothy Gish — Must have been with Lillian
    Irving Kolodin, music critic and Goodman’s co-author/ biographer
    Donald W. Shirley, jazz pianist, composer
    Irwin Shaw (screenwriter, novelist)
    Douglas Edwards, newscaster
    S. N. Behrman (this one’s for Doug)
    Emily Kimbrough, author, “Our Hearts were Young and Gay” etc.
    Anne Baxter, actress
    Joan Greenwood, British actress, “Kind Hearts and Coronets”, “Tom Jones”
    Renata Tebaldi, operatic soprano (ID not 100% certain, but more yes than no)
    Herbert Berghof, acting coach, director, married to Uta Hagen
    Kevin McCarthy, actor (Mary McCarthy’s brother)
    Eugene Lester, composer, conductor; worked with Martha Graham; his signature is under hers; I bet they stopped in together
    Nora Hayden, actress
    Irene Manning, actress, singer
    Donald Woods, longtime character actor
    Maria Kurenko, operatic soprano
    Drew Middleton, NY Times and AP foreign columnist, World War II

    Some other names are recognizable but so common that I can’t with confidence link them up with a particular personality.

  5. Wow! May I hire you in future?

  6. Any time.

    Awestruck, and that IS the word, by this assembly of great ones who happened to drop by, as need and curiosity led them, to casually leave an imprint in this single book. The random order, a sense of life experienced just as casually as it happened, made me feel I’d dropped in on THEM, captured in time.

  7. And the LMS was alive and well for decades, so imagine the guest books (if this custom kept up): this one only catches a small slice of those glorious people who dropped by, signed in (fountain pens!) and left their signatures to dazzle us.

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