Monday, March 28, 2011

Incredibly Scarce Cocaine Magazine (1925) and Marihuana Matches (1937)

by Stephen J. Gertz

Kokain. Eine Moderne Revue. Heft (Installment) 2. Wein: 1925.

It is amongst the rarest of all items of drug literature, virtually unknown to scholars and collectors until now. It is Kokain Eine Moderne Revue, a literary journal published in Vienna 1915-1925. Only five issues were published. Little, at this time, is known about it beyond that gleaned from the issues under notice.

Kokain. Eine Moderne Revue. Heft (Installment) 4. Wein: 1925.

Edited by Fritz Bauer, about whom I've yet to discover anything (he was not the notorious Nazi jurist),  Kokain featured many contributions by women, and was highlighted by the cover art, graphic design and erotic lithography of Stefan Eggeler. Issue #3 was, apparently, confiscated by the Viennese authorities because one of the stories within, Im Kellerloch (In the Cellar Hole) by Erwin Stranik (1898-?; OCLC notes twenty-three titles by him), contained a particularly graphic description of a sexual act. The story was republished in issue #4 (above) along with an essay by Stranik, Was ist Kunst und was ist Pornographie? ("What is Art and what is Pornography?"),  discussing the affair.

What is particularly interesting about Kokain Eine Moderne Revue is that it not only provides further evidence that Weimar culture was lively indeed but, more to the point, its introduction, in 1915, preceded by three years the post-WWI establishment of the Weimar Republic in 1918. As such, Kokain Eine Moderne Revue can justifiably be considered an early, if not the earliest, hint of what was to come, an inspiration, perhaps, for the most libertine and decadent period in Western culture during the twentieth - or any other - century, the defeat of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires in the most violently cataclysmic war yet fought leading to  the collapse of traditional values and the fatalistic pursuit of  desperately carefree, unrestrained pleasure, the Jazz Age in overdrive.

OCLC/KVK locate only two copies of any issues of Kokain Eine Moderne Revue, at the Landesbibliothekenverbund Ostereich, and Verbundkatalog HeBIS, Hessen.
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BAUER, Fritz, (editor) and Stefan Eggeler (artist). KOKAIN. Eine Moderne Revue. Heft 2 and 4. Wein, 1925. First (only) editions. Quarto. #2: [3]-73, [1] pp. #4 (irregularly bound and paginated): [3]-18, 51-66, 35-73, [1] pp. Illustrated wrappers. Text in German. With numerous black & white and color lithographs. With Library of Congress duplicate stamps (yet no copies located in LOC).
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03/29/2011. We have received the following information about Stefan Eggeler from our colleague Elmar Seibel, of Ars Libri Ltd:

"An Austrian painter, printmaker and illustrator, Stefan Eggeler (1894 – 1969) studied art at the Vienna Academy. His first original etching was published in 1914 and during the following twenty years he created a number of outstanding engravings and etchings, most dealing with either figure studies or interior scenes.

"He was a fairly prolific Austrian illustrator of erotic and particularly sado-masochistic books and portfolios. Years & years ago, we had a whole archive of his, possibly from the library of Erich von Kahler; he might have been a friend of Lily von Kahler’s [Erich's wife, aka Alice]. All very odd bunnies. Sort of like Rudolf Jettmar."

• • •

Attention children: Don't play with matches. Particularly these.


Assassin of Youth Matchbook, 1937. Front.

Assassin of Youth Matchbook, 1937. Rear.

The producers of Assassin of Youth, the classic 1937 anti-marijuana exploitation film directed by Elmer Clifton, didn't miss a trick to ballyhoo the movie. Here, they provided an ingenious, if not diabolical, way to promote it with every strike of a match to light legal cigarettes, customized for local theaters.

Assassin of Youth Matchbook, 1935. Inside.

Per usual, the anti-drug message is contradicted by a powerfully overt erotic charge. Sex sells. And sex sells illegal drugs.
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These images make their Internet debut on Booktryst and are courtesy of Between the Covers, with our thanks. The two issues of Kokain immediately sold for $1200 and are now part of the R.K. Siegel Library of Drug Literature. The Assassin of Youth matchbook also sold within moments of being offered, selling for $250; later reprinted, genuine examples in such fine condition are rare.
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Anyone in the U.S. or Europe with further knowledge of Kokain. Eine Moderne Revue, Fritz Bauer or Stefan Eggeler is encouraged to contact me. The hunt for other issues begins.
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6 comments:

  1. Needless to say, I found this post fascinating! Great work, as always.

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  2. "What is particularly interesting about Kokain Eine Moderne Revue is that it not only provides further evidence that Weimar culture was lively indeed"
    Not if it was published in Vienna surely, which is in Austria, a different country.

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  3. I suspect you miss the point, sir. Vienna was considered part of Weimar culture. What is significant here is that we have evidence that Weimar culture was born in Vienna three years prior to the end of WWI, and not in Berlin

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  4. "Vienna was considered part of Weimar culture."
    Who by?
    There were precursors of, or influences on, Weimar culture in Vienna and the Habsburg Empire, before and during WW1, certainly- more than in Germany itself- but the two countries were- and regarded themselves and each other- as culturally related but distinct. In fact, an aspect of Weimar culture was that it was a denial of and challenge to "official" traditional German culture, which the mere existence of the multinational and multilingual Habsburg Empire had denied and challenged, even in speakers and users of German. It would be more accurate to say that Weimar was part of or a product of Viennese culture, which still included many nonGermanic linguistic and cultural elements
    I don't think my point is mere pedantry; at least, I hope it isn't.

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  5. Some more details on the most fascinating life of Erwin Stranik and his terrible end can be found on http://www.lager-muehlberg.de/content/biographien.html#spezlag_s (scroll to Stranik in an alphabetical list). He died definitely in May 1948 in a Soviet NKVD camp (where he wrote theatre plays for the "Kultura"), a fact which is until now not known to the scientific history of literature.

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  6. czechpointcharlieJuly 20, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Another similar magazine, one that mixed horror and supernatural fiction with ever more erotic material in its later issues was "Der Orchideegarten", published in Munich from 1919-1921. This magazine also exhibited many attributes that came to be associated with the Weimar culture (and of course Berlin isn't in the Weimar region either, so the quibble over who was and who wasn't part of the Weimar culture is like saying that hippies only existed in San Francisco).

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