Monday, April 18, 2011

Rare Warhol "Cats" Book Estimated to Sell For $20K-$30K

by Stephen J. Gertz

Cover lithograph.

A copy of 25 Cats Name [sic] Sam and One Blue Pussy by Andy Warhol, one of the rarest, most significant, and highly desirable artists books from the 1950s, will be auctioned at Doyle New York on Wednesday April 20, 2011. It is estimated to sell for $20,000 - $30,000.

25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Cat is comprised of eighteen hand-colored offset lithographs (one laid-on to cover) by Warhol. The accompanying text was written by his then-lover, television art director and production designer Charles Lisanby. It was printed by Seymour Berlin for Warhol who conceived the book as a Christmas gift.

Issued in December, 1954 in a limited edition of 190 copies (though it has been speculated that fewer, perhaps only 150, were actually produced), very few copies of the book were sold, this copy, #110, being a rare exception; most were given away as gifts to friends and clients. 


The hand-coloring of the lithographs was done at "coloring parties" with Warhol's friends, a precusor to the collective approach that characterized much of Warhol's career. The calligraphy is by Julia Warhola, Warhol's mother. Her errors were uncorrected by Warhol, who appreciated  human imperfections.

This is among the most significant American artist books of the period. It was reproduced in facsimile by Random House in 1987.

Title notwithstanding, there are only eighteen cats illustrated in the book, as originally published. Of the fate of the remaining Sams we have no word.  

Sic transit gloria feles.

WARHOL, Andy (artist). LISANBY, Charles. 25 Cats Name [sic] Sam and One Blue Pussy. [New York]: Printed by Seymour Berlin [for Warhol], [c.1954]. First edition, numbered and signed in ballpoint, this being example 110 of a stated 190 copies.

Full off-white leatherette binding as issued, the upper cover with a hand-colored lithographed label depicting a cat, lettered with the title and author, with gray endpapers. 9 x 5 7/8 inches (22.5 x 18 cm); tipped-in limitation leaf (recto blank), followed by seventeen leaves, each bearing an offset lithograph by Warhol on Arches paper. The cover lithograph completes the count of eighteen. All the lithographs are brightly hand-colored with washes of Dr. Martin's aniline watercolor dyes.

Accompanying this copy is a letter signed by Warhol (headed "andy warhol enterprises inc"), inquiring as to how the purchaser found out about the publication of the work. 

Feldman & Schellmann IV 52A-68A.


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