Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Madonna's Rare JHS Yearbook Comes To Auction: A Personal Overview

by Stephen J. Gertz

In Booktryst's ongoing effort to bring to readers the most important, indeed earth-shattering stories from the world of rare books, we herald the news that Madonna's rare 1971-1972 yearbook from West Junior High School in Rochester Hills, Michigan is currently being offered by Nate D. Sanders Auctions in an online sale ending tomorrow, August 30, 2012, at 5 PM

Minimum bid is $500. As of this writing (9 PM, PDT, 8/28/12) there have been no bidders.

The yearbook bears a warm inscription from the future Material Girl to a junior high school friend.

"Dear Nancy, I hope you have fun at Adams [local high school] and all the years to come, Madonna '76'."

The inscription possesses all that we expect from junior high school yearbook student-to-student graduation notes: gushy lotsa luck n' fun in high school and in the future, with a wee bit'o loopy syntax. Madonna notes that she will be a member of the high school class of '76. 

Madonna Louise Ciccione, age 14, 1972, page 7.

In 1977. a year after high school graduation, Madonna went to NYC to seek her fortune. In 1983 she found it with her eponymously titled debut record album.

School yearbooks are usually bound in hardcover so they will last long enough for you to forget everyone's name and face including your  own. I have never seen a school yearbook bound in wrappers but this one is, a softcover book measuring 8.5'' x 11 inches. There are only a handful of other inscriptions in the book, so the copy isn't crowded with ink from people collectors don't know and don't care about. The front cover is nearly detached at the spine with separation to the rear cover at the spine. The rear wrapper has toning and staining, otherwise the yearbook remains in collectible condition. That it has lasted as long as it has is something of a miracle. The yearbook is scarce with  Madonna's inscription.

Why have there been no bids so far for this Madonna fan must? Is it because few are aware of its sale? Or is it because Madonna, for all her efforts at remaking herself and career at critical junctures, is no longer relevant in 2012 as a creature-product-brand of popular culture that has moved on, and is now Queen of Pop emeritus with a dwindling fan base? 

My mistake: I now recall with wrenching pang that the yearbook for NYC Steinway Jr. High School 141 class of '65 was a staple-bound softcover. I'd forgotten only because I loaned my copy to former classmate Larry Newhouse in the late 1970s and have not seen it since. Hey. Larry! 

Within it was a brief, achingly intimate and plaintive inscription from a beautiful Hungarian girl with a cleft palate that left her speaking voice acutely nasal, particularly when raised, so she spoke in a whisper whenever possible. Two years my senior, she, sixteen, fully-formed and finely curved, had lost two school-years when she moved to the U.S.; we were classmates. She was my first experience with an "older woman," and in the inscription confessed her love (after throwing me over for a boy her own age a few months earlier during a school trip to Bear Mountain in upstate NY and, I suppose, regretting it  - he was an experienced jerk; I merely a callow fledgling).  It was the first time a girl expressed that to me. She signed the yearbook when they were handed out on the last day of school. She made the  approach, wrote, looked into my eyes for an eternal moment, then walked away without a word. I never saw her again. It turned my head and I have never forgotten Roxanne. More than once we'd be lying in each others' arms after making-out and she'd begin to weep and it wasn't because I was Mr. Young Teen Wonderful. Her eyes were all shades of hurt even when happy. This is the kind of thing that compels us to keep our school yearbooks. They can tap into the marrow and draw out a 14-year old heart.

Hey, Larry.

Images courtesy of Nate D. Sanders Auctions, with our thanks.

Of related interest:

The Stars in School! Collecting Celebrity Yearbooks.

Madonna and Sean Invite You To Their Wedding.

UPDATE: 5 PM PST, 8/29/12. Auction closed with two bids and the yearbook sold for $550.


  1. My guess is the serious buyers are waiting....
    It will sell.
    Ed Hoffman
    Hoffman Books, Columbus

  2. Collecting celebrity year books is one of the many fields of rare book collecting but if you go to an auction to buy them you need to get prepared and this article
    tells you how.
    We suggest you read it before you go!


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