[New York]: [Dead Language Press], . First Edition. Wraps. 8vo. Original stapled wraps in (original?) glassine jacket, with silkscreened covers designed by Marian Zazella. Ink offsetting to inside covers. Top staple pulling a bit from cover, but holding. Both as common. Two photos (pp.  and ) archivally remounted. A couple more a little underexposed, as intended. Some original glue residue to inside front cover. Trace edgewear. Still, near fine overall. Bright and clean. pp. nineteen original 2.5" x 2.5" hand-tipped B&W contact prints. Item #21854
The only collection of Jack Smith's photographs to appear during his lifetime, and representing "the few vintage Smith photographs to have survived" (Hasselblad), THE BEAUTIFUL BOOK was published and (poorly) distributed by Piero Heliczer's press. It has long been viewed as a great rarity, with claims of the true edition size often touted to be as small as 60 copies. But since 2007 (when a copy at Swann achieved more than 40k), we traced no fewer than ten copies at auction, and at least another fifteen copies in trade over roughly the same period (including at least four on the market in the last two months alone [2/18]). Which is to say, even accounting for possible duplicate copies, we suspect the edition size to be much closer to the intended 200 copies than is generally supposed. Nevertheless, not widely held institutionally. OCLC locates just six copies (BL, MoMA, UVA, Ransom, SUNY, and NWern). And while we can find no bibliographic evidence for an original glassine, the jacket included with this copy has clearly been with it for some time: the covers are bright and clean, the cover silkscreen unmarred, and with none of the toning often found to the wrappers. An uncommonly preserved example of one of the quintessential artists' books of the 20th century, from a pioneering gay artist whose influence and importance remains undiminished. [Söhm p. 25]. [Hasselblad 190-191]. [Kugelberg p. 8].