[New York: Privately published, 1953]. 1st Edition. Octavo, original glassine portfolio, original typed label to upper panel, 26 loose offset lithographs on thin wove paper, as issued (measures 9 7/16" x 6 1/8").
Rare pre-Pop artist book by Warhol, among the earliest in a series he produced through the 1950s as gifts for clients and associates in his work as a magazine illustrator for the likes of Glamour, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar: "[Each] month, he’d send art directors hand-finished work that looked for all the world like original art. He might, for example, mail out stamps of hand-colored butterflies. Or packages of birdseed, with instructions to plant the seeds and watch as they grew to become birds. Starting in 1953, the gifts became more elaborate. Warhol embarked on a series of privately printed books. In that year, he turned out four: Love Is a Pink Cake, A Is an Alphabet, A House that Went to Town, and There Was Rain In the Street [sic]" (Princeton University Library). Each lithograph features a delicate line drawing of a face or head, with a flirty nonsense verse inspired by a letter of the alphabet, composed by Warhol's collaborator Ralph Thomas "Corkie" Ward. "A tall, freewheeling poet and artist with curly brown hair, Ward was something of a romantic ideal to his friends." Though he rebuffed Warhol's overtures, the two briefly pursued a creative collaboration on the above-mentioned series of privately printed books, the first of them being A Is an Alphabet. "It was the first of many times [Warhol] would keep a romance going by collaborating on some work... The underlying whimsy of these books was delightful, and they made excellent promotional gimmicks to send to art directors and Andy's other clients. 'The nature of Andy's promotion was so personal that it really had an influence in making him known,' [George] Klauber recalled. 'People began collecting [the books]. If you went into an ad agency you would often see an Andy Warhol thing on display" (Bockris, The Life and Death of Andy Warhol, 1989). One of an estimated 100 copies produced. Feldman & Schellmann IV.1-26. Lacking printed title leaf, as often. With penciled annotation to first litho: "Warhol's 1st 'book' / stunning copy," in the hand of the late art and rare book dealer John McWhinnie, who previously sold this copy. Some light creasing to glassine portfolio, with partial splitting to center of spine; lithographs for the most part fresh and fine. Item #872