"THIS IS, I BELIEVE, THE FIRST ENDEAVOR TO SET DOWN THE WHOLE AND TRUE STORY OF THE MOTION PICTURE": THE FIRST VOLUME OF A MILLION AND ONE NIGHTS, ONE OF 327 COPIES SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR AND THOMAS EDISON, THE COPY OF ACTRESS RUTH GORDON AND HER HUSBAND, WRITER AND DIRECTOR GARSON KANIN
(EDISON, Thomas Alva) RAMSAYE, Terry. A Million and One Nights. A History of the Motion Picture. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1926. One volume (of two). Thick octavo, original blue cloth, original acetate. $2300.
Signed limited first edition (Volume I only) of one of the most important histories of cinema, one of 327 copies of Volume I signed by Ramsaye and Thomas Edison, with dozens of illustrations. The copy of actress Ruth Gordon and her husband, author, playwright, and director Garson Kanin, with their signed bookplate.
At a time when only Columbia University offered lectures on film, and when the Museum of Modern Art kept quiet plans for a film archive because it was considered "highly unusual to consider films as art or as a medium worth preserving," Terry Ramsaye spent five years researching this landmark two-volume film history (MoMA, 1984, 18). The "acknowledged… dean of film historians," Ramsaye also founded two newsreels, the Screen Telegram and Kinograms, and was an editor at Pathe News and The Motion Picture Herald (New York Times). Much of the first volume is devoted to Thomas Edison, specifically his "kinetograph" camera and "Black Maria," the structure he designed to rotate in alignment with the sun. This is an unnumbered, out-of-series copy. This copy contains the two bookplates—one dual-signed—of Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin. Ruth Gordon was a well-known 20th-century actress. Her acting career spanned over 70 years, from the silent films of the 1910s to Rosemary's Baby and Harold and Maude to 1980s fantasy films. Toward the end of her career, she became a fixture on 1970s TV, appearing on Saturday Night Live and securing an Emmy win for Taxi as well as two additional Emmy nominations. Gordon was somewhat less well known as a writer, despite her frequent collaboration with her husband of 43 years, Garson Kanin, on films such as Adam's Rib. Kanin was an acclaimed author, screenwriter (A Double Life, Adam's Rib, Pat and Mike, etc.), and director (The Great Man Votes, My Favorite Wife, The True Glory, etc.). "P-105 The Silent Days" stamped in green on front free endpaper.
Slight chipping to edges of acetate. Book about-fine, with front inner paper hinge split. A handsome copy with an interesting provenance.