RARA-AVIS: Autograph Hound

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 16 Dec 2002

In a message dated 12/16/02 4:03:41 AM Eastern Standard Time, owner-rara-avis@icomm.ca writes:

<< I have a question that is indirectly related to mid-c.20
 fiction. In doing some research on the history of autograph
 collecting, I found the following definition and citation
 in the
 Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang:
 - -----------------------------------------------------------
 - --------
 autograph hound n. a collector of autographs, esp. an
 offensive person who clamor for the autographs of
 celebrities. Now colloq.
 1933 in Ruhm [ital]Detective[/ital] 72: He was an autograph
 hound....He collected autographs. Autographs of all the
 stars....He had five hundred of 'em.
 - -----------------------------------------------------------
 - --------
 I'm curious about the citation. What "Detective" magazine
 is it referring to? Who is this mysterious Ruhm character?
 What does the number 72 refer to? The only info I've been
 able to dig up on the web relating the name Ruhm to
 detective fiction is Herbert Ruhm's anthology, "The
 Hard-Boiled Detective: Stories from Black Mask Magazine,
 1920-1951." If anyone on the list who has seen that volume
 can speak to its relevance, or if anyone has an idea about
 how I should approach this problem, I would greatly
 appreciate any assistance you can provide.
 On a related note, I am most interested in obtaining an
 original copy of the magazine/whatever source originally
 held the quotes listed in the citation. Is Ebay the best
 place to find vintage detective fiction, or are there
 better sources - online or otherwise?
 Many thanks,
 Nathaniel Adams
 University of Virginia

The citation is from Herbert Ruhm's anthology THE HARD-BOILED DETECTIVE
(Vintage Books 1977). The story in question is on page 72 and is "Kansas City Flash" by Norbert Davis from the March 1933 issue of Black Mask magazine. This story uses the term "autograph hound" opens in a Hollywood restaurant.

This rang a bell with me. Another Norbert Davis story "Don't Give Your Right Name" from Dime Detective December 1941 opens in a Hollywood restaurant and features a character named Steamer who is described as an "autogaph collector" and "autograph addict." This story has been reprinted several times including in Ron Goulart's anthology THE HARDBOILED DICKS (Sherbourne Press 1965 & Pocket Books 1966) as well as in the collection THE ADVENTURES OF MAX LATIN by Norbert Davis (Mysterious Press 1988). The story is on page 68 of MAX LATIN. Davis (1909-1949) was a regular in the detective pulps.

I am certain you can find reasonably priced copies of these books on abebooks.com although the Goulart book might cost a few bucks even in paperback.

Since you are in Charlottesville, VA, I would suggest checking the local bookstores before ordering online. There is "Read It Again Sam" which has a large mystery section and another general used book store the name of which escapes me. It is across the alley from The Biltmore Restaurant and I have seen a copy of the Max Latin book in one of the stacks on the floor. That's was a few months ago.

Oh, and the omelettes at the Biltmore ain't bad either and the wait staff is easy on the peepers too.

Richard Moore

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