The McMurtry 100

As we've reported here (and here), Larry McMurtry is gearing up for the book auction of the century. Next month book collectors of all stripes will descend on Archer City, Texas, for the two-day event, where festivities include 1,400 shelf-lot sales, a BBQ, a movie screening, and the sale of the McMurtry 100, a hand-selected collection of titles chosen by McMurtry to "prep the bidders." Not all are rare or expensive, some are just favorites.

In that special group are: a signed 1933 illustrated edition of Stein's Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas; an 1810 edition of Robert Southey's Curse of Kehama; a London edition of Thomas Wolfe's The Web and the Rock; Rulka Langer's 1942 book, The Mermaid and the Messerschmitt; and Elmore Leonard's The Bounty Hunters, in dust-wrapper. Swinburne, Trollope, and James appear more than once, but it is certainly an eclectic catalogue.  

In describing how the McMurtry 100 took shape, auctioneer Michael Addison has written that McMurtry offered to select the titles to get bidders interested in the larger auction:

"Why don't I just pick out around 100 books to sell individually just as a sampling for the bidders of the types of books we have in the shelf-lots" McMurtry says.

Nodding in agreement, I reply, "Well, you've been a book-scout for 50 years, so people will know that any books that you pick out are rare or unusual...."

"I'll pick out few for you to play with" he says with a grin.

Thirty minutes later, I see a stack of books on the table of building #2, and I begin to lot them individually. After numbering them, I walk over to Booked Up building #1 where I find Mr. McMurtry and say, "Well, there are 90 books there. I'm going to call them 'The McMurtry 90' -- how about that?"

"You want me to find 10 more? Let me find 10 more and make it an even 100," McMurtry says.

I reply, "Even better. A nice round number."

It only took him a few moments to put another 10 books on the table in the other building, and the "McMurtry 100" was complete.