Frank Collection – Provenance

The Jane and Howard Frank Collection

The unrivaled group of original artwork and fine, rare books and pulp magazines in this catalog comes to you from the renowned collection of Jane and Howard Frank, widely considered to be among the most important assemblages of fantasy and science fiction art and literature in the world. The Franks are pioneers, with a shared passion for art of the weird and fantastic, and beginning in the 1960s, they voraciously strove to collect uniformly top examples from throughout the 20th century. They worked as a team, focusing on only the best art by all of the major fantasy artists, whose works frequently illustrated tales by the greatest writers, and the Franks’ joint keen eye produced a truly world class collection. The hit parade starts with incredibly rare and historic paintings from the 1930s and 1940s pulp magazines, such as Margaret Brundage’s first-ever cover for Weird Tales, one of the single most significant pulp artworks in existence. Other pulp masterpieces include iconic science fiction covers by Allen Anderson, Frank R. Paul, Virgil Finlay, and an absolute knockout by Norman Saunders, reproduced on our front cover. Such blue chip examples are extremely rare, as is the awe-inspiring 1950 lunar landscape by Chesley Bonestell, perhaps the greatest and most prescient space artist ever.

These “cream of the crop” examples from the Golden Age of science fiction and fantasy pulp art represents only a part of their holdings. The Franks’ enthusiasm extends to the entire 20th century, from magazine and paperback cover art of the 1940s and 50s through the 1990s, including top paintings by Frank Kelly Freas, Hannes Bok, Richard Powers, Edward Gorey, Boris Vallejo, Michael Whelan, Richard Corben, and virtually every other leader in the genre.

The Franks’ involvement in this increasingly popular collecting field has not been restricted exclusively to buying the best, most original, beautiful, and important art they could get their hands on, which they’ve achieved by haunting genre conventions over the years, and sometimes contacting publishers directly. Crucially, they have also been close friends and patrons to numerous artists, encouraging and supporting some of the most inventive illustrators to work in the field. Frequently, they have generously opened their home, which could serve as a museum for this great American art form, to “amaze, astound, surprise, amuse, charm and cheer” enthusiastic fans. In addition, two lavish books have been devoted to the Franks’ incredible collection, extending the personal gallery tour even further.

Speaking of books, it is no coincidence that the Franks have collected artwork from a vast array of science fiction, fantasy, and other pop culture books and pulp magazines. They did not begin by collecting the art and then graduate to books and pulps, but rather started collecting illustration art to augment the books, as a visualization of what they appreciated most about speculative literature. The artwork was a natural extension to the “what if” nature of the literature that Howard Frank had read, loved, and collected since high school.

We are thrilled to offer an outstanding selection from the Franks’ rather comprehensive library of science fiction and fantasy pulps and books in this catalog. The books run the gamut of the speculative fiction timeline from H. G. Wells and Jules Verne through Edgar Rice Burroughs and Ray Bradbury, all the way up to Dean Koontz and Stephen King, and many more, with a fine selection of unique genre manuscript material as well.

Also included in the Frank’s collection of printed material is an amazing grouping of pulp magazines, deep runs of many popular and obscure pulp titles, including The Shadow, Doc Savage, and Oriental Stories, and huge lots of beautiful condition rarities. The Frank Collection of rare books, manuscript material, and pulp magazines is not only a fine complement to the aforementioned illustration art, but a wonderful example of the passion of collecting printed material in its own right.

This celebration of the Franks’ vision, dedication, and commitment truly represents the opportunity of a lifetime for the discriminating collector, and we couldn’t be prouder to be offering the prize acquisitions from this impeccable provenance.

Information courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries, October 2008.

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