Chimera I deluxe
Median Market Value
4.a Leather binding in cloth traycase: 20 - $1000 (red Roman numerals)
4.b Cloth two-tone binding in cloth slipcase with frontispiece: 220 or 520 limitation – $250 (200 or 500 with black numbers), NFS (20 with red numbers)
Published as Centipede Press; 2005
Original price: $1000/$250
The fourth book published by Centipede Press is another collection of stories, essays, and art, much like Stigmata, and again, with no explicit underlying theme related to the title. The limitation page states that 540 total copies were printed, but once upon a time the Centipede Press website listed 200. I’m inclined to believe the limitation page over the website, but this is one of the rarest Centipede Press titles out there, so I’d be pretty amazed if there were a full 500 copies. There were still copies of Stigmata for sale a decade after the release but this book pretty much never sees the secondary market. However, it’s also a more beautiful book than Stigmata IMO, so maybe there really are 500 copies out there and all are in happy homes.
The limited version came with a slipcase, and some number of the initial customers (not sure how many) got to choose which art from the book they wanted printed and affixed to the slipcase, so there are an unknown number of different slipcases out there.
The spine of the book is stamped “CHIMERA I”
The book is bound in a fine German cloth – I’m not sure what the style is called, but it’s shot through with lighter threads and has a more interesting and distinctive look than the plain black cloth. It’s also two-tone and has a chimera stamped on the front board, in black!
I think that this is a cool technique and an early example of how Centipede Press was willing to experiment with bindings. There is at least one more book that has the two-tone cover, but it’s the rarest state of that book because Jerad didn’t like how it turned out and had most of the batch rebound. Hint: it’s not Chimera II. I don’t know if Chimera II is two-tone or not. At this point I have only even seen one picture, and it’s just the spine in a collection of CP books. I’ve never seen Chimera II for sale. But that’s a topic for a future post…
The gallery contains a shot of the contents – you can see that it has quite the range of topics, ranging from an essay by Freud, to a Flannery O’Connor story (one of my favorite authors, so this was a treat), a Robert Bloch piece, and a number of artist’s portfolios. David Curtis, who wrote the introduction to the previous CP book (Two-Handed Engine contributed a piece about Arkham House. Helmut Wenske would later be featured in the CP release of The Golem. Michael Shae’s story “The Autopsy” would become the feature piece in a collection of his work, appropriately titled The Autopsy and Other Stories. The artist portfolio of John Stewart would also later be expanded into a book.
The limitation page lists all the editions that were created. Note that the limitation number was printed on the page – this is the first book where the limitation number was printed rather than handwritten.
This technique became the standard for all later CP books. There are a couple of advantages to this. One is that some of the numbering can become very creative (we’ll see examples of that in the future; one of my favorites is for the Kane series, which is a while away, but in the meantime we’ll cover several entries in the Studies of Horror Film series, which also has some good ones). The second advantage is that there are no unnumbered PC copies. For almost all CP books, the full print run is known and is stated on the limitation page. The contributor copies of Centipede Press books are designated by Roman numerals, and are listed on the limitation page as well. There are usually 20-25 total, sometimes in red, sometimes in black. The disadvantage to this system is that if a book is damaged in transit, it’s a big deal to get your number replaced. The limitation page has to be excised from your book and tipped into another copy, which in turn has to have its limitation page first excised. Fortunately, CP books are packaged very well – I have only had one book arrive damaged, and that was because the outside packaging was pierced with a long skinny rod of some sort (fortunately only the slipcase was damaged).
Bibliography by Timothy Booksker adapted from thedarktower forum