Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Phantom Clutch Pt 2

George Foster, writing of Barry Ono's famed collection of Bloods in Collector's Digest, #16, says, "I remember seeing copies of some of these of the period, which were Mr Ono's proudest possessions. There was "Varney, the Vampire; or, The Feast of Blood", which he told me was the book which gave the idea of his plot to the author of "Dracula". There was another publication entitled, and sub-titled (for they were all sub-titled then) - "The Skeleton Clutch; or, the Goblet of Gore". These were by another author called Thomas Prest Lloyd."

Could Barry Ono, born Frederick Valentine Harrison in 1876, and a well-known comic singer and comedian, be having a laugh at Foster's expense? Hmm. Ono certainly took his collection seriously and it eventually ended up in the British Library. However, the catalogue of the collection, published in 1998, makes no mention of The Skeleton Clutch. On the other hand, other Bloods that we know he owned, including Varney, didn't make it to the BL either - sold to other collectors before his death in 1941.

By the way, a brilliant video of Barry showing off his choicest items (but no Skeleton Clutch) is on the web - well worth a look. Might be the only chance you get to see the original Varney, Sweeney Todd and Spring-heeled Jack.

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