| Original/Reproduction || Original || || || |
| Country/Region of Manufacture || United States || || || |
| Signed by || Skip James || || || |
Feel free to make a reasonable offer on this important group of letters. A single Skip James signed program photo recently sold for over $2,100 at a reputable auction house. Please google: "Skip James Letters Autograph Live" to see an objective forum's discussion of this lot, its importance, and its rarity. The consensus: "quite amazing".
To my knowledge not a single letter by Skip James has ever come up for sale (except one that I sold for a charity). I think he wrote very few letters, especially of this kind. It is interesting that he ended several of his letters to me reminding me of his phone number, preferring, I think, talking on the phone to writing letters. Being a collector at heart, I preferred communicating in letter form. I cherished each one of his letters, knowing well that they would prove to be lasting documents of a great artist, and of importance in the future.
Bid with confidence. This is a private listing - the bidders identities are protected and hidden.
Over 50 years ago I had the pleasure of meeting and befriending the blues legend Skip James. I was 18 years old and a blues fanatic. I was asked to show Skip around San Diego during his stay there, and I enlisted some blues friends and we took him to the San Diego Zoo. He was a total delight to be around. A real gentleman - princely in bearing, always very courteous and kind. You can read further about my encounters with Skip James if you search "Meeting Skip James" on google. That memoir also discusses these letters and my relationship to Skip. Also you can search "Tom Jacobson Robert Johnson Library of Congress" to see an article about the important Robert Johnson material I donated to the Library of Congress. If you would like to learn more about me you can see the extensive biography included in the listing for my latest book "The Hidden World of James Ensor" on Amazon books.
These letters have been carefully kept. There is no or little sign of browning or staining, proving that Skip used a special quality paper for these letters. I have included photographs showing how the Devil Got My Woman lyric and the Skip James signature on one of the letters can be over-matted for framing. The fine art paper used for this demonstration is Arches Watercolor, and the sheet size is 22x30 inches. I have provided a second sheet that can be cut out in a different way. All the printing was done with an archival Epson printer.
Please contact me with any questions.
LETTER ONE: Envelope signed and postmarked 7-7-66 (4x6 inches). Two pages one sided (6x8 inches) of correspondence by Skip (signed by him), and one page of correspondence by his wife Lorenza. These letters are in response to my having sent Skip some money to tide him over during his tough times. But there is blues content as well:
"Now I have not made the trip over seas as yet. I don't know just when it will be after the Newport festival, so Dick Waterman (his manager at the time) said. Just when I cannot tell. That is if I will accept the trip and what it will mean to me. So I will let you know in time." "Jacobson, you never have and will hit the target or spot as true and direct as you did in this nice favor. Boy I haven't did any work since the first of May and quite natural I was all down and on the cracker box, but you really lifted me off."
This letter contains some lines from one of his later and best songs, Washington DC Hospital Blues: "Yes I am a poor man, but I am sure you does understand."
LETTER TWO: Envelope (4x6 inches) dated 16th August, 1966. Two pages one sided (6x8 inches), Boldly signed by Skip James with added phone number at the end.
"Work are very slow with me now, and has been since the festival, but are hoping things will be much better after the Record comes out, which will be in the next 2 or 3 weeks."
"And when you feel like coming this way you are more than welcome to come to my home and stay just as long as you want to, and I believe you will like it very much."
LETTER THREE: Envelope (4x6 inches) dated Oct. 14, 1966, signed "James". Two pages (6x8 inches) of correspondence, signed "Your Friend Skip James".
"Now Tom, Vanguard company sent me two records, and they did not suit me so well - because it had several bad places in them. And I want you to have one of the best. Everybody says they are Great that have heard them, so I hope that you will like them too."
"Now Tom, so far as the music is concerned, if you are musically inclined and have the gift or calling, you cannot rest content without putting it to work or in execution, and the more you play the more and better you can. It is like something coming in your mind where ever you are or where ever you go. It is never finished and once you get it in your deep down Hearing you never forget, I don't care how long you be idle."
"Now the Festival at Newport was Great, and also here in Phila. I was called to respond (?) in John Hurt's place. He could not be here and they called me just a day before the festival began."
LETTER FOUR: Envelope (4x6 inches) signed Skip James, dated Nov. 29, 1966. Two pages (one sided) of correspondence (6x8 inches).
"Work are pretty slow right now. I don't see anything in sight before January weekend. It will be a Folk Festival in Chicago and the first week in February at Rochester N.Y. and that is a long time to suffer until then. Now my manager, he ain't worth a Damn, smile. But maybe things will get better after a while." Boldly signed with added phone number.
LETTER FIVE: 2 envelopes (4x9.5 inches), one with return to sender stamp and Skip's note: "Sorry I wrote the address wrong. rite soon. Skip" Both signed in the return address portion. Two single sided pages (6x8 inches), boldly signed at the end. Lyrics and signature suitable for framing, as shown in the listing pictures.
This important letter has remarkable blues content and has the only known handwritten lyric of the blues classic Devil Got My Woman. Because of our close relationship, I asked Skip, who rarely did these things, to write out the lyrics for me. This could be the only hand written lyric of a classic song by one of the great early blues artists, and certainly Skip James is in the top tier of early blues artists.
"Dear friend just a word to let [you] hear from me. Now Tom, I am awful sorry, and hope that you will accept my apologies. I have been very ill for a month or two but is some better now. Glad was I to hear from such a nice an lovely friend as you. Trusting that you are still fine and are getting along fine with your studies and music. Tom I have not yet received one penny from Vanguard Company as royalties. I just can’t understand what in the Hell they are waiting on. Now I have cut another record for them in April. I guess they are waiting for some trouble and Hell of a lots. Now according to the songs,
Devil Got my Woman 1)st. I would rather Be the Devil than to be that Woman’s man, Because the way that I love her, its a pity and a crying shame:2)nd: I'll cut all your kindling (repeat) That I’ll cut all your kindling baby and I will make you some fire and I will tote (that) all your water from the Bougie Boaw. Or you can say Boogy Buyer. Now the kind of guitar that I played on the Melodeon Album was a Gibson and the one on the Vanguard Album was a Martin and piano. Now Tom I will close for this time. My wife joins in sending best regards and respects to you and friends. So work are very slow as you know in summer months. Hoping you all the success and happiness that life can afford. I remain yours truly and sincerely Skip James. To my friend Mr. Tom Jacobson"
Please see the last picture in this listing. It shows a double signed Jimmy Reed Vee Jay 45, signed in my presence, to be included in this sale.
NOTE: Please see the first two pictures in this listing that show how the lyrics and signature from this letter can be handsomely matted and framed, without cutting or damaging the entire letter. The mats are included in this sale.