Library of Unusual Books

aka/ Unusual Books

Boar’s Head Books (New York)
Series dates: 1949-1965
Size: 6″ x 9″

Boar’s Head Books is one of the numerous imprints used by Samuel Roth, among the most infamous of 20th-century publishers. Roth was involved in diverse publishing efforts, including pirated titles and a significant number of titles which crossed the line into what was considered pornography or erotica at the time. Roth was jailed numerous times on obscenity charges, had many of his publications confiscated, and was at the center of many trials, including Roth v. United States (1957), among the most important cases for freedom of expression. Many of Roth’s books were reprints, and some were included in named series, including the Ardent Classics and the Modern Amatory Classics both published in the 1930s.

Any of the books published by Boar’s Head Press are described as being part of the publisher’s Library of Unusual Books, and that description is sometimes used on the title page of books published in the later 1950s (“Library of Unusual Books, Edited by Samuel Roth”).

Boar’s Head Books consisted of an assortment of saucy novels and dubious memoirs, including such classics as the faked Nietzsche incest title, My Sister and I (complete with a fake academic introduction). The books are sometimes described as being distributed by Seven Sirens Press, another Roth imprint.

Jackets for the Unusual Library titles are unique to each title. The publisher is indicated on the front of the jacket. The front jacket flap contains a description of the book. This copy of Ben Hecht and Maxwell Bodenheim’s Cutie: A Warm Mamma was published in 1952. The book, originally printed privately in 1924, is a satire of prudish mores and censorship.

The back of the lists the first 11 volumes in the series. The first, two Boccaccio novels, was published in 1949, thus I am using that as the start date of the series. Earlier dates are included in other titles, but those are probably copyright and not printing dates.

Purple cloth bindings include only the author and title on the spine.

The title page with a date of printing below the imprint.

The copyright of this title matches that of its printing date.