Eighty, Eric Sloane’s last book, is available in two different editions. The text, illustrations and paintings are essentially the same in each. There are, however, two important distinctions between the two editions. One edition is a beautifully bound hardcover edition that is made to slide into a hard slipcase. These were limited to 350 copies that were to be numbered and signed by Eric, and an additional 26 copies for private distribution, lettered A-Z. Those who purchase only the slipcover version feeling that this is the more “valuable” of the two copies to own should consider purchasing the other hardcover “standard” edition of Eighty for the dust jacket alone. It features, in my opinion, one of Sloane’s paintings that truly straddles the line between reality and abstraction.
Sloane literally ran to a warehouse to pick up a case of (slipcover edition) books for the Eighty show at Hammer Galleries in New York. The bulk of the shipment of books was to be ready for the show, but production delays made that impossible. At any rate, Sloane brought a case of books to the show, signed them all and gave them away to friends and family. The number of books actually signed is in dispute – I have heard estimates from 7 – 50. Eighty was a heavy book and was likely packed into cartons weighing less than 50 lbs., so my estimate is closer to the 25 copy range than the 50. Additionally, it would make sense that the books lettered A-Z would be packaged together, making a case of 26. He was able to sign some (I have heard estimates as low as 7 copies) or all of the books for private distribution, but none of the books that were numbered 1 to 350. It would be an interesting piece of investigative work to determine what happened to all 26 of the privately distributed copies. I have first hand knowledge that 1 signed copy went to Reverend Schuler of “Crystal Cathedral” fame and 1 is owned by Joan Martin (?), the woman who was curator of the Sloane-Stanley Museum at the time. The remaining copies numbered 1-350 were left unsigned and a piece of onion skin paper was inserted that read:
“Due to the untimely death of Eric Sloane, EIGHTY: An American Souvenir, was regrettably left unsigned. This publication, the last of his over forty books, will remain as a legacy to his place in the world of American arts and letters.”
A place was left for hand numbering and a signature by his widow, Mimi H. Sloane.