Sep 30, 2021 - Sale 2580

Sale 2580 - Lot 55

Price Realized: $ 2,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(ART.) Archive of the prominent mail art practitioner Stu Horn. Several hundred items (0.6 linear feet) in one portfolio box; generally only minimal to minor wear. Various places, most circa 1973 to the early 1980s and undated

Additional Details

If you have arrived at Swann's Americana catalog in search of Civil War diaries and Declaration of Independence broadsides, this next lot will probably not be for you.

Stuart Alan Horn (1946-2008), a Philadelphia artist and musician, was a prominent member of the mail art scene--an insular world of like-minded outsiders who exchanged Xeroxes of enigmatic collages. Some of his creations were distributed under the name Northwest Mounted Valise, including a 1975 book of the same name (included). Offered here is a large archive of his original maquettes, reproductions, correspondence, mail art received from his associates, and more. At the core are approximately 60 maquettes of varying degrees of complexity, along with a larger number of photocopied reproductions, and other material that was apparently intended for use in collage.

The small correspondence file includes a 1973 fan letter from reality show pioneer and gay icon Lance Loud; and 3 letters dated 1974-1975 from Baltimore actress Edith Massey (a John Waters regular best known as "Edie the Egg Lady" from Pink Flamingos). In her 11 March 1975 letter she announces "The picture Female Trouble is going to open in Philadelphia next month if nothing happens."

Horn also led several bands on the Philadelphia avant-garde scene such as Stu Horn & His Invisible Band, and Horn & Hard Art. Included here are numerous show fliers (including some in maquette form), a folder of song lyrics, Horn & Hard Art's 1978 album, and its original cover art.

In Horn's mail art circle, work was not always signed or credited. The bulk of this archive is stylistically consistent and clearly his; also included are a smaller number of zines, newsletters, and mail art which come from other artists. Bill Griffith of "Zippy the Pinhead" fame makes 3 appearances with signed or stamped work. To provide a tenuous tie-in with Swann's regular Americana fare, Griffith is the great-grandson and namesake of Western photographer William Henry Jackson (see lot 248).

Another unusual credit on Horn's résumé was providing the theme song lyrics for the Sesame Street segment Teeny Tiny Super Guy, which debuted in 1982. The collection includes two animation cels believed to be drawn by the series animator Paul Fierlinger for an unknown project.

A lengthy 2020 reminiscence of Horn can be found on, "Find Yourself: from way back in '80s Philadelphia, Elizabeth Isadora Gold remembers her first writing teacher, the mail art artist/lyricist Stu Horn." Horn also makes numerous appearances in the 1995 book "Eternal Network: A Mail Art Anthology," edited by Chuck Welch (included). Some of his work is held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Dartmouth College.

In short, we offer a box of his stuff. Some things can't be explained. Stu Horn probably would not have wanted us to try.