Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina: Palmetto Press, (1912). First edition. 8vo, original printed wrappers, 119 pages. Wrappers a bit toned and slightly worn; some light staining from the binding staples; some very light foxing; a very good copy. Item #17131
To call John Armstrong Chaloner (born Chanler, 1862-1935) an eccentric author is somewhat to understate the case; scion of a wealthy Virginia family and worth some $4 million by the time he hit adulthood, his family in 1897 had him declared insane and committed him involuntarily to a New York mental institution—in part because Chaloner claimed he had discovered the sixth sense of “X-Faculty,” which allowed him visionary insights into the stock market, informed him he could carry hot coals in his bare hands, and suggested he looked like Napoleon Bonaparte. (One wonders if the one-time ubiquitous convention of the crazy person-as-Napoloeon began or at least had its fullest flowering with Chaloner.) Chaloner escaped the institution in 1900 and was declared sane by the state of Virginia in 1901, and he took up in his eccentric way the cause of mental health reform on the strength of his prolific output of incendiary verses and polemics, peppered with his trademark catch-phrase “Who’s looney now?” This collection of miscellaneous polemics in the guise of supposed spirit visions from Hell is interlarded with press notices of the industrious Chaloner. Price notice on the title page canceled with a contemporary violet ink stamp.