Extremely rare signed portrait of The Maltese Falcon author, presented during wartime to a fellow soldier
Elusive vintage matte-finish 8 x 10 photo of the influential detective novelist, signed and inscribed in fountain pen, "To Bob Colodny—This portrait of a man saying, 'Ah! Classroom M!' Dashiell Hammett, Aleutians, March 1944.” In very good to fine condition, with faint silvering and small surface impressions to the image, and tape stains and surface loss in the borders which could be matted out. Encapsulated and graded by PSA/DNA as "GEM MT 10."
Robert Garland Colodny was a writer, activist, and professor (1915-1997) who, despite his health history, which included a blind left eye (the result of being shot in the head), Colodny joined the U.S. Army in 1941, and served for four years, stationed in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska in Army Intelligence alongside fellow-sergeant Dashiell Hammett. With Hammett, Colodny produced a Company newsletter, The Adakian, designed to boost troop morale, and co-authored a book commissioned by the Army, The Battle of the Aleutians; they also co-wrote and broadcast a radio program.
This spectacular portrait dates to Hammett’s service during World War II; in early 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hammett enlisted again in the United States Army—he first enlisted in 1918, but he quickly contracted Spanish flu and spent most of his time as a patient at the Cushman Hospital in Tacoma, Washington. Because he was 48 years old, had tuberculosis, and was a Communist, Hammett later stated he had ‘a hell of a time’ being inducted into the Army on his second go-around. Presented to a fellow writer and soldier, this is a magnificent signed portrait of the revered author of classics like The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon—moreover, this marks just the second signed photograph of Hammett that we have ever offered.