I picked up the old brown leather bound book. Its title was “Beyond Good and Evil” and the author was Friedrick Nietzsche. The book had first been published back in 1886 and certainly was a classic. The condition appeared to be good, the binding was tight, no torn pages and only a few underlined sections in pencil. But what caught my attention was a prior owner’s signature on the title page “Property of “Jack” Bliss”. Very attractive penmanship. This “Jack” Bliss must have been very self-assured and successful, perhaps even well-known, I thought.
Before I listed the book for sale at my Etsy shop, I decided to do a little research on “Jack” Bliss.
The search for Bliss began and the first item to appear concerned a “killing in 1892 of the horse thief John M. “Jack” Bliss along the South Fork in an area now known as “Bliss Meadows.” Bliss was killed by a former partner in crime, Alfred “Slick” Nard, reputedly a former member of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang.” However this 1892 date did not jibe with the date my book was published, 1917. So the search continued.
The next ‘hit’ on my search was the Jack Bliss who was described in Wikipedia as follows:
John Joseph Albert Bliss (January 9, 1882 – October 23, 1968) was a professional baseball player. He played all or part of five seasons in Major League Baseball, from 1908 until 1912, for the St. Louis Cardinals, primarily as a catcher. He spent most of his career as a reserve, but was the Cardinals’ primary catcher in 1911. I had high hopes that this might be my “Bliss”…
But, as you can see, the signatures don’t match. So my search for “Bliss” continued.
My next “Jack” was an cartoonist / illustrator for Wrigley’s chewing gum primarily in the 1930’s and then later in the 1940’s producing cartoons commenting on World War II recruitment.
As you can see, his signature isn’t even close!
Picking up the search again, I noticed the most dramatic “Jack Bliss” was a character played by Jack Hoxie in a 1921 film entitled “Cyclone Bliss” directed by Francis Ford. Somehow I didn’t think this was the right guy, but you never know about those late nights in Hollywood. Was this a prop?
But I determined that this could not possibly be my “Jack” Bliss.
And then I found a man who could possibly be the “Bliss” I was searching for. He is George H. “Jack” Bliss, a highly successful music executive who bought a house in White Plains, New York in 1919. He also composed the music and obtained a copyright in 1919 for the song “By Pango Pango Bay” from the musical “Betty Be Good”. Could this book have come from his library?
Have I found my Bliss?
UPDATE: If you look at the comments below, you’ll see the granddaughter of George H. “Jack” Bliss is looking for information on her grandfather. I have shared with her what I have found; if anyone reading this knows anything of George H. Bliss who was involved in music trades in the early 1900’s, we welcome your comments. Thank you.
My Etsy listing for Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil” can be found here (although now it is sold):