In 2008, I was lucky to have spotted several drawings on eBay by an anonymous man who was only described as “having been a patient at the State Lunatic Asylum in Nevada, Missouri around 1905.” Intrigued, I called the owner who eventually agreed to sell me the entire notebook of over 200 drawings. At the time, the only identity the anonymous patient had was a name he wrote on one page, “Ectlectric Pencil
.” The “Electric Pencil” drawings were later purchased by artist Harris Diamant of NYC, whose tireless research into the mystery eventually identified the man as James Edward Deeds, Jr.
(1908-1987) of Ozark, Missouri. The rest is art history. Today, his work is represented by the prestigious Hirschl & Adler Modern
in New York. Given that his drawings now sell for $16,000 apiece, I’d say Mr. Deeds left behind a legacy to be proud of. Accidental Mysteries is an online curiosity shop of extraordinary things, mined from the depths of the online world and brought to you each week by John Foster, a writer, designer and longtime collector of self-taught art and vernacular photography. “I enjoy the search for incredible, obscure objects that challenge, delight and amuse my eye. More so, I enjoy sharing these discoveries with the diverse and informed readers of Design Observer.”
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