Some older books about books


Books In Manuscript, by Falconer Madan, 1893. Cloth hardcover. I love the “Arbor Scientia / Arbor Vitae” logo with the entwined trees on the cover. Other than a small oval Joseph McDonough Bookseller Albany NY  sticker, nice clean pages throughout. Wait, there’s also a W.H. Clarke booksellers sticker on the back flyleaf. Deckle edges all around and the edges are dirty on top. This has been on a shelf for a long, long time. And yet the paper is as strong and flexible as any new paper – better, really. Who can afford to print entire books on such high-quality paper anymore? Frontispiece is loose, guard tissue has darkened and transferred some color on to the title page. This book is about how to study handle and catalog documents in manuscript form. Here is a wonderful excerpt: “And once more, modern readers who are accustomed to skim the Times every morning and a novel every week, when set down before some important historical work, feel that their minds are is it were unstrung and incapable of close attention and sustained effort. They are tempted to glance superficially through volumes which ought to be impressed on the mind, and profit little by the process. For these and such the the study of an original document in the manuscript, a court-roll, a charter, a page of a chronicle, an old political poem, is the one corrective which suits the disease, – a bracing, invigorating, and it may be added, and attractive exercise, the contact of Antaeus with his mother earth.” Woot! Today you can’t get the young whippersnappers to stop instagramming and snapchatting long enough to skim an entire novel every week, can you? If you are of the intellectual bent and mental strength to work with old manuscripts, you will love this book. Edit


Early Printed Books, By E. Gordon Duff, 1893. Companion in the same series as the volume above, with more damage to the spine, a bookplate from the Southworth Press and a 1911 inscribed name. Same deckle edges, dirty top edge, stained guard tissue, wonderful old paper. Being a history of the  introduction of printing into various places in Europe, with some marvelous samples of early printing in color reproduction. Would this be a beautiful candidate for rebinding or rebacking? Yes. Yes, it would.


A Magnificent Farce and Other Diversions Of A Book-Collector, Newton, 1921. Gorgeous fine old paper, two deckle edges and the top gilt. Cloth  and paper hardcover. Color frontispiece, many black and white illustrations throughout. I really can’t say what this book is about. The author does indeed get around to talking about books, but there are tons of personal reminisces and stories, most of which have at least some tangential connection to books. An interesting read, it really is. Kind of a Victorian Dave Barry …


The Amenities Of Book Collecting and Kindred Affections, 1924, Newton. Paper and cloth hardcover. Paper label is a bit worn, name inscribed in front,otherwise seems clean and unmarked. Gilt top edge. The author writes about book collecting and you will be jealous when he claims his copy of “Endymion” was worth the $360 he paid for it because it was once Wordsworth’s and had his name on the title page. Sample: “I have a fondness for college professors. I must have inherited it from a rich old uncle, from whom I unluckily inherited nothing else, who had a similar weakness for preachers. ” He has a long winded way of talking which is utterly addicting once you fall into the rythym of it. It needs reading, but be warned: you will be jealous.


An Introduction to Bibliography, McKerrow, 1928. Blue cloth hardcover, cover shows wear but other than a pencil inscription on the flyleaf  very clean.  Another of these scholarly British works covering a brief history of bookbinding, techniques, explains basic terms such as catchwords, signatures, paper sizes, laid vs. wove,etc., all with a view toward teaching you to how to interpret a book by knowing what to look for. Kind of like a Gray’s Anatomy for the forensic book detective. I already have a copy of this instructive volume or I wouldn’t let it go.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s