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never-failing delight. Such an one may be even a poor man. The race to which he belongs is, thank the Fates, not yet run. He is the lover of the world of forgotten souls—and his enthusiasm is one of the traits of our nature which makes for the poetry of life.
The late M. Pierre Gustav Brunet, by whose death the book-collector loses the most accomplished and able of his physicians, wrote an essay which he entitled Du Prix des Livres Rares Vers la fin du XIXe siècle. Now, M. Brunet was well able to discuss such a topic. He had had long experience, and a rare intimacy with the variations of the prices of books. He had also the privilege of the friendships of book-collectors, whose tastes were as catholic as their purses were fat. In this essay, he has carefully laid down some of the essential qualities which go to the making of a beauideal book-collector.
“He must,” he says, “be master of an independent fortune; he must be a celibate and master of all his passions but the dominating one; he must be armed with imperturbable coolness and with profound literary learning. The exterior of a book must appeal to him as much as the contents ; he must recognize the peculiarities and specialities of the work of every celebrated binder, so that he may distinguish at a glance à binding of Dérome from one of Dérome le Jeune. A complete stranger to political life, he hardly notices the hero of the hour, and he treats with scornful indifference the hero of a change of ministry. Towards the close of his life he begins to concern himself in the fate of his beloved books, and in the reception which will be given to the catalogue in which will be registered all the riches which he has accumulated."
It will be seen at once that M. Brunet limits his class down to a select few. His requirements are born of those favourites of fortune with whom he had so many and so happy relations. Of course, whatever he says is worth careful consideration ; but I speak feelingly when I express my disagreement with even so learned an authority. I should imagine that half the pleasure of book-collecting would be missed, if I could go into, say, Mr. Quaritch's shop, and order all the books I wanted, giving the cheque with my order. This may be magnificent, but it is not what I call bookcollecting or book-hunting. There's no sport about this. It sounds too much like a royal battue. Nor is it absolutely necessary to be such a connoisseur in bindings, unless, indeed, one makes bindings a speciality. The question of celibacy is rather a delicate one, and I am inclined 10 agree with M. Brunet. Women are pretty shrewd when they look askance on the husbands who profess to love them as well as the books they nightly and surreptitiously sneak into the house. The point about the learning is also a delicate one-so few book-collectors come up to it. Perhaps it will be better to leave this matter alone, and make silence the intimation of acquiescence. I think, on the whole, that M. Brunet is wise, and if any of my readers fail to find in what he says much hope for their own success, I would ask them to seek consolation in mastering even the "dominating passion,” and buy only that which they can afford.
The question then arises, what to buy? And the answer must depend on the special motive which prompts one to become a book-collector. If you love books as bric-à-brac, you will, indeed, require to be “master of an independent fortune.” If you love books to read, you will buy what you like to read. If you love books for themselves, that is to say, for what they are and for what joy you may get out of them, both in reading and in having them about you, you must needs proceed warily and with much circumspection Remember always then, that whatever you buy may be sold again at some future time. It may be in your
lifetime ; it may have gone to where there is no book-hunting. Therefore, let every purchase you make be the best you can get. Let it be the first edition, in the best condition. Never mind if your taste is as low as the minor poets' fourpenny box-these two requirements are absolutely essential. When I have said this, I think I have said all. If, however, you wish to collect books as a speculation, then it will be necessary for you to add to these two essentials a knowledge of the particular fashion in vogue, or likely to be when you are about to "sell out.” For there is a fashion in books as there is in wearing apparel. Once on a time, the classics were in demand, and “best editions" of these used to bring very “high" prices. The craze for Elzevirs and Aldines is another of the past phases in book-collecting. The ponderous "art books” of the early and middle years of this century were once greatly prized, as were also the immense county histories. These, however, have all more or less waned. The book-collector as speculator must, therefore, be careful. Just now there is a large run on Napoleana, Alpine books, first editions of the French romanticists of 1830, and first editions of the limited issues of a few minor poets. Here again, I must urge the necessity
be after you
for great care; because I am convinced that the fashion in these will soon be gone, if, indeed, they are not already going. Books on Napoleon may last some little time yet, possibly to the end of the century.
In England, the longest lived fashion is the Dickens and Thackeray craze. It argues a remarkable hold these two writers have obtained on the public affection, and judged by this, Thackeray should prove a good subject for a collector for many years to come.
I do not think that the first editions of Dickens can much longer keep up their prices. Perhaps “Pickwick” in the original parts and in good condition, will alone always be worth an investment.
So long as Englishmen love sporting, the good books on that subject are safe,” and Alken, Apperley, Surtees and Izaak Walton will remain names to conjure with.
In America, of course, there are local influences to take into consideration, and the first editions of their classical writers must, naturally, come in for a share of the book-buyer's attention. Possibly the works of Henry James, Howells, and Oliver Wendell Holmes may one day have the same care taken of them as are now being expended on the works of Emerson, Longfellow, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. But those books which are known as “ Americana,” that is to say, the tracts and pamphlets relating to the history and literature of America, issued between the dates of the discovery of that continent and, say, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, must become rarer and rarer, and must fetch increasingly higher prices.
If I were asked to name what classes of books it would be always safe to invest in, I should say:
(1) Early printed books with illustrations.
-the true incunabula.
The Bible, Homer, Dante, Goethe, Molière, Shakespeare,
Milton, Goldsmith, Shelley, etc. (4) First editions of “classical” historians — in England, Froude,
Gardiner, Motley, Prescott, etc. (5) Early examples in the illustration of books by the best artists, of
no matter what period. (6) Very limited editions of books which may safely be called "literature.” It is somewhat rash to give such advice as this, since it is difficult to allow for the passing fashions. But these six classes of books cannot be affected, to any large extent, by any fashion. The books of the fashion generally reflect the particular “movement” of the time, and these the true book-lover will always avoid. The speculator, if he indulges himself in them, must take care to "sell out” at the right moment—at the time when the craze is at its height.
Large-paper editions must go the way of all flesh. They are a delusion and a snare, and the less said about them the better. Of living English novelists I can call to mind but two whose works are likely to remain long as treasures in the bibliophile's cabinet. These are Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling. Stevenson is having his vogue just now, but Kipling's time will come, and he will come to stay.
Books printed by "private" presses are also certain to remain “good.” Generally the number of copies issued are very limited, and this is an important fact to take into consideration. The works printed at the Kelmscott Press will, in time, be worth much more than they are now. A reference to the sales included in this volume will show that a great many have been sold at auction, but, as a rule, these are the “over-buyings" of the too greedy bookseller. The Vale Press of Hacon and Ricketts promises to produce volumes which should be worth the attention of the book-lover and the collector. The types with which they are printed have been specially designed by Mr. Ricketts, and are, in their way, as beautiful as Mr. Morris's.
The “Daniell” press books, and the books printed at Sargent's, Chelsea Press, can only have a temporary attention. They are not printed from originally-designed types, as are the “Kelmscott ” and “Vale” books.
In making use of a book of this kind many allowances will have to be taken into consideration. Auction "prices” can in no sense be taken as the ruling prices of the market. A book may fetch 1os. one day and £5 another day. Moreover, the condition of a book is so large a factor in its resultant value, that a just estimate could only be arrived at by one who had personally attended the “sale.” In order to give my compilation even a slight claim to obviate difficulties of this nature, I have, where possible, stated the conditions of the lots, and placed notes either at the beginning of the record of the sale, or after the separate lots. The excellent catalogues which Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge always issue, have been of the utmost importance. Without them, indeed, the book could not have been attempted at all. With regard to the considerations which have influenced me in the selection of “lots,” I may say that I have set no limit as to prices. A long experience with books and their values has taught me that a bookseller, as well as a collector, often finds it of great assistance to know when and why a rare book brings either a very high or a very low price. That this often happens, anyone acquainted with auction sales knows full well. Therefore I have included in this record many lots which have fetched but a few shillings. The vagaries of the “rooms” are as incalculable as a woman's whims, and they are not always due to the 'poor condition.” Where I could fix the causes I have done so, and, I believe, in most cases correctly. My principal aim in compiling this book was to give the reader such information as would enable him to arrive at a reasonable estimation of the “lots” and their values, just as if he had been at the “sale” himself.
I lay claim to no special merit for this book other than may be found in the notes and in the comprehensive Index. Here, I think, I have attempted to make plain the crooked ways of such a reference book as this. In the Index I have given the dates in a very great number of cases. This, I hope, will help to save time in referring to any particular book or edition. I am fully alive to the many defects which a searching criticism could bring to light, but as I hope to continue this record annually, I would thank my readers for any suggestions they care to make by which the work could be improved.
I have only one word more of advice to offer, and it is to reiterate what I have already said, namely, never collect other than first editions, and never buy a book in bad condition. When you have satisfied these demands, lay to heart these two “pieces ” of wisdom-Never lend a book ; and Never ill-treat a book.
With these words I take leave of you with the hope that you may find the rest of this volume as much to your taste and profit as it has been laborious for me to accomplish. I could wish you nothing greater than this.
TEMPLE SCOTT. April 18th, 1896.