Monday, March 31, 2014

A Student of Catalogues

In the early 1900s, the Chicago bibliophile, Vincent Starrett,  requested a copy of a  catalogue from an east coast bookseller.  He had no intention of ordering anything; he wanted it because the catalogue was an excellent bibliographical reference on a subject of interest to him.  Starrett never received the catalogue.  What he received was a postcard from the bookseller with the following reply:

I sent you a number of my catalogues some months ago, but to date have received no order from you.  Are you a prospective purchaser, or merely a student of catalogues?

In 1921, Vincent Starrett wrote about this incident in A Student of Catalogues, a piece which became the Torch Press Christmas book for that year.  Two hundred and fifty copies were "privately printed for the friends of Luther Albertus and Elinore Taylor Brewer."  Eight years later, Vincent Starrett included the piece in his own book, Penny Wise and Book Foolish.   I have a copy of the Torch Press book.  And I have Harry B. Smith's copy of Penny Wise and Book Foolish, which I acquired from Oak Knoll Books.

For the record, I am a prospective purchaser of books, provided the books are in my price range.  And I am a student of catalogues.   In My Sentimental Library blog post last month,  I displayed bookseller catalogues issued by William Reese, Oak Knoll Books, and Martin Breslauer.   I have more than a few catalogues issued by each of these three booksellers.

If you like to study catalogues on Rare Americana,  I recommend William Reese's catalogues.   And if you are a prospective purchaser of his Rare Americana, I'm jealous. Most of the items are listed at four figures or more, and are just too rich for me.

From 1989 on, I purchased a number of books about books listed in the catalogues of Oak Knoll Books, purchasing most of them before Bob Fleck's Oak Knoll Repricing Saga a few years ago.   But I have gotten my money's worth of reading, studying, and researching not only the books I purchased, but the many catalogues I received as well.

Several years ago, I purchased a case containing seventeen catalogues which were issued by the firm of Martin Breslauer when it was located in London.  The catalogues are numbered from No. 54 to 76, and are dated from 1941 to 1952.  Reading the listings in these catalogues is a pleasurable experience.  But then, the person who compiled them, Bernard H. Breslauer, was a published poet.

My favorite Breslauer catalogue, "The Tenth Muse," is a catalogue within a catalogue –– it begins on page 38 of Catalogue Number Sixty.  And it is a catalogue that collectors of literary forgeries would enjoy studying.

Martin Breslauer is the collector mentioned in the introduction to "The Tenth Muse," and his son, Bernard H. Breslauer, is the compiler.    I typed out the intro to make it easier to read for you:

"  THE TENTH MUSE, the crafty Muse of literary forgery," as Andrew Lang calls her in one of his essays, must have been an afterthought of the procreator of her nine fair sisters ; where there is original thought,  a true work of art, representation of historical events, the plagiary, the fraudulent imitator, and the mystificator, will soon be at work.  It is the last two that this collection of some 400 volumes which unfold a fascinating chapter in the story of the human mind is dedicated.  We here mainly contemplate its darker recesses ; mercenary greed, misguided ambition, unhealthy pretension on one side, credulity, carelessness and stupidity on the other––enough material to satisfy a Swiftian taste in human frailty, and the curiosity of the modern psychopathologist.
  But the scholar and the book-lover are not being conducted on a tour of unrelieved grimness through a gallery of literary deformities ;  they will meet the bright flash of genius, literary masterpieces in convincing disguise, and the edifying spectacle of the greatest in the realm of knowledge being hoaxed by what, in retrospect,  often appear to be the fabrication of pigmies.  Nor must we omit to pay tribute  to the ever-watchful eye of scholarship which, even if temporarily blinded, has always espied treachery in the end, saving her domain from impurity and disgrace, and the incursion of the trespasser.
  In assembling this collection over a period of years (for much of the material he could only come by after patient waiting and constant vigilance) the collector had one purpose in mind :  the critical study of the forger's ever-varying methods, the foundation of a veritable literary criminology  which could be instrumental in the discovery and the exposure of other fabrications. For this purpose the most revealing cases were selected ;  the inclusion of works appeared to be justified if they had, at one time or another, been seriously suspected by responsible critics, and the presence of a publication, with the critical material appertaining to it, does not in all cases mean that it is in fact a forgery  ; for these and other reasons it is impossible for us to guarantee the "authenticity" of forgeries.
  We feel that in every library whether public or private, a shelf should be reserved for these ficticious productions, which would combine the attributes of a literary "Enfer" and a cabinet of distorting mirrors.  The collection offered in the following pages will provide an abundance of material such as will not easily be found again.
  The compiler of the catalogue has attempted a classification which as he is himself aware is by no means watertight, but may he hopes, serve its purpose ;  titles have been arranged under their true, and not their pretended authors, and in chronological order of publication. 
And here is an image of the catalogue's table of contents.

I have added two catalogues to my collection of Breslauer Catalogues.  The first one is what I would call "a hurt book."

It is water-damaged.  The front cover is completely detached.  And the rear cover is nowhere to be found.  But this catalogue is the first catalogue the Martin Breslauer firm issued after relocating to London in 1937.  And it is the last catalogue Martin Breslauer himself compiled.   Here is his introduction:

Martin Breslauer (1871-1940) was an internationally renowned bookseller in Berlin. He opened his bookshop in 1898.   He moved to London in 1937 to escape from the Nazis.   In October 1940, he suffered a fatal heart attack during The Blitz after a direct hit near where he lived.  At that time, his son, Bernard H. Breslauer (1918-2004), was  interned with other Germans on the Isle of Mann, but was released shortly after his father's death.

Bernard Breslauer took over the family business, but kept it in his father's name.  He issued Catalogue Number 53 under a Stamford Court address, most likely in early 1941, the same year he issued Catalogue Number 54.  He remained in London until 1977, at which time he relocated the business to New York City.

The second catalogue I added to my collection may well be the last catalogue Bernard Breslauer issued:  Catalogue No. 111, issued in either 1993 or 1994.  The front cover displays a Grolier binding by Jean Picard, item 93 in the catalogue, which is listed for a mere $280,000.

I have more than a few catalogues compiled by other booksellers to show you in my Flickr slideshow, A Selection of Bookseller Catalogues.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Reference Library
of a

A library represents the mind of its collector, his fancies and foibles, his strength and weakness, his prejudices and preferences. Particularly is this the case if to the character of a collector he adds—or tries to add—the qualities of a student who wishes to know the books and the lives of the men who wrote them.
                                           Sir William Osler, Bibliotheca Osleriana

I enjoy researching and writing about the books in my library, their authors, and even their former owners.  To help me do all that, I have assembled an extensive reference library of bibliographies, biographies, and other reference works.

Reading about bibliographical matters may become tedious to the non-initiated so instead, I shall present a picture display of my reference library, with many pictures and fewer words.   And I will post a link to the catalogue of my bibliographies and other reference works on Library Thing at the end of this blog.

                           The New Bible on SJ                            The Old Bible on SJ
                           published 2000                                      published 1915
                                                                                       supplemented 1939
                                                                                       reprinted 1984
                                 took Fleeman 30 years to compile his bibliography
                    both Fleeman and Courtney died before their books were published

   50th Anniversary Catalogue of Johnsonian Keepsakes;  Johnsonian Contact List
               Biographies of SJ in my library:  My Many Lives of Samuel Johnson

                                             My Bible on books about books
                                                           published 1939

                                                        Another copy,
                                                      my working copy,
                                        signed by my granddaughter Carrissa;
                                       now one of the treasures of my library
                                 note to Noah and my other grandchildren:
                                            don't even think about it!

                                Wrote about the former owner and the author in
                  The Collector and the Collected:  Two Typophiles From New York

                                1921 edition (1st)                          1928 edition
                  reminds me of the the energizer bunny:   9th edition published in 1960
                                                 Lessons in Bookselling

The Bibles on Miniature Books                           published 1985
  published 2001 and 2000                         Levitan, Founder of Miniature Book Society
formerly owned by Don Brady

                                                   Grolier Club 1905
Vol 2 only of 3 vol set;  catalogue of English works "from Wither to Prior"

            Lowndes                                                                 Lowndes
            published 1834                                       published 1857-1864
           Vol 3 only of 4 vol set                                        revised and expanded by Bohn
                                                                            2 sets*, 11 vols ea

                                           *Vol 8 of 2nd set eaten by my dog
                                          "some books should be tasted . . ."

                       English Books  1475-1900 Sawyer& Darton 1927
               STC English Books 1475-1640 Pollard & Redgrave 1946, reprinted 1969
                                    STC 1641-1700 compiled by Wing 1951

                                                       odd volumes
Brunet Tome Quatrieme 1843 (1810);      Dibdin Vol 2 1808;                Moss Vol 2 1825
used all three books in researching Greek and Latin classics in the Auchinleck Library

                                                          De Ricci 1921
                     Subtitle:  A Practical Handbook of British and American Bibliography

     Wilson 1827  Catalogue of works relating to Shakespeare                    
Bartlett & Pollard 1916  Census of Shakespeare quartos 1594-1709

                                             Dodd, Mead & Co. 1907
   An account of the four folios and a census of known perfect copies of the First Folio

                              NUC 1977  All pre-1956 works of Shakespeare

               biographies and other books on Shakespeare catalogued on Library Thing

        Duff 1917                 (top) Cordasco 1970   ←18c bibliographies →Williams 1924
   Hellinga Supp 2009                  (bottom) Schwartz 1931
top:  Smollett, Richardson, Sterne, Fielding, Dibdin, Godwin, Gibbon, Young, Burke
left:  took Duff 28 years to compile his bibliography
bottom: 555 points on works by Eng authors; 555 points on works by Amer authors
right:  Armstrong, Shenstone, Akenside, Collins, Goldsmith, Churchill, Sheridan

                     Fabes 1930, 31, 32  Presentation 1930  Dedication 1931
Covers works by Abercombie, Arlan, Baring, Barrie, Bates, Beerbohm, Belloc, Bennett, Birrell, Bone, Brooke, Burke, Campbell, Chesterton, Conrad, Coppard, Corvo, Crackanthorpe, Crockett, Davidson, Davies, De la Mare, De Morgan, Douglas, Dobson, Dodgson, Dowson, Doyle, Drinkwater, Dunsany, Feuchtwanger, Firbank, Flecker, Freeman, Galsworthy, Graham, Graves, Haggard, Hall, Hanley, Hardy, Harris, Herbert, Hewlett, Hoult, Houseman, Hudson, Huxley, Jacobs, Jerome, Kennedy, Kipling, Lawrence, Ledwidge, Leslie, Lewis, Locke, Machen, Mackenzie, Mansfield, Masefield, Maugham, Meredith, Meynell, Montague, Moore, Mottram, Munro, Newton, Noyes, O'Casey, O'Flaherty, Phillpotts, Powys, Priestley, Quiller-Couch, Remarque, Sadleir, Sassoon, Sedgwick, Shaw,  Shiel, Sirwell, Somerville, Stevens, Stevenson, Symonds, Thomas, Tomlinson, Wallace, Walpole, Wells, Weyman, Woolf, Wilde, and Yeats

                                                          Fabes 1932

                 Roff 1979                     Murray 1968 (1st 1900)            Green 1946
                                                    Dobson 1970 (1st 1925)

                                            Breslauer Catalogue Sixty  1946
                               (more on Breslauer catalogues maybe next month)

                                                      Seymour 2011

                     Sabin Readex Microprint c.1967  172 parts in 29 vols completed 1936
                                  Sabin 1-82  Eames 83-116  Vail 117-172
                                             My Bible on Americana

                            Johnson/Blanck 1936;  Fullerton 1932;  Waldman 1925

Howes 1st ed 1954 2nd ed 1962  Reprinted 1963, 1970, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1988
Reese Catalogues 294 and 295  2012 (50th anniversary of 1962 edition)

                                                      Jenkins 1977, 79

                       Richardson 1966 (1st 1931)       Wood 2nd ed 1956 (1st 1949)

              Stonehill, Block & Stonehill 1927;  Halkett & Laing 1926-1934
                                      bibliographies on pseudonyms

                                                       Growoll 1898
                                            more on this book next month

                       (top) De Ricci 1969 (1st 1930);  (middle) Dickinson 1986;
             (left) Fletcher 1969 (1st 1902;) Quaritch 1892; Quaritch 1968 (1st 1892);
                             Cannon 1941; Bowker 1948 9th ed (1st 1912-13)
                                               for provenance research

                               Fox-Davies 1970 (reprint of 1929 7th ed, 1st ed 1895)

Burke PDF (1884); 23 Heraldry Books on CD: Boutell, Papworth etc.; Var. Ex Libris

                                                     Davenport 1909

                                                    McBride 1987

                                                        Gorlach  1998

                                                   UNC, Chapel Hill 1969
                   bibliography of Eng & Am authors of detective stories (book length)

Sonnenschein 1969 (repub of 1910 3rd ed); 1896 (repnt of 1892 2nd ed; 1st ed 1887)
                               The 1896 ed was my first bibliography

                                           Allibone 1874; Supplement 1891
                                 used so much I have to resew and rebind vol 1

                                                   Browning 1958


                                       Lang 1912; Hist of Eng Lit
                                   Morley 2nd ed c.1877; First Sketch of Eng Lit
                                  Legouis & Cazamian 1940 (1st 1930) Hist of Eng Lit

Drinkwater c.1923; Bateson 1941; Quennell 1986 (1981);  Benét 1965 2nd ed (1st 1948)

   Harvey 3rd ed 1946 rpnt 1955     Drabble 1985  1st ed Companion publ 1932

Hallam 1855 5th ed (1st 1837-39); Intro to Lit of Eur 15th, 16th and 17th Cent. 
Bagehot 1910;  Essays on Coleridge, Shakespeare, Cowper, Gibbon, Shelley etc.
 Taine 1877 (1st 1872) Hist of Eng Lit transl by H. Van Laun

                               Legouis 1953 (1934)                   Simonds 1902

      Northup 1925,             Courtney 1915,                  Sabin 1966 (1st 1877)
Northup:  Winslow Webber's copy
Courtney:  Multi-tasked, compiling this register and the Samuel Johnson bibliography
Sabin:  (subtitle) A Handy Book About Books Which Relate to Books

                                                      Oak Knoll c.2000
                                                 My Bible on bibliographies

                                               About Books c1990s

                                        Briscoe 1982;  Kaplan 1961
                    Kaplan's bibliography covers works published before 1945

                McKerrow 1928 (1927);  Esdaile 1974 4th ed 3rd im (1st 1931)

(top to bottom) Vitale 1971; Bühler, McManaway; Wroth 1949; Ferguson 1900;
Jones 1974;  Gore 1968 (1966).

And that's that.  I hope you enjoyed the picture tour of my reference library.   You can view the catalogue of my bibliographies, biographies, and other reference works on  my Library Thing pages.