Books and LPs were gauges of all things when visiting; it was a Rorshach Cabinet of Fortune Telling cards.
It began with the Andrew Lang Coloured Tales Books which soon became 20 or so Dover titles. Or, it may have been Ballantine and/or Del Rey who had their fantasy and horror series which soon became 30 or so titles. Or, those Marvel comics. (Zap “For Adult Intellectuals Only” Comix was later.) Or, Mad.
Bookcollecting affects only those who are interested in books.
Bookcollecting is often confused with an incidental accumulation of books ignored after reading.
Bookcollecting may be obsessive.
Bookcollecting may be fanatical.
Bookcollecting may begin after an incidental accumulation of books has grown significantly.
Bookcollecting entails haunting second-hand shops and yard sales. They attend estate-sales. Estate-sales are conducted after a person has died and their goods are publicly sold from the house of the recently dead.
Bookcollecting may be informative.
Bookcollecting may be joyous.
My first rare book.
The Ingoldsby Legends; or Mirth and marvels by Thomas Ingoldsby (pseud. Richard Harris Barham) (12 colour plates tipped-in with glassine paper and 80 B/w line illustrations by Arthur Rackham [London: J. M. Dent & Co, 1898.]
It had Arthur Rackham color plates. The text was marvelous and mysterious when I first (attempted) to read it in the bookstore: I failed. The gentleman allowed me to place it on layaway, making monthly payments. Eventually, it was purchased.
My Grandfather collected books. I received those books remaining from his collection after his death after familial scavenging. (Though, he did send me his Chas. Addams and Walt Kelly collections some years before he died.) The book boxes were on shelves in the moving company building. I don’t remember how many boxes were on the selves but I do remember sadness. The magnificent collection of books he accumulated over the decades of his life had been reduced to a few cardboard boxes in a stifling dusty room, well-lit by the Phoenix sun. His magnificent collection was nothing: frustration; sadness. An irony: I never knew or had seen all of the books he had collected but they were magnificent because they had been procured by him and were his pleasure and joy.
In 1972, in Riviera Village, I worked in a bookshop whose proprietors were aged Beatniks. It was Alice who introduced me to Edward Gorey.
It was simpler to have copies of reference books at hand rather than wandering to the local county library. It was a private reference library. Research library. These private libraries were know amongst friends and acquaintances; they became lending libraries. Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf, or The Harvard Classics, from my Grandfather’s collection, were amongst those books in the boxes I took. And, working in bookstores allowed for a third research option: a reading room (as this was decades before the comfortable reading rooms were set in Barnes and Nobles). I once had 6 dictionaries: a common Merriam-Webster (1954 edition) English, French/English, German/English, Italian/English, Russian/English, and Latin/English. And, French. It was various incidental accumulations of books over 20 years; it was not bookcollecting.
Tigers! Tigers! Tigers! Booksellers was brick-and-mortar bookselling|bookcollecting specializing in Surrealism, Beat, artist and handmade books.
Bookcollecting in the 1970s was not collecting books; it was how one read books. You purchased them; you kept them. Simple collections. There again, Book collecting was how one kept informed and knowledgeable about things.
I worked at Papa Bach Paperbacks and Book Soup as a night clerk where one could ask famous types, if they were so disposed to sign a book, for an autograph; or, one could discuss literature or poetry or gardening or orchids or history. Some didn’t; some did. Some were conversationalists; some were not.
Rare books – pre-1920 – offer superior workmanship in the construction of a book’s anatomy.
The Hunting of the Snark (An Agony in Eight Fits) with 10 (woodblock) illustrations by Henry Holiday. [London: Macmillan and Co., 1876] First edition (Second State) is my favorite book.
Estate-sales are depressing affairs. Tragically some private libraries – rooms filled with books – are ignored; or, tragically, if these treasure have not been sold, these books will be tossed. All were abandoned. All were forgotten. They – Though – were perfect gauges of the person who had collected or accumulated their library.
Sean Fraser, Books was mail-order bookselling|Book collecting. It specialized in Surrealism, Edward Gorey, and Rikki Ducornet. Rare, first editions/first printings, signed and numbered editions.
Gorey’s works were collected. All affordable works. I collected all of the magazines and periodical with covers and/or internal illustrations. I collected each printed version of his Doubleday paperback covers; 3 different covers based on the printed cover price. [Doubleday does not have any record of his early 1950s covers; they didn’t keep records. They don’t know how many he did. (I exchanged letters with them.)] Each title’s different country-of-printing version. All variants of each title were to be collected but they weren’t.
Los Angeles moved to San Francsico, and, from San Francsico, back: Boxes were misplaced.
Gorey etchings, posters, and playing cards.
Figbash. Figbash dolls were my most favorite Gorey goods. Figbash dolls were hand-sewn and stuffed by Mr. Gorey while he watched television. They were authenticated not by a signed card affixed to the doll (though those cards would be issued later) but by cat hairs. They were covered with cat hairs; of all colors cat hairs.
It was a very good collection.
Electrolibris was eCommerce bookselling.
Interwebness removed any necessity for keeping a private reference research library.
Foxed pages. Fragrances of the lye used for whitening paper, of glue, of binding, of linen, of boards, of inks; pages pressed by movable type or linotype or mimeographed or litho’d or from etched plates. Indented type impressions. Hot-pressed; cold-pressed. Mulberry; Arches; Rives. Blind Embossing, blind Stamping; marbled end-papers, and sewn signatures. Slipcased, solander-boxed. 8vo, 12mo, Octavo, Imperial, Elephant, and Emperor. Terms that have no meaning.
Some were sold. Some were donated. Some were lost. Some were given as gifts if someone wanted it; some were bequeathed.
“Mythopoeia; or, Ex Nihilo: The Process of documenting Everyday Life for that which is not seen by” is the title of a writing course presented by The Chimera Group. The reading list is composed of first state/first editions. It may seem facetious requiring students to read written works in only their first printed states if they wish to become writers; it is not. To hold and read books printed decades before one was born is to engage time-warped devices that exhibit authors’ and publishers’ intent. I would like to read them in first states.
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language (Unabridged) with Britannica World Language Dictionary [Chicago: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1966] in 3 volumes
is my present book collection.