Friday, December 12, 2014

The Displaced Book Collector and More

My Sentimental Library blog and my Biblio-Connecting blog are my two most popular blogs; but they are not my only ones.  I have five more blogs whose posts and individual page views you can view below.

May 2007  to displace:  to take the place of
pageviews:  74          

Jun 2007  A Shelf In My Bookcase
pageviews:  143

Jun 2007  Among the Leaves, Fruit
pageviews:  211

Jun 2007  My Library:  A View From the Crib
pageviews:  165

Jun 2007  Once a Book Collector . . .
pageviews:  127

Jul 2007  Moi the Bookplate Collector?
pageviews:  165

Aug 2007  Bookplate Literature
pageviews:  116

Oct 2007  The Displaced Book Collector Has Been Replaced
pageviews:  97

Oct 2007  Researching a George Birkbeck Hill ALS
pageviews:  515

Oct 2007  Letters Found in Books
pageviews:  76

Feb 2008  Update on Letters Found in Books
pageviews:  53

Sep 2008  Charles Lamb's Library on Library Thing
pageviews:  55

May 2009  My Elements of Style Collection
pageviews:  1188

May 2009  William Strunk's Other Books in My Library
pageviews:  1060

Sep 2009  A Correction to the Copyright and Bibliographic Records of The Elements of     
pageviews:  313

Apr 2010  Stylized and the Forgotten Edition of Strunk's Elements of Style
pageviews:  329

Jul 2011  A Statius Check
pageviews:  677

Jul 2011  Corrections to the 1810 Catalogue of Greek & Latin Classics in the Auchinleck Library
pageviews:  621

Dec 2011  Researching the Value of Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare
pageviews:  1056

May 2012  Biblio Researching 101
pageviews:  173

Sep 2012 About That Engraving by William Kneass . . .
pageviews:  410

Oct 2012  Researching Serving You. . . And Its Catalog Records
pageviews:  521

Feb 2013 The Boswell Copy of Piozzi's Anecdotes of Dr. Johnson?
pageviews:  145

May 2013  A Well-Lobbied Government:  How the NRA Won the Battle Over the Second Amendment
pageviews:  351

Oct 2013  Is America Lost in the Funhouse?
pageviews:  156

Dec 2013  About Bibliomites, Biblionotes, and Walter "Wally" Harris
pageviews:  296

Jun 2014  Some Auspicious Biblio-Sleuthing
pageviews:  406
non-bookrelated:  intended to be about my childhood, Air Force days, and beyond

Jul 2007  The Old Neighborhood
pageviews:  341

Jul 2007  My Old House:  It is Still Standing
pageviews:  38

Jul 2007  Stage Fright
pageviews:  29

Jul 2007  Peeping Toms
pageviews:  44

Sep 2007  Old Stoneface:  Memories of New York
pageviews:  177

Nov 2009  . . . But Not Forgotten
pageviews:  256

Nov 2009  On Thanksgiving Day
pageviews:  1105

Aug 2011  Loves Me, Loves Me Not
pageviews:  134

Jan 2012  The Night I Beat Up Johnny Polovoy
pageviews:  89

Nov 2008  Mary Hyde and the Unending Pursuit
pageviews:  2213

Nov 2008  William Targ, Bibliophile
pageviews:  571

Mar 2009  Cataloguing Dead People's Books;  Namely, the Libraries of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, and Charles Lamb
pageviews:  874

Apr 2009  Birrell, Starrett, Morley, But Who Is O. M.?
pageviews:  171

Aug 2009  Kings of Persia
pageviews:  122

Apr 2013  From Whence They Came:  Don Brady and His Miniature Books
pageviews:  461

Apr 2004   Contemplations of Moi Bibliomaniac:
(Blog revived below)

Dec 2012  Contemplations of MoiBibliomaniac
pageviews:  211

Jan 2013  MoiBlogomaniac?
pageviews:  222

Feb 2013:  Jerry Morris:  The Never-Ending Story
pageviews:  233

Feb 2013  On Selecting a Bookplate For My Library
pageviews:  1878

Feb 2013  On Finding New Owners For My Old Books
pageviews:  134

Mar 2013  Library For Sale
pageviews:  162

Jun 2013  A Former Owner's Review of the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning
pageviews:  431

Aug 2013  A Most Heavenly Review?
pageviews:  159

Jul 2014  Are Libraries Obsolete?  An Argument For Relevance in the Digital Age
pageviews:  63

Aug 2014  A Second Book of Booksellers:  Conversations with the Antiquarian Book Trade 
pageviews:  159

Sep 2014  Johnny Evers:  A Baseball Life
pageviews:  71

Dec 2014  The Court-Martial of Paul Revere
pageviews:  17

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Number Three
of the
Twelve Blogs For Christmas

In 2012, I began a custom of sharing the essays contained in Contributions to Biblionotes with my friends and readers each Christmas.  Walter Harris wrote these essays for the Bibliomites in the 1950s.  And when he died in 1982, he was described in the Antiquarian Book Monthly Review as "one of the three most knowledgeable bookmen who ever lived."  

"Ex-Libris" was the first essay I shared, followed by "Chapbooks" in 2013.  And to provide more background information for you, I posted "About Bibliomites, Biblionotes and Walter 'Wally" Harris" on my Biblio-Researching blog in December 2013.

My Christmas gift to you this year is 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Early Editions
The Elements of Style

If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.
                                                                              Toni Morrison

 Did you know that one of the best little books on writing has one of the worst bibliographic records?  I am referring to the pre-1959 editions of The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.

Pre-1959 Editions in My Elements of Style Collection
top row:  1921 (four copies) 1919 (one copy)
bottom row:  1934 (three copies) 1936 (one copy) c1940s (two copies)
Note:  I'm still lacking the 1918 and 1920 editions.

On my Biblio Researching blog, in September 2009, I posted  A Correction to the Copyright and Bibliographic Records of The Elements of Style .   And the Library of Congress corrected its bibliographic records that very month.  A worn or broken typeface had made a poor impression of the middle initial of the publisher, W. F. Humphrey, on the copyright page of the 1918 edition of The Elements of Style.  Consequently, W. P Humphrey received credit as the publisher of the 1918 and 1919 editions  of The Elements of Style on the copyright and bibliographic records of the Library of Congress.

And now, five years later, there are several prestigious websites and libraries whose bibliographic records still identify W. P. Humphrey as the publisher of the first and second editions of The Elements of Style.   Moreover, numerous sources cite an incorrect publication date of the last edition published during Strunk's lifetime, The Thrift Press Edition.  As one bookseller on Abebooks  recently put it, "some sources say 1958, some say 1940s."  Another source cites 1918, while still another cites "1937 or after."

I am one of the sources that cite the 1940s. And I went even further in my April 2010 Biblio Researching blog post, "Stylized and the Forgotten Edition of The Elements of Style."  I cited 1943 as the date of publication.  I even stated that Strunk himself may have updated the list of recommended references, and replaced some of the words in the list of words often misspelled.

"Stylized and the Forgotten Edition of The Elements of Style" was more a rant than a review of Mark Garvey's book,  Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style.  In retrospect, I would recommend his book if all you were interested in was E. B. White's 1959 edition.  But I wanted to read a book about the history of The Elements of Style, which included an obsessive history of the pre-1959 editions.  That book has yet to be written.  So I will write it myself.  And it will be published in 2018, the one hundredth anniversary of Strunk's little book, The Elements of Style.

But before I do that, I need to pin down the  publication date of The Thrift Press edition.  I call this edition, "The Forgotten Edition," because Mark Garvey never mentioned it in his book.  Moreover, The Thrift Press edition is not listed in the bibliographic records of the Library of Congress; nor is it listed in the Catalog of Copyright Entries.

I have spent the last few weeks researching.  I scoured the web,  queried libraries, historical societies, and online mailing lists, seeking the location of the archives of The Thrift Press.   I identified the founder of The Thrift Press: Professor Jacob Hieble (1902-1995).  I can tell you where and what he taught, what other books he published, and where he lived after he retired.  What I can't tell you is what he did with the archives of The Thrift Press.  At least not yet.  But I'm still researching.

I can tell you that The Thrift Press edition of The Elements of Style is mentioned on page 348 of the Feb. 1958 issue of the Cornell Alumni News:

Perhaps this is where the sources citing 1958 got their date.   While E. B. White was busy writing his 1959 edition of The Elements of Style, The Thrift Press was printing and selling numerous copies of an updated reprint of The Elements of Style in 1958.  But was 1958 the year The Thrift Press edition was first printed?

To answer that question,  I refer to one word on the title page of The Thrift Press edition:

And that word is Emeritus:  

William Strunk, Jr.
Professor of English, Emeritus
Cornell University

New Oxford American Dictionary

William Strunk retired in 1937.  He died in 1946.   The word, Emeritus, denotes that William Strunk was retired, but was still alive when The Thrift Press edition was first published.  It was first printed after 1936 but before 1947.

I bought my first copy of The Thrift Press edition on eBay in 2001.  And I wrote about the purchase on an old webtv website, which I managed to resurrect on

In the eBay listing, the seller, Wendell Smith, wrote, "This copy I am listing was assigned to me at Cornell in the early 1940s."

If I could verify his statement, I would have added proof that The Thrift Press edition was published in the 1940s.

So I googled "Wendell Smith" "Cornell" and "Alumni."

And I received about 4,890 results. . . .

But I got lucky on the first result!

The link led to the May 1963 issue of the Cornell Alumni News, where I performed a search of "Wendell Smith."

And I found out where this Wendell Smith lived in 1963:

Next, I googled "Wendell Smith" "Rock Harbor Rd" and "Cornell."  And this led me to an interesting blog post.  A son posted an interview of his father and mother, which he had recorded while his father was still alive.  The son was the writer, Dell Smith.  And his parents were Wendell and Muriel Smith.

The blog itself  will be one of the blogs I'll feature on my Biblio-Connecting blog post for December 2014.

But here is the part of the interview pertaining to Wendell Smith's time at Cornell:

Further in the interview,  Wendell Smith revealed that he was a writer and a bookseller for the better part of his life, and that he sold "special books" on eBay.  His wife and his children are writers as well.

I contacted Dell Smith and asked him to verify his father's signature on the title page of my copy of the book.  Dell Smith verified that it is his father's signature!

I still have more researching to do.  But I can safely rule out that The Thrift Press edition was published in 1958.  The latest Wendell Smith's copy could have been published is 1948, the year he graduated at Cornell.  Wendell wrote that the book was assigned to him at Cornell in the early 1940s.  He could have acquired the book in 1941 or 1942 before he went into the Army.  And that would eliminate my theory that William Strunk had The Thrift Press edition published in 1943.  Or would it?  In Mark Garvey's Stylized book, he notes that E. B. White took Strunk's course, English 8, in his junior year in 1919.  The course required a prerequisite English course, which, in turn, required an introductory English course.  If the course was still taught twenty years later, and if the requirements were the same,  Wendell Smith would have taken the course after he returned to Cornell in 1945.

I have more research to do regarding The Thrift Press edition.  And I haven't even mentioned the errors in the bibliographic records of the other editions published during William Strunk's lifetime:  the Harcourt, Brace and Company editions.  Moreover,  I only recently learned there was a 1920 Harcourt, Brace and Howe edition that was published before the 1921 Harcourt, Brace and Company edition.   Yes.  I need to research further.  I need to apply for fellowships.  And I need to write the book on The Early Editions of The Elements of Style.


I never completed the writing of my book on The Early Editions of The Elements of Style.  I never located the archives of the Thrift Press.  Therefore, I could not positively identify the date the Thrift Press edition of The Elements of Style was first published.  My book is on a perpetual hold until such information is found.

There is, however, still a need to correct the bibliographic records of the early editions of The Elements of Style.  And it was my reason for publishing My Handlist of the Early Editions of The Elements of Style online a few days before Christmas in 2018.

Jerry Morris 9/14/2019

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Sentimental Library Blog:
The First Five Years

October marks the fifth anniversary of my first post to My Sentimental Library blog.  And to celebrate the occasion, I am posting the individual page views of all My Sentimental Library blog posts for you to view.  Some posts have been more popular than others.   But I have enjoyed writing every one of them.

Oct 2009:  An Unexpected Find in Umatilla, Florida  504 page views

Oct 2009:  Snapshots of Mary Hyde  113

Jan 2010:  A Cornerstone in American History  110

Jan 2011:  Always Be On Time  289

Jan 2011:  Arthur Schlesinger's Bookplate:  The Whole Picture  963

Feb 2011:  Changing Bookplates:  Multiple Bookplates of Famous People  2555

Mar 2011:  Two Hurt Books And Their Former Owners  438

Apr 2011:  My William Targ Collection  487

May 2011:  My Many Lives of Samuel Johnson  1304

Jun 2011:  Ten Books From Texas and Two Reminiscences  801

Jul 2011:  Blog Posts From Two of My Other Blogs  96

Aug 2011:  Grand Moments  443

Sep 2011:  My Autograph Letter Collection  2454

Oct 2011:  In And About Foley  269

Nov 2011:  J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps, Bibliophile  457

Dec 2011:  Biblio Researching, Biblio-Connecting, and Biblio Reviewing  92

Jan 2012:  The Words of the Wise:  My Periodical Collection  403

Feb 2012:  My Samuel Johnson Collection:  Odd Volumes, Association Copies, And                        
                  Other Interesting Items  276

Mar 2012:  On Or About Moi's Books About Books  472

Apr 2012:  Around the Dining Room Table:  A View of My Shakespeare Collection 361

May 2012:  My Sentimental Library Collection:  Association Copies 325

Jun 2012:  A Virtual Tour of My Mary Hyde Collection 1603

Jul 2012:  My Philology Collection:  Dictionaries  709

Aug 2012:  Grammars, Spellers, and Writing Guides  542

Sep 2012:  Eloquent Words Written and Spoken  912

Oct 2012:  Books on Language:  Part the Last  186

Nov 2012:  Mostly Letters About Bookplates  639

Dec 2012:  Twelve Blogs For Christmas:  Contributions to Biblionotes:  Ex-Libris 538

Jan 2103:  Memories of Things Experienced and Things Missed  723

Feb 2013:  RES JUDICATÆ:  A HISTORY  630

Mar 2013:  From G's Hand  584

Apr 2013:  The Vanishing Breed:  A History of Bookbinding Compiled by Don Brady 786

May 2013:  His Dictionary?  719

June 2013:  Cataloguing and Recataloguing the Boswell Library  467

July 2013:  My Books About Libraries  949

Aug 2013:  Elegant Extracts About Books, Booklovers, And Libraries  455

Sep 2013:  The Collector and the Collected:  Two Typophiles From New York  317

Oct 2013:  A Splendid History of Ownership  809

Nov 2013:  Andrew Lang and the Property of a Gentleman Who Has Given Up Collecting  

Dec 2013:  Twelve Blogs for Christmas:  Contributions to Biblionotes:  Chapbooks  189

Jan 2014:  A Census of Ladies in My Library  881

Feb 2014:  The Reference Library of a Bibliomaniac  891

Mar 2014:  A Student of Catalogues  423

Apr 2014:   A Virtual Tour of My Poetry Collection  667

May 2014:  A Virtual Tour of My Collection of Essays  430

Jun 2014:  My Books About the English Book Trade  307

Jul 2014:  In Memoriam:  Jamie Ryan DeJaynes  620

Aug 2014: The Monk, the Bookseller, and the Manuscript:  Tracking Lydgate's Boke of 
                  the Sege of Troy Through Bernard Quaritch's Catalogues  767

Sep 2014:   The Last Book Sale Care Package  307

Oct 2014:  The Second Beginning of the Chief End of Book Madness  240

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Second Beginning
The Chief End of Book Madness

One day, in the waning months of 1945, Laurence R. Carton, Princeton '07, visited Julian P. Boyd, Librarian of Princeton University.  In his hands, Carton held a copy of the following periodical:

Carton was so impressed with Lawrence C. Wroth's essay, "The Chief End of Book Madness," that he wanted Princeton to reprint it for all the Friends of the Princeton Library.

Lawrence C. Wroth was no stranger to Julian P. Boyd.  They both served as consultants to the Library of Congress, along with Randolph G. Adams, Clarence S. Brigham, Bella de Costa Greene, Frank J. Hogan, Wilmarth S. Lewis, Lessing S. Rosenwald, and Thomas W. Streeter, just to name a few.

Wroth, Librarian of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, was the Library of Congress Consultant for the Acquisition of Rare Books.  And his essay, "The Chief End of Book Madness," was not his first essay that was published in The Library of Congress Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions.

Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress, refers to another essay by Wroth, "Toward a Rare Book Policy in the Library of Congress," in his Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress For the Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1944:
. . . a most compelling rationalization of the function and scope of a rare book collection to serve as the basis for a declaration of policy in that field.  This document, originally submitted as a memorandum, was later published in the first number of The Library of Congress Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions.
Chauncey Brewster Tinker, Keeper of Rare Books, Yale University, at an event honoring Wroth and other librarians, called Wroth "the connecting link between the mad collector and the sane librarian."  And Tinker referred to Wroth's essay, "The Chief End of Book Madness:"

The very title of his fine essay, The Chief End of Book Madness, is indicative of the service he renders,  for it implies that the book-collector has an end and aim.  Of that end and aim, the libraries of the country are the beneficiaries.

Wroth's essay presented a persuasive argument on why a book collector should donate his collection to a library rather than sell it at auction.  And Laurence R. Carton knew that Princeton would benefit if it printed copies of "The Chief End of Book Madness" for all the Friends of the Princeton Library.  Moreover, Carton practiced what he preached:  a number of books in the Princeton Library had this bookplate pasted on their endpapers:

Julian P. Boyd thought Carton's suggestion to be a grand idea, and quickly obtained permission from both Wroth and the Library of Congress to reprint the essay.  Several librarians in the local area got wind of Princeton's plan and wanted in on the project.  Realizing he had a good thing going, Boyd notified librarians around the country, and soon, thirty librarians ordered more than eleven thousand copies of The Chief End of Book Madness.

The copies of the essay that were printed for The Friends of the Princeton Library were dispatched in time for the holidays in 1945.  And accompanying the copy of the essay was a greeting card which told the story, in Boyd's own words, of "The Second Beginning of The Chief End of Book Madness."

(Expanded below for easier viewing)

                          For best viewing, here's a PDF File of the Greeting Card

And courtesy of Archive.Org is a link to
The Chief End of Book Madness.

Postscript:  It was pure serendipity that both The Chief End of Book Madness and the Princeton Greeting Card were reunited in The Last Book Sale Care Package.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Last Book Sale Care Package

In June 2011, I visited one of the wonders of the book world:  Larry McMurtry's legendary town of books, Archer City, Texas.   With 350,000 books in the town, "Booked Up" was a suitable name for the bookstore.

I bought a few books about books from Building No. 4.  And I misplaced a pamphlet in Building No. 3.  It was about Ben Franklin meeting Samuel Johnson.   But with seven grandchildren residing in Texas (nine, now), I figured I would be spending many a day poring over the bibliographical pamphlets in Building No. 3 sometime in the future.  We planned to spend Christmas 2012 with our grandchildren in Texas.  And a side trip to Archer City was a possibility.

I never made it back to Archer City.  In August 2012,  Addison & Sarova auctioned off the majority of the McMurtry stock in a sale that Mr. McMurtry himself dubbed "The Last Book Sale."

As book luck would have it, two Texas bibliophiles I know were present at The Last Book Sale.  And these two Texans, Kurt Zimmerman and Douglas Adams, bought every single one of the bibliographical pamphlets in Building No. 3!

My wife and I planned two trips for 2014: one to New York in July, and one to Texas in October.  While in Texas, I planned to take a side trip and go pamphleteering in a certain storage unit in Conroe, Texas, where Kurt and Douglas kept the thousands of  bibliographical pamphlets from The Last Book Sale.

My wife and I never made it to New York.  We went to Texas instead.  We spent seven weeks comforting our daughter and her four young children after the tragic death of her husband on July 2nd.

I never made the side trip to Conroe, Texas.  Instead, I asked Kurt and Douglas to choose some books for me, and mail them to my home in Florida.

Kurt and Douglas put some serious thought and effort and heart into their selection of bibliographical pamphlets for my library.  Kurt even called their selection  a "care package."

If these green boxes above look familiar to you, then you have been to Building No. 3 in Archer City!  Yes, Douglas thought it would be most fitting to send the bibliographical pamphlets in three of the very boxes they called home for who knows how many years.

And in the very first green box I unwrapped, I found something that brought home the meaning of Kurt's phrase: "care package."

As there is comfort to be found in old books, there is comfort to be found when a misplaced pamphlet is found and delivered to your very door.   Mere words can't top that.  And I won't even try.

On You Tube, you can view all the bibliographical pamphlets that Kurt Zimmerman and Douglas Adams selected for me.


You will have a seat at The Last Book Sale with Kurt and Douglas when you read about it in Kurt's blog, American Book Collecting.

And you can view the listings of pamphlets of The Last Book Sale Care Package on Library Thing.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Monk, the Bookseller,
and the Manuscript:
Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy
Bernard Quaritch's Catalogues

Mr. Quaritch's catalogues are accordingly of great interest to literary men and book collectors, and they are much sought after.
                    The Literary World,
Dec. 1873

I have it on good authority —  from Bernard Quaritch himself  — that he would have preferred his books and manuscripts to be of greater interest to literary men and book collectors than that of his catalogues.  And at one time, he even recommended that his customers destroy their catalogues after making selections from them.  But few collectors, if any, took Mr. Quaritch's advice.  One former owner of a small handlist, dated April 2, 1874, inserted it behind the front cover of a 1947 Quaritch commemorative catalogue.

The former owner wrote on the ffep of the commemorative catalogue that the items listed in the handlist were "priced by Bernard Quaritch himself."

This handlist describes a treasure of "Palæographic, Xylographic, and Typographical Monuments"  that Mr. Quaritch decided to display on private exhibition before dispersing them.

I am familiar with Bernard Quaritch (1819-1899), having more than a handful of catalogues and books by and about him in my library.  But in my research, I could find no mention whatsoever of this handlist or of the April 1874 private exhibition.   What I did discover, however, is that some of the items identified in the handlist were previously offered for sale in a Quaritch catalogue published six months earlier:  Catalogue No. 291, Bibliotheca Xylographica, Typographica et Palæographica.

Catalogue No. 291
links last checked Aug 2016

Here is Quaritch's catalogue listing of the first item on the handlist:  Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy:

At least 14 items identified in the handlist were prevously listed in Bibliotheca Xylographica, Typographica et Palæographica:

17541 Apocalypse 1st ed
17542 Apocalypse 5th ed
17543 Speculum
17546 Catholicon
17567 & 15678 Mentelin's Latin Bibles
17597 Zell's Latin Bible
17997 Homer 1st 1488
18753 Lydgate's Boke
18755 Belial's Law Suit
18782 Madrigals, Ballads and Motetts
18787 Petrarca
18790 Psalterium (mislabeled 18890)
18791 Lancelot du lac (mislabeled 18891)
18792 Koran

There was no lack of publicity concerning Quaritch's catalogue, Bibliotheca Xylographica, Typographica, et Palaeographica:

    The Literary World:  Dec 1873

The Publishers Weekly: Feb 7, 1874

I rechecked the date of the handlist, thinking it was published on April 2, 1871.  But the last digit, although a poor impression, is definitely a "4."

Moreover, many of the items listed in the handlist, and in Bibliotheca Xylographica, Typographica, et Palaeographica, were acquired in 1873,  either at the Perkins Sale or from the purchase of the non-scientific books from the Royal Society's Norfolk Library.

I was scratching my head as to why Mr. Quaritch would conduct a private exhibition of books and manuscripts that he recently listed in a catalogue.  But a noted bibliophile, highly knowledgeable of the practices of the trade during that period, suggested that the handlist could have been directed toward a different clientele than those who received his catalogue.  Moreover, it was, and still is, customary for booksellers to relist items still available for purchase.

If anything, Bernard Quaritch was thorough to a fault, taking any and all steps to promote his firm and sell his books.  They didn't call him "the emperor of booksellers" for nothing.  Prior to the Perkins Sale, Quaritch published a list of the chief books and manuscripts in the Perkins Library up for auction, and offered his services on commission.

Quaritch's Catalogue of the Perkins Library

One of the manuscripts in the Perkins Library was Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy. And in the listing, Quaritch stated that this manuscript "has been supposed to be the identical manuscript presented by Lydgate to King Henry V."   In 1412, Henry, then Prince of Wales, commissioned John Lydgate, a monk from Bury, to compose a poem on the destruction of Troy.  Lydgate completed the manuscript in 1420.  The work proved so popular that Lydgate was commissioned by others to create additional copies of the manuscript.  At least 22 manuscripts of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy, have been identified, some of which only fragments remain.

Here is Quaritch's listing of the Perkins manuscript of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy.

The Perkins Sale commenced on June 3, 1873.  Quaritch acquired nearly half the books at the auction.

The Auction Catalogue

Here's the auction catalogue listing of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy.  While the auction cataloguer does not positively identify this copy as the manuscript Lydgate presented to King Henry V, neither does he deny it. But he notes several manuscript entries showing the manuscript to be in the Mundy family as late as 1615.

Quaritch acquired Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy for £1320.  He listed it in the handlist and in Bibliotheca Xylographica, Typographica et Palæographica for £1600.

I wondered how long it took Quaritch to find a buyer for the Perkins manuscript so I decided to track its listings.  The listing of the Perkins manuscript of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy in Catalogue No. 291 reappeared  in October 1874 when Bernard Quaritch published all his recent catalogues in a collected form, Bernard Quaritch's General Catalogue of Books of 1874

The Perkins manuscript of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy next appears in July 1877, but with one notable exception.  The cataloguer wrote, "and formerly considered to be the presentation copy to the king."  The cataloguer, probably Quaritch's chief cataloguer, Michael Kerney, extended the listing to three pages, and noted a coat of arms belonging to  Sir William Carrant.  Mr. Quaritch increased the price to £1720.

Catalogue No. 309

From November 1874 to  February 1877, Bernard Quaritch published monthly catalogues, and then combined them in October 1877, publishing a massive supplement (1672 pages) to the General Catalogue of 1874, which itself contained 1542 pages.   The Perkins manuscript of Lydgate's Book of the Sege of Troy does not appear in the Supplement.  But I shall make mention of Google's digitation of the Supplement.

When Google Books digitized the NYPL copy of the Supplement, it also digitized an interesting newspaper clipping that a NYPL librarian inserted in the book.

The Supplement

 Don't strain your eyes trying to read it!  I typed the newspaper clipping out in its entirety below:

New York Times
Letters To The Editor
Monday, Feb. 11, 1878

Book Collecting
To the Editor of the New York Times

   I trust you will allow me a little space to make some remarks upon an article under the above heading that appeared in the Tribune of Jan. 9               
   In that article my catalogue is stated to be untrustworthy by a writer who advises American book lovers not to buy books upon the faith of my descriptions, but to employ "a pair of impartial eyes" in the person of a London agent who shall examine the volumes, collate them with my catalogue, and act as best suits the interest of his distant friend.  Now, I have but three observations to make upon this magnanimous piece of criticism, and with your permission I will now lay them before the American public:
   1. The author, whose initials are G. W. S., is believed to be a person resident in London and sufficiently well known here as a minor light of American press literature, no less as an agent for transatlantic book-buyers.  If this assumption be correct, and his article bring him a profitable increase of business, he deserves to be complimented on his tact and skillful use of opportunity.  Everything is fair in war, according to the adage, and a perpetual hostility exists between the book-seller and the middleman who obstructs direct intercourse with the book-buyer.  The latter has naturally to remunerate his agent, but the agent expects a further gratification from the dealer ; failing which he sometimes supplies, from a different source, cheaper and inferior copies of the books which he may have been commissioned to buy.
   2. If the article in question had been written by an American savant or book-lover on his return from a trip to Europe, I should have endeavored to ascertain the exact cause of his discontent, and to explain it, if possible, before appealing openly to the justice of the American people. In the present instance, I can determine no motive beyond the jealousy of a virtual rival, which could have prompted such an attack upon my catalogue and myself.
    3. Error is incident to all human affairs, and I do not pretend to exemption from this universal law.  Consequently, there must be, and are many inaccuracies in my catalogues ; but I confidently ask the great body of book-buyers from Boston to San Francisco, to absolve me from the calumnious charge of writing false descriptions, and to grant that I can boast of at least average correctness in what I say concerning the editions and copies of books which I offer them. It may be asserted that those who are discontented with the result of direct purchase take warning but make no complaint. A pretty large experience assures me of the contrary, and also of the fact that, as a general rule, buyers find my books quite, equal to their expectations. Furthermore, and as a final discomfiture to my assailant, (who will excuse me if, in reference to his signature, I style him homo trium literarum,) I beg to say that my practice is to allow any customer who finds that a book ordered by him has been improperly described, the liberty of returning it and reclaiming his money.
                                                         BERNARD QUARITCH
               No. 15 Piccadilly, London, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 1878

Quaritch was responding to an article which appeared in the Jan 9, 1878 issue of the New York Daily Tribune.  Homo trium literarum, by the way, is a classic way of calling a man "a thief."  The phrase, in latin, means "man of three letters."  And the latin word for thief is fur.  

You can view the  Tribune article in its entirety at (scroll left)

The Perkins manuscript of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy, still unsold,  appears in Catalogue No. 332,  Catalogue of Manuscripts, Miniatures, & Drawings, Nov. 1880.   And it reappears as the lead-off catalogue of Quaritch's General Catalogue of Books of 1880, an enormous catalogue of 2395 pages:

Catalogue No. 332

The listing of the Perkins manuscript of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy is essentially the same as the July 1877 listing.

There is no title page per se for the General Catalogue of 1880.  But the last listing in the 1880 catalogue is a listing for the catalogue itself, part of which is displayed below:

There was no lack of publicity for this general catalogue either, with numerous articles printed, including one in the April 1881 issue of Notes and Queriesand another in the January 1882 issue of The Bibliographer.

The Perkins manuscript of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy next appears in a shortened version in Feb. 1882 in Catalogue No. 342, Catalogue of Romances of Chivalry.  The reader is referred to Quaritch's Catalogue of Manuscripts [Cat. No. 332] for a more complete listing.

Catalogue No. 342

And that is the last time the Perkins manuscript of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy appears in a Quaritch catalogue — at least in this blog post.  I wouldn't be surprised if a search of the Bernard Quaritch archives turned up additional catalogue listings of this manuscript.

Sometime in 1882, James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford, a noted collector of early printed books and manuscripts, purchased the Perkins manuscript of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy from Bernard Quaritch.   It had taken Quaritch nine years, at least one handlist, at least four catalogue (291, 309, 332, 342), and several general catalogues to sell the manuscript.

Lord Crawford exhibited a number of his early books and manuscripts while giving a talk before the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society in Nov. 1883, including his copy of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy.

I like that last sentence:  An interesting volume might be written on this manuscript.  Indeed, a number of books have been written which included scholarly views of this manuscript, particularly Bibliotheca Lindesiana, written by Nicolas Barker and published by the firm of Bernard Quaritch for the Roxburghe Club in 1977.

Lord Crawford sold the Perkins manuscript of Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy to Mrs. Enriqueta Rylands in 1901.  And this manuscript, now identified as English MS 1, is in the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester.

This library has an interesting web page about English MS 1, as well as a blog post about the digitation of the manuscript.  And thanks to the University of Manchester, I can post the image of Lydgate presenting The Boke of the Sege of Troy to King Henry V:

Copyright of the University of Manchester

In the Bigynnyng:  English MS 1

Another image of English MS 1:


         subject:  the boke of troy
Dear Jerry, 
I suspect that the G.W.S. who assailed Quaritch in the New York Tribune was the Tribune’s London correspondent George William Smalley. You also illustrate the entry from Quaritch’s Catalogue 342 (i.e. part IV of the General Catalogue). I attach a scan of my own copy of this catalogue, formerly owned by the Earl of Crawford, and appreciatively characterized. There are a few notes and one or two ticks (of interest?) but nothing for The Boke of Troy. (Peter Howard) Serendipity Books and myself jointly bought the remaining stock and reference library of Bill Wreden some 20 years ago, and this was one item I kept for myself — too good to sell!
Yours sincerely,
Ian Jackson, Berkeley