A Little Bit of This… And a Little Bit of That…

Books from Mosher’s Library and an Association Copy

Someone brought to my attention a book on printing in Scotland (The Annals of Scottish Printing, 1890) from Mosher’s library. Oak Knoll has had it for sale for some time and although a choice copy–mostly unopened and certainly in nice condition–it has next to nothing to do with Mosher’s publishing program except for the fact that Mosher’s distant heritage stemmed from 17th century Scotland. For that I don’t think I’ll try to arrange for an $850 loan. That’s not to say it’s not nice, but when weighing the importance against the cost…

On February 23, 2009 I did, however, order a Mosher book from Ed Maggs printed on Japan vellum which Mosher inscribed to Mr. & Mrs. Morton Loder, bookseller son of John Loder who was an intimate of Edward FitzGerald of Rubaiyat fame:

MOSHER (Thomas B.). BUCHANAN (Robert). The Story of David Gray. Portrait frontispiece; decorative initials and devices. First edition thus, de luxe issue. Sm. 4to., parchment wrapper over boards, the upper cover with elaborate border of blackberries in black and green. Portland, Maine, Mosher. 1900. No. 36 of 50 copies on Japan vellum. A fine copy in somewhat worn and frayed original dust-wrapper. Inscribed by Mosher to Mr and Mrs Morton Loder, December 1901.

The book took until March 26 to arrive–a little more than a month later. However, the inscription was worth the wait: “To Mr. Morton Loder and / Mrs Morton Loder with / the season’s greetings / from their friend in / America. / Thomas B. Mosher / Dec. 16, 1901.” Nice.

I don’t think the folks at Maggs knew of any significance, or if they did they rated it as inconsequential. Still, not bad for £45 and I’m of a different persuasion when it comes to its significance. Correspondence between John Loder and Mosher, and Morton Loder and Mosher, are at the Houghton Library. John Loder was the silent editor behind Mosher’s printing of Edward FitzGerald: An Aftermath (1902), and Loder is mentioned several times in the book. He also gathered together the photos in and around Woodbridge used in Mosher’s book, but Loder would not allow a photo of himself in the published version; however, he did distribute a few copies of his portrait to accompany the book to a few friends. I have never seen one of those portrait plates of Loder. John Loder’s son worked at his father’s bookselling business which he eventually took over. According to Mosher’s Standard Diary and Daily Reminder in which he records meetings he had during his visit to England in 1901, he visited Woodbridge on Friday, April 12 (about 55 miles from London) during his visit to England in 1901 and so this book must have followed his contact with Morton Loder whilst there. In way of a little bit of self criticism, Bishop mistakenly identified this special plate as being of FitzGerald (Thomas Bird Mosher, Pirate Prince of Publishers, p.135). The plate was that of John Loder himself as subsequent research has revealed. That copy of Robert Buchanan’s The Story of David Gray inscribed by Mosher to Morton Loder is also from the Clodd collection (Alan Clodd Library Ref: CL109527). As Maggs indicated “The library of the late Alan Clodd is one of the most celebrated and extensive private collections of modern literature, assembled over some fifty years and totaling some 20,000 books, many of the highest quality.” Indeed, this copy is in very nice condition and I’m pleased to have 1/20,000th worth of the Clodd Library (in all fairness though, I do have another book from Clodd’s library in the Mosher Collection).

Another side and unintended consequence in ordering this book from Maggs was that it caused me to check out the Mosher collection to see if there was any other mention of Morton Loder. What I was reminded of is that the source book for the text of this book is already in the Mosher collection: Buchanan, Robert Williams Buchanan’s David Gray and Other Essays. London: Sampson Low, and Son, and Marston, 1868. I had forgotten that and it’s nice to have that along with Mosher’s own production and now an inscribed copy.

Going back to Mosher’s copy of the Scottish printing history, it was sold at auction a couple years ago. I knew about it back then but didn’t even bid. I have long ago resigned myself to knowing that I can’t buy everything that was in Mosher’s library, nor would it help if I did as in this instance. I recently also had an opportunity to bid on eBay for Mosher’s copy of:

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. The Emperour Marcus Antoninus: His Conversation with Himself: Together with the Preliminary Discourse of the Learned Gataker, as also the Emperour’s Life, Written by Monsieur D’acier and Supported by the Authorities Collected by Dr. Stanhope: to Which is Added The Mythological Picture of Cebes the Theban… Translated by Jeremy Collier. London, 1726. Third edition of this translation. From the private libraries of Andrew Lang and Thomas Mosher with Sotheby label on paste down and Mosher bookplate on verso of portrait. (offered on eBay 2/23/09 by Charlie Lloyd of Howell, NJ)

Mosher owned twenty-two books on Marcus Aurelius books which were mostly various translations and a small number of books on Aurelius. The 1726 edition was the earliest Aurelius imprint in his library, and the fact that it was formerly owned by Andrew Lang was of some interest, but it played no role in Mosher’s productions. The December 1912 issue of The Bibelot was devoted to Marcus Aurelius, specifically Herbert Horne’s essay “The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus” which first appeared in the Century Guild Hobby Horse. By way of introduction, Mosher noted he reprinted

…what would otherwise probably remain in the pages of the long extinct Century Guild Hobby Horse, which begun in 1886, and came to a not inglorius conclusion in 1892. The seven quarto volumes at that time represented the highest water-mark attained in England as to paper, letterpress and illustrations. A complete set with all the wrappers and the preliminary part issued in 1884, has now become almost as rare a possession as both The Germ or The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine respectively of 1850 and 1856; nor is it too much to say the Hobby Horse was the glorious termination of this illustrious triumvirate.

Mosher’s annotated copy of Herbert Horn’s essay in the Hobby Horse is in the Bishop collection (Vol. VI, pp. 68-80), and his praise over any of the translations of Marcus Aurelius rests with that written by George Long published in 1848. Now if that had been what was offered on eBay I would have bid aggressively, but the 1726 version, though quaint as an early imprint, simply wasn’t enough for me to extend beyond a token bid. Incidentally, I have five of the seven Hobby Horse volumes Mosher wrote about, and also have his copy of the 1884 trial issue.

Thanking a Bookseller for a Past Kindness

I took the opportunity to write Lynne Vetch (ABAA dealer The Veatchs Arts of the Book) on September 21, 2009 in response to a query she had about whether or not a Silvia Rennie binding she had is listed in a catalogue was pictured anywhere. I wrote:

Hi Lynne:

You gather correctly, in fact I own several. Most of her bindings are rather abstract, but every once in a while she did a sort of pictorial binding. One such example is her binding on La Ballade de Paris et du Monde by Marcel Marceau and another is the Donors Book for Cornell University. I presume the catalogue you mention is that of “Silvia Rennie–Designer Bindings” from 1985. I’ve checked its contents and am sorry to say Voragine’s State of Innocenyse is not among them. I was glad to check this for you. You may or may not recall that many years ago you let me copy down some information on the following book:

(Chambolle-Duru) Lang, Andrew. Aucassin & Nicolete done into English by Andrew Lang. (Old World Series) 1895. Bound in “Lemon morocco, with panel formed of roulette side bands, diapered top and bottom, with twining rose sprays, bees, and birds. Linings and ends of silk brocade” — Entry No. 150 in the Catalogue of an Exhibition of Nineteenth Century Bookbindings. Chicago: Caxton Club, 1898, p. 68. René Chambolle called his Paris bookbinding studio “Chambolle-Duru,” adopting the surname of the celebrated bookbinder, Hippolyte Duru, under whom he had once apprenticed. He retired in 1898 and his son followed in the business.

Several years after the Mosher bibliography was published (in 1998) a dealer contacted me about a copy of Aucassin & Nicolete he had for sale. His description sounded familiar, strangely similar to the book first recorded in the 1898 Caxton Club catalogue. When it arrived–and in splendid condition I might add–it was this very copy listed in the Catalogue of an Exhibition of Nineteenth Century Bookbindings. How amazing.

I also remember your sending me two Mosher books which were once in fine but now totally dilapidated bindings. Though these never entered the Mosher collection, I nevertheless have dutifully recorded and remembered your kind deed. So for all the above reasons I am pleased to supply you the information I have, but only wish I could have spotted the binding in the catalogue. It was also a pleasure to bring to mind my couple years of correspondence with Silvia Rennie. Alas, we’ve been out of contact for years now.

Best wishes,


Philip R. Bishop

Another Christmas Gift of Note

My dear wife, Susann, found a nice copy of a book from Mosher’s library which I was pleased to find under the Christmas tree, this being W. Robertson Nicoll’s A Bookman’s Letters. Fourth edition. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1913. In addition to being Mosher’s copy, a bookplate of Jacob L. Chernofsky appears under the Mosher plate. Older members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America certainly will remember Jake as the editor/publisher of the AB Bookman’s Weekly. I remember using his publication to both help learn the trade of bookselling and to advertise my books for sale. My gawd, was that ever a long time ago and light years from our now chaotic world of Internet bookselling. It was nice to have the double association, and nice to find out that Mosher marked at least seven passages in A Bookman’s Letters which includes much on George Meredith, Theodore Watts-Dunton, Edward FitzGerald, Dr. Richard Garnett, A. G. Swinburne, George Gissing, Robert Buchanan, and others with whom Mosher had some history. Those are the kinds of presents I want to have under the tree every year.

A Few Other Books from Mosher’s Personal Library

Without going into much about these, I’ll list a few more items that made their way here to the Mosher Collection, among which are:

–Andrew P. Peabody’s translation of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1886.

–The Vale Press issuance of John A. Symonds’ translation of The Life of Benvenuto Cellini. 2 vols. [London: Vale Press (Ballantyne Press printing for Hacon & Ricketts), 1900]. Small folio, original linen-backed boards, uncut. One of 300 copies. Mosher commented about this book: “…without the lengthy Introduction, of some 60 pages, also lacking Illustrations, Notes, Appendix and Index which Symonds gave, and which he presumably intended to accompany any and all editions that might in future be called for, this reprint stands as a sumptuous model of everything a book should not be! May it not have been one of the proximate causes of that tremendous debacle which has recently taken place in the public appreciation of so-called “artistic” book-making?” —The Bibelot, Vol. XII, 1906, p. 382.

— Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan and the Inmost Light. London & Boston: John Lane and Roberts Brothers, 1895. Stated second edition (first in 1894) and a book from which Mosher used a quote for his book catalogue.

–Thomas, Edward. Walter Pater–A Critical Study. London: Martin Secker, 1913. First edition, blue cloth.

–Roland Marvin’s Flowers of Song from Many Lands–Being Short Poems and Detached Verses Gathered from Various Languages and Rendered into English (Troy, New York: Pafraets Book Company, 1902). Printed by D. B. Updike at The Merrymount Press in Boston. Although 1,000 copies were printed, only sixty-three (this is copy #52) “contain a portrait of the Author on parchment…” The book also contains the original prospectus and a letter from the author to Thomas B. Mosher, dated 16 April 1903.

Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, with Memoir. New York: W. J. Widdleton, 1881. 8vo, decorated cloth.

–William Fleming’s Dreams and Realities—Verses and Sonnets. London: Erskine Macdonald, [1915].

–Israel Zangwill’s Blind Children–Poems. London: William Heinemann, 1903.

One Vellum Milestone Reached

In December 2009 I acquired a most exquisite “pure” vellum Mosher book: The Blessed Damozel (1901), copy No. 10 of 10. I have another copy which was the Henry William Poor/John Quinn copy No. 3, but this copy is in fine condition and far more beautiful. The Bishop Collection now equals that of John Quinn in number of vellum book from the Mosher Press: 28 books. The only other collector with more (other than Mosher himself and Henry William Poor) was Norman Strouse who assembled 31 copies. So the Bishop Collection now has surpassed Emilie Grigsby’s holdings (22) and now equals John Quinn’s achievement. The next vellum acquisition will supersede Quinn and then it on to passing Strouse’s achievement, albeit slowly but surely.

Earliest Mosher Letter in the Collection

I also recently bought a copy of Mosher’s edition of The City of Dreadful Night by James Thomson with an Introduction by E. Cavazza (1893). The most important part of the book is a lengthy tipped in letter from Mosher, entirely in his own hand, and dated February 1, 1893. It is the earliest letter to have entered the Mosher Collection. the content includes a substantial discussion of how Mosher came to use Elizabeth Cavazza for the Introduction. Magnificent. And most amazing was the fact that this book with its letter languished on the Internet for at least a year. I had seen the listing but never noticed that the book included a Mosher letter. Since it was listed for so long the owner was gratefully willing to substantially reduce the price, and I was an equally grateful buyer.

Odds and Ends

Three “Old World Series” Mosher books entered the collection, all from the library of Herbert Boyce Satcher, vicar of St. Aidan’s Parish mission to Trinity Church of Oxford. One of the books also bears Thomas Bird Mosher’s bookplate as well. Two of the books were also once owned by Crosby Gaige (ne Roscoe Conkling Gaige) who was an American Broadway producer, book collector and small press publisher. Nice associations all around. Yet another “Old World Series” Mosher book was once the property of Laurens Maynard, publisher in Boston along with Herbert Small. both of whom were committed to producing quality and finely designed books under the inspiration of William Morris.

Although there are many other albeit small acquisitions, including several other letters both from or to Mosher, there was one little book which held some fascination to me. In 1900 Mosher came out with his edition of The Poems of Master François Villon of Paris with the Introduction by John Payne. Mosher’s reprint was based on three editions, the rare first edition of 1878, the edition of 1881 by Reeves & Turner, and lastly the Villon Society edition of 1892. Some copies of Mosher’s Villon are accompanied by an eight page, privately printed “Villon / Omitted Lines.” These lines were considered too risqué to be published in the Mosher edition. Was Mosher responsible for taking out these lines? We know that the “Omitted Lines” were not published by Mosher, but privately printed for H. W. Bryant of Portland. Mosher certainly colluded in their printing and copies were produced on Van Gelder paper, Japan vellum paper, and on “pure” vellum matching all three states of the Mosher publication. What I hadn’t known, and which became clear to me once seen, was that the publication of the “Omitted Lines” accompanied some copies of the London Reeves & Turner edition of 1891. I acquired a copy in Baltimore which shows that collectors “in the know” were well aware of the lines as accompanying the Reeves & Turner edition–Mosher certainly being one of them. The layout and number of pages is nearly identical, and so the source for the “Omitted Lines” has now been revealed if, indeed, this was their first appearance along with the Poems of Master Francis Villon.

Not bad for a period of time when things are so “down.” I did want to mention that I went after a lovely binding on a Mosher book, but the auction price far exceeded what I was willing to pay. Another dealer said the book went for at least three times what it was really worth. So there was one I lost, but in the long run I think I’ve done OK. Happy collecting to all.

©Philip R. Bishop
January 6, 2010

This article is Copyright © by Philip R. Bishop. Permission to reproduce the above article has been granted by Gordon Pfeiffer of the Delaware Bibliophiles and editor of that organization’s newsletter, Endpapers, in which the article appeared in the March 2010 issue. No portion of this article may be reproduced or redistributed without expressed written permission from both parties.