A Thanksgiving Cornucopia Spilling Over Into December

I couldn’t help but be amazed that back in the 1930’s another collector had the same idea, the same instincts, to publish a work on his collection the likes of which I’ve been pursuing these now several years. I was nearly startled to find this bibliographic listing which pretty nearly encapsulates the intimacy and the overview which I have always hoped to capture with my Petite Memoirs of a Petty Book Collector. While searching for information on the Ellis Ames Ballard family who had three books printed through the Mosher Press (Songs & Sonnets, 1914; From Generation to Generation, 1928; and Seventy-Six Years of Life in a Changing World, 1937), I came across the following listing of a catalogue privately printed back in 1935 by Ellis Ames Ballard:

Ballard, Ellis Ames. Catalogue: Intimate and Descriptive of My Kipling Collection. Books, Manuscripts, and Letters with Reproductions of Rarities. How I Got Them, Why I Prize Them, and What I Failed to Get, with Inferences and Opinions Solely My Own and Probably Wrong. (Philadelphia): Privately Printed, 1935 (Limited ed). 8vo. 254 pp.

Now that’s remarkable. Ballard hit the nail squarely on the head and my question as to whether or not anybody else has done what I projected to do with the Petits Memoirs has been answered, at least if Ballard’s catalogue is anything like his title (no I haven’t seen a copy). It appears to cover the fuller range of items that a well formed collection should have including manuscripts, letters and all sorts of rarities, but the more intimate connections between collector and collection-formed are also present. The pursuit is chronicled even unto his failings and what and why he prizes what he does. His opinion is given full sway even to the point of deprecation (opinions… probably wrong). This is my kind of collector, my kind of model, and I hope the final results of my own memoirs coving the Mosher collection are as personally expressive. I want the passion to cling to the bones and not just have the dry dust of acquisition permeate my lists. (By the way, Gordon Pfeiffer reminded me of another collector, John S. Mayfield, who also assembled several of his essays on collecting in his Swinburneiana–A Gallimaufry of Bits and Pieces about Algernon Charles Swinburne [Gaithersburg, MD: Waring Press] in 1974 which I included in the Mosher bibliography.)

Now that’s remarkable. Ballard hit the nail squarely on the head and my question as to whether or not anybody else has done what I projected to do with the Petits Memoirs has been answered, at least if Ballard’s catalogue is anything like his title (no I haven’t seen a copy). It appears to cover the fuller range of items that a well formed collection should have including manuscripts, letters and all sorts of rarities, but the more intimate connections between collector and collection-formed are also present. The pursuit is chronicled even unto his failings and what and why he prizes what he does. His opinion is given full sway even to the point of deprecation (opinions… probably wrong). This is my kind of collector, my kind of model, and I hope the final results of my own memoirs coving the Mosher collection are as personally expressive. I want the passion to cling to the bones and not just have the dry dust of acquisition permeate my lists. (By the way, Gordon Pfeiffer reminded me of another collector, John S. Mayfield, who also assembled several of his essays on collecting in his Swinburneiana–A Gallimaufry of Bits and Pieces about Algernon Charles Swinburne [Gaithersburg, MD: Waring Press] in 1974 which I included in the Mosher bibliography.)

Over the last couple months there has been an array of material flowing into the Mosher collection and I’ve been amazed at just how wide a variety has been offered or found. A copy of Tu Fu started off the month of November. Being a vegetarian since 1985, one might think I’ve lost my marbles and have begun talking about what vegetarian delicacy I ate at the dinner table last night. Well, that curdled bean curd is tofu, not Tu Fu. The more complete title for the curious is Tu Fu–Wanderer and Minstrel Under Moons of Cathay which was translated by Edna Worthley Underwood and Chi Hwang Chu, and published by the Mosher Press in 1929 under the direction of Flora Lamb. Ed Hansen of Louis Collins Books in Seattle, WA contacted me about a near pristine copy not long after I had returned from a book-buying trip to Portland, Maine. Funny thing though:  before going to Maine I had seen a copy of the regular edition listed by Doug Harding Books in Wells, Maine. I e-mailed Harding just prior to my departure so that he could have his listed copy and two other books ready for me to take a look at when I arrived in person. Little did I know that although the other two books were there, his copy of Tu Fu was bought soon after they listed it. Good heavens, who in the world would want that book? So when contacted by Louis Collins Books I was somewhat astounded that having just missed a near-fine copy I was now being offered a better copy! As a bit of background, I already had three copies of the deluxe issue limited to just fifty copies printed on Japan vellum, signed by the translator, and bound in quarter white vellum each with different Chinese silk designed boards which are rather lovely to see. What I lacked, however, was the regular trade edition limited to 1,000 copies bound in quarter red cloth with sturdy charcoal paper covered boards. The copy I got even has the extremely delicate printed glassine dust wrapper. But returning to why anyone would be interested in this book other than a Mosher book collector lies in the fact that, if we can believe the small printed note on p. xx:


Now that’s making quite a claim, and although I’ve not confirmed it with any expert in the field, I nevertheless have no reason to disbelieve since if anyone should have known, it would have been the multi-talented Edna Worthley Underwood who performed masterful translations in many languages.

Another two items recently found are a very scarce couple of issues of The Quest, copies no. 193 and 195 of 300 printed in Birmingham, England by Messrs. Cornish Brothers (at the Press of the Birmingham Guild of Handicraft), March & July 1895. Mosher originally had all six issues of this publication ranging from 1894-96, but Antic Hay Books in Asbury Park, NJ only had these two issues. When I wrote to my book collecting friend, Jean-François Vilain in Philadelphia, I somewhat complained that I only was able to retrieve these two and that I’d love to get the whole run that Mosher owned, to which he exclaimed, “Chile, I’d love to get any issue…and there you are looking for the whole run!” Well, ’tis true, I should be more than satisfied with these. If you’ve never seen a copy, they are magnificently illustrated with woodcuts and the whole looks more like the lovely printing of The Hobby Horse but smaller in size with grandly styled cover of three knights on horseback beneath the title banner. As 1890’s pieces, they are truly reflective of the period.

Back in early November I bid on a slight little Mosher book by Francis Thompson entitled The Hound of Heaven. In my Mosher bibliography entry No.154.4 indicates that 925 copies of this fourth edition were printed on Van Gelder paper, and the only suggestion that there was a Japan vellum copy was a note in the Quinn catalogue to its entry No. 10203 that indicated a copy with the limitation of 200 copies on Japan vellum. During all my research in collections around the country I  never saw such a Japan vellum copy so only recorded Quinn’s note with my bibliographic entry. Then up comes this copy on eBay indicating “two hundred copies of this book (fourth edition) printed on Japan vellum for Thomas B Mosher and published by him at Portland Maine in the month of February MDCCCCXIV.” Here was the physical evidence that such copies were printed, and after securing it on eBay from a gentleman in Lebanon, NH, I now have the copy in front of me, ready to go into the Mosher collection–and a beautiful copy it is to boot. Ebay has been useful in this way numerous times in the past, and has greatly helped in getting such scarce material up on the auction block.

A near fine copy of John Keats’ Odes Sonnets & Lyrics (Mosher, 1924) also showed up on eBay in mid-November and I was able to get it without any competing bids. This is the 1924 issue, so it’s post-Mosher, but hard to get in any acceptable condition. I also didn’t have a copy even though I have most, yet not all, of the post 1923 Mosher Press publications. It was in original printed dust jacket and slipcase, all in very nice condition. And tucked away between the first few pages was a dear little Christmas card with the inscription “Dear Dorothy. Two years ago you made me very happy with my first Mosher book, a volume of exquisite poems which I shall always enjoy. Today, may I give to one –who appreciates not only the finest in poetry, but also the finest in people, and the finest in everything– a volume of which I’m fond. With love, always, Marion S.” which is then further inscribed in the book, “To Dorothy. ‘The fountains of my hidden life are through thy friendship fair.’ With love, Marion S.” What a delight to witness the quiet, reflective sentiments of a gift giver many years ago who bought this Mosher book from Haylor’s in Oberlin, Ohio as per the special seal affixed to the box attests. In contacting a fellow Mosher collector he told me he has a couple Mosher books from Oberlin, Ohio with the name Dorothy Oshlag written in them, and one of them carries her bookplate as well, so most likely this is the recipient of the Keats gift from “Marion S.” So the Keats filled a hole which I was more than happy to fill at an absurdly low price, and the touching sentiments were icing on the cake.

About the same time in mid-November a copy of The Rose-Jar (1915) by Thomas S. Jones, Jr. surfaced on eBay, this being an inscribed copy “For Richard Burton with the affection of his friend, Thos. S. Jones Jr. October 1915” Although the inscription is nice, this being to the Hartford , CT poet, one time professor of English at Johns Hopkins University and literary critic for the Hartford Courant, it wasn’t the reason why I went after the book. The real reason resided in what lay between the covers and was only briefly mentioned in the description as “publisher’s slip laid in.” Indeed, this book contained the very rare four page advertisement Mosher issued of the “fourth edition” (but first edition “published” by Mosher following a privately printed affair he did for Jones in 1913). I’ve collected a lot of Mosher Press ephemera over the years, so it’s a surprise when I come across a piece that I’ve never seen with reviews by Thomas Bird Mosher, by William Stanley Braithwaite from the Boston Transcript, from Jessie B. Rittenhouse, author of The Younger American Poets, another but anonymous review from the Boston Transcript, and lastly from Joyce Kilmer in The Literary Digest. This flimsy little advertisement piece by Mosher was the real reason for my purchasing the book, and the amount of new information it contains goes beyond Mosher’s much shorter catalogue announcement which contains only a portion of the review by Braithwaite.

A book dealer out in Oregon contacted me in mid-November and asked if I would like to enter into an arrangement whereby if he found a book from Mosher’s library, and it wasn’t too expensive, that he’d just get it for me, send it, and enclose the invoice he was given for his payment of the book. Then when I got the book, I could look at the copy of the invoice and add whatever I felt comfortable to his original cost. He indicated he didn’t mind if that was only a few bucks, or a handsome profit. It was simply up to me, and what he didn’t want to do was get into describing and quoting each book with a price I may or may not accept. He also mentioned several other dealers with whom he’s entered the same arrangement. Heck, it sounds like something we should at least try for a while, so I told him to go ahead and send whatever he found. The first installment arrived a few days later: Andrew Lang’s Grass of Parnassus. First and Last Rhymes (London & NY: Longmans, Green & Co., 1892). I tripled the “scout’s” original cost and sent him his check. The book itself is in very nice condition, but most importantly, this type of translator’s anthology from classical writers was just the sort of book which was to influence Mosher’s own Old World Lyrics anthology published just a year later in his tall “Bibelot Series” inaugurated in 1893. The preface to Grass of Parnassus mentions that thirty new pieces had been added to this new edition, including the poem entitled “Tout finit par des Chansons“ which translates by Lang as “all ends in song.” Mosher was so struck by this phrase that he added his characteristic pencil check marks both beside the poem’s title on the Contents page (p.x) and beside the poem itself on p. 148, and the following year his Bibelot Series publication is titled Old World Lyrics: A Little Book of Translations with the added phrase printed in red just below the title:  “Tout finit par des Chansens.” I love it when pieces of a puzzle come together so beautifully.

My latest “stash” is a result of the Boston ABAA and auxiliary shows this past November 18-21, 2004. At the more prestigious show McBlain Books out of Hamden, Connecticut brought along a copy of the Mosher Press The Arts Anthology–Dartmouth Verse 1925 to show me. This copy No. 228 of 500 with the bookplate of Warde Wilkins (1913 Dartmouth alumnus award winner) is particularly meaningful in not only is it a near fine copy (including the glassine) carrying the Introduction by Robert Frost, but this copy is signed by not one, not five, but by TEN of the poets including H.E. Allan, William A. Breyfogle, Richard G. Eberhart, A.C.C. Hill, Jr., Jongleur, A.K. Laing, Richard Lattimore, Sidney Lenke, Herbert S. Talbot, and Charles D. Webster.  Eberhart’s four poems marks his first appearance in a book (see Crane D3), and is one of the earliest appearances by Richard Lattimore whose poem “Threnody” was judged co-winner of the Arts Poetry Award along with Schacht’s poem “The First Autumn.”

At the alternative book fair held somewhat concurrently with the Boston ABAA show, I found a presentation copy of Twenty Years of the Omar Khayyám Club of America privately printed by the Rosemary Press of Boston, MA in 1921. A couple years after the appearance of my Mosher bibliography I ran across this title but somehow failed to follow-up on finding a copy for the collection. Back then I hadn’t had much time to review it, but now I gratefully have had the opportunity to glean from its pages the workings of a club to which Mosher belonged for many years. Back in the late 1980’s Tom Boss sold me four of the original Club’s delicately printed and signed menus in which Mosher’s name was prominently signed. These menus are all pictured in Twenty Years (p. 65) as are many of the pictures of Mosher’s colleagues with whom he shared a passion in all things associated with Omar’s Rubáiyát. There’s Nathan Haskell Dole who wrote several pieces for Mosher‘s Vest Pocket Rubáiyát; Thomas Wentworth Higgenson to whom Mosher wrote a letter in 1906 which is in my collection, Eben Francis Thompson, the Club’s founder; and Charles Dana Burrage, secretary and treasurer. These names remind me of a copy of the Caxton Club’s Edward FitzGerald exhibition catalogue of 1899 which contained several hand-written letters from several of these men to Mosher. It also reminds me of the early letter I have which Mosher sent to Nathan Haskell Dole in 1895. Although the Omar Khayyám Club was formed in 1900, the first mention of Mosher in Twenty Years is on p. 23 referencing the “Centenary celebration” of 1909. Mosher’s name also appears in the members list on p. 104.  Anybody studying Mosher’s fascination with the Rubáiyát, and his prodigious publishing of the same, has to account for his role in the Omar Khayyám Club of America.

The last item I brought back from the Boston show was something that first caught my eye in the booth of Schoyer’s Books of Berkeley, CA. Mark Selvaggio was tending the booth and I first thanked him for sending the handsome Christmas greeting Mosher had printed for Edward A. Woods using an Eragny design. Afterwards, I mulled over his bookshelves and alighted upon a lovely spine label “Catalogue of Fine Bookbindings: 1939.” One never knows what might appear in any chance encounter with a bookseller’s stock, and this slender item illustrated the serendipitous discovery in which I always delight.  The slender, privately printed booklet is formally titled Fine Bookbindings Exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition–San Francisco : MCMXXXIX (see Heller & Magee, Grabhorn Press, 316; Nathan 34). It contains the entries of bookbinders from twelve countries, and two of these binders chose to “wed the binding to the book” to Mosher imprints. Ernestine E. Moller of San Francisco chose Mosher’s edition of Arnold’s Empedocles on Etna (1900), while two Canadians specially bound Mosher books:  James Annand of Kingston, Ontario bound Payne’s Poems of Master Francois Villon (1916), and Dorothy Burnett of Vancouver bound Lang’s Ballads in Blue China and Other Poems (1907). Since I’m always looking for Mosher books represented in exhibitions, and particularly in exhibitions on book bindings, this was a particularly welcome find.

While all of this was happening in Boston, little did I know that an important e-mail quote would be sent to me shortly after my return. After driving eight hours from Boston and arriving early Monday morning around 1:30 AM, I was just the opposite of what one would expect. I was pumped: excited about having had a good show, delighted with my Mosher finds (and a few other books I bought for resale), and at having returned safely. While my wife went to bed, I worked the early morning hours unloading, sifting through scads of e-mails, and checking out my usual Internet sites and conducting book searches. After a few hours sleep I returned to the business of tallying my invoices, banking my checks, and preparing some books for shipment. During that day of Nov. 22, in fact around 5:30 PM, I received an e-mail quote which abruptly caught my attention. It’s subject line read “Mosher’s copy of Rossetti’s Poems (1870)” which was sent by a dealer in Charlottesville, VA. Was I ever excited! His note ran like this:

Another Mosher book:…

…One of them is Mosher’s copy of Rossetti’s Poems (1870). Pasted in is a 1901 catalog entry from Edwin A Denham, 20 West 33rd St., New York offering a copy of this book (perhaps this copy). Also inserted is a June 14, 1948 invoice from The Bodley Book Shop, 104 Fifth Ave. for two Rossetti books, probably including this one. I will price this copy for $450-500. I offer it to you for $365, including shipping and will send it for examination if you wish. It is about a Very Good copy….

to which I responded, in part:

I assume you mean the London and not the Boston edition of 1870. I’ve greatly appreciated the other book you sent from Cecil Lang’s library, and likewise welcome your sending this book with invoice on approval, but which in all likelihood will be accepted and promptly purchased along with  my steadfast appreciation.

Miraculously the book arrived via UPS on Wednesday, Nov. 24th, the day before Thanksgiving. Upon inspection I wrote to the dealer that not only am I very pleased with the book, but that his check had been put into the mail the very same day I received it. I was very excited–still am in fact. The book carries Mosher’s bookplate and was sold on June 14, 1948 from The Bodley Book Shop‘s catalogue 100, just a little over a month after it was sold on May 11 at the Parke-Bernet Galleries sale of Mosher’s library in New York as part of lot No. 380.

The most important part of this acquisition, however, is not that this is the first edition of Rossetti’s Poems (with p. 274 misnumbered 24), nor even that it carries the exciting and important Rossetti design on the cover (side note: the design was copied by Sarah Wyman Whitman for her endpaper design for one of her bindings done for Houghton Mifflin, and for the vellum binding for The Marble Faun. Rossetti was indeed far ahead of his time in book cover design, and one could say revolutionary in how it broke with Victorian binding excesses of the past). No, these reasons alone were worth noting in having Mosher’s own copy from his library. Far more significant, for Mosher at least and thereby for this Mosher collector, was the fact that it was the text of this very edition that Mosher had hoped to restore for the public when printing his own edition of Rossetti’s Poems in 1902. This copy still retains the penciled numbering system used by Mosher when he edited a source for publication. In a nutshell, this IS the source text Mosher used for his own publication! Mosher certainly viewed it as his mission to restore the text:

…it is reasonable to believe that what has been so far signally neglected by Rossetti’s literary executor should at last be done by one of his liegemen in America.  Stated concisely:  if Rossetti were living can we doubt his attitude toward the restoration of his 1870 text and the reissue of his volumes in their original order… To preserve and perpetuate that text is therefore incumbent upon us:  no unbiased consideration of the true basis of Poetry for Poetry’s sake can justify any other course of editorial action.

–Preface, Mosher’s 1902 edition, pp. xi-xiii

To Mosher the pre-eminence of the original 1870 text was crucial, and to have the very copy he so honored ahead of all later editions, and used for the text for his own reprint, is simply quite thrilling. That’s why it’s important, and that’s why I’m elated over adding it to the collection.

Following the acquisition of Rossetti’s Poems, I came across a binding which I’m pleased to say has now been added to the collection via the ever ubiquitous eBay, secured within hours of one another on November 28. A book from the Vest Pocket Series, it’s a very peculiarly bound copy of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Mosher, 1899). The leather design was formed through what appears to be a woodblock impressing technique. The process involves making an incised woodblock which is then pressed into wet leather creating an embossed design (design is in relief) to which additional leather tooling completes the design. In this Rubáiyát a large chalice is formed on the lower third of the front cover and a moon in quarter phase on the upper third. Betwixt the two images is the title RUBÁIYÁT and all three segments of the cover are united by vines, tendrils, leaves, flowers and grapes flowing between them and around the perimeter of the cover. The whole of the front cover design is upon a pointilliste background (in this case actually small curves), while the back cover only employs the vines and leaves around the perimeter with the inner panel of the cover pointilliated entirely across the expanse. The overall effect is charming and very Arts & Crafts in appearance and, to me, the binding’s look is somewhat reminiscent of the “Thumbnail Series” produced by The Century Company of New York. I’m delighted with the binding, but have absolutely no idea who bound it, although internal evidence points to the work being done in 1901 as per the inscription.

It’s also around this same time that I was notified of a near-fine large-paper copy of James Thomson’s The City of Dreadful Night (Mosher, 1892) which was only the second book published by Mosher and the whole series consists of only three titles. Only fifty copies of the large-paper edition were printed (in addition to 400 small-paper copies), forty of which were printed on Van Gelder paper, and ten on Japan vellum with this being copy No. 40. These large-paper copies from the English Reprint Series are difficult to find and when one does locate a copy, it tends to be in poor condition externally. I’ll be placing this near-fine copy alongside the large-paper copy of Modern Love (Mosher, 1891) which is also in beautiful condition. The Mosher collection contains large-paper copies of the even rarer Japan vellum issuances for both Modern Love and The Growth of Love. So with this latest acquisition, I lack just a large-paper Van Gelder copy of The Growth of Love, and a large-paper Japan vellum copy of The City of Dreadful Night. Larger miracles have happened before, so the possibility remains very good that these copies will be found as well.

Just after Thanksgiving I got a call from a long time dealer friend and important Mosher supplier, Thomas G. Boss of Boston. A couple years ago he sold me twelve unfolded book covers printed on Japan vellum. They had never been applied to their corresponding Mosher books and remain flattened just as Mosher had stored them awaiting the sale of a book which would then have the appropriate cover applied to it. These are extremely rare, and up until then I only had one such cover which actually had gone the next step in having the binder’s boards applied. I saw two others like this in other Mosher collections around the country, but that’s it. Now added to these twelve are two more covers Tom called me about: one for the little 1899 Vest Pocket Rubáiyát designed by Frederick Goudy and the other for the 1901 Mimes carrying the violet and gold art nouveau design work of Earl Stetson Crawford–probably the most venturesome American art nouveau design of the period.

With the exception of Rossetti’s Poems of 1870 from Mosher’s library, the rest of these “finds” are just evidence of the kind of relentless building of a collection one brick and its mortar at a time. The bricks are the physical items, and the mortar the relationship holding the bricks together–either as intended by the publisher, or as discovered by the collector. To be sure, they are not the major acquisitions that collectors dream about and their importance usually depends on their application to other such finds in the collection. Their importance rests in the interrelationships and  interdependencies discovered, although many of them can be appreciated in their own right. This is the job of the collector:  to unwaveringly scout for and find the elements which will one day help to tell a story, and by means of these collected stories we can begin to come to an understanding of what was accomplished–even to the point of appreciation.

“To be continued up to Dec. 24” was a note I typed on the last day of November. Little was I to know that the next morning I’d wake up to an e-mail alerting me that “I have that set here. x-lib… but still interesting. Wanna come look at it??”

Gads… I remember a conversation I had months ago with Ron Lieberman, the owner of The Family Album in Kinzers, PA. He said that an institution was deaccessioning a twenty-four volume set which was from Mosher’s library, and would I be interested if he could get it. I told him one of the tests as to whether or not it was Mosher’s set was where Mosher’s bookplate appeared, but of course he had to know the answer to his initial question even before he asked it. So early in the morning of December 1st I called Ron and we agreed to meet within an hour or so of my call. I jumped in the van which some refer to as “the Mosher-mobile” since it’s license plate (I first mistakenly typed “its bookplate“) is M O S H E R and I use it to cart my books for sale to shows. When I got there Ron took me over to a banana box and we lifted the heavy thing to an area where all the volumes could be set next to one another. One by one I got them out and one by one checked to see if the Mosher bookplate appeared in each volume. You see, even with multi-volume sets Mosher would place his bookplate in each and every volume. As each went on the lengthy counter shelf, each revealed its double-griffin mammillary bookplate. The set stretched out three feet and there before us was the set, one of 1,050 so printed with Introductions by May Morris, and generously illustrated:  The Collected Works of William Morris published in London by Longmans Green and Company from 1910-1915, including the original prospectus. Amazing. Consulting a priced copy of the October 1948 Parke-Bernet Galleries sale catalogue, the set was lot No. 394 and was bought by the bookseller J. N. Bartfield of New York City for $65. But even more importantly, one can see this very William Morris set pictured in “A view of Mosher’s home library in Portland, Maine” on p. 484 of Thomas Bird Mosher–Pirate Prince of Publishers. When you look at the picture direct your attention toward the window, about half way down on the right (actually the third shelf down from the ceiling) is where the set resided while in the Mosher library. It takes up nearly the whole shelf. Not only are the requisite twenty-four volumes there with the obvious lighter toned linen spines with paper labels, but upon detailed examination the relative thick and thin volume arrangement of the set in the picture corresponds exactly, volume for volume, to the set now on the shelves here at the Bishopric.

The Morris set, uncut, is still in its original linen-backed boards, and although there are signs of institutional ownership, the set is basically very clean and in nice condition. When I left for the 47 mile round trip to Kinzers in the early morning it was very cloudy, raining and quite windy, but by the time I left The Family Album shop the rain had subsided and the sun was gloriously pouring down although the wind continued to buffet the van. I kind of felt like that too, sunny and warm, although the wind continues to blow briskly. I’m not quite sure why there has been such an outpouring of Mosher related material these past thirty days, but no complaints are coming from this little corner of the world.

Of course all of this has set me back a bit financially, but as the following wise counsel of the book collector’s patron saint was pointed out to me:

From what has been said we draw this corollary welcome to us, but (as we believe) acceptable to few: namely, that no dearness of price ought to hinder a man from the buying of books, if he has the money that is demanded for them, unless it be to withstand the malice of the seller or to await a more favorable opportunity of buying. For if it is wisdom only that makes the price of books, which is an infinite treasure to mankind, and if the value of books is unspeakable, as the premises show, how shall the bargain be shown to be dear where an infinite good is being bought? Wherefore, that books  are to be gladly bought and unwillingly sold, Solomon, the sun of men, exhorts us in the Proverbs: Buy the truth, he says, and sell not wisdom…….

–Richard de Bury in Philobiblon

© Philip R. Bishop
2 December 2004

This essay is Copyright © by Philip R. Bishop. Permission to reproduce the above article has been granted by Gordon Pfeiffer, president of the Delaware Bibliophiles and editor of that organization’s newsletter, Endpapers, in which the article appeared in the March 2005 issue. No portion of this article may be reproduced or redistributed without expressed written permission from both parties.