Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Association Copies

Sometimes a book is exciting not so much for its contents but because of its past: the places it has been or the hands that once held it. This copy of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (London: John Murray and John Mayor, 1830) is in our collections not because it is a particularly rare edition, but because its bookplate makes it highly collectable: it belonged to Charles Dickens.

In other cases, rare editions, valuable in their own right, take on a magical quality because of a simple bookplate or signature. Here is Henry James' copy of the first edition of Swift's Gulliver's Travels (London: Benj. Motte, 1726), and William Morris' copy of The Story of the Moste Noble and Worthy Kynge Arthur (London: Wyllyam Copland, 1557). While it is easy to think of Morris enjoying Malory, it is more challenging to imagine how Dickens read Bunyan or James dealt with Swift.

You can see them all by asking for Val 826D55 FB9 (Bunyan) Rare PR3724.G7 1726c (Swift), and Rare PR2043.W5 1557 (Malory).

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